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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Becoming Cory - part one


Two weeks ago we had a huge week. Cory transitioned at his high school from Anneke to Cory. To do this we met with the Vancouver Board of Education’s Diversity and Anti-Homophobia worker Maria, to map out a plan. (Yes we have such position in our school board, and I am deeply grateful for that.) She has been like our personal 100 pound purple haired pit-bull, clearly stating that Cory’s transition will proceed smoothly, or they will have to deal with her. I have only really met with Maria twice, but I guarantee I would not want to be on the wrong end of her in any way. Her office was a non-descript, stereotypical beaurocrats cubicle that she transformed into her own personal pride float – a huge Rainbow flag hanging above her desk tops it all off. From the first moment I spoke with her on the phone I knew we would be in good hands.

Next we met with Cory’s vice principle and school counsellor Dr. S and Ms. L. Ms. L is also the staff person for the school’s GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). Another thing I am hugely grateful for since I learned that some school boards are unsupportive of GSA’s in their schools. I had never met Dr. S. before our meeting but was amazed at his matter-of-fact, no bullshit way of approaching things.

The plan would be that Cory stay home from school for two days and a Dr. S. and Ms. L would go to each of his classes and explain that when s/he returned to school s/he would no longer be Anneke, he would be Cory. He would be using the male washrooms, using male pronouns and (most controversially) using the male change room in the Hockey Academy.

When we met Dr. S described the process of discussing Cory’s transition from female to male quite simply. He felt it would be a 5-8 minute conversation tops. With his thick South African accent and his non-nonsense attitude, he simply said, Cory is a young man in our school. We accept diversity; we accept Cory as a young man in our school and demand that everyone here at this school do the same. If they don’t like it they can leave. Period. Cory has told me, this is not a new speech for him and he frequently shows people the door or announces he has school transfer papers at the ready for any student who does not accept others and demonstrates respect and tolerance.

Wow. I was gobsmacked really. He made it sound so simple.

Cory nodded approvingly. Maria, Ms. L and I exchanged glances. Of course we all knew that it might not be so simple. Cory would be at risk of bullying, social isolation and/or physical violence. All of which have happened to other trans kids to varying degrees. I felt a bit like I was sending my kid into a lion’s den, and trusting virtual strangers to keep the lions at bay.
Luckily for us another brave boy forged the way in the Vancouver School board, and they had a template for what worked and what didn’t.
(You can read about Cormack here http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/08/12/when-boys-would -rather-not-be-boys\)

Well, last week Cory stayed home from school for two days and the classes were informed. A little primer was given on what it meant to be transgender, and then all of his classmates were informed that Anneke was transitioning and needed their support and understanding.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to know that my entire high school was talking about me. As a shy, self-conscious teenager, I know I would have rather crawled into a hole and died. The word ‘brave’ just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Cory said from the start of the process that he couldn’t think about the reaction too much. He is already prone to anxiety. It was a wise self-realization. It was something he was going to do no matter what. This was a part of becoming Cory - being himself. This was not a choice. It was part of the journey.

So I suppose, like pulling a Band-Aid off, or jumping in the pool, it was best to just do it. Transition done. No more roadblocks. No more cringing every time someone said she. The next day at school was a hockey day with ice time. Time for the boy’s dressing room in one of the most gendered sports ever known. Perhaps the down side of going stealth in Coquitlam would be he knows what a boy’s locker room is like when everyone is comfortable.

When I asked Cory what the worst reaction would be, he simply stated “It would be if they said nothing. If no one talks to me.” My heart sank. I knew it could happen. And it could happen not because people didn’t understand or didn’t want to be kind. It would be simply because people didn’t know what to say. Awkward silence. I didn’t want to elaborate on any of the bad reactions I had swirling around in my head. I just tried to be positive and supportive.

“It’s going to be fine” I said, “Remember, you haven’t changed really at all. You are the same person. Your friends will all know that.”

The next day Cory returned to school…...

Reaction to follow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

10 Things I Love about my Kids

1. They are the empathetic and non-judgemental people…. The first ones to be friends with the new kid.

2. They will eat almost anything. I have never had a problem with picky eaters. It getting them not to eat that is the challenge.

3. They both enjoy watching and playing hockey. It has given them character and athleticism.

4. They laugh at my jokes. I think they are the only people who think I’m funny.

5. They understand my crazy job and my need for sleep, food and caffeine.

6. They know when I’m grumpy and when to get me sleep, food or caffeine…without me even asking. Good survival instincts if you ask me.

7. They haven’t inherited many of my body issues and walk around naked whenever possible. This applies mainly to Molly, who frequently reports “I am AWESOME!”

8. They are resilient and adaptive. This year has involved many huge life changes. They have both handled it with grace and humour.

9. They can fart and belch as though it were an Olympic sport.

10. They love me back.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Icing on the cake

It's not only a huge accomplishment that Cory is playing boys hockey with the boys and excelling. The icing on the cake is when the team votes him most valuable player, awarding him the team helmet two games this month.
He was embarrassed when I took this photo but I could tell he was proud.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stealth

Stealth

The term stealth is used to refer to a person who passes as their desired gender at all times, and who has broken contact with everybody who knew their gender history. Thus, everybody around them is unaware that they were not always of the gender presented, and they are effectively invisible within the population of their current gender. In order to live in stealth,[6] an individual has to be extremely passable.

While Cory is not stealth in most of his life he has been stealth this year in boys hockey.

Last Friday was Cory's last game in his new hockey league. As I will detail in a future post we advocated fiercely for Cory to be considered male in his hockey association. It worked and he just finished his first season going stealth as a male player. A huge victory for Cory. It meant the world to him to be one of the guys and to make hockey history.

It's a boy!!!




Well folks. After a long break from blogging, I am happy to report Anneke and I are back to writing. We have a lot of catching up to do, so hopefully the next few weeks will be full of updates that will string the past year together.

The biggest news.....A. has decided to transition to be male.
S/he struggled with this for a while. Being gender fluid for so long s/he really wanted to be considered female but be allowed to take testosterone and have the body he wants. Seems this is so off the grid, our endocrinologist would not approve.

A.'s new name is Cory. It suits him. It's a great name.
Funnily enough it was not on our shortlist of names when we were expecting him almost 15 years ago. Thank you to Cory Schnieder for the inspiration. ;)

The long break from blogging was at Cory's request as he figured out what he wanted to do. Seems the main consideration was hockey. Switching from girls hockey to boys hockey is no small feat. In doing so, he has made history and his dreams of playing in the NHL are alive and well.

Cory has been on testosterone now for 6 weeks. He has grown over 2 inches, his voice is changing, and he is even growing a bit of a movember stach.

I have a son .... an amazing, brave, wonderful son, who is an inspiration and promises to change the world.