Can you open this for me?

January 15, 2010 dstevens11

A day of observations

People will probably think I am a friek or something, with my off the wall observations 🙂 I’m guilty. Obviously under the circumstances, I am more in tune or aware of some of the male/female gender roles with Jamie, not trying to be over-analytical, just trying to be observant.

Tonight Jamie was setting up dinner while we were all coming into the kitchen to sit down to eat. I noticed something extremely feminine about her, when she reached out to Drew and handed him a bottle of Diet coke tonight and said to him, “can you open this for me?”

As many females could relate to me, it is VERY, I repeat, VERY frustrating to not be able to open some of the jars, caps or tops of products. It’s one of those statements, “if we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we XXXX fill in the blank, make things easier to open!!”  Guys have that little extra ummmphh when it comes to that, and it can be frustrating when you try so hard to open something, hand it to someone, and they open it it like 2 seconds.

So Drew in our house, fits that bill. When something needs to be opened, where’s Drew, “can you open this me?” Whola, it gets opened. I never noticed Jamie either asking for help, or struggling. But tonight without even trying, she handed the bottle to Drew and said, “can you open this for me?” He grabbed it, opened it, Whola! it opened. I wonder if guys even recognize that skill or not, or are oblivious. Drew acts obliviously. But he must get asked that 10 times a week.

We have a dog at home, and when I go to the store and buy a 40lb bag of dog food, even when I have Jamie with me, I leave it in the trunk of my car for Drew to bring in. Once Jamie tried to bring it in, but she broke the bag just trying to grab and maneuver it. I wonder if she has have been set back or embarassed by her lack of strength while presenting as a boy. 

When I observe Jamie, she already exhibits many what I would call feminine traits, that she authentically demonstrates unconsciously. She won’t have a problem in my eyes, when the time is to present female. I do not know if the TG girls that are out there, experienced this when they were younger. Most are subtle observations, but some of these are becoming more consistent or pronounced.

– Cross her legs naturally when she sits

– Has her foot and toes pointed downward when her legs are crossed. 

– Limp wrists sometimes when she talks 

– Has her hands folded sometimes in her lap when she sits

– Folds her hands over knees when she has her legs crossed

– Hands at her hips

– Folds her legs under her when she sits on the couch

– Hates any hair on her legs, I never taught her how to shave, but all summer long she had hairless legs (she wears sweatpants during phys ed, I guess so nobody notices). She barely has even have that much hair you could see anyway, with her having blonde hair. 

I’ve also noticed some passivity in her some of her behaviour when it comes to Drew, that reminds me on how I was growing up with my two older brothers. Jamie was sitting by yourself on the couch watching a DVD in the TV room the other night, and when Drew and his 2 friends came into the house, they immediately went into the TV room, and in like perfect rythym, Jamie shut the DVD off and went upstairs to her room. I was sooo pissed, I called Drew into the other room and said, “did you ask Jamie if you could use the room? You just can’t do that” He just entered and expected to take over the room. Of course he played dumb. But I remember acting like that with my brothers, I just deferred to them and their friends. It’s not right I just think it’s instinctive.

When I was taking our family christmas picture this year, one of the first takes I took, was Drew in the middle, Jamie was to the left being the oldest and Aly to the right of Drew being the youngest. One of the first pictures Jamie was turned right shoulder out toward the camera, with Aly repeating the pose from the other side left shoulder out, with Drew square to the camera with his arms around both of them. AWESOME picture of a brother with his two sisters, until I knew I could not send a picture out like that yet to family members. It was such a girl pose on Jamie’s part. It was so cute. 

The other kind of awkward thing, I am not sure how to deal with yet. Is when I was a young girl, like most girls, I used to love to watch and help my mom get ready for work, and I am like that with Aly. She is always in my room and I’m fine with it. But Jamie is very curious I’m sure about applying make-up, doing hair or her eventual emerging female body, (much like I was), but other then me being in a bathrobe, I am not comfortable at all or think it’s appropriate to have her in there in my room when I am getting ready. But I have kind of just excluded Aly, which is probably not right, just to make sure that Jamie does not feel bad. I’m sure I will feel comfortable in time, but admittedly kind of awkward. But I’m sure it’s important part of a young girl’s development.

