Children talking transgender with parents

Earlier this week, a mother was interested in more information so that she might be equipped to talk about transgender issues with her young children. Earlier this month, a mother wrote to me after her daughter told her that she felt like a boy.

What should a parent do in this situation? To make writing easier, I will pose everything as a young daughter with her mother, not meaning to neglect that this could be a son, or this could be a teenager, and the child could be talking with dad, both parents, or another trusted adult.

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Love, patience, and calm

The last thing a parent wants to do is react with surprise, or make a funny face with the accompanying, “Noooo, honey. You’re a girl. You can’t be a boy.” Though you might be your reaction, it is the best way to keep your child ever from opening up and, even more, to drive her feelings inward and cause her to believe she has nowhere to go with them.

Have you ever been in a position where you needed to share something which was difficult? What did you long to have from the other person? It’s a Golden Rule thing: treat others as you want them to treat you. Now, more than ever, your child needs you to be a Golden Rule person.

Sure, you might be shocked. So what? You’re a parent. Get used to it. Be ready for it.

Daughter: “Mom, I feel like a boy.” Mom, calmly: “You do? Tell me what that feels like, honey.”

Ask questions

You will not want to make your child feel she is being interrogated, but you will want her to see that you are interested in her life. Talk with her the way you would about anything that interests her. Conversely, not asking questions—“If I don’t ask her anything, maybe she’ll just forget about it”—will make her feel that you don’t care about her, or that she has done something wrong.

When you ask questions, make sure they are open-ended ones and not directed ones. Directed questions are those that call for a yes or no answer, as in, “Do you think you are a boy?” Young children, not yet complex thinkers and usually wanting to please parents and other important adults, often will not provide the real answer but the one they think they are supposed to give. Your tone, expression, and body language can easily lead a child to answer how she thinks she is supposed to, not what she actually feels.

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Instead, ask things such as, “How do you feel inside?” “What makes you feel good?” If she mentions something specific—say, clothes—good questions would be, “What do you think about that? What clothes sound good to you?”

As she replies, other questions will naturally follow, such as, “You mentioned some play clothes like your friend, Josh. Would you like to shop for an outfit like his?” Whether or not she displays joy at this, it will be telling. Again, follow-up thoughts will flow from the situation, such as, “You could start out by wearing your new outfit around the house and see how you like it.”

With younger children, do not use the vocabulary of this topic, such as “gender dysphoria” and “transitioning.” Don’t say, “Do you feel like you have gender dysphoria?” Besides being confused, the child likely would think she has an illness, is going to be hauled off to a doctor, and you have just negatively impacted things.

Don’t go running to a doctor or a therapist

The second-last thing to do is immediately make an appointment with a professional. This is not a medical emergency. You’re child doesn’t immediately require talk therapy. Right now, she simply needs to be allowed to be the child she is, at the age she is, with no pressure on her.

She has taken the big leap, entrusting you with her secret. Continue to provide her a safe place, a spot on the couch at your side, with your compassionate heart in which she is able to place her trust.

If you find that you are wanting more information, there are loads of resources, many at your disposal on the internet. Do your reading, become informed, but don’t tell your child that you are doing this research.

It might be a phase, and it might be more

The trite saying applies: time will tell. There could be any number of reasons your daughter has expressed wanting to be a boy. There might be a boy at school whom she admires, and she wants to be like him. She might be lacking your attention, and daydreams about how to be noticed by you, perhaps because she has a new baby brother. She might really feel like she wants to be a boy, or is a boy, but it will pass, as so many childhood desires come and go.

And she might be transgender.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has gender dysphoric adults look for three things in themselves, which you can look for in your child: persistent, insistent, and consistent.

Persistent. Insistent. Consistent. I think of it as PIC.

Take a PIC of the situation.

Is my child persistent in her desire to be a boy?

You will know, soon, if this is a phase. With children, phases usually come and go with whatever the next big thing is. If, however, as you continue the conversation, your daughter persists in her desire, you will want to look for the I in PIC.

Is my child insistent that she is a boy?

Most human beings, when pressed about something important to them, will become insistent. Our insistence is seen on our faces, heard in our voices, and evidenced in our determination. A common reaction from a transgender child to a parent who says, “You’re a girl. You can’t be a boy,” is, “Yes I AM a boy! I am! I am a boy!”

If she persists and insists, keep watch for the C to complete the PIC.

Is my child consistent as she talks about being a boy?

