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"I’m a girl, but I recently found out I’m intersex and will never have kids. I feel so shocked, and I’m so scared to tell people. How can I get married? How do I handle this?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Claudia Astorino as part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.

Claudia Says:

Hey there, Anonymous!

I understand where you’re at. Intersex people are great and fantastic, but we’re living at a time in history where many people still misunderstand intersex as a medical condition that needs to be “fixed,” or something to be ashamed of. I hope that your parents and clinicians know that your intersex self is also great and fantastic just the way you are! If learning that you’re intersex wasn’t a positive experience, I am sending you a virtual ((((hug)))) if you want it and some helpful links to resources on intersex basics: from your own Everyone Is GayAutostraddle, and the US chapter of Organization Intersex International(OII-USA).

For extra self-care, I recommend this video featuring a baby otter that was recently rescued and adopted by Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, I LITERALLY CANNOT STOP WATCHING IT, IT’S LEARNING HOW TO FLOAT, I can’t. *brain explodes.*

Anyway.

So, MS. FANTASTIC (can I call you MS. FANTASTIC?), you’re in good company – some intersex people are reproductive, and some aren’t. There are some intersex people, like me, who weren’t really interested in having kids in the first place. There are other intersex people I know who have had a really difficult time knowing that they wouldn’t be able to have children who were biologically related to them, who had their own DNA.

This, however, absolutely doesn’t mean that you can’t have kids or get married!  Lots of intersex people who want to have kids DO have kids through adoption. The kids that you raise and love and nurture are 800% as much your kids as any kids that would be biologically related to you.

If you have a brother or sister, and it’s really important for you to have a kid that’s biologically related to you, then you might also want to consider surrogacy, where you can use your sib’s DNA to have your kids.  That being said, I know multiple intersex people that have adopted and love their kids to pieces.  Being intersex will in no way prevent you from having LITTLE FANTASTICS running around!

The same goes for finding a partner and getting married.  If you find another person you want to have kids with, THAT’S GREAT – YOU CAN!  Just because you wouldn’t be having your own biological kids doesn’t mean you won’t have kids. Your future partner will love you and want to be with you for you, and that means being on board with adopting your kids. You seem to be afraid that you’ll meet someone awesome and they’ll walk away because you wouldn’t be having biological kids together. Although this probably sounds like a super-painful scenario, in all honesty, if this happened, you’d actually be DODGING A BULLET. If a potential partner can’t accept all the FANTASTIC that you are?  Then they’re not worth raising your kids with anyway.

Right?!

A final thought: we’re all raised in a world where we’re told that, after puberty, our bodies “should” be able to do all these things. When you learn that your body, in fact, doesn’t do all these things as an intersex person, it’s easy to think that this means there’s something wrong with you, since you “can’t” do these things. I’m here to tell you that just because you don’t get a period and won’t give birth, that doesn’t mean that your body isn’t able to do something it’s “supposed to do” – YOUR BODY IS DOING WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE DOING ALL ALONG. Or that somehow you’re less of a girl or a woman because your body doesn’t do these things. Not all of us are comfortable or okay with this knowledge – especially at first – and I am not trying to minimize your feelings about this.  At some point, though, after you’ve processed all this more, I’d encourage you to reframe thinking about what your body “can’t do” (= is “supposed to do”) to what your body doesn’t do.  <3

MS. FANTASTIC, it’s difficult to figure out what’s going on and how you feel and where you’re at when you first learn you’re intersex.  Know that there’s a community of intersex people out there with love and support, and we even have websites.  And also out there, is a person you’re gonna raise some kids with.  And your kids are going to be amazing.

Sounds pretty fantastic, doesn’t it?  :)

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Click through to read more about Claudia and our other Second Opinions Panelists!

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"Guys! Some of my best friends have reproduced and the little one is to be born next spring! Half of the soon to be parents refers to me as "brother" and I’m a gender-nonconforming lady. It’s been determined that kid will be my niece/nephew. What are some alternative suggestions to aunt/uncle?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

“Can Harrison call me Auntie Uncle” – Actual text I sent my friend in spring of 2013.

HERE IS THE THING. Make it up. Those words don’t really mean anything anyway. Think of all the names we have for our grandparents; nana, pawpaw, ma-maw, pa-paw rick, mommy squirt, daddy jim, grandma roberts… THESE ARE ALL NAMES I’VE CALLED ACTUAL GRANDPARENT FIGURES OF MINE. These words make no sense.

I think you should 100% embrace the fact that you get to come up with something all your own. My bff is gonna have her kids call HER mom “cooter” … COOTER. It’s hysterical and the best. If I were in your situation I might have them call me Nacky. I just made it up, it means nothing, it’s not a word, and for some reason I love it.

