When a T-Shirt Means EVERYTHING

I had the sheer luck of stumbling across this account during my early days on Instagram. I reached out to the owner and gushed about my obsession with his movement. He is running a page called “What Trans Looks Like” and it is dedicated to trans people and allies of all types sharing themselves in statement shirts that scream “WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU! WE ARE PEOPLE TOO!”

I loved everything about this from the minute I laid eyes on it. Not only is this man single-handedly running this little shop as a side gig, but he’s doing it to change the public’s perspective on transgender people and the overwhelming stereotype that has been perpetuated towards this community of people. Breaking the stigma of the “scary trans” person one t-shirt at a time. And doing it all with humility and overwhelming love of the community.

So when my son and I got a couple of these shirts it meant so much more to us than a piece of clothing. When my son opened his up and I explained what it said and where it came from, we scrolled the instagram feed together and he saw a string of faces, all different from his, but all the same. He saw that he’s not alone in the world as the only trans person. And at his young age, that’s a reminder he needs OFTEN. He learned that it is possible for him to one day look like a man with a beard or a mustache (although I didn’t exactly explain precise details on HOW just yet), instead of a boy with breasts.

My son got this t-shirt and he felt like he was understood. And he didn’t even know what the damn t-shirt said until I read it to him. If this doesn’t show you the power of community, support and affirmation… I don’t know what will.

My son wrote a letter to the maker of the magical t-shirt and it said, “I like being a boy because it makes me happy. When I was a girl, it made me REALLY REALLY sad. {my mom helped me write this}.”

We put on our new shirts and we posed for some photos. We had so much fun together knowing we were both doing something to make a difference in the world and to show people that just because you were born or look a certain way, doesn’t make you scary or weird. It just makes you different and unique.

Here is my post from when I shared our photo shoot on Instagram about how something as small as a shirt meant so much to me and especially my son:

Hey hey! When I first started this account I stumbled on this amazing movement @whattranslookslike shedding light on the trans community and full of photos of people brave enough to share and break through stereotypes of what it means to be transgender.

A lot of non-affirming sources on the Internet have this fixation on sexuality and gender being simultaneous and interchangeable but it doesn’t work that way. If you’ve ever read a well researched article on gender you would know that it’s something you can’t choose for someone else based on their biology. It’s more than your “parts” but also includes your expression and your mind. How you think, feel and present yourself. 

Gender is fluid. Which means it’s a spectrum of variations of how people identify. While some people identify as male or female, others identify as both or neither. AND. THAT. IS. OK. If you find the concept strange to you that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. It just means that as you developed you did NOT question the gender you were assigned at birth. And guess what? THAT IS OK TOO.

But if you are someone who has questioned your gender you know, it can be scary. It can be lonely. It can be confusing and it can hurt. 

So if you’re like me and you’ve never felt anything but your assigned gender, let’s stand up and be allies together. Because being anything else means we are promoting someone else’s pain and suffering. And that’s never the right thing to do.

Love your trans friends and family and show them that every chance you get, because in many cases their life depends on YOU and those they love showing them that you support, love, and accept them just the way they are.

 

Go hug your trans friends, show them you love them. And find yourself your Ally shirt here at whattranslookslike.com

xoxo, Mom Transparenting

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Getting Your Kids To School On Time In 1923 Easy Steps

Moms everywhere are always complaining that the morning shit show of trying to wake, dress, feed and get their kids off to school on time is overwhelming, to say the least. And frankly, I just don’t get it. I have my kids up and out the door with minutes to spare every single day and I do it all in just under 2000 simple steps.

Follow me on my morning journey and get yourself some much needed guidance on this disaster you claim is such a “hard job” and you’ll be spinning your wheels up to the doors of the school right as the bell rings just like I am every day!