How might you look for consistency? It could be as easy as you one day asking, “Honey, did you want to wear your special outfit?” to which she replies, “No, my regular clothes are okay.” This could be a sign that it was a phase, but don’t assume it. Give it time.

Consistency will be seen in her persistence and insistence. If she is accurately expressing who she is, she will consistently speak the same thoughts, the same hopes, the same desires. Actions and other demonstrations likely will accompany her words. It will be obvious.

If you see a clear PIC, and if your daughter expresses further desires—say, that she wants to change her name, or go to school as a boy—then would be the time to engage a competent professional who is practiced in gender issues. Again, as you have been helpful and positive throughout, you will remain so now. You will not say, “Well, I guess we need to get you to a doctor,” with frustration in your voice. Rather, you will say, “Honey, I could use some help from someone who knows more about this than I do. I am going to look for a person to help us know what to do next. She or he will know all about this, and we will feel good to have a smart helper.”

Finally

If this were a phase in your child’s life, it still was an important moment for her. By loving her through it you strengthened your bond and her ability to trust, and you helped her learn how to express herself.

If your child is transgender, you will not keep it from being a reality, but you will have a dramatic impact on how it goes with her. Leelah Alcorn’s suicide is instructive. Her traditional Christian parents would have nothing of their teenage son’s being transgender. They took Leah to the pastor. Conversion therapy was used on her, to convince her that she was a male, as if that would drown out her female identity. Though they were otherwise fine parents who loved their son, their denial of Leelah’s situation drove her to despair. Leelah stepped in front of a truck and was killed.

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https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/she-was-a-real-person/

No parent wants her or his child to be in a difficult situation. No parent invites anything which will be a challenge, especially one which will affect how they live and move about in the world. Denial, however, changes nothing, and often makes a situation worse.

Remain calm. Display love. Don’t rush things. Show your interest by asking good questions. Take a PIC. Doing these things, you will have done the best you can for your child, whether the result is that it was a temporary desire or that she is transgender. If transitioning is in her future, you have begun the process well, instilling confidence for the challenging days ahead.

Talking transgender with children

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A woman recently wrote a thoughtful note to me, which included this: “Our state has changed many laws recently with regards to transgender-ism. Is that a word? My kids are in the public schools and this is creating lots of questions and conversations at home. I know you write a blog. Can you tell me a certain entry where I can start?”

First, transgenderism is a word for some. Sadly, those who believe that transgender does not truly exist, or stems from mental illness, are generally the ones who use it. Therefore, you can easily imagine that trans folks reject it, besides that to put “ism” on “transgender” makes it sound like it is a belief system, akin to Catholicism or Buddhism.

You asked for a certain place to begin on my blog, but as I re-read your note I thought about the need to give an assist to parents in how to talk with their kids, and I could not recall a piece where I had specifically done that. So, here goes.

It is interesting that you wrote this week, when Texas is again in the news with its legislature considering another bathroom bill. Regardless of where a person lives, there will be transgender women and men, and gender fluid and queer folks, and very likely trans kids in the school system, so it is wise for all people—and perhaps doubly so for parents of school-aged children—to be educated and able to speak on this.

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Parents will want to answer their children, using simple words and in a straightforward manner, about anyone who might look different. For my part, I did not grow up around African Americans, so they were foreign to me. In our area, we had farm workers from Mexico, and their language confused and bemused me. For my folks to be able to answer my curiosities was beneficial, and even better that they always stressed respect for all people, no matter how different we might be.

And that is a great place to start. Every human being deserves our respect. They only lose it when they act disrespectfully—not because they look “weird,” or practice a different religion, or have skin color or a language that doesn’t match our own—but who act disrespectfully, breaking rules or hurting others. In school, almost assuredly the trans boys and girls act as respectfully as the cisgender (gender identity and body sex match) girls and boys. So, we begin there. Each child has the right to be in school, to be in society, and to have the same rights and privileges under the law, and to be treated honorably.

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Okay, Mom, and how about it, Dad: what makes a boy want to be a girl, or a girl think she’s a boy? Is there an easy way to answer that to a five- or ten- or fifteen-year-old? Yes, there is.

