Letting Go

hunter before campOne last hug and they were off…Hunter’s excellent summer camp adventure is underway and I am already missing his presence. Wide awake at the crack of dawn with excitement and anticipation, he came into our room for a final snuggle. Hunter was packed, fairly well-organized, and raring to go. As we wiped away the sleep from our eyes, we began a familiar routine; one that we’ve been perfecting over the last eight summers.

We’ve come a long way. In the early days, packing for camp meant hours of sorting, labeling, bagging and stuffing two oversized duffels with all the necessities for three weeks at sleep-away camp. As the summers passed I became less obsessive about the orderly packing and realized that ironing on labels took precious time that I just did not have; a sharpie worked did the job and didn’t involve taking out an ironing board.

Every summer Hunter would rush the bus with his friends only to choose a seat away from the windows that we were facing. My outstretched arms held empty farewells as my son slipped away into the throng of campers eager to make new memories with his camp family. His back turned to us as the bus rolled out of the parking lot, I didn’t so much as get a wave.

This morning was different. I got hugs (notice the plural) — before leaving the house, at the bus and just before boarding. Actually, the hugs started last night as he assured me that I wouldn’t be missed and not to expect any mail. This morning he chose a seat at the window facing the crowd of parents and well-wishers. This morning he waved and smiled — on the way to his happiest place on earth.

We’ve come a long way.

This is Hunter’s second summer being “out” as a transgender boy at camp. This is his first summer legally as Hunter. He is the first in the camp’s 110+ year history to have lived in the girls’ villages and also to now attend as a boy. This morning he was referred to as a “trailblazer.”

To say that I am grateful for his acceptance at camp would be a gross understatement. My gratitude for this camp and for what they’ve done for Hunter goes deeper than you can ever imagine. They are also acknowledging those that will come after him – both campers and counselors – who will walk in Hunter’s wake knowing that he paved the way.

It will take me a few days to settle in to having less to do – it always does. I might just have to peak into his room a few times over the next couple of days just to appreciate all that my son is and all that he has become. Then, when I feel brave enough, I will straighten up his room taking care to preserve his essence while I count down the days from 40 until I feel his arms around my neck once again.

 

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(Combatting) Gender Dysphoria

gender dysphoriaIt’s hard to imagine hating my body so much that I’d want to remove parts of it – permanently. Many of us have had those “oh god” moments in the dressing room with bad lighting that makes a super model question what she’s been eating. If we nit-pick we can always find something to change, improve or tacitly accept as the reality of genetics.

However, unless you identify as a gender other than what you were assigned at birth (AFAB, AMAB) it is probably impossible to truly empathize with a trans* person who HATES their body. I mean, someone who says, “I DON’T WANT BOOBS AND A VAGINA.” Or, a child who exclaims, “I can’t wait to grow up and have a penis.” I have read various stories about transgender children who do believe that when they grow up they will grow parts that they don’t currently have.

I am going to venture to say that even with the most supportive friends, family, parents, siblings, and community, it is a constant battle to accept what you’ve been born with when all you want are parts that didn’t come as part of the initial package.

Even for those who have managed to come to terms in a “big picture kind of way,” there are days when extra help is not only necessary but required.

Here are several tips to getting past the dysphoria – even if just for another day.

  1. Talk to someone
  2. Express yourself
  3. Experiment with your aesthetic
  4. Find validating media
  5. Build community
  6. Find an escape

The full article can be found here.

If you have other ways to combat the dysphoria blues, let me know. Use the form below to share your tips.

Why can’t things be easy?

Sometimes, life is so complicated I want to scream and cry at the same time. Like I shared in my last post, it’s not the big things that send me running, it’s the day to day frustrations that put me over the edge.

blank-prescription-pad-13985899Hunter leaves for camp soon. He is counting down the days. We have some shopping to do ahead of time — he needs a waterproof jacket because the one we originally bought was lost two years ago on a fateful canoe trip and last year we borrowed one. No biggie. He needs a warm hat because I shrunk last year’s favorite hat. And so on. Then, we pack and share in his excitement that he gets to be in his happy place for 42 days.

In the meantime, I am trying to get his meds filled ahead of time. Since he will be out of the country I won’t be able transfer a prescription to a neighboring state’s pharmacy or drive the meds up to camp when it’s time to refill. You would not believe the hoops I am jumping through to make this happen.

I asked the doctor to give me a pre-authorization for the pharmacy and/or insurance company. “Oh, we don’t do that,” I was told, “You have to call the pharmacy.” So, I called the pharmacy and was told that I had to call the insurance company.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Finally, the pharmacy agreed to talk to the insurance company. Now, the insurance company wants an authorization from the doctor since Hunter is going out of the country. We have just gone full circle.

Oh, and let me tell you that the pharmacist didn’t even want to call the insurance company until 2 days before Hunter leaves.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I am about to cry. My son needs 42 days worth of meds — three different prescriptions from two different doctors — that need to be filled and paid for by insurance. If they won’t do it, we are talking about an out of pocket cost of about $1000! This bureaucratic red tape is ridiculous.

Our lives are complicated enough without having to deal with stuff like this on a regular basis. I needed to vent. Tell me, what puts you over the edge?