Another observation of Jamie is her voice. Now her voice has not changed at all, but what’s painful is to hear her “boy” voice. I know presenting as a male she is obviously very sensitive to it. Especially at school. You might think with her trying to gain a female identity, she may be trying to over  compensate her femininity, that’s not the case at all. Sometimes I feel it is the other way around. She has natural female behaviours, and compensates when she presents as a boy. She does this “low” voice thing, and tries to use slang words to act cool, just like a girl would trying to act like a boy. In a boy voice, she uses the word “dude” a lot, As I stated the last couple of entries, her female language and conversation is very evident when it is just me and Aly around.

I am probably over analyzing, but I think I can understand the duality pressure and pain of a gender transition, just watching Jamie. It has to be sooo confusing, and just as powerful when it all gets aligned. 

Drew is with his dad all weekend, so I’m home with Aly and Jamie all weekend. We don’t have anything planned, but will look to do something nice with the both of them. TGIF, Love, Dana

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Entry Filed under: transgender

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sherry Ann  |  January 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Dana,

    First, I’m not sure those of us who transitioned later can bring much insight about gender mannerisms of a teen. I doubt that I had but a couple of female/girl mannerisms at age 15. I was trying to be a boy and to conform with what my peers were doing and expectations. (In private it was different.) I had no concept of gender roles other than the strong gender appropriate expectations that I needed to be a boy. But I couldn’t make little league either and was hit on by (older) guys a few times as a teen probably because there were some mannerisms. Who knows now?

    With Jamie it is different. She has been given permission to be who she is and she is mimicking what she has observed as female mannerisms. She has been observing other girls at school, on TV and of course you and Aly. Gender role behavior is in large measure cultural and learned, based on which gender we self-identify. Usually that is concordant with one’s biological sex and not much is made of it. In this case it is not.

    As you have already discovered there are plenty of skeptics about the wisdom of early intervention with a young person expressing their “desire” to transition and live in the gender opposite of their assigned or genetic sex. I’m sure you have had your skeptical moments too. If you didn’t question this time and time again would, in itself, be an issue.

    I shared your story recently with a few other trans women and gave them a link to your blog. I suggested that your story would be compelling and that they may want to show support. I don’t know these individuals well, or their personal situations, but one gal took issue with giving support, primarily because hormone and surgical intervention is irreversible. The logic apparently is that boys with GID are not emotionally developed enough to make a choice he may regret when completely mature. So here are things that I believe relative to gender and intervention:

    • Our core gender is determined in-utero irrespective of genetics. Genetic females have a high probability to develop a female gender identity and visa versa. This is good.
    • Because gender is not absolutely either male or female there are variations in children and in adults. We all know “soft” men who are comfortable with being male and women who are more comfortable in jeans and shirt than blouse and skirt. Most tomboy girls turn out just fine and I’ll bet a lot of strong men dressed up at least once as a boy.
    • A relatively few people are at the opposite end of the gender spectrum from the genetic sex in which they were born. They are the ones with serious Gender Identity Disorder; they are gender dysphoric.
    • The diagnosis of GID in children must be made professionally and carefully. Second opinions would be important if it were my child.
    • Pharmacologic intervention and surgical treatment options should be reserved for the most serious cases.

    It serves no purpose for me to project my personal situation to that of Jamie’s. The situations are so different, separated by decades of social, medical and communication progress. Would I have been diagnosed with severe GID when 12 years old and started on chemical intervention, if born in 1990 instead of 1944? Perhaps. That is not relevant now. The question you will deal with Monday is what is important.

    As perspective, there is a lot of tragedy in the adult trans world, and triumph too. Transition to the opposite gender is a pretty high mountain to climb after the effects of the hormones of the genetic sex have worked for 15, 20 or 30 years. There are a lot of physical characteristics to overcome; mannerisms to acquire; so much to learn. Talk about a glass ceiling; joining the women’s club is about as tough as it gets. And the older you are the more skepticism you will receive. People you know and love, know and love you as one gender; seeing you in the other is, well you pick the word. So I do not know or cannot say that waiting or putting off professional medical or surgical solutions is always, or even mostly, the best choice. If Jamie really is a girl inside as confirmed by her life thus far and the opinion of professionals, should she not be spared the more difficult path a transition later on would impose? Shouldn’t she be spared the agony of living a life she cannot relate to?