Always wanting to address our children in ways appropriate to their ages and ability to grasp concepts, a parent can begin as simply as this: “Sometimes, a person begins growing up and they feel like they are different from the way everyone sees them. When they were born, the doctor looked at them and said, ‘It’s a boy,’ or, ‘It’s a girl,’ and the parents gave them a boy’s or girl’s name and then dressed them that way. But, as they grew up—maybe when they were really young, like two or three, or maybe a little older—their boy name felt wrong to them, or their girl clothes felt wrong to them. They told their parents about it. Usually, a transgender person will explain, ‘You think I’m a boy, but I’m really a girl. That’s how I feel.’ When the child is able to pick a correct name for him or her, and wear the kind of clothes that feel right, and play with whatever toys they enjoy playing with, and have their hair cut or grow out how it looks nice for them, then they feel good about themselves and can grow up happy and healthy the same way you are.”

What if a child now asks, “But why do they feel that way?” I suggest something like this: “It is a hard thing to understand why some boys feel like girls and some girls feel like boys. There are lots of things in life where people feel strongly, and that’s what makes all of us special. You are good at painting. Your sister is athletic. Your older sister wants to go to college to learn how to create buildings. I’m left handed, but all of the rest of the family is right handed. Your cousin Becky has Down Syndrome. She has a hard time speaking so we can understand her, but she’s the sweetest person. All of us are different. All of us are equally valuable. We don’t have to understand why things are, just to enjoy each other and be nice to everyone.”

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The rest of the conversation depends on the age of the child and the next questions they ask, and things like bathrooms.

Let’s talk about bathrooms. If a child expresses concern—“I don’t want one of them in my bathroom”—remain calm and remind your children that when they go to the bathroom they only want to do their business and get back to class or lunch or recess. The trans kids feel exactly the same way.

Sadly, there are many alarmists out there, and parents who are filling their children with every bogey man idea about transgender folks. Children easily adopt parents’ ideas and practices as their own. Behavior toward trans kids—and towards immigrants, and people of a different color, and those who dress and sound “weird”—often is deplorable, downright mean, and totally unfair. The more children who are taught to respect all people will then go to school and be the friend to the “different” student, sometimes the one friend this child needs so as not to be driven to despair. (I still cannot digest the eight-year-old boy who recently hung himself to death.)

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Depending on how curious your child is with questions about transgender persons, you can even say, “You want to know how I learned about this? I asked a person who is transgender. She is as old as your grandma and grandpa! In fact, she has four of her own kids and seven grandchildren. All of them love her just the same as when she was a man. And now she teaches why some people are transgender, to help us understand. Most of all, she told me that she wants everyone to know that transgender kids and adults are regular people who want to have a good life like everyone else.”

I hope this is helpful. I hope even more that you can have this conversation with your children.

Now, what if your child brings up the topic in this way, “Mom and Dad, you think I’m a girl, but I’m really a boy”? I will address that in my next post.

The most important day of my life

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Very early in my relationship with Julie, she told me something that left me wondering, “What???” She said, “You’re the second-best thing ever to happen to me.” I was afraid to bite, but still I asked, “What’s the best?” She replied, “My baptism into Christ.”

It’s kinda hard to beat the Lord.

On May 19, 1957, the best thing ever to happen to me took place when I was baptized into Christ. Even Julie comes in second to Him.

There is no question about it, no debate, no polls to take. May 19, 1957, was and will remain the most important day of my earthly life, because here is what happened when my parents brought their nineteen-day-old son to the brand new St. James Catholic Church in Montague, Michigan.

I was united with Jesus Christ in His death and His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5, Colossians 2:12)

I was washed and cleansed. (1 Corinthians 6:11, Ephesians 5:27)

I was sanctified (made holy). (1 Corinthians 6:11)

I was made an heir with Christ having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)

I was forgiven all my sins. (Acts 2:38)

I was justified (made righteous) in the eyes of God the Father. (Titus 3:7)

I was clothed with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

I was made a member of the one Christian Church. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

I was saved. (Mark 16:16, Titus 3:4, 1 Peter 3:21)

I was renewed. (Titus 3:4)

I was reborn. (Titus 3:4, John 3:5-7)

I was given the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

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All of this happened when the water was poured over me and the priest said, “Gregory John Eilers, I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” May 19, 1957, became my rebirthday, the day I went from being dead in trespasses and sins to being alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:2-5), when Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice (1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 10:10) became the gift which I have carried with me, and will carry with me, all the days of my earthly pilgrimage.

As with being physically born, I had nothing to do with being spiritually born (John 1:13). Just as I did not understand—and often didn’t know they were even happening—any of the gifts my parents gave me in my infant days, yet those things worked for my benefit—being fed and clothed and inoculated and the like, especially being given their name—I did not need to understand what was happening at the baptismal font. Just as my physical life was pure gift, so was my spiritual life a gift.