  1. Make sure your kids clothes are set out for them before they wake up. If this means setting your alarm clock to get your ass out of bed at 2 AM so that you don’t have to be bothered with nuisances like your completely dependent children in the morning, then do that. Just make sure the clothes are out. Never mind that they won’t want to wear THAT outfit once they wake up.
  2. Pack lunches the night before. Between cooking a six-course meal, struggling your way through endless sight words and spelling tests, and hosing down your little angels in the bath while they scream in agony over the pain that tear-free soap brings to their eyes, you can find a spare couple of hours to cut free-range, hormone-free, NON-GMO, and antibiotic and cruelty-free meats into faces of their favorite Disney characters. It’s not that hard, mom. Slap some gluten-free crackers and homemade fruit leather in there too.
  3. Early risers should be celebrated! When your kids wake up at 4AM, take this as an opportunity to get a jumpstart on the day. Don’t ask them to return to their beds in the pitch-black night. Make sure to seize this good fortune as a chance to get a few extra hours of screen time in while you dream about the millions of chores you should be completing as you doze off on the couch to the sounds of YouTubers and Jojo Siwa streaming from the iPads waiting for the sun to rise.
  4. Set an alarm, for God sake. Don’t assume your kids will wake you up before you need to get up. We all know Murphy’s Law of parenting doesn’t work that way. Why would you leave something like timeliness to chance? Get up hours before your kids that way you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee while you cry into your kids cereal because you stayed up far too late last night scrolling on Instagram when you should have went to bed early.
  5. Wake your kids with the sound of a soft bell and ocean waves. Set the mood for the morning waking up your slumbering babes with soothing nature sounds. This will surely keep them from screaming into your face because they aren’t READY TO GET UP YET! They will wake up naturally calm and serene ready to take the day by storm. Shit storm.
  6. Have your kids dress before breakfast. This really saves time, because when they spill their cereal and milk all over their fresh clothes, they can scream in a traumatic fit of rage because they didn’t like that outfit and suddenly, now that they can’t wear it, it’s their FAVORITE!
  7. Get your shoes and coat on before your kids. Modeling the behavior you want your kids to perform shows them your expectations. If I have my shoes and coat on before I even wake them up in the morning they are fully prepared for my requests for THEM to get theirs on two hours later. And, it makes it so much easier to get their lunches into their bags, help them tie their shoes, zip their coats and wrangle them out of the house when you’re bundled up for below freezing temps like a snowman.
  8. Give your kids a warning and count-down every five minutes starting an hour before you have to leave. Experts say that instead of telling your kids it’s time to go NOW, by giving them a 5-10 minute warning it mentally prepares them for the task at hand. I say, why stop at 10? Start the night before when you put them to bed and repeat every five minutes screaming, “I’m serious you guys, we are going to be LATE if you don’t HURRY UP!” This way, they have no excuse for their tardiness and you can throw in their faces that you’ve been telling them for A DAY they needed to be ready to go. As if we don’t complete this same ritual every. damn. day. and they shouldn’t already know that leaving is part of the routine.
  9. Set an actual fire (kind of). Ten minutes past the time you are supposed to have walked out the door, start a fire alarm in the house. I find that LOUD NOISES really get my kids to jump to attention. If they haven’t been phased by your incessant countdown from the previous 12 hours, it’s time to bust out the big guns. Tell them this is the sound of the school bell they are hearing and it’s TIME. They are already LATE.
  10. Do a thorough check as each child walks out the door that they have everything they need. You should have done this the night before, but you were too busy “liking” strangers status updates so now you’re behind. Line them up like little soldiers and make sure to double and triple check they have every item they need to get through the day. Let’s be honest. Even if you complete this step you’ll realize some field trip form you left sitting on the counter the minute you get a block or two away from the house.
  11. When you can’t get them in line, don’t start panicking… yet.  This is not how this was supposed to go. You are PRE-PLANNING. There is a method to this and the process is tried and true! You did it ALL RIGHT! It’s not time to give up yet. You’re not a quitter and this isn’t your day to lie down and roll over. Today you fight. So when all else fails, scream until a vein pops out of your neck. You mean business.
  12. -1923. Give up. It’s already past the bell. You still don’t have one of their shoes on. One is in their room changing for the third time and one of them hasn’t finished their breakfast they started an hour ago. Now you panic. Start threatening to leave without them if they are not IN THE CAR in TWO MINUTES! Now you start contemplating the list of excuses you’ve already given the school this year for your impeccable ability to roll-up sometime between the starting bell and lunch. Have you blamed the dog running away yet? Let’s go with that one.

Getting your kids to school on time might take some extra planning on your end, but isn’t that your job as a mom? If you aren’t prepared for every anticipated meltdown, sock seam, missing shoe and cereal fiasco, what are you even doing with your kids every morning? Kids are predictable and reasonable, especially first thing in the morning. What could possibly go wrong?

If you haven’t managed to master how to gather up a bunch of sleepy, grumpy and irrational beings by now… try again tomorrow. It’s bound to work eventually, right?

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When Panic Attacks Are Scary AF

It’s been years since I have had a major attack. One that made me consider the scary scenario that I may actually be dying. Knowing that I experience these types of attacks, I am usually able to talk myself down. To remind myself of what this really is and that it will pass. Everything will be ok.

But tonight, I was completely taken by surprise. I had just finished up dinner and done the dishes. I was getting my kids finished with their baths and ready for bed. I was getting ready to finally RELAX for the day. And suddenly it hit me. It came out of nowhere. In an instant I felt like my entire world shifted.

