Thursday 15 August 2019

Let's Talk About .... Gender Dysphoria

So there is a bit of a backstory to this post, so bare with me.

A few weekends ago we had a very interesting development occur in superhero headquarters just before midnight on a Saturday night. We have a pet lorrikeet, named Popeye, and there were some very odd and strange noises coming from his cage. As Daddy superhero said, it sounded like Popeye was trying to poop out something rather large. It turns out that our lorrikeet was laying eggs. Say what now?

Now here's the twist. Popeye is a boy. Well we thought he was until she started laying eggs late one Saturday night!

We got Popeye almost three years ago as a hand raised baby lorrikeet. The bird park in Perth where we got Popeye from, DNA tested him prior to us bringing him home and we were told that Popeye was a boy. So for the last three years, we've been referring to Popeye as a boy.

Well clearly that isn't the case because we had two little eggs in a makeshift nest in the bottom of Popeye's cage!!

We now know that Popeye is in fact a girl and she was very proud of herself for laying two eggs. She had no idea what to do with them and the eggs aren't fertilized, much to the little superheroes disgust as they wanted to see some baby birds, as she's never been in contact with another lorrikeet other than her parents and her brother three years ago!!

L thought it was hilarious, went and tried to wake his big sister up so that she could share in the excitement. L was quite disgusted that O wouldn't wake up so he woke her friend G who was sleeping over. Then very early the next morning, L and G told O the news about Popeye!

Later on that morning the questions started ...

L ... Mummy, how did Popeye be a girl and lay eggs when she got boy blood?
Me ... Well buddy, turns out Popeye was a girl the whole time.
L ... So she got girl DNA and not boy DNA. The bird shop got it wrong.
Me ... They sure did buddy. And how do you know about DNA?
L ... I heared it somewhere!
O ... So we thought Popeye was a boy but she just wasn't able to tell us that she wasn't a boy. Popeye told us in her own way when she was ready. A little bit like E, when she wanted to be a girl and not a boy anymore.
M ... Good remembering O, yes a little like E.

Both O and L have not had any issues in now referring to Popeye as a girl, to them it's just a matter of fact that Popeye is a girl and she lays eggs.

This conversation got me thinking. A few years ago when we lived in Perth, one of the little superheroes carers built up the courage to come out to those who knew and loved her, that she no longer identified as a male. She explained that she had gender dysphoria, identified as a female and wanted to be known as E.

We'd just started on our Autism journey and I honestly had no idea how O and L would react to the news that one of their beloved carers was not only changing their name but also changing genders. At that point in time, we were still learning how to adapt our life style so that L was able communicate with us and those around him so the thought of introducing both little superheroes to the concept that sometimes people feel very different inside, was very daunting.

But you know what, it was a very simple process. We sat down with both little superheroes and spoke with them that their carer felt very different inside, that she didn't feel as though she was a boy and that she wanted to live life as a girl and be known as E from now on.

O's response was "Oh, so E wants to be a girl? As long as she is happy that is all that matters," and that was it.

The very next day when O saw E, O embraced E before running off to play.

In O's mind, E was still the same person, the only difference was that E now dressed like a lady and had a female name.

Children really can teach us adults a thing or two about being accepting no matter what the circumstance.

O has since asked more questions about why people change from being a girl to a boy or visa versa so we have had chats about gender fluidity as well as gender dysphoria.

Transgender and gender nonconforming people are gaining more and more visibility as they find the courage within themselves to come out and live publicly as the most authentic versions of themselves. So it's important to have these conversations with our children when the circumstances arise. Children are naturally curious and naturally accepting. It is us adults who are, at times, not accepting of those who are different from us or different from our beliefs.

Gender dysphoria is the condition in which an individual's emotional and psychological identity as male or female is opposite to their birth gender. Gender fluidity on the other hand refers to an individual who prefers to remain flexible about their gender identity rather than committing to a single gender. An individual who is gender fluid may fluctuate between genders or express multiple genders at the same time.

When we lived in Perth, it was suggested to us that we read the book "Introducing Teddy," which is written by Jessica Walton, to our little superheroes. This book introduces children to the idea of gender identity in an easy to understand manner. Both O and L loved reading this book and it just cemented to them that no matter what another looks like or how they feel inside or who they identify as, we should accept them as they are.

*** Popeye is a cross breed between a Rainbow Lorrikeet and a Scaly Breasted Lorrikeet. Occasionally when these two sub-species breed, they can have olive coloured chicks. 
Hence the name Popeye!! And unlike a few other animals, 
Lorrikeets are not able to change genders! 
We've since found out that DNA testing birds when they are chicks can be a little unreliable!***

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