Whether being born, or being born again, it’s all grace, all gift, nothing we do, all done for us, first by our parents, then by our Father in heaven, through the work of His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

On the date I am posting this, sixty years ago today was, and shall remain, the most important day in my life, the best thing ever to happen to me. I received all of the gifts which I need in order to walk my pilgrimage to eternal life, to the day of the resurrection of all flesh, to the day when Jesus Christ will make everything right (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) by making right all that has gone wrong because of the sin I inherited from Adam, through my parents (Psalm 51:5).

Happy rebirthday to me! Alleluia!

I did it!

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A screen shot from my running app, after I achieved my post-op five mile walking goal, before I am allowed to begin running.

I had sex reassignment surgery (SRS) on April 11.  Dr. Gallagher told me that I could begin running six weeks after surgery.  Six weeks will be May 23.

Two days after surgery, when I first was out of bed and onto my feet, I moved around the halls of the hospital at a pace worthy of tectonic plates.  Between the swelling and the pain, I questioned in what kind of shape I would find myself come late May.

The next day, as I was to be discharged, I asked Dr. G how much I could walk.  She told me the two things I expected: don’t overdo it, and if it hurts don’t do it. I wanted to be sure I had all the information I needed, so I asked whether I could hurt myself if I walked as much as felt okay.  She told me, no, I wouldn’t hurt myself.  For my part, as a child reassures her mother, I promised that I would be very mindful about my body, not wanting to do harm to her hard work.

Soon after arriving home, my first effort found me barely getting out of the driveway.  Soon, I was on our street.  Then half-a-block down it.  Every day, I got out two or three or four times.  By Sunday, April 23—twelve days after surgery—I found myself able to walk a full mile, albeit at the baby-taking-her-first-steps time of twenty-three minutes.

April 23 meant that I had exactly one month to get up to the speed and distance that I desired, so that I would be in good shape to begin running.  It seemed at times doable and then impossible.

I wound up two weeks ahead of where I thought I would be, pre-surgery.  Yes, I had some challenges; because my swelling is only gradually easing there’s a lot of rubbing of flesh that creates a lot of soreness.  Hello, petroleum jelly!  And, sadly, my numb left foot has been cranky about my wearing running shoes.  Add to it that of which I wrote previously, the jabs and stabs of the nerves waking up.  Evenings, especially, have found me very uncomfortable, often suffering significant pain in both surgery area and the fussy foot.

I persisted, preferring to move forward—to get as much mileage as possible out of this old body, and to enjoy the glorious spring weather and the beautiful colors and cheerful birds’ songs of the season.

Besides, I have been just plain bored.

Sitting up in a chair has been THE hardest thing to do, so sitting at my computer to write has been a challenge.  And, I found, even Netflix can’t keep me entertained as many hours as I have to fill before it’s time to make supper and welcome Julie home.

Walking became a refuge in the storm which has been my physical healing and emotional struggle because my hormones have been messed with so badly.  It’s hard to suffer when you are out walking.

That, my friends, is a profound and important thought: it is hard to suffer when you are out walking.  The mind and body are busy.  The body is working hard and the mind is enjoying the sights and sounds.  There might be no better medicine for the hurting person.  Plus, the positive effects continue for hours afterward.

You simply feel good, and good about yourself.  I sure have.

While I did not increase my distance and pace every day, I was methodical about adding to it every couple of days and, as my body allowed, picking up my pace.

The day I hit 1.53 miles, my pace was a still-slow 18:56 per mile.  Three days later, I hit 2.00 miles, dropping almost a minute to 17:59.  On May 3, I dropped another 1:30 on my pace as I walked 2.30 miles, and May 6 found me achieving 2.76 miles and quickening to 15:35.

I now thought my goal was achievable, to be at five miles, under 15:00 per mile (four miles per hour), by May 23.

On May 10, I broke the three mile mark, totaling 3.30, and bettering the 15:00 mark by eleven seconds per mile.  After hovering around those for several days, on May 15 I found myself ready to tackle four miles.

I did it, netting 4.11 at 14:51 per mile.  The next day, I hit 4.20 and, feeling really strong, did it at a dandy 14:24.  I felt that I could have gone the eight tenths I needed for five miles, but opted not to overdo it.

The next day, Wednesday, May 17, six days before I will resume running, I walked 5.04 miles and, dig this, worked it out at a zippy 13:57 per mile, which is my second-fastest five mile walk pace this year.  (Thank you, petroleum jelly!)

