Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fill In The Blanks: How the Parent One, Parent Two Decision Makes A Difference

Forms with the blanks, “Mother,” and “Father,” give me a rash.

The “Mother” blank is easy for me. My mom has been one and the same since I was born. She has been my turtleneck-and-jeans-wearing book-toting Mom from Day One.

The “Father” blank is where I pause. Should I put down the Dad from my birth through ten years, David, the one who brought presents from far-flung places and was a sometimes-on-holidays Dad?

Or should I put down the woman who my Dad became, the one with the middle name “Elizabeth,” who sent me care packages at boarding school and made gourmet dinners for me and my boyfriends?

At the doctor’s office recently, my primary care physician wanted to know about my parents’ health.

“Your mother?” she asked. I knew what would come next. The f-word.

Does my father’s gender identity relate to my risk for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer? I decided to tell her, because it’s easier to explain than to use the f-word when it’s not a part of my regular vocabulary. I call my Dad by her chosen name.

At the Social Security Office this fall, I noted my parents’ names at my birth on the form, but still wondered if the official behind the glass would want to know my Dad’s social security number. I would have to explain that all this had changed because of the transition. Because I’m over 18, I didn’t have to provide those details, but I thought of kids filling out the form. Would they have to elaborate a whole family history for a stranger in a blue uniform?

When I heard about the decision to use “Parent One” and “Parent Two” on passport forms, I felt a great relief. I could easily say that Parent One was my biological Mom and Parent Two was my transgender Dad. She’s my “Parent Two.” It made me want to run out and apply for a new passport just so I could fill in the form.

While opposition to the change calls it a wave of political correctness, instead, it is a move towards accuracy. These forms strive for precision, thus it makes perfect sense to no longer list “Mom” and “Dad.” Those tags simply don’t reflect all contemporary families.

Back when my Dad transitioned, she had to apply for a new passport. She appeared at the office with her old passport and all the requisite documents. The man behind the counter shuffled through everything in a cursory way, barely looking up as he processed the forms.

“Reason for the replacement?” he asked in a gruff voice, pen poised over a blank on the form.

“Things have changed,” my Dad said. At the sound of my Dad’s soft-spoken voice, the man looked up, took in all 5’10”, neatly coiffed hair, lipstick and silk scarf. The passport official raised his eyebrows, and said,

“Yes they have.”

Monday, January 10, 2011

Parent One and Parent Two

Great news!

The State Department recently announced that U.S. passport application forms will now include gender neutral terminology, replacing fields for "mother" and "father" with "parent one" and "parent two".

It's a small change, but it's a tangible step toward recognizing that there are many kinds of families. Let's hope that the change is mirrored in other government documents, and that the private sector eventually catches on!

Read more about it here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meet COLAGEr Author Tina Fakhrid-Deen

What: Let's Get This Straight Book Signing & Celebration with Tina Fakhrid-Deen

When: 7:00pm, Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Where: Bluestockings Bookstores & Activist Center, 172 Allen Street

Let's Get This Straight reaches out to young people with one or more gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or queer parents to provide them with the tools to combat homophobia, take pride in their family structures, and speak out against injustice.

This book profiles forty-five diverse youth and young adults, all of whom voice their opinions and provide advice for other youth living in LGBTQ households.

Let's Get This Straight also includes fun activities, engaging quizzes, and reflective journal sections for youth to share their feelings and experiences about having a gay parent.

Join us at Bluestockings to meet the author, purchase the book, and get your copy signed!

This event is also part of the COLAGE Northeast Regional Retreat--Register NOW!

COLAGErs Gather in the Big Apple

Teens and Adults with one or more LGBTQ parents in the Northeast region are getting together in New York City over the 2011 Martin Luther King weekend! It's an opportunity to share stories, make connections and exchange ideas for building community & amplifying the voices of COLAGErs in our region. It's also a great excuse to escape to NYC for the weekend, and explore the Big Apple with fellow COLAGErs!

This event is for youth, teens, and adults ages 15+ with LGBTQ parents from, as well as any other adults involved in the leadership of COLAGE chapters in the region.

As with all COLAGE events, no one is ever turned away for a lack of funds. Please email to arrange a scholarship if you are unable to pay the full registration fee.

Registration only includes all workshops, lunch and dinner. Housing and registration includes all workshops, meals, and apartment-style chaperoned housing within 5 blocks of the event space. Each apartment will house 10-12 participants.

The retreat will be based in the East Village, at the NYC Sixth Street Community Center 6th st. betw/ Ave B and Ave C. Housing options will be available nearby and meals will be provided. Program highlights for our upcoming retreat include:

~A legislative change workshop led by a regional politician

~Self-care workshops including:

-Sexual health for participants 18 and older, hosted by babeland
-Sexual health for participants ages 15-18
-Healthy eating and nutrition

~Speak-Out Workshops:

-Poetry and Spoken Word, led by COLAGEr and author, Tina Fakhrid-Deen
-Social Media

By coming together and sharing our stories we realize our difference is our strength. Connecting with a community of our peers helps us become better advocates for ourselves and our families!Last year we inaugurated the COLAGE North East Regional Retreat with 25 adults and 20 teens from all across the region. The event was a tremendous success and a powerful experience for those who attended, join us to make an even bigger impact this year!

Register Now!

Snow Day!

In the first of many future partnerships with Center Families, COLAGE-NYC celebrated winter in December with a Family Snow Day!

COLAGErs bonded with families with young tots (future members of COLAGE!) in a fun-filled afternoon of arts and crafts, kid-friendly games, and mingling between adult COLAGErs and young families connected with The Center.

Center Families

Danielle of COLAGE and her #1 fan, a young boy from a family connected with the Center:

Jamie of COLAGE meets the bambino of a proud new dad:

Paper plates used as snow shoes in one of the creative games:

The afternoon showed us that as COLAGErs, we have lots of offer supporting new families linked with the Center.

Here’s to more joint adventures in the future!

COLAGErs Celebrate the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Okay, we were a little early in our celebration….but we knew the Senate would come to its senses. Growing up in queer families, we knew that it was just a matter of time before the rest of the world caught up to us and saw that secrecy was a form of discrimination.

COLAGE-NYC held our early celebration at the Brooklyn Bowl, a fab old-skool bowling alley in Williamsburg. Saturdays and Sundays are Family Day at the Brooklyn Bowl. Our COLAGE family bowling team was made up of:

Darnell, the sneaky sly bowling pro:

Moshe, the new-kid-on-the-block bowling-wise who dazzled us with his instant talents:

Jesse, the fancy-footed bowler:

Jamie, the old-skool queen-of-the-spare:

Mallory, the secret bowling shark (she won by a landslide!):

And me, “Heat” (that was my bowling name—need I say more?):

(fuzzily pictured in pink with the lovely Vanessa and Jamie’s awesome mom!)

We know that our afternoon bowling wasn’t the only reason “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed, but we’d like to think that spirit like ours contributes to a changing climate for contemporary queer families. Bowl on!