Up until this point, our kids went to a private Christian School were the directors and teachers knew about me as they had witnessed my transition on a daily time table. In many ways, that school learned from us, as my children did from them.
The first grade was challenging for Logan at this new public school, but nothing any normal child doesn’t go through. There were challenges for us as parents too - but when Logan had problems, it was never a case of our ability to be effective parents that was put into question. You see, the school did not know I was Trans nor that Logan was a child of an alternative household. I kept a low profile that first year from his new school - I was just a woman named "Chloe" who picked them up and was another mother in their lives. It was never a question of my relationship or involvement with their mother or them. Everything was fine, seemingly, anyway.
The following summer of 2008 came and my youngest son Barry, was to begin his first year of Kindergarten. This time, however, since I was off that summer (recovering from my surgeries in Thailand), it was left to me to register Barry for school.
I took all the documents necessary down to prove his eligibility. I also too my own identification papers down to the school and presented them to the office secretary. On the application, I registered Rene as the mother and I listed myself as “mother” in the “other” section. I then explained privately to the secretary the reason why.
The secretary was fine with the knowledge and even made the suggestion to update Logan’s registry card – deleting the “father portion” and amending it with “Mother” and my current name. After the principal was informed and approved, I was handed the paper work back, and all was well – at least, that’s what I thought.
Less than one month of school had transpired when a major problem occurred. Rene and I both were working at the time and needed to use the schools after school program to watch the kids. The program was called “Latch-Key Kids” and was facilitated by a third party organization. The program keeps after school kids in programs marketed as “enriching” programs to help the kids stay active, educated and out of trouble, until their parents get off of work. So whats the problem?
After only being in the program less than one month, Barry (5 years old) came to me and said he didn’t want to go to school anymore. When asked why, he said because the people in the Latch-Key program made him feel bad. He continued to say that the teacher made him shadow a 4th grader the entire time and was not allowed to be on his own. Over the next few days I decided to make my own observations of the program when I picked up the kids after work.
On the first day I arrived to pick up the kids, Barry was sitting in “time out” because he had cut in line on the way to the play ground. It was 5:30 and they had been out there for over an hour. Barry said the teacher had made him sit there the entire time. I didn’t know what to think. The teacher refused Barry's complaint immediately and said it had only been for a few minutes.
The second day I came, again, Barry was alone playing in the corner. I thought nothing of it and asked him when we got home how his day had gone. He said he again had another bad day because he was not aloud to play with the other kids. This time because he was being silly at snack time. I said nothing, noted the thoughts and remained observant.
On the third day, I decided to observe the class from the window. I was shocked at what I saw. Standing at the cafeteria door and looking through its window, I saw the class with ALL their heads down on the cafeteria tables and the instructor sleeping, stretched out on 2 chairs. The other instructor was a male, sitting at the back of the cafeteria with his iPod headphones on, not paying any attention to the class. I stood there for over 5 minutes waiting for something to happen… it was clear that nothing was going to, so I went inside casually.
I took the room and teacher by surprise. The teacher was red faced and before I could say anything, immediately started making excuses for why they were all resting – including her. Saying nothing to the teacher, I turned to Logan and asked him how long they have been in here. Logan and my other son both said the class had been in the cafeteria since school ended. They had NOT gone outside, or to the Gym. It was now 5:30pm and school had been over for more than 2 hours! What the hell was going on, was the look I gave the teacher. I asked the teacher to step into the hall so we could speak.
After giving me a long song and dance of what was going on, I told her what I had observed over the past 3 days and Barry being sad about coming to Latch-Key. I told her I was reporting this to the schools principal and the Managers of Latch-Key, and that I expect better treatment for the $100 per child per week we pay for an “enriching” program. "...its not military boot camp or nappy time for teachers, after all." I said, walking away.
The opportunity to speak with the principal would have to wait. I was scheduled to go to Atlanta for SCC the following morning. So I told Rene about what had transpired at Latch-Key and said we would have to deal with it together, when I return. In retrospect, waiting was a mistake. The teacher I busted napping wasted no time.