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I love statistics, so I enjoy checking out my times for each mile.  And, check it out: my fastest mile was my fifth mile.

I.  Am. Back.  Woo hoo!

My goal is to keep plowing forward the rest of the week, tuning and toning and honing and homing in on the best shape I can achieve for May 23.  I don’t assume that I will run a lot that day.  I will begin slow, maybe even only running a few tenths of a mile at a time, mixing in walking with it, so that I will run only a portion of what I hope will be a five mile route.

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My five mile, 13:57 effort clearly was powered by my pony tail, cuz what else could it have been?  (Oh, and this was the hardest-to-take selfie ever!)

I next see Dr. Gallagher again the afternoon of June 9.  That gives me two-and-a-half weeks of running.  I have in mind a running goal for that day, so that when she walks into the examination room I will be able to smile wide and say, “Dr. Gallagher, guess how far I ran this morning!”

In the mean time, I now have more to do than walk and run.  Julie and I planted our garden on Mother’s Day.  If you have your daily walk in, and your Netflix list simply isn’t doing it for you right now, you can give this short garden tour a look-see.

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But, wait.  There’s more!

As I add this, it is Thursday morning, May 18, the next day.  Not only did I do another five miles and bettered yesterday’s time, I had my best time ever for a five mile walk since I began using an app in 2015.  Here are the screen shots, and note that, once again, my fastest mile was my fifth mile.

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My most unusual baptism

With my turning sixty this year, I have been posting on Facebook what I hope are interesting things from my life.  Generally, they are fairly short bits.  The piece which follows is longer and, because it is, and because of its nature, I found it worthy to place on my blog.

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I did not keep track of how many baptisms I performed during my eighteen years of ministry. My best guess is that it was around one hundred. Using that as my number, 99% of them were done the usual, Lutheran way, in church, at the baptismal font.

One was not in church. No baptismal font was in view. But we had water at our disposal when Roland nodded his head that, yes, he wanted to be baptized.

Roland was known by all as Slim—and, I kid you not, his slimmer twin brother was called Fat—was in his seventies, had suffered a stroke, and found himself in a nursing home. His sister, Ann, was one of my congregation’s faithful members and, with her husband, Barney, a woman with whom I was very close.

Ann called me, concerned for her brother. Slim had never become a Christian. He’d never been baptized. Would I visit him?

Gladly!

A day or two later, I found Slim in his room. He was unable to speak much, but for basic communication. I can’t recall whether Ann met me in his room the first time. She likely did. I told Slim why I was there and of his sister’s concern. He reacted positively. Because of his stroke, I sort of had him cornered, but if he were not interested in my being there I would not have forced myself on him.

I asked if I might speak to him of the Christian faith. He nodded. That first day, I explained the very basics. A week or two later, I returned to cover some more. On my third visit, Ann and Barney planned to be there, along with Slim’s wife, Helen.

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I wonder how many hundreds of times I visited this place.

We were visiting in one of the day rooms at Huron County Medical Care Facility, next door to the hospital in the curiously named town of Bad Axe. (The tale goes that, back in the day, to mark a crossroads, someone stuck a broken axe into a tree. When the spot turned into the town, what else would anyone name it but Bad Axe?)

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See?  I wasn’t kidding!

I had covered the vital aspects of the faith. I now rehearsed them with Slim so that I might ask him if he believed, if he recognized his sinfulness and His need for the Lord Jesus. Finally, I asked Slim if he wanted to be baptized.

To each question, Slim nodded in the affirmative. Ann beamed.

We were in need of water.

I spied a sink across the room. I said, “I’ve never done a baptism like this, but that spigot is just the right height so that, if we back up Slim’s wheelchair to it and have him tip his head back, I can baptize him right here. I know that it might not seem very holy, but because the Lord will work His promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation in His Word and the water, it will be just as holy as any baptism.”

Smiles abounded, so I went into action.

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It was a tap like this which provided the perfect flow of water for our unique baptism.

We got Slim backed up, lined up, and head back. Turning on the water so that I had a gentle flow, I dipped my hand into it and poured the water onto Slim, first speaking his proper full name, and then the familiar words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father (splash of water on his forehead, and of the Son (splash), and of the Holy Spirit (splash). Amen.”

That was in the spring of 2004. The next Christmas Eve, Slim fell asleep in Jesus.

At the funeral home in Kinde, I officiated Slim’s funeral, burying him as a Christian as if he’d been one his entire life, and joyously telling all of his family and friends the fun and happy story of how Ann took action on her brother’s behalf, and how Slim had been washed in Christ in a most unusual way.

