Cameron's body and spirit are not in harmony with one another. As Cameron began to develop, we noticed some excentricities in his behavior and interests. Cameron preferred to sit rather than stand when using the bathroom, and rather than developing an affinity for trucks, action heroes, sharks, dinosaurs, or other traditional boy interests - we noticed that he consistently made his way to the hot pink Barbie section of the toy store. On occasion, when I'd agree to buy he or his brothers a toy, his brothers would ask for something like a truck or action figure and Cameron would insist on a doll. I felt compelled to support him in his interests and I'd buy him a doll. After all, I thought - specifically calculating the reprucautions "If one of the boys asks for a truck and gets a truck... and Cameron asks for a doll and gets a truck, then without saying a word, I send the message that I don't accept him." Over the years, I felt angered by the strict gender roles present in our society that seemed to exclude my child. I would recite questions in my head, "Why can't he play with dolls? What's wrong with dolls? Boys become parents too. Why can't he wear pink if he wants to? Pink is just a color. Why shouldn't he sit to go to the bathroom? Is there a rulebook somewhere that states that all boys have to stand to go to the bathroom?" It seemed rediculous and I wanted for people to open their minds and their hearts, I wished that society could embrace Cameron - or at least allow him to be himself without a bunch of gender biased expectations.
These unique interests seemed to affect other areas of his life as well, from the cartoons he preferred to watch on television (most notably an obsession with the Powerpuff Girls), to the pictures he drew. While my older son was drawing pictures of sharks or combat scenes, Cameron would consistently draw pictures of hearts, butterflies, flowers, little girls, and sunshine. Probably the most curious thing about his illustrations was the fact that he always drew himself as a little girl with long hair or pigtails, and a dress. His preferred color scheme was always pastel with an affinity for various shades of pink and purple.
As he grew a little older, his physical mannerisms, which were always feminine, gradually betrayed him as they exposed his true gender identity. He talked, laughed, walked, ran, and even sat like a girl. Through it all, I consistently tried to maintain a balance and focus... to support him in his interests while trying desperately to protect him from the callous judgement of a sexually binary society. It was no easy task and I soon realized the challenges that lie ahead. Cameron didn't fit into the male or female gender stereotypes and over the years the inner conflict and turmoil started to take it's toll on his self concept, and magnified my inadequacies as a parent. I wished, more than anything, that I could change the world... I desperately wanted to make it a happier place for him... a place where people would understand and accept him... somewhere far removed from ridicule and torment.
I decided that I was going to continue to give Cameron my unconditional love and support, and allow him to express himself naturally... at the very least in our home. As a result, our home became a Utopian environment for Cameron and a safe haven for self expression. It seemed to be enough... for a while. As Cameron's physical body began to develop more and more masculine characteristics, his psychological female gender identity became more obvious to those around him. The ridicule and torment that had once been a frequent challenge in his life, became incessant. Then, to make matters worse, he was assigned to "THE TEACHER"... the one that we all have at some point in our childhood... the one that torments your life and makes your world a living hell. She targeted Cameron, and made him the focus of classroom ridicule, which exacerbated the challenges that he faced with his peers. She moved his desk from among his classmates and placed it in the corner of the classroom, facing the wall - so that he couldn't put his hands inside it. She left him there... not for a day... not for a week... not for a month... she left my child alone in the corner for four months, until we moved to a new community and transfered him out of the school system.
At one point last year, Cameron had gone to school wearing pink fingernail polish that he had put on over the weekend. He had forgotten to remove it, and when he came home I noticed that he had been chewing on the tips of his fingers and fingernails, frantically trying to remove the polish. As soon as I walked through the door, he asked for some fingernail polish remover. There was a sense of urgency in his voice. He was clearly upset. I asked him what had happened and he said that he had been teased at school. He didn't go into detail about the events of the day. Of course his classmates had a party, criticizing and harassing him. At lunch he was too intimidated to eat because he didn't want any of the kids to see his fingernails, so he just sat at the table with his hands hidden in his lap, trying to prevent further criticism. His teacher saw him sitting there and demanded that he eat. She said, "You're the one who put the nail polish on your fingers... don't try to hide it now!" When Cameron refused to eat, she punished him by sending him to eat alone at the "silent table". Then she walked by and touted in sarcasm, "What's wrong Cameron? You don't have any friends? I'll be your friend."
I knew things were difficult for Cameron at school, but I hadn't realized the extent to which his teacher had been tormenting his life. He was afraid to cross her because he knew that he would have to return to her class. It wasn't until last week, after we had moved and Cameron felt safe, that he began to share some of the horrors of what he had experienced under her "professional" care as an "educator". It beggs the question... "What was she teaching the children???" Cameron's journal entry demonstrates his frustration....