My vision changed, just slightly. I felt for a split second like I was floating, but not in a good way. In a way that made me feel like my equilibrium was shifting rapidly. And then fear set in. I was scared. My throat was tight and my body felt weak. I was sure I was going to pass out. My heart started racing and my mind and my body went into flight mode. I wanted to run but I also wanted to go nowhere at all.

These are all common symptoms I have experienced in the past with a severe panic attack. Attacks that I was having on an almost weekly basis. Attacks I had started to attribute to my failing marriage because coincidentally after my divorce was finalized they seemed to vanish. At least at the severity they had be coming in.

My attacks in the past had landed me in the ER a number of times. Convinced that something catastrophic was happening to my body, only to find out, every time that I was having yet another panic episode.

But today, after years of being able calm myself down and talk myself out of these situations before allowing them to escalate to something unbearable, the unthinkable happened. I was scared.

If you’ve ever been scared about anything at all, you know the feeling. You know that rush to run. Get the hell away as fast as you possibly can. But what happens when the source of the fear is inside your own body? In your mind? It’s your heart, your shallow breath, your clammy hands? You can’t run from that as hard as you may try.

You try to count your breaths, you take deep, melodic ones in hopes that your heart will catch up with the rhythm and they will slow down in synchrony. You walk around, you lay down. You close your eyes and pray for this to stop. And the panic becomes overwhelming because you now start running the terrifying options through your head. Could this really be something more serious this time? It doesn’t seem to be going away, does that mean I AM dying? My body feels tingly, my head feels light and empty. Is this what a seizure feels like? Could I be having a stroke? Maybe it’s a heart attack? Should I call 911? What if I wait and it’s too late?

Meanwhile, my boyfriend is trying to help and it’s relative to when you have a significant other with you while you are delivering a baby. EVERYTHING they try to do is annoying and hurts or pisses you off. They want to help but they simply DO. NOT. GET. IT. Tonight, mine looked at me like I had completely lost my mind. I felt like he didn’t believe that in my head, what was going on was very real and VERY frightening. And it hurt. It hurt so bad because I just wanted to feel like someone understood how scared I was feeling.

And it’s not his fault. How would he understand if he has never experienced this in his life? He wouldn’t. Yet it hurt because you just want someone to tell you that you’re not crazy, but you ARE ok and that it will pass. And someone who can’t do that you just want to go away. Leave you be so you can work yourself down off the ledge and feel better.

It took hours tonight. I ended up falling asleep after and that’s really the only thing that put a stop to it. When I woke up, I felt slightly better. It was a relief. But now I’m going to live in fear. Worried about the next attack. Tonight’s attack seemed to have no obvious trigger I can put my finger on and that scares the ever loving crap out of me. Next time this happens will I be at school pickup? At the grocery store? Will I be far away from home and have nowhere to retreat to when what I really need to is hide in the fetal position and convince myself that life WILL go on for me?

And then there is the guilt. I feel bad for not wanting or need to accept help from anyone tonight but really I couldn’t take it. And what little help I did accept was from me ordering people around to do things I thought might make things feel better. And then swiftly to go away because it wasn’t helping. Or their presense alone was exasperating every symptom I was having.

My son came into my room in full doctor garb to give me a check up and I had to turn him away with a promise that he could finish his full exam later that evening. But after I woke up, he was already in bed. And I felt terrible about that.

I feel like now I am going to live my life in fear like I did years ago when these attacks came regularly. Scared to leave the house in worry that this will happen in public, that I will be driving and have to pull over. That next time I won’t be able to calm myself down and I will take a trip to the ER instead. I was close tonight.

Feeling like your mind and body are betraying you is the more terrifying thing. You start to feel like you have to live in a bubble because the one thing you rely on most, your intuition, has betrayed you. You can’t trust your instincts anymore because they are sending mixed, jumbled, and fucked up signals.

I hope the next time I’m able to calm myself down faster. I’m able to remind myself that even though it might FEEL like this is the end, it’s not. And I hope that it will gradually be less and less until I go another few years without another excessive episode like tonight. Until then, if you suffer from panic attack, I see you. I feel you. And I trust you even if you don’t trust yourself.