Over the ten more years I was in Port Hope, on occasion Ann and I would reminisce about those days. Always with smiles on our faces. Always with joy in our hearts.

One month post-op; the hellish parts

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Now I know why this sign was posted at the door of my hospital room!

May 11 means that I am one month post-op from my sex reassignment surgery (SRS). I am pleased to report that, at my second post-op appointment last week, Dr. Gallagher pronounced me to be healing nicely, with everything in order.

I am thankful for that! Yet, even as things are progressing as they should, and I am slowly and gradually feeling better, there are a few areas which have been tremendously challenging. I share these for two reasons, both in my ongoing desire to educate about that with which we transgender folks have to grapple and because I am getting feedback from trans women who have either also had SRS or, especially, those who are contemplating it or have it in their near future.

From least to worst, here are three areas which have plagued me.

The nerve!

To perform SRS, the surgeon has the patient’s feet in stirrups. While the stirrups are padded, and the surgery team keeps close watch over every inch of the patient, that the surgery takes at least six hours creates a troubling situation for the feet.

I awoke from surgery, immediately noting the tremendous pain in my left heel. The next day, Wednesday, the pain eased. On Thursday, I was out of bed and walking—and noticing that my left foot was almost entirely numb, with the numbness climbing my leg halfway to my knee. My right foot and leg were okay.

Touching my foot, I found it tremendously sensitive. Speaking with Dr. Gallagher about it, she explained that the condition—neuropathy—is a sometimes unhappy result of the feet so long in the stirrups. She said it almost always resolves itself in several weeks, with no treatment. If needed, there is a drug to help it, but the drug causes extreme drowsiness. I have opted, so far, to forego the drug.

Here’s the tough part. The nerves are waking up—yay!—but, where the problem is centered at the top of my foot I am being jabbed with intense pain. Not all the time, mind you. It comes and goes. But, when it comes, wow, it has at times been so severe that it has left me in tears.

It appears I am through the worst of that. The past few days, the jabs have been fewer and not so intense. At the touch, my leg and instep now have feeling. The neuropathy has not impeded me—it has not stopped me from my walking!—but, all should be aware that this is a real, ornery complication of SRS.

Take that! And that!

Not surprisingly, my entire bottom was numb after surgery. And swelled. Oh, boy, was I swelled. And I still am. As Dr. G said last week, the swelling has come down a lot, but it still has a ways to go.

I suspect that you can easily picture two rows of stitches running down either side of my urethra and neo vagina, a few inches long. At the bottom of them, the nerves have been playing a game of “I can jab you worse than your foot could ever do it!”

Before seeing Dr. G last week, I researched this to be sure it was typical. Yup. Totally. Dr. G confirmed it. Well, kids, typical does not lessen the pain. And, oh me oh my, but when I had the worst of these jabs they accompanied the ones in my foot . . . the evening of my birthday.

Happy—JAB—birthday—STAB—Gina—ELECTRIC JOLT.

Blow out your cake’s candles if you can catch your breath!

With each stab, my body shook. With the worst jabs, I cried out in pain.

Then I was bawling.

I got up and walked around, trying anything to ease the pain and distract my mind.  Poor Julie was so concerned, longing to help. We rode it out. Finally, both areas eased up by the time I wanted to go to sleep. That was eleven days ago. Almost every day, I notice that the jabs are less stabby, and the stabs are less jabby, and I am hopeful that this phase will soon be completed.

My song is out of hormone-y

My poor body has gone through way more than ever in its sixty years. Starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT) nearly four years ago, I sought to bring my brain and body into harmony. As my testosterone lowered and my estrogen increased, the gender dysphoria-induced fire in my brain was largely doused. I just plain felt better.

I had my share of ups and downs, and keeping my hormones at good levels proved a challenge until about a year ago. Then, in a bit of news that almost made me want to halt having SRS, I was told that I had to stop taking my HRT a month before surgery. Why? Estrogen makes one prone to blood clots, and surgery in one’s mid-section does the same. To go off HRT would drop my estrogen to a safer level, but it also would allow my testosterone to return to that of a male.

I truly thought I would suffer a meltdown in the final days before surgery, as I would be fighting off the discord that had made me suicidal in 2013. That no meltdown arose was nothing short of amazing. Yes, a week-and-a-half before surgery I felt my hormones shift, even experiencing testosterone’s physical affects, but I remained at peace with myself.

