Friday, February 24, 2012

Do *you* have children?

RK and I were recently at our local indoor trampoline place with the kids for a playdate with a couple of #2's friends. One of the other moms stayed and we were sitting around and chatting while the littles played. I had mentioned having two csections earlier in the conversation so the other mom assumed that the boys were mine, and casually asked RK if she had any children of her own.

It was a purely innocent question. The other mom does not know that RK is trans, so would have no idea that the kids are biologically BOTH of ours. RK fumbled over her words for a few seconds until I interjected that they were *OUR* kids, and left it at that. The other mom was very embarrassed, apologized several times, and then said that she assumed that I had been with a man before and forgot that there were new technologies for women to have children together.

This could have been a great opportunity for transgender education, but neither RK nor I were in the mood for being outed for a second time that day and potentially making the conversation more awkward than it already was. Part of me was very happy that RK had "passed" so well that this had become an issue. The other part of me was incredibly sad. Sad that our family is no longer looked at as a family unit and that people assume that one of us isn't a *real* parent to our children. Sad that I had to decide in a split second how to explain our family. Sad that someday our kids might be asked which of us is their *real mom.*

This isn't the first time that people have assumed that we aren't a family. We often get asked if we would like separate checks when we go out to dinner. The first few times this caught me off guard because that never happened when we went out as an opposite-gender couple. I really don't understand how us being a same-sex couple makes people look past all of the signs that we are together and assume that we are not. We still wear matching wedding rings, have kids that look like both of us, hold hands, use affectionate terms for each other, and otherwise behave like a married couple.

I hope that as we progress in this journey that I become less sensitive to society and that society becomes more accepting of same-sex couples and families. Love makes a family, not the other way around.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Little Background (final)

Our first six months in Phoenix were fun, hot, lonely, interesting, hot, and occasionally felt a little like vacation. In October of 2010 my mom and grandma visited for 10 days and we took a trip to the Grand Canyon. When they flew back to Ohio I went with them to see Suz and the new baby.

Soon after returning home, RK and I had an evening alone and she mentioned that she felt that she might be a cross-dresser. I quickly made it clear that I had NO interest in participating in that with her, but she was free to do what she needed to do when she was alone. RK was not happy with this answer and did not like seeing me upset, so she told me that it wasn't worth it to her and that she would never do it again. That promise lasted about 24 hours.

Over the next few months RK evolved from cross-dresser to dual-gender, from dual-gender to transgender without wanting/needing to transition, to eventually admitting to herself, me, and eventually the rest of the world, that she truly identified as female and needed to transition for her own mental health.

November to March was incredibly difficult for us, with the peak hitting in February. At first I told her that if she needed to transition that I was leaving, but when transition time came, I decided to stay and try. I knew that I would do better trying and failing than leaving and never knowing what might have been.  In January of 2011 I found a wonderful therapist, and I am certain that she, along with PFLAG saved our marriage, and probably my sanity. Dr. Judy sees all kinds of people, but really has a gift for working with trans people and their loved ones.

Once RK had decided that transition was the only way, we needed to tell the kids. At the time #1 was 8 and #2 was 6 and while they had a rough understanding of gay/lesbian, they had no transgender knowledge. We sat them down one afternoon and explained gender variance to them and that RK was gender variant and would be going through some changes in the near future and would like to live life as a woman. I was prepared for the WORST but the conversation went very well. They said they thought that it was weird, but they didn't care and then asked if they could go back to playing the wii. They have had some concerns along the way that they have been able to voice very open and honestly, and while their questions or comments may sting from time to time, I am happy that they feel comfortable keeping that line of communication open.   Around the time that we told the kids, we also found a therapist for them, because ours does not specialize in children. She has been a wonderful asset to our family and has given our children a safe space to talk through their feelings and have room to work through their emotions surrounding losing a dad and gaining another mom.