This post is so touching! Cameron is extremely lucky to have your love and support. Fortunate for Cameron, the world is becoming more and more gender variant aware and tolerant, bit by bit - and especially thanks to wonderful people like you. :]ReplyDelete
Personally, having the freedom to be myself at home, to have that acceptance from my parents, made getting through the whole school fiasco bearable, despite how difficult it was. Cameron has that foundation, thanks to you - which is just so indescribably vital.
Thank you for sharing this!
I am so angry! That teacher should be brought up on abuse charges. How dare she do that to Cameron...or any child? My heart is just crying for him as are my eyes. He's lucky to have been born into your circle of family and friends. Please tell him we love him too.ReplyDelete
I just read the letter from your family, I am so angry. Thank God, she will not be our judge or jury. How dare she even suggest that you are not a good mother? Does she have no compassion for the pain that you are in? She should be ashamed of her words.ReplyDelete
You are an incredible woman!!! God only gives these life challanges to those who are strong and can handle them. There is no question that he gave THIS challange to the right mother.
God Bless You and God Bless Cameron
Wow! I can't even express my emotions at reading this. All I can do is sit here and cry my eyes out. How can there be such cruel people in the world, and especially in an educational role! Cameron is so fortunate to have such a loving, caring, and understanding family!ReplyDelete
I recently found your blog.. you are the bravest woman I have ever known.. I am 6th generation LDS.. My father has served as a bishop.. I served a mission, have been an elders quarum president, married in the temple etc.. I also have struggled with gender issues since my earliest memory.. I was frequently teased as a child because I ran like a girl.. threw a ball like a girl.. sometimes talked like a girl.. when my sisters took ballet lessons I wanted to go too so bad I wanted to cry.. but I have suffered in silence.. To expose who I was inside would have had reprecussions that I would never have been able to handle.. I have a friend that has a son that was born with no arms and no legs.. The outpour of compassion for that child was immeasurable.. He had a defect that was visible and easy to quantify.. Your daughter and I share a defect than cannot be seen or easily diagnosed. But it is a birth defect just the same.. a birth defect that is one of the most cruel.. because even most parents will have no compassion for such... most children will suffer and be the square peg pounded into the round hole for the rest of their lives.. some will even attempt to kill themselves.. I did.. Luckily with antidepressants I learned to cope.. I have a wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters.. I get some comfort in seeing them have the childhood I was denied.. I have to fight back the tears when I see them performing in a dance recital not only because they are so beautiful but how I wished that I could have done that too. I often think of the parable of the blind man.. was it the blind man or his parents who sinned... It was neither.. The man was blind so the miracles of God could be manifest and so that OTHERS COULD BE TESTED ON THEIR COMPASSION. Many are called but few are chosen.. Here is a real test for people in the church to show how Christ like they are. Judge not lest ye be judged. As you have found out many will fail this test.. Even those called of God.. Let her be who she is. If I knew now what I know now I would have done everything I could to transition as young of an age as possible.. Part 1.. I will post part 2 belowReplyDelete
Once when I was about 16 I was in the library and I picked up a book that mentioned transsexuals. I was shocked and in awe that I wasn't the only one in the world that felt this way. It was such a huge revelation to me that I was not alone. We cannot expect people to understand. They cannot unless they have the same problem. I would not wish it on anybody. We are viewed as the worse deviants possible. Right up there with child molestors. But it is my hope that through brave souls like yourself they can at least be understanding. I hope that someday it is seen by everyone for what it is. A birth defect. We do not know how to rewire the brain. But we do know how to change the outside to match the inside. And it has been proven many times that the earlier the better. There was a time that when someone was sick they were thought to be possesed and that they had done something evil.. Modern medicine eventually proved those people wrong.. I hope that advances in medicine will eventually explain the unexplainable.. Why I feel like a girl when I am not... It has to be one of mother natures cruelest tricks.. For those who read this that think that you are doing this because you badly want a daughter or for some other perverse reason I want them to know this. I can see that you love your child unconditionally and would sacrifice anything for your childs happiness. Why on earth would they think that you have alterior motives. To try to force your child to be what he is not would be the easy way out. I would ask them to ask themselves. If a woman was reading this how would you feel if one day you woke up and you had a penis and your breasts were gone? How would you feel. This is the horror that a transgendered person goes through. We can't help it if there was a hormone imbalance or in my case my mother was given prenatal drugs that threw off the balance.. those drugs were later banned because many children were born with ambigous genetilia or some geneitic boys with no penis at all.. I do not ask for you to understand.. But I do ask for compassion and understanding in dealing with something so difficult.. Please keep the blog going.. You are in my prayers..