On April 11, I faced the greatest shift of my life in my hormone production. My testosterone factory was about to be dismantled.

The testicles are the main testosterone producers, yet both sexes make a bit of the male sex hormone in the adrenal glands (that’s why genetic females also have a small amount of testosterone). By late afternoon on April 11, my testicles were gone. My predominant testosterone production immediately and abruptly ceased.

A few trans women, who have had the surgery, warned me that I might experience any number of emotions because of this. I’ll say.

It took a week, and then it hit me. It nailed me, well, like those jabs and stabs in my foot and mid-section.

I found myself feeling completely asexual. Neither female nor male. The sexual equivalent of eating food but unable to taste it.

My outlook on life turned bland.

I tried thinking about dressing nicely, in a skirt and heels. No reaction. I thought about dressing in a guy’s tie and sport coat. No reaction.

I thought about some shirts and jeans that I have, that either a gal or guy could wear. That sounded good to me.

And it scared me.

I tried to see myself detransitioning. I WANTED to see myself resuming my life as a male. And the weight of that came tumbling down upon me like that rock that Sisyphus never could get over the top.

I have cried many times in these days.

Despite this, I have not regretted having had SRS. Even more, I continue to feel strongly that I needed it. My body feels correct. It looks right to me.

I have had to talk with myself in a logical manner, just as with the jabs and stabs, that I am far from healed, but I am healing. My hormones will get back into order. I have every reason to believe that when they do I will feel as good as I did before my pre-surgery stopping of HRT.  Indeed, I have sensed things easing this week.

This situation, as when my son died and my wife divorced me, are important teachers that one shall never say, “I know what you’re going through.” Even if you buried a loved one or lost a marriage, and even if you had the same surgery, your experience is your experience, and mine is mine, and the acts of observing others or having them explain how hard something is does not begin to approach the experiencing of it.  Respect others for their burdens; don’t dismiss them with comments which only serve to offend.

This has been a mighty tough period. I am tremendously happy to have one month under my belt. Each of the three troubles of which I have written are way less than they were. I can now picture the day when I am fully healed.

Thankfully, I have gotten through each day, each terrible moment, in the strength of the Lord, to whom I turn in prayer innumerable times every day.  He is always faithful to His promises to uphold me with His righteous right hand.

And, thankfully, I always have my Julie. She is my little Jesus, whose devotion toward me never ceases.

This is not a surgery through which one should try to go it alone.

Dear government: you embarrass me

With last week’s passage of the health care act, I was deeply bothered by the behavior of both parties.

Dear Republicans: Your health care bill has yet to be scored for its cost, is dubious in its argument that it improves what it seeks to replace and easily can be seen as bringing impending harm to many Americans, and you marked its passage through your house as if you have done exactly what the new president continually said would happen when he was running for office and since he has been president, yet nothing being reported looks anything like an overwhelming improvement, if any improvement at all. Yet, you hailed your victory as if you had nailed it, and as if you received overwhelming support when you barely eked out your majority.

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Dear Democrats: The moment the Republicans got their victorious vote, you began singing the popular song of those who taunt their foe, “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye,” and some of you waved your arms to further demonstrate to your opposing party that they had just sealed their demise in the 2018 elections, as if there is not a very long way to go before the health care bill is finalized, and many other things will be deciding factors a year-and-a-half from now.

You both were like a team celebrating a championship when it had only won the first game of a best-of-seven-games series. You were like the bully who not only takes the lunch money of the smaller child, but then rubs his face in the ground. You were like any person who is never concerned for the greater good of all, but only for your personal agenda.

You all acted like children.

I am embarrassed for you. I am embarrassed that you are our national governmental leaders.

Yet, even as I write this, that you acted like children is exactly what we Americans should expect from you because we have become a nation of childish, selfish, immature adolescents.

We are a nation which has bathed so long in self-entitlement that we are now soaked in it.

Does anyone wonder why? Dear government, your childish behavior follows that of the USA’s main behavior-setter: TV and the movies. I recall when AIDS became prevalent in the ‘80s, and about that time we finally took note of the destructive nature of tobacco, and Hollywood declared that it would cut out smoking and tone way down elicit sex. Well, that lasted about as long as our nation’s new unity after 9/11.

Masturbation is now as prevalent in movies and TV, and in the routines of comedians, that it rivals the use of foul language. We make fun of and boast about masturbating as if it is the sport of champions, instead of what it is, an intensely private action.

Where has our sense of decency gone?