Our roles within our family have not changed much. RK is still the athletic, sarcastic, slightly gross parent of the family. I did not want to share the title of mom (or any of it's variants) so we gave the kids a list of names that other trans families have used and they settled on Maddy. To get the kids to switch pronouns and names we used a positive-reinforcement system. The kids had been begging for an xbox for about a year and I kept saying no because we already had a PS2 and a Wii. We decided to make the xbox the big reward for pronoun/name switching because we were pretty certain that it would work. In addition to loving video games, the boys also love legos and have more legos than any two children need. To reinforce the female pronouns I put a large bowl of legos on the counter next to an empty vase. Every time one of the kids used a female pronoun or "Maddy" instead of "Dad" they were allowed to put a lego in the vase. Within 2.5 months the vase was full and the female pronoun/name habit had been created. The xbox arrived in mid July and the kids are still smitten with it. We all have our occasional pronoun/name slip-ups (even RK), but 99% of the time we all get it right.

I think that just about brings us up to now. RK has been presenting as female at work since November, and all of her coworkers have been nothing short of wonderful. Most of our family and friends have also been amazing but we have lost a few along the way. While it is sad to lose friends and family because of who you are, we have made SO many more friends now that RK is out, and we are active in the GLBT community.  We are currently in the process of trying to buy a house and will have a ton of visitors between now and moving time. All of these things should give me plenty to talk about!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Little Background (part 2)

Life in early marriage was busy, complicated, and full of love. Within the first year of being married I became pregnant with #1, quit my job to be a stay at home mom, RK was laid off from her job, Mom was laid off from her job, we all moved into mom's to consolidate expenses, and I started working as a waitress and bartender so we had some money coming in.  We laughed, cried, and struggled through, and eventually we were all back on our feet in our own space.

The week that #1 turned two in 2004 we learned that we were expecting #2. Around that same time, RK took a great job in IT at a university and everything seemed to fall into place. By the time #2 was two years old in 2007 I was finishing my Bachelors and we were buying a great house in a great neighborhood and I had started working as a recruiter with a small RPO firm.

As RK worked her way up through the ranks at the university it became clear that there was no room left for career progression and she was growing increasingly unhappy. I had always wanted to live in a bigger city and after visiting Phoenix, I felt like that is where we were supposed to be. It didn't take RK long to get an awesome job offer and we were on our way to Phoenix.

The move was harder than I was expecting. Just after we told everyone that we were moving, Suz announced that she was pregnant. It was incredibly hard to be 2000  miles from her while she was pregnant and having my niece, since Suz had lived with us when I was pregnant with #1 and had been such a great help. I felt guilty not being able to do the same for her. I also LOVE babies, so it has been hard to miss out on the day to day interaction with that sweet little girl.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Little Background (part 1)

Here is a little background on RK and I, before I jump into current-day life.

RK and I have known each other longer than we can remember. Our grandparents lived across the street from each other for 10 years until my family bought RK's grandma's  house when she downsized. RK's grandma (Grandma Billie) always used to tell us that would get married some day when we were teenagers. We were both involved with long-term high school relationships with other people, so we would smile and nod and go on about our way, since there was no arguing with Grandma Billie at that phase of her life.

A few years later, after both of our high school relationships had ended, my sister Suz was dating RK's best friend. We found ourselves spending a lot of time together, and eventually started dating. We seemed to click right away, and since we had known each other forever, we just had the past 5 years or so to catch up on in the early part of our relationship. We had a great time going on weekend trips, discovering new music, spending time with my family, and just enjoying being together.

About a year after we started dating, we were in Pigeon Forge, TN getting married on the deck of a beautiful cabin in the mountains with my immediate family and RK's best friend. It was a beautiful, intimate wedding and a magical time in our lives. We had a reception with the rest of our family and friends when we returned home and then started our new life as Mr. & Mrs.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I am a wife to a transwoman, a mother to two amazing boys, an aspiring writer, and a former recruiter. My family and I have lived in Phoenix, AZ for two years and are originally from Ohio.  In addition to my spouse and children, I share my house with a Jack Russel named Jack-Jack, Parmesan the cat, and Spike the bearded dragon.

About 18 months ago RK, my spouse of ten years,  came out to me as transgender and decided to transition in April of 2011. We have had many bumps along this wild ride, but we are still very much in love and learning how to live in this new version of our marriage.