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Lawyers Club of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome. Guidelines for writers may be found on the Leadership Resources page.

 

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The Journey of Gender Identity

Posted By Jodi Cleesattle, Friday, July 6, 2018

The Journey of Gender Identity


Since 1999, I have been the mother of daughters. Well, in 1999, I was the mother of a daughter. The second one came along in 2002.

 

When I divorced in 2007, it was just us girls in the house. Even our dogs and cats were all girls, except for Sparky, who retreated to his man cave behind the couch when he needed to get away from all the estrogen.

 

Then in 2016, my older child began identifying as genderqueer, or nonbinary. They adopted “they/them/their” pronouns and shortened their first name to a more androgynous nickname to reflect their identity as neither male nor female. Although they flirted with gender fluidity – some days presenting more female, some days more male – they settled on nonbinary status, for a time. In the last year, though, they began leaning more toward a male identity. Now, they are considering transitioning to male.

 

I am used to being the mother of girls, and I admit that I had a “but, boys are icky” moment.

 

But I realized that my child will always be a feminist, whether male, female, or nonbinary. They will always be a champion of women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. They will always be an activist for those who are disadvantaged. They will always be the same spirited, creative, curious, wonderful human being they have always been.

 

Fully realizing their gender identity, and the separate-but-related issue of their sexual orientation, has been a journey.

 

It is a journey that has felt slow to them, but often feels fast to me. Sometimes I get dizzy and confused by the twists and turns of the journey. Sometimes they don’t tell me the path until after they have thoroughly explored it, and I have to race to catch up to where they are. I don’t mean to be slow, but I’m not as nimble and young as they are.

 

I have learned so much while journeying with my child. As a cisgendered (for the unfamiliar, that means identifying with the gender assigned at birth) woman, I never thought much about gender identity. As a bisexual woman, I never thought much about sexual orientation beyond LGBTQ. Through my child, I have learned that gender and orientation are so much more nuanced.

 

Most importantly, I have realized that everybody’s journey is different. Some trans kids feel at a young age that they’re trapped in the wrong gender. Some take longer to pinpoint what doesn’t feel quite right to them.

 

It has not always been easy, but it has been a privilege being on this journey with my child.

 

I love them for who they are, whoever they are. No matter their name, no matter what they look like, no matter their identity, they will always be my child.

 

Editor’s Note: Happy Pride Month, San Diego! Join Lawyers Club for two events: She Fest on July 7, and the San Diego Pride Parade on July 14: She Fest: The Time is Now: Saturday, July 7, 2018, 11-6, North Park Community Park, 4044 Idaho St., 92104

Join the Lawyers Club’s marching contingent at the San Diego Pride Parade on Saturday July 14, 2018 – for details, contact Allison Troini (Allison@lawyersclubsandiego.com).

Jodi Cleesattle is a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice, a past Lawyers Club board member, the current Lawyers Club press liaison, and she wrote this as a member of Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee.

Tags:  cisgender  LGBTQ  nonbinary  parenting  Pride  transgender 

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My So-Called First World Problems: "Wooly"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wooly

 

Here is how I experienced my grandpa’s last week of life and the first days after his death:

 

On Monday, staff at his New Jersey retirement home called him an ambulance. He was admitted to the hospital that afternoon. On Tuesday night, I booked a red-eye, and flew to Newark. I cabbed it straight from the airport to the hospital, where I settled in for the terrible waiting. When he drew his final breaths late Friday night, I was at his side. On Sunday, we buried him. I stayed with my mom for several days as she sat shiva, the traditional Jewish weeklong mourning period.

 

I missed six days of work—unplanned! When I returned to my day-to-day life, I realized something amazing: I had had no compunction about peacing-out of my professional life for an entire week. I had no concerns that my colleagues, (who pitched in to cover my cases), would judge me as uncommitted or unreliable. I wasted no energy on these kinds of thoughts. Instead, I was fully present with my grandpa for his last days. And when he died, I mourned.

 

I owe this privilege to a couple of factors: One, I am lucky to work in a large governmental office, so I am more professionally fungible than most. Two, I never faced the terrifying prospect of losing my job because I took time to care for a family member . . . and that, I have learned, is a privilege not afforded many American workers.

 

Why was I able to truly be present with my grandpa, but when my 18-month-old had pneumonia, I felt stressed and guilty about missing work to care for him? When I leave work early to take my boys for their annual check-ups, why the self-censure? Why do I slink into the office after attending a school play? I am embarrassed to admit that I once hired a complete stranger off of care.com to baby-sit due to the inadvisable “trial—travelling husband—sick toddler” trifecta.

 

Why did I feel okay taking the time to be a daughter and a granddaughter, but I almost never feel justified taking the time to be a mother during the holy hours of 8-5? The time with my grandpa at the end of his life was very special. Participating in his funeral was incredibly meaningful and mourning with my family was essential. So, too, is building happy memories with my children and participating in their lives with my whole being.  

 

 

Rebecca Zipp is a deputy district attorney and mother of two who has spotted wild black bears during day hikes in six different states.

Tags:  family  grandparents  LCB  mourning  My So-Called First World Problems  parenting  time off  work-life balance 

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