Kristin, your kids are calling me Nacky.

Kristin Says:

Yes, yes, yes. This is awesome, and I agree whole-heartedly with DannielleNacky.

The beauty of kids is that they learn what we teach them — and so whatever it is that you want to be called will literally be how that tiny one thinks of you in their tiny brain. KIDS ARE SO MALLEABLE AND PERFECT.

Okay, so here are some adorable, gender-nonconforming name ideas for your soon to be niece/nephew/squirt:

– Zii {Your Name} or ZeeZee – I think “Zii” or “Ze” or however you choose to spell it, could be kind of cool. I found out that the plural of “aunt” or “uncle” in Italian in Zie/Zii, and also a gender-neutral pronoun is “Ze” – and ZEE is a fun and easy thing for babies to say… so maybe?!

– Puppy – I am reading a book by Neil Gaiman at the moment where one of the nicknames is “Puppy,” and I find it to be adorable and sweet and like… imagine that tiny baby calls you their PUPPY?!??!

– Shithead – Listen, Sorry… I just. I started thinking about this movie where Steve Martin has a dog named Shithead and it’s my favorite thing ever and then I pictured a two year old crying and being like, “BUT I DON’T WANT SHITHEAD TO GO HOME!” having absolutely no understanding of the fact that they were saying anything abnormal and it made me laugh at the breakfast table and then I was like, “People will get mad at me if I suggest it,” and then I was like, “Fuck it, it’s funny,” and now here we are.

– {Your Name As Pronounced By A Tiny Baby} – Kids generally try to say a person’s name for the first time and wind up creating an incredibly hilarious and amazing nickname that is endearing and perfect… so maybe you let them have a go at it once they become a mumblin’ squirt? My sister called me Nin-nin when she was tiny and most of my cousins and my grandma still refer to me as Nin-nin… also one of my friends is named Mary and her neice calls here Meanie. So.

Also congratulations and that is so exciting!!!! BABIES YOU GUYS!

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"how do i get the five year old i babysit to stop trying to set me up with her dad."

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think you should mix up some chilli and toothpaste and keep it in a cup and next time she says something run into the kitchen and make throw up noises and then pour the chillitoothpaste on the floor and when she runs in to see whats wrong you should just say ‘i threw up, cuz boys are gross’

Then, google chilli and toothpaste:

Kristin Says:

That’s also a great way to slowly turn her into a lesbian – which is what gay people are all about, anyway. #tactics

Also, you could tell her that if you start dating her dad you won’t be able to be her babysitter anymore because you would possibly turn into her STEPMOM, and that she probably doesn’t want you to be her STEPMOM because you would make her bologna and ketchup sandwiches for lunch everyday.

Also, you should scream STEPMOM every time you say it, as suggested by my caps lock.

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"My niece just turned 4, and she's starting to ask me and her mother very pointed questions about why her auntie holds hands with girls, and what gay is, and why her mom holds hands with a boy ect. My sister and I aren't exactly sure how to respond. I know you guys aren't child psychologists or anything, but how would you explain to a four year old that some people are gaywads, some people aren't, and either way is completely normal?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

So, I hate to sit here and say that one time tumblr made me cry, but I was scrolling through Tumblr about two years ago and I see this little story. THE STORY LOOKS SHORT AND GAY and those are two things I love, but basically it was a girl talking about how she was holding hands with her girlfriend and behind her she heard a little girl and her mom talking, the little girl must’ve been about five years old and she asked her mom “Mommy, why are those two girls holding hands” and her mom simply said “because sweetie, they love each other.” INSERT TEARS.

Boom. End of story, that’s it.

You don’t have to explain the difference between straight and gay and loving boys and loving girls and how it all biologically works, just tell her the truth. AUNT PRISCILLA holds hand with a girl bc she loves a girl and MOMMY TWOTOPS holds hands with a boy because she loves a boy. Tell her that every person in the world will love someone different. Go pick up “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Parr and read it with her. It’s a great book.

You’re probably nervous bc we all know that she’s going to encounter people who say ‘being gay is wrong’ AND THEN WHAT WILL HAPPEN?!?! You just correct them, it’s not wrong to love someone. She’ll run into people saying ‘being gay is wrong and gross” the same way she is going to encounter people who will say “black people only sing rap songs and murder people.” It’s like CALM DOWN EVERYONE the idiots who say igno-shit like that are the ones who are wrong. OBVI.

Kristin Says:

Let me tell you something. Telling your four year old that AUNT PRISCILLA holds hands with ladies because she loves them is about one hundred million times easier than telling someone who is forty years old the same thing.