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The Viral Video Of An Outraged Transgender Woman At Gamestop Makes Me Incredibly Sad. Here’s Why:

The video circulating on social media platforms is that of a transgender woman who is standing in a Gamestop in Albuquerque, New Mexico and obviously distraught and upset with the employee and the other customers in the store. The video shows the woman demanding to be referred to as “ma’am” multiple times after the employee and the customers repeatedly misgender her. She gets visibly upset, makes threats, demands, and swears. But, in the end, she leaves. That’s the gist; you can see it for yourself here:

Is it ok for someone to storm through a store, kick a display, shout obscenities or threaten to meet an employee “out back”? No. Absolutely not. But I have to consider what was going on with this woman to make her get to this level of upset over a stranger misgendering her.

I had to do a little research to find the backstory here. Because, as we all know, not everything we see on the internet is as it seems. I wanted to know what happened BEFORE the cameras started recording. What brought it to this place of anger? What I could find, according to Daily Mail is, the woman came in and purchased an item. Upon the clerk handing her the receipt he called her “sir,” and she got upset. She wanted to return the item she had just purchased because she didn’t feel comfortable spending money in a store where an employee had just deeply insulted her. The clerk offered store credit. You can see in the video that she is noticeably getting more and more agitated with the situation and then starts the explosive responses.

The whole thing makes me so sad. So angry. I have to wonder if she would have escalated to that point if the employee wouldn’t have misgendered her in the first place or if he would have apologized IMMEDIATELY, and not continued to do so time after time following. The employee did apologize a few times. However, are you really “sorry” if you continue to do the very thing you’re apologizing for? Me thinks not.

She is dressed in pink shoes, a grey hoodie, women’s cut tight jeans, and a pink top with long hair and makeup applied. In a world of gender stereotypes, she is unquestionably dressed as a woman.
Why is it ok to misgender someone and then CONTINUE to do so when they have repeatedly corrected you otherwise? I’m not sure I can think of a good excuse here as to what would make that scenario acceptable.

I have seen some horrifying posts about this poor woman. Chastizing her for being angry, making jokes about how she “looks like a man.” I have to say, there are plenty of people who LOOK different, but that doesn’t give you the right to refer to them otherwise. We are told as a society that words like “retard” and “slow,” “tranny” and “fag” are derogatory and hurtful. Hate words. Why is repeated misgendering someone who has already given you the correct term to use not on the same level of insult and disrespect?

Let’s pretend this didn’t have to do with the controversial LGBTQ community. Let’s say, for argument sake; the employee made the HUGE mistake of asking a woman when she is due with her little bundle of joy only to find out that she is not actually pregnant. Would he say it again, and then again? Would the visual of her belly make it IMPOSSIBLE for him to stop saying something about her pending pregnancy despite knowing better? Would the internet be trolling with people demanding that because she looks like she could have a baby in her womb that she must, in fact, be pregnant? My eyes are telling me that you look like you’re carrying a child, so I’m going to call it as I see it because that’s the entitled asshole I am. Would this scenario change the way you think? I should hope so, and then I would venture to challenge you to consider what makes this situation so different?

Besides having a transgender child and fearing every single day about situations like this happening to him one day and my child having to see first-hand how genuinely awful and cruel the world can be, I am sad because I am sure there is so much hurt behind this poor woman’s reaction. I would have to assume based on her level of anger that the furiousness in her voice and the fierceness of her actions comes from dark places. Places where she has spent part (maybe the better part?) of her life trying to get people to SEE HER for who she is. And here she is, in a public place around people she doesn’t even know, and it’s happening to her among strangers. She’s being denied her gender identity.

I can tell you one of the first times we went out after my son cut his hair and picked out a new wardrobe is a day that sticks in my memory as one of the “good days.” We took a trip to the grocery store, and an older man in the checkout line looked at my son and said, “hey little dude, you really like to help your mommy, don’t you?” Moreover, then he looked at me and said, “you are so lucky to have such a helpful SON.” And I agreed. I was lucky. That man made my son’s day, and he didn’t even know it because that moment was the very FIRST time anyone had ever seen my son as a boy and didn’t know any better. And my son could not have been happier about that. When we got to the car, he said to me, “hey, mom! That guy thought I was a boy and he didn’t even know I used to be a girl, isn’t that so COOL??!!”

It was very cool. It gave my son confidence. Showed him that he could be the person he felt inside AND out. And made my son feel comfortable in his own skin for the first time, maybe ever.

So thinking back on that day and how critical that moment was to my son. It paved the way for his path to socially transitioning completely and being confident and brave enough to do so. I think about that, and I feel sad for this woman because based on her reaction and the behaviors and words of the people in the people in the store, it would seem she hasn’t had many experiences like my young child. Instead, she is probably fighting family and friends to accept her for who she is and then, now, she can’t even go to a public place surrounded by strangers without someone reminding her that she was born in the wrong body. How sad is that? What kind of hurt must that feel like? I couldn’t even imagine.