Foul behavior follows the foul language that now goes as everyday talk, everywhere one goes. One cannot escape it on what passes as respectable websites as the f word, and “wtf” and “fml,” and other coarse slang is, well, no longer slang but the way we as a nation speak.  Whenever we don’t like someone’s behavior, he’s a d–k or she’s a c–t.

We are a nation that loves an audience, so when we figure out what will net us our audience we exploit it. That’s what you did, dear Democrats and Republicans, last week, when you knew all of America would be tuning in.

What motivates people to record live their suicides and murders? They do it, because they know they will have an audience. And shame on us for watching their videos.

SHAME ON US FOR WATCHING THESE VIDEOS.

If these things would not go viral, if the news would finally report that there was a death recorded on Facebook Live but it only got seven views, perhaps, just perhaps, a perpetrator would think twice about his behavior. As long as we continue to click and watch, it will be one of the motivators for the next savage to act.

Your behavior, dear government, was childish, and we love childish. We revel in everything that young kids giggle at, as if we never grew up and learned how to control ourselves. How else does one explain the phenomenal success of last year’s IT girl, Amy Schumer, who is as bawdy and dirty as they come? When I was young, she would be called exactly what she talks about regarding how she lives—a whore—but now she’s a coveted star and we throw money at her feet to have her stand before us and spout her gutter talk.

I’m no prude. I like the humor of Louis C K. . . . until he moves into Amy Schumer’s neighborhood and tells us about his latest round of masturbating.  I would in the past quote Bill Cosby, who always got on comics for being dirty—and I LOVED Cos’s clean humor—but there’s yet another fallen American who, if he’s guilty, also has shown that he believes the world is HIS to do as he pleases.

Hello, men of Fox news.

How do we explain the bad behavior of those who have taken to taunting since last November’s election?  The bullying of immigrants and Muslims and Jews and gays and trans and anyone and everyone whom the white majority doesn’t want to deal with?  No one in the USA practices self-entitlement more than the citizens who love to sing “I’m proud to be an American.”

Shame on them.

By comparison, the following sounds trivial, yet it speaks volumes about us. When I am jogging, and I observe so much litter, I picture people throwing out water bottles and fast food bags and imagine that, as they roll down their car window, they are saying, “It’s MY country and I will do as I please.”  Yeah, but don’t YOU dare throw trash in THEIR yard.

As for my fellow Christians, many of them are no better than those whom they regularly beat down. They want to separate themselves from those who disgust them—read that: LGBTQ—while their theology says that each of them, individually, is the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), that no one is to poke at the toothpick in the eye of another because we all have a two-by-four sticking out of ours (Matthew 7:3).

You are smug in your self-righteousness. You won’t bake a cake for a gay wedding, but you won’t question the couple in a straight wedding to be sure that everything about their lifestyle matches your high standards. Yet, oh, by the way, since everyone is doing it, they almost certainly are sexually active and probably already live together. Do you approve of that? Will you not question that, you hypocrite?

Your Lord Jesus Christ ate with sinners for the purpose of loving and helping them, but you wouldn’t dream of getting your hands dirtied by those whom you love to condemn. Your brand of self-righteous religion surely is one which our Savior, who knows all things, can’t even recognize. You are not interested in loving one another as Christ loves you—the law which He gave for you to follow. No, that’s hard to do, too challenging for you, so you hide out with people like yourselves and then scream for the government to protect you.

This is the state of our nation, dear government, and your behavior last week was the perfect picture for everything that is wrong with us.

Thankfully, the majority of Americans are respectable people. Sadly, it is the loudmouths, the ones who practice bad behavior, the ones way out on the fringes, who get the attention, whose videos go viral, whose voices are heard. But, they ARE heard. You, our governmental leaders, are heard, will always have the cameras focused on you and the microphones picking up your every word.

If our leaders will not behave with dignity, who will? If you won’t lead the way, the silent majority of respectable Americans will soon be the minority of us. “It’s MY world, and I’ll do whatever I please,” will spread so wide that we will not be able to recognize the USA for the country it once was.

Oh, but maybe many Americans want just that. What better way to cure our immigrant argument? What people would want to move here when they would surely recognize that they would be playing maids and groundskeepers to a household of spoiled brats?

That’s what we’ve become, dear Republicans and Democrats. You, our government leaders, acted like spoiled brats. You do not show that you care about OUR world, but only about your own agenda.

Please, lead. Please, lead in a way which would be honorable for the rest of us to emulate.