    I was sort of accused by my trans friend of pushing a particular outcome with you and Jamie. Although I doubt I would have that much influence, the outcome is not up to me, or probably even you or your ex-husband. It most likely is preordained by who Jamie is. Everything you have written in your wonderfully open blog suggests she knows better than any of us, and understands what it means. Is there risk taking the next step? Yes, but probably much less than the risk of not taking that step. No apologies for being supportive here.

    No, I don’t think you are a freak or are over analyzing. I know you have that important appointment Monday. I hope it goes well. I will be there in spirit. Be strong. And enjoy the weekend with your girls.

    Sherry

    P.S. I write more than you. Must have too much time on my hands (LOL)

    • 2. dstevens11  |  January 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Hi Sherry – Thanks again for your wonderful and thoughtful comments. Your absolutely right, I have had skepticism all the way through this. I think we have had great therapy, and have stayed to true to the recommendations of the therapy. I think what scares me the most are the next steps, because they are irreversible as your friend states. It absolutely has not been a casual process by any means. But like many of the TG women that have expressed their opinions, Jamie just knows who she is, and what she’s not. I just want her to be happy, and to find happiness. I know her transition will be the right thing for her. Thanks for the links, I do belong to a support group, and it is very helpful. Thanks for the recommendation. Love, Dana

  • 3. Sherry Ann  |  January 15, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Just a quick note. See below. I know you live in the Philly area but perhaps there is a support group like this in your area. Thought you might like to know.

    **********

    T*Families (Baltimore/Washingt on/Richmond Region) (a project of PFLAG)

    Sunday, January 17th, 2010

    ==> Are you a Mom or a Dad, brother or sister, a Significant Other? then T*Families is for you.

    T*Families provides the opportunity to share your experiences with others like yourself… others who also have dealt with the issues of a trans family member or lover. T*Families provides a confidential and supportive environment where you can explore issues with people who will understand. Most commonly attending are parents and Significant Others, but siblings, friends, and other family members also sometimes attend… different every time.

    ==> Are you trans?… Do your family members need support?

    Mom and Dad can talk with other parents.

    Your SO can explore issues with other SOs.

    All kinds of family members come to T*Families.. . different every time.

    Please bring them to T*Families. Forward this email to them.

    This Month’s Meeting:

    Date: This Sunday, January 17th, 2010

    Time: 2pm to 4pm

    Place:
    Cedar Lane Unitarian, downstairs
    9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, MD

    ********

    Sherry

  • 4. Amanda  |  January 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Dana, I have just now read your entire blog and all of the comments. I think that you are truly a wonderful and loving mom, and I am gladdened by all the support that has been shown you in the comments.

    I just wish that you could have some of that support in you day-to-day real life.

    I really hope that things go for the best for all of you, including your ex during the appointment with Jamie’s psychiatrist. He will probably need help to fully accept that Jamie was always a girl.

    If you and the girls are going to be by yourselves this weekend, maybe you should ask Jamie if she would like to show you herself? To dress as she wants to at other times, not just at bedtime. And to wear some makeup and jewelry.

    I am another of those that couldn’t transition or even start HRT until adult. This isn’t about me, so I will just say that if you want to know more, just go to the website that I entered into the URL blank. If it doesn’t show, and you are curious, let me know and I will post it in another comment.

    • 5. dstevens11  |  January 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      Hi Amanda – Thanks for your nice comments and support. I just put on a post this morning, and you are right on the money, Jamie approached me about expressing herself this weekend. Uninitiated on my part. Crazy weekend all around, but good for Jamie. I could not get to your website, but would love to see it. Thanks again – Love, dana

  • 7. Sarah Jane  |  January 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Dana,
    Finding some group support is important for your well being and as Jamie’s mother.

    As an active participant in Jamie’s development, the fact that you are so observant is because you have become sensitized to Jamie’s feminine mannerism that she has picked up on her own. That is how I learned feminine gestures and mannerism, by observing others. It’s is only natural for Jamie to copy the other girls she is around; which will contribute to her female “assimilation”, if you will only quicker.

    I look forward to reading the next posting.
    Peace,
    Sarah

    • 8. dstevens11  |  January 17, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      Hi Sarah – I do belong to a support group as you recommend and it is wonderful. I feel like the family is in good hands with our professional help. Thanks for your comments and support. Love, Dana


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