Earlier this year, I had the bittersweet fortune to retrieve Adam's purple laptop --- a Christmas gift of mine from a few years ago.There was a Lady Gaga password to figure out. Once in, among the photos, I spotted an extraordinary Transition Journal, a series of pictures to show his transition to Adam. This here is one of those pictures. Online, he shared an old Rebecca picture alongside Adam, top off, arms strategically in place, a bold declaration in moving forward to himself.
Look at those social media hashtags!
#ftm (female to male)
I pay attention to those hashtags. They are pathways to my son's heart and true feelings.
Adam's transition from Rebecca is the heart of my, Soar, Adam, Soar story. I cover the transgender story in many chapters but especially in Chapter 6, The "T" Train", and Chapter 7, "The Boy in the Mirror. "T" is for testosterone, In that chapter, I chronicle Adam's 2015 intense journey with Centretown Community Health Centre on Cooper St. in Ottawa --- a social worker, Nichelle Bradley, Dr. Jennifer Douek, his pills and then injections, and the first hints that he wanted to have top surgery to remove those breasts that were the most visible reminder that he was not a boy yet. Actually, it's Adam telling his own story, in a series of Facebook posts that I quote, chronicling what for him seemed such an impatient, slow "T" train that, for Dad,at times felt like the TGV train rocketing across Europe.
February 2, 2015
Slowly starting to feel more comfortable and truly
happy for who I really am.
The "Boy in the Mirror" chapter references a moment when he confides to his mom that he's frustrated not yet seeing himself. Who doesn't want that or expect to see themselves in the mirror? As parents, we wept hearing this from him. Trans kids don’t get to see themselves for the longest time. That’s all Adam wanted, to be himself,
"... I have been referring to my kid as
“she” or “her” for nineteen years. Now, it’s “he” and “him.” Suzanne
once acknowledged that I was doing well on getting these pronouns
right, but I make mistakes, noticeably more when I talk about Adam
to others than when I speak with him. Perhaps his death stare keeps
me on track! When I get a pronoun wrong with him, he makes quite
the face. He looks like I have stabbed him in the heart. I guess I have.
Pronouns matter. I start noticing my mistakes more and more. It feels
like I’m undertaking a conscious reprogramming, hard but worthwhile
work. I learn to appreciate what it means to Adam and to others in
transition..." (Chapter 7, Boy in the Mirror)
There's so much more that I want to say here about Adam's transgender story. It's in the book --- Senator Murray Sinclair's powerful reflection on a parent's fear for his two-spirit daughter in the wake of the horrific Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, other trans kids' unique stories or social media posts on the good, bad and ugly parts to their journey, the extraordinary grace of Adam being Adam at his Cafe Nature job at the Canadian Museum of Nature and in I-28 at The Ottawa Hospital for that cruel final weekend with its tender mercies.
I have met remarkable people in the trans community here -- Samantha, Janne, Kate, Little Alex and more. Tara Sypniewski sat one day on Adam`s memorial bench in St. Luke`s Park as we told stories to each other. Her story,in a Triple Echo blog, is beautiful.
Dominic Farrell was one of two exceptional editors that I worked with at Dundurn Press. He encouraged me to consider inserting an Author's Note at the beginning of the book to help readers navigate the Rebecca and Adam years. It could be confusing. I end this blog with the Author note that begins the book. I am glad it's there. (Please see too my note at the end on how we may stay in touch in the lead up to the book being published Feb. 2nd.)
A U T H O R ’ S N O T E
ADAM’S STORY IS both inspiring and complicated.
How else do you describe my kid — a kid whose mother intu-
itively recognized as a boy in the womb, who was then identified
as a girl at birth by the doctor, was named Rebecca Adam by their
parents, and spent about eighteen years going by she/her and, finally,
about four years as he/him?
The kid who told us that he was always Adam.
It is not just writers who know that words matter. Names, pro-
nouns, and language matter to every single human being. They tell
us who we are and who we want to be. Words definitely matter to
members of the transgender community who, as diverse as any group
of people are, still find their fierce inner warrior when they meet people
who want to erase them. I will let Adam name himself, explain and
explore his own gender identity. In time, he came to accept his Rebecca
years, sharing with the world his Rebecca pictures and stories.
The early chapters of Soar, Adam, Soar jump back and forth
between the Adam and Rebecca years. Each trans person is unique
in how they think about themselves pre-,mid-, and post-transition.
I strive — out of respect for Adam and for all — for a consistency
in names and pronouns as much as possible. I refer to Rebecca and
use she/her for those early, Rebecca years, and Adam, using he/him,
for the Adam years. There was no fixed date that this transition hap-
pened. Really, it happened over a lifetime. Adam is his name, as he
will tell you, F-bombs and all.
Listening, learning, and loving worked well for Adam’s family and
friends. I highly recommend it."
The winner of the first free copy of Soar, Adam, Soar is Ellen Moher, a draw I did with all who had signed up to receive my email book updates. There will be another free book drawn from the names of people liking the new Facebook author page. These are the best ways to keep in touch. Most important, if you know parents or kids dealing with these important transgender,gender identity or LGBQT issues, I hope you will share this blog and book news with them. Adam is going to help others.