The very next morning, out of NO WHERE, the principal and the schools counselor came to visit Barry in his class room during school hours, for what they said was "routine observations". They noted that Barry was "Rocking back and forth" and had him come down to the offices for further examination. Once there, they started asking leading and probing questions to Barry. Rene and I ONLY found out about this afterward because Barry came home and told Rene what had happen. Could it be all this is a coincidence the very next day after telling the Latch-Key teacher to shape up?
Barry told Rene that the counselor asked “Are you sad because of Daddy?” Confused, Barry said he was “Mad, and Sad,"because of me… They then asked him another leading question: “Sad because Daddy went away?”… he said “yes.”
Then the Principal and Counselor asked him if he is ever spanked at home – Barry told him he gets hit with "sticks" or some weapon or another…. (It was never made clear what was actually said.) All we know is that they asked him if we were whipping him. They made NO effort to contact us – Once Rene found out from Barry he was questioned, she called me down in Atlanta and told me what was going on. I told her to make an appointment for us to see these people when I get back.
Keep in mind, that until this moment, the only people that were suppose to know about me being Trans was the secretary and the principal Mrs. “B”. That was only because of the name change situation earlier this summer. Now that circle of knowledge was being expanded with out my permission by bringing Barry’s Teacher Mrs. “V” and the counselor Mrs. “W” into the circle of knowledge.
Before going into this meeting, Rene and I talked about what we wanted to accomplish from it, and that was to find what would help Barry focus on being a better student – period. Unfortunately, I 'm not sure that's what came out of it.
Mrs. B. and Mrs. W. both felt that the boys were confused – adding to that argument, the Principal Mrs. B. said she had noted on separate occasions Logan referring to me “Chloe,” as his father… or saying things like “my Dad,…”
The conversation within 5 minutes of the meeting turned its focus on my transition and our unique home life and away from Barry's problems learning. Their reason for Barry not learning was because of me - more pointed because of my Trans issues. The principal Mrs. B. made suggestion that "maybe it would be better for the boys if you just presented your selves as two mothers; leaving out the fact his Daddy is now living as a woman." Mrs. B. went as far as to say that maybe we should "take down the photos in your home" of "Daddy" living as a male, and replace them with me as Chloe, their "other" Mom.
Actually, we have both male and female photos of me on the wall. I've never hid or wanted to hide the fact that I was Transgendered from my kids. I wanted them to grow up knowing what I use to look like before and the way I am now. The result from that is our children know more about being Transgendered than the average person does... and that's a good thing. I do not shelter my children from knowledge. Instead, I give it to them in doses they can understand and are age appropriate.
They "get it". They understand in detail that:
"Gender is a form of expression; when we are born, our body parts are assigned to us at random - We have no control over that as individuals. BUT, we do have control over how we live our lives. Transition is the process of making personal adjustments to better suit how one feels on the inside to be reflected on the outside... it helps individuals live a more happy, fulfilling life by improving how others will interact with them and how they interact with others."At ages 4, my children understood that - amazingly enough, adults of all ages still don't.
Rene and I asked little Barry why he was "Mad and Sad," and he said he felt that way NOT because his Daddy left him, but because I was gone for a month in Thailand and he missed me while I was gone. We also asked him about why he said we hit him with sticks, he said he didn't know and thought that is what they wanted to hear. The fact is we do discipline our children, but we do NOT spank them - being accused of this was devastating to both Rene and I. Our kids have never known their father - they only know of a life with 2 mom's. The concept is foreign to them, but the social imposing ideal that they MUST have a Dad is starting to show signs of strain on them. This is just another example of it.
The long and short of this conversation that came from the meeting with the school was, that they wanted to convey that: They had noted a problem with our kids behavior and that they wanted to get it on record, and had done so. When asked if this had “Anything to do with the Latch-Key situation,” they looked stunned and bewildering, saying, “What are you talking about?”
That’s when Rene and I knew what we were dealing with here. Rather than taking any responsibility for the negligence of the Latch-Key Teacher, they instead played the Trans-Card. All they needed was to brush dirt up on us by interviewing our kids, looking for ANYTHING…
Now, it looks like we are the one’s retaliating by noting in our meeting that there was such an issue with the Latch-Key Teacher!