Updated: Sep 5, 2018
I believe it's safe to say, there's something about going to the dentist that brings out the vulnerability in most of us. Today we switched dentists and it was all about feeling...
It was time for my family's yearly check-up and I just couldn't stomach going back to our old Dentist office since my youngest child transitioned last year.
Our uber-friendly former Dentist office likes to record patients personal non-dental info - where we work, holiday's we've taken...hobbies, sports ... all for the purpose of easing patients stress through 'easy-breezy chit chat'.
It goes like this,
'So, are you still working at ..... ? how was your holiday in ....? is your daughter still competing at ....?
Personally, I I'm not a fan of all this personal chatter while in the dentist chair.
Something about all the spit in my mouth.
I'm all about getting my teeth cleaned without having to try and smile and answer questions with a mouth full of saliva.
Since my family's reality changed nine months ago, we've conquered many hurdles, celebrated several triumphs, navigated uncountable stressful situations and ultimately, have so much to be proud about.
So, why was having to explain to our dentist of 6 years, giving me night sweats?
I suppose it was their charts full of ALL this personal history -- on my family and on Thomas, who is ultimately a different person now. A better person because he's the person he is meant to be - and a different person. I don't want him to feel he has to explain himself - or myself to have to explain his transition.
He is who he is and that's it.
And so, I decided we move to a smaller, more local practise where we can start fresh, clean slate.
Gender Marker Woes
The only obstacle that was keeping me up before this morning's appointment was the Health Card.
Legal name change - check. New Health Card - check.
Gender marker - not-so-simple.
His gender marker still says 'F'.
And the Province of Nova Scotia can't seem to keep track of this confidentially - they need the dentist office to know it too.
Damn Gender Markers.
Are boys teeth different than girls?
Once again, an illustration of the antiquated system and why 'the Village' doesn't include my child's right to privacy. It'd be fine if the general public understood, accepted and supported transgender children. But they don't and that's why we're in the Invisible Parents Club. We know these conversations are important but sometimes we get exhausted always having to lead them...
As our new Dental Admin entered the info I had printed on the forms, the MSI kept rejecting the entry.
Check the number. Check the expiry.
'He is who he says he is... does he go by a different name?'
So I take a deep breath. Before she could dial the number to call MSI, I quietly paused her and with almost a whisper, I say,
'Um...sorry, maybe it's the gender marker? I didn't want to make it an issue - or felt it was necessary to disclose...'
And without missing a beat, she says,
'Aha yes, shall I enter an F? I was entering an 'M'. It's no big deal.'
Relief... and then she says...
'We've other trans children here. It's all great and we'll identify with whatever pronouns they prefer.'
We live in a small community. And today, I'm feeling more apart of 'The Village'. Someone on the inside 'sees' us. And supports my child.
And sadly, there is homophobia all around my family -- without even touching on transphobia. In a country that is making positive strides forward, when it comes to trans youth, there is wide spread lack of understanding, education and lack of acceptance and far too much outpouring of online hatred.
So, I say WOW to our new local dentist office and I'm grateful.
And I'm so happy my little guy had a chance to hear he's not alone. We reassure him of this all the time, but it's not so easy at his age - there aren't many children his age who are publicly out - and locally, we've yet to meet anyone.
On the car ride home, he says, 'So there are MORE kids here that are like me? That's really great.'
And I say, 'Yes.'
And I'm sorry I carry fear for how my child is going to be treated or stigmatized and fear for how I am judged as a parent for listening to my child. And I know we moved dentist when our old dentist may have been equally accepting - but sometimes a clean slate is needed.
My children are beautiful and brave and I will shelter them from ignorance and hatred for as long as possible.
I hope one day we can all be inspired by Olympian Adam Rippon and lose the fear, as he so eloquently puts it when he received the HRC Visibility Award at the 2018 HRC Los Angeles Dinner last night.
His message is powerful to the LGBTQ2 community, particularly LGBTQ youth. And for me, as a parent in the trans youth community, I'll constantly remind myself to lose my fear, breathe deep, and keep paving a positive path for the future my child and others.
When I returned home, I called the Dentist to thank them for being so wonderful. It's something the good folks take for granted. They know it simply shouldn't be an issue.
I suggested they place a rainbow sticker in their window to let everyone know how welcoming they are.
'When we all come together we can change the world.'
It's Simply Good Form. Happy Monday indeed.
Mini triumphs. Baby steps.