Have you ever read The Little Prince? If the answer is no, I need you to immediately stop reading this post and go get a copy. One of the first lines of the book reads,

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

Children understand worlds more than we, as adults, can grasp. We are the ones bogged down with baggage and bullshit and nonsense, and we turn simple things into giant mounds of confusion. That is the opposite of what a four-year-old does. All TINYBIT MCGOO (your neice) needs to know is that her aunt loves people, her mom loves people, people love people, and that when people love each other, they like to show that to each other by holding hands.

Answer her questions honestly and openly. Just because she is a little shrimp that you can toss up in the air and shower in gifts of candy and glitter-glue doesn’t mean that she can’t understand human love. I talk to kids like I talk to Dannielle, minus some curse words and boob jokes, and guess what? They get every bit of what I say to them and they love me for it. #bestbabysitterever

I guarantee you that you will say, “TINYBIT MCGOO, I love my girlfriend PLIMPY and so I hold her hand just like MOMMYTWOTOPS loves TODDHEAD and holds his hand,” and she will say, “HAHAHAHAHAHA PLIMPY IS THE SILLIEST NAME EVER. Can I have ice cream now?”

Cut and print.

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"How do I tell my two children (7 and 12) that my best friend is actually my girlfriend? I have been divorced from my husband for three years now. I've raised them to accept people the way they are, but I'm nervous that the divorce and the fact that I'm dating their friend's mother will be all too confusing. Thanks guys!"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

It might be confusing, but let’s be real, would u rather them be confused for a little bit now OR confused and mad and uncomfortable bc they feel like you lied to them for YEARS? I mean, that’s a little dramatic, but pretty much once we turn 13 our emotions are all over the place and things that shouldn’t be THAT big of a deal end up being the biggest of all deals. SO I SAY TO YOU MOMMY1, TELL THESE CHILDRENS ABOUT MOMMY2!

There may be some magic in the way you approach it, maybe you could get your twelve year old more involved. Tell CHAUNCY (your 12 year old’s name is Chauncy) that you have something important to say to him. Say that you know he will understand but you’re not sure how to communicate with PISTACHIO (that’s your 7 year old). When CHAUNCY asks what it is, tell him the full story: you’re dating SANDRADEE (your girlf) and you’ve been scared to tell him bc of reason1, reason2 and reason3.

Maybe CHAUNCY will think it’s weird, gross, stupid, uncomfortable, WHAT HAVE YOU. These are all totally natural reactions, but MAYBE just MAYBE the fact that you’re coming to him for help with talking to PISTACHIO, maybe that will overshadow his googly feelings about his mom dating a mom??

Also, I don’t know your kids, you do. You know them better than anyone bc you raised them and let’s be totally real, they probably won’t care, or they will already have an idea, or they will just want to talk about it. I have no way of knowing…i totally just picked the names and genders of your children (as if it mattered) for funsies. Ask them how they feel, let them talk about it. If they’re scared or confused, let them be scared or confused. It’s a big deal, and they’re super lucky to have such a caring and open mom. Some moms don’t tell their kids anything. Remember you aren’t doing anything wrong and everyone needs a little time to get used to new family members (regardless of gender).

Kristin Says:

PISTACHIO IS THE CUTEST NAME FOR A SEVEN YEAR OLD IN THE HISTORY OF NAMES.

Here is my opinion, Anonymom: The best way to talk to kids is the exact same way you would talk to adults. The more honest you are with them, the better everything will be, and the less of a ‘big deal’ you make it, the easier it will be for them to understand and to feel comfortable asking you any questions they might have.

I am sure in your head you have created a giant scenario where your twelve year old throws her spaghetti on the floor and calls you a dyke and your seven year old asks you if that means you like boobs, and you panic and can’t breathe and you step on the dog and everyone starts scream-crying…but that is NOT going to happen. Approach the conversation as a simple sit-down where you say something like:

“Hey, I know that you have been seeing SANDRADEE over here a lot, and it is really important to me that you know about all the things that are going on in my life – just like I want to know about the things going on in yours. SANDRADEE and I are dating each other, and I know that might be a little confusing to you both since I was with your dad a few years ago, but we love each other very much and she makes me so happy. I want you both to feel free to ask me any questions that you have, at any time, okay? Do either of you have any questions right now?” {{insert pause for questions}} “I love you both very much.”

Approach the conversation as the first of many, and not as THE ONE TIME I COME OUT TO MY KIDS, you know? As with anything else, these things are a process, and this will be much more than a simple, one-time conversation. The bottom line is that you’ve raised your kids in an open and accepting environment. Even if they are a bit confused or angry or weirded out at first, with your love and support and honesty, they will be just fine. Hell, if they have a happy and supportive mom, they are going to be way better than fine.

#closeriamtofi-i-i-i-iiiine

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