I just spent the past 20 minutes crying over Leelah Alcorn. It’s not the first time I’ve cried over her story and I doubt it will be the last. I’m gearing up to talk to a large group of people and some of the subject matter will be the barriers to medical care for transgender individuals. I read Leelah’s story because it reminds me (in little daggers to my heart) why I put myself out there and why I share our story. I worry so much for my daughter and for those like her.
The Florida House (and now the Florida Senate) has proposed a bill that would deny my daughter the right to use the woman’s bathroom. The basis of the bill is to protect the safety of women in bathrooms who might be in a stall next to a man intent on harming them. But, if the bill passes, then who will protect my 9 year-old daughter when she enters the men’s room? If the bill passes, it would trickle down into schools. We no longer live in Florida, but we have many transgender friends who remain.
I worry about my daughter for so many reasons. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that 72% of LGBT homicides in 2013 were against transgender women. Attempted suicide rate in the transgender community is approximately 41%, while in youth up to age 20 it could be closer to 50%. Those are statistics that no parent should have to worry about.
So, I’m going to continue to advocate and teach. I’m going to do my best to educate the health professionals whom I work with about transgender issues. I’m going to talk to schools, write this blog, and continue to share our story. My daughter is precious. She loves big. And immediately. If you know her, she loves you. I don’t want her beaten down by a society that isn’t ready for her. I want her to have sleepovers, and school dances, and dates. I want to worry for my daughter like I will worry for my son. Like others get to to worry for their kids. That the date won’t call, that the dance will suck, that the sleepover made them so tired the next day that they puked. I don’t want to have the worries that she’ll be forced to use the men’s room (over my dead body) or that her date will harm her, or that the pressure of being different will push her into suicide.
I never thought that this would be our path. I never thought these would be the issues to keep me up at night. But, I love the people I’ve met through this experience. I can’t say I wouldn’t change things if I could. If I could wave a magic wand and make my daughter a biologic female then you bet your life I would. But, instead, I’ll advocate and teach. I’ll educate, I’ll talk, I’ll blog.
Editor’s note: If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read this.
We made it! We went from sunny warm south Florida to the cold snowy north last week. My husband and son left a week early while Conner and I stayed to pack until the movers arrived. We’ve been staying with my mom and dad while we get the new house (a rental) ready and until the moving truck arrives with all our stuff. It’s been so much fun hanging out with family. Within days, I had watched my nephews, dropped my niece off at school, and had a big family birthday celebration. It’s been wonderful!
But, let’s be honest, moving sucks. So do road trips.
The drive from point A to point B was epically bad. Conner and I spent the night on air mattresses which is a complete misnomer if air doesn’t stay in the mattress. Conner’s had to be re-inflated twice before we even turned the lights out. She slept horribly. Therefore, I slept horribly. The next morning was like a real-life game of Tetris as I attempted to get two cars worth of stuff into the back of my mini-van as well as the daughter, the dog, and the 16 year-old cat. I drugged the cat as she’s been known to meow for 12 hours straight during car rides and that was a great decision because the drive from Florida to our stop in North Carolina will go down in McLaren family lore.
Conner has cyclic vomiting syndrome which is just as much fun as it sounds. In a nutshell, she wakes up horribly nauseated and vomits violently until it runs its course. It isn’t associated with a gastrointestinal illness and it frequently evolves into a migraine. We’ve discovered over time that fatigue is a strong trigger for it. She slept terribly the night before we left and when she woke up feeling great, both of us thought she was in the clear.
We were wrong.
About an hour after we left, she noticed that her stomach hurt. We both decided to ignore it. Denial is a wonderful coping mechanism. A few minutes later it got worse and her head started to hurt. These are classic early warning signs and I knew we were headed into trouble. Of all the things that made it into the car, a puke bucket was forgotten. All I had was a pizza box with two slices of some of the best pizza in south Florida.
Of course I ate the pizza. Let’s not be silly.
I handed the box back to her in the nick of time and I swear that the force of her puking practically propelled my seat forward. My kids are champion pukers and this one sounded like it was in a class all its own. All of a sudden, she starts shrieking that the box is leaking and to pull over. Thankfully, we were on the highway in a stretch of big fields so I was able to safely pull completely off the road. I jumped out of the car and opened her door.
It was like a scene out of a movie. I grabbed the leaking pizza box and ran over to the passenger side of the car to drop it in the grass. She had stopped throwing up but the damage was done. She was covered in vomit. COVERED. It was dripping off her chin, all down her t-shirt, on her pants, and it even filled a shoe. Like, completely filled a shoe. She handed me the shoe and I had to pour it out on the grass. Pour it into the grass, people. I dug through our belongings and found a clean t-shirt. She mopped up the best that she could and I’d like to personally apologize to whomever stumbles across the pizza box full of vomit and the t-shirt that I left at the side of the road.
We traveled about 30 minutes up the road to a rest stop to try and clean her up a little more. She had to walk barefoot into the rest station bathroom because her shoe was soaked with vomit. So, I’m sure she’s now picked up flesh eating bacteria. We got into the bathroom and they had no paper towels. Wonderful. The other women in the bathroom carefully backed away from us because Conner looked like she was about to erupt into vomit at any second. I looked like I had just faced war and lost. We brushed off her pants as best as we could with toilet paper and she washed her hands and face. We trudged back out to the car of vomit and I cleared a clean place for her.
The temperature was steadily dropping as we headed north and I knew I’d have to stop and get her another pair of shoes. I only packed the tennis shoes because she’d grown out of her snow boots and flip-flops weren’t practical in the north in early March. About six hours into our drive, I stopped just south of Jacksonville. Yes, you read that right. We hadn’t even made it out of Florida yet. I left her locked in the car and ran into Target and bought new shoes, new pants, a long sleeve t-shirt, new socks, new underwear, a puke bucket, Ibuprofen, and Dramamine. Then, we stopped at a gas station where I insisted she put the new shoes on before walking into the gas station bathroom (we have standards, people) and she changed clothes. I thoroughly drugged the poor child and we headed on our way.
We were about 20 minutes south of the Florida/Georgia border when the dog threw up.
I freely admit that expletives were uttered. And our car smelled awesome.
While there were no more episodes of vomit from any living creature in the vehicle, there were many many stops for pee breaks, to let the cat out, the let the dog out, and to get out of the stench. It took about 14 hours to get to our stop and I would like to thank my sister-in-law emphatically for the best pornographically dirty martini that I’ve ever had. Never was an alcoholic beverage appreciated more.
The drive from North Carolina to Ohio the next day was easy. The child was drugged, the cat was drugged, and the dog was drugged. The scenery was beautiful and we were surrounded by snow and mountains yet the highways were clear and easy to drive on. Best of all, it was a puke free day. Winning!
Since our arrival, we’ve been surrounded by family and loved ones. We’ve been cleaning and painting and getting ready for our moving truck to show up. There’s been no more puke but my car is in serious need of detailing. I pity that person. I really do. My niece asked not to get back into my car because it smells bad. They don’t make enough Febreeze to fix the damage done to the upholstery.
I’ve included a photo of the dog and the child after both had emptied their bellies and collapsed in exhaustion. I should have added a photo of me enjoying the hell out of that martini.
Needless to say, we are thrilled to be home and look forward to getting settled.