The suicide rate among the trans community that feels unsupported by their loved ones is a staggering number — almost HALF. I have to point that out because it’s situations like these that contribute to this astonishing rate. When you misgender someone you are dismissing their gender identity. According to Gender Confirmation Center, “Misgendering can invalidate a person’s gender identity which can lead to feeling disrespected, alienated, dismissed, and/or dysphoric. It has negative consequences for a person’s self-esteem, mental health, and identity continuity, so it is important.”

I urge the world to start trying to do better. Using words that assume someone’s gender is usually habit, I get that. However, making an effort not to assume gender in the first place would eliminate the hurt and discrimination someone feels by being misgendered. And if you accidentally call someone by the wrong pronoun, APOLOGIZE, and MEAN IT. Don’t follow it up with repeated offenses. If you can’t get it right, don’t use gender identifying language at all.

And let’s stop making comments about how someone looks a certain way they deserve to be identified whatever WE feel is acceptable. It’s not a valid argument.

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Why I Showed My Kids My Tears During My Divorce

Some things happen in this life that whether in our control or not, are heartbreaking. Things that occur that we wish we could take back, or do differently.

Things that can break us, if we let them.

When I was divorcing my children’s father, I cried. A lot. Often. It was a depressing time for our family and my self-esteem. There were days when my 1-year-old would ask why I was so sad all of the time, and times when my oldest would cry with me because he was sad too.

And it’s because of that – I don’t regret my sheer rawness with my kids, because if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would. And I would do it the same.

Here’s why:

  • People get sad. It’s part of life. People cry. Man or woman, young or old, you are going to shed some tears at some point in your life, and I don’t ever want my kids to think that crying is something to be ashamed of or something they should do in private because I never cried in front of them.I want my kids to see that being sad is part of being human, and it’s ok. If they are sad, depressed, or struggling, I want them to know that this is something people experience, as human beings, and it is OK.
  • I want my kids to see that despite my sadness, I still did what I needed to do. I got up; I got dressed, I put “my face on” and I left the house. Whether I was taking them to school or dragging myself to work, I made sure not to neglect {too many} responsibilities. Even if it felt like I was dusting myself off and going back out into the world that I felt was swallowing me whole.They saw me crying earlier in the morning, but they also saw me pull myself together and take care of my responsibilities. I made dinner, I cleaned. I may have shed tears in between, but life went on, and it was vital for me to show them that.
  • I wanted my kids to know that their parent’s divorce was sad for me, too. I knew they were struggling. They couldn’t wrap their tiny heads around why this was happening and why things just couldn’t go back to the way they were. And I wanted them to see that I felt their pain too.Maybe not in the same way, but we were in this together, as a family. By sharing my sadness openly with them, I hoped it would encourage them to do the same with me. And in many ways it did.

    It also opened the door for us to have some cathartic conversations about what this change meant for our family, how we could get through this as a team, and what the future was going to look like for us.

  • Maybe most importantly, I wanted to show my kids later that there is life after sadness. Because you have the tools to change your life and how you react to it, but you must DO it. I wanted them to see that even if something happens in life that feels like it could be the end of the world, feels like it IS the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be. At least not forever.We are allowed to have our feelings, to feel our experiences, but we also have to take responsibility for our happiness. To do the work to dig ourselves out of the crippling sadness that is tearing us apart inside. I wanted my kids to see me do this so one day they can remember that our family experienced a dreadful event, and it hurt like hell, but we found love in each other, and we climbed out of the depths of depression together, and are stronger now because of it.

    That even if you feel like a devastating event cripples you, eventually, life WILL go on. And when that happens, you can be better; you can be someone with pride and resilience. Because you cried because you allowed yourself to feel the hurt, the pain, and the sadness but also to use it as a motivator to stop feeling sad.

I didn’t make a conscious effort to cry in front of my children at first. I was so overwhelmed with emotions and pain that it happened. In the beginning, I would be lying if I said I didn’t question how raw and open I should be with them about this.

I didn’t share intimate details of my divorce experience with my children, of course. But I did share some of my pain, most of my sadness, and a whole bunch of my tears. And if I had to do this all again, that is the one thing I would not change.

It brought us closer together. Helped us heal as a family, and gave me a chance to have some conversations with my kids. Ones that might not have happened so naturally, so organically, had I not given them the opportunity to see me struggling and in pain.

As parents, I think we tend to question the way we handle situations with our kids. Did we do this right? Could we have done better? Should I have or have not said this or done that? I can honestly say, this is one of those parenting moments that brings zero regrets.

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Mom Transparenting

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