Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

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Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group exclusively for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and as of May 2021 there are more than 26,000 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members nickname themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted there.

There are five subgroups, several special projects and more than 50 regional groups available to the members of the private Facebook group.

Go HERE to put in a request to join the group.

The five subgroups include:

SERENDIPITYDODAH MAMA BEARS TO THE RESCUE is a subgroup for Serendipitydodah Mama Bears who are willing and able to be available to do small acts of kindness for LGBTQ+ people in their local community who may need connection, care or assistance. This subgroup makes it easier for members to coordinate and organize to do things such as attend a wedding as an affirming stand in mom, visit someone in the hospital, help someone get settled in a new area, provide some transportation, include someone in their holiday gatherings, provide temporary housing, send a note of encouragement etc

SERENDIPITYDODAH MTK is a subgroup where the conversation is trans specific. It is mostly made up of moms of trans kids. All the members of Serendipitydodah MTK are in the main Serendipitydodah Facebook group.

SERENDIPITYDODAH BLUE OCEAN FAITH is a subgroup for members of Serendipitydodah for Moms who want to connect with and become a part of the Blue Ocean Faith Ann Arbor community via it’s online presence. Blue Ocean Faith is a faith community that fully includes, affirms and supports LGBTQ+ people and those that support them.

SERENDIPITYDODAH #BEYOU is a subgroup for LGBTQ+ youth. The group is private – a place where LGBTQ+ youth can make connections with other LGBTQ+ youth, talk about their journeys, and be vulnerable with their stories and questions without fear of judgement.

SERENDIPITYDODAH DOUBLE RAINBOW is a subgroup for moms of LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The conversation in this subgroup is specific to LGBTQ+ people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. All members are in the main group.

Several Special Programs are available for members:

Mama Bears to the Rescue invites members of Serendipitydodah to volunteer to offer support and encouragement to LGBTQ people. The focus is small acts of kindness, making personal connections and being a loving presence in the life of LGBTQ people who have lost support due to their LGBTQ status. Mama Bears to the Rescue do things such as include LGBTQ people who need support in their holiday gatherings, stand in as affirming moms at same sex weddings, send notes of encouragement, find helpful resources, make hospirtal visits, talk on the phone, text, get together for coffee or lunch etc

Mama Bear Safer Schools Program – Many times LGBTQ+ students don’t get the support, respect and protection they deserve at school. The Mama Bear Safer School program provides a free printable flyer with 5 tips (or talking points) to create safer schools for LGBTQ+ students along with a collection of helpful resources. Sometimes all it takes is a few friendly conversations to create a spark that will lead to positive change. Together we can make schools safer for our LGBTQ+ students.

The Mama Bear Story Project –  Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. The Mama Bear Story Project provides a stage for the members of “Serendipitydodah for Moms” to share autobiographical essays and personal portraits in an effort to connect with other moms like themselves and to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live.  The project was started in January 2017 and as of July 2018 has published more than 30 essays written by a mom of an lgbtq kid. Each essay includes a portrait of the mom and is shared on The Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page and on the Serendipitydodah Public Blog.

The Mama Bear Made With Love Project invites members of Serendipitydodah for Moms to make heart patterned friendship bracelets for members of the lgbtq community to remind them they are loved just the way they are. Anyone can submit lgbtq people to receive a “Made With Love Bracelet” by sending the person’s name and address in an email to lizdyer55@gmail.com (feel free to also add some information about the person). This is more than a bracelet – this is a movement created by moms of lgbtq kids who are committed to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all lgbtq people to live. (This project is US only)

The Mama Bear Blanket Project delivers handmade blankets to LGBTQ teens and young adults who find themselves not supported by their family. The hope is that the blankets delivered to them will serve as a reminder that there is someone who loves and cares about them. Moms of LGBTQ kids who are members of the Serendipitydodah for Moms Facebook group are invited to make no-sew fleece blankets and mail them to assigned recipients. You can nominate someone to receive a Mama Bear Blanket by emailing their name and address to lizdyer55@gmail.com  This project was inspired by Mama Bear Anita Cockrum, a member of Serendipitydodah for Moms, who started The Banner Blanket Project. (This project is US only)

A helpful list of resources for parents of lgbtq kids can be found here.

For more info visit our website at realmamabears.org 


Mama Bear Story Project #59 – Tamara Cofman Wittes

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

SHOW YOUR PRIDE by Mama Bear Tamara Cofman Wittes

Like many Mama Bears, I have a bunch of t-shirts with messages that indicate I’m an LGBTQ+ ally and I have a progress pride flag and a trans flag in my yard.

I often wonder if it’s all too much, but this week I was reminded that my visibility is important and makes a difference!

I was out in my garden talking to a neighbor, and wearing my “Trans Rights are Human Rights” t-shirt. A kid, middle school age, came by on a bike and asked if we’d seen a cat.

Turns out the cat is a stray and this sweet kid was trying to feed it and bring it inside.

I took down the kid’s mobile number and promised to text if I saw the cat.

Before leaving the kid says, “My name is _____ and I like your t-shirt.”

I say, “Thanks.”

The kid says, “I’m trans.”

I say, “Cool, so is my kid, he grew up in this house.”

“Cool,” says the kid..

“Are you gonna keep the cat if you catch it?” I ask.

“Yeah, I’m going to make my mom keep it,” says the kid.😊

As the kid rode away I wondered what it felt like to be so young and so open in their truth to someone they’d just met.

I thought about how my flags and t-shirt let them feel confident and safe to do that.

My hope is that seeing my pride flags and me in my t-shirt will help all the kids in my neighborhood grow up feeling like they belong just as they are, and know that my house is a safe place to come to if they ever need one.

Meeting this middle school kid reinforced to me that being a visible LGBTQ+ ally has impact well beyond our own families. So, I’ve decided that this year, during Pride month, I will wear one of my LGBTQ+ themed t-shirts every time I go out to run errands around town.

I am lucky to live in an area that is LGBTQ+ friendly, therefore, I’m not afraid to show my pride wherever I go. I know not all Mama Bears are so fortunate. But, if you do feel safe increasing your own visibility as a Mama Bear as you go about your daily life this June, I hope you’ll join me in showing your pride!

If you do show your pride I feel certain you will have a positive impact on some people around you whom you may never meet and some encounters that will warm your heart.


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 33,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Transgender? How to change your legal name and gender marker on legal documents.

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This is an Overview of the Name and Gender Marker Change Process in the United States

The process for changing a legal name and/or updating gender marker depends on where you live, where you were born, and other individual circumstances and needs. This guide will give you an overview of that process!

To Change Your Name
In most states, you need an order from the court to change your legal name. Use copies of the court order to change your name on any document and record that you’d like to update. To change your name, follow the name change process in the state where you live.

To Change Your Gender Marker
To change your gender marker, follow the instructions for each document or record you want to update. To update your birth certificate, follow the process in the state where you were born. To update your driver’s license, follow the process in the state where you live.
Click here for state-specific instructions on name change orders and gender marker changes

This is a good order to follow for updating name and gender marker on documents and records:
(1) Legal name change
(2) Update social security record
(3) Update license or state/territory ID
(4) Update financial, insurance, school, & employment records
(5) Update passport (if you have one)
(6) Update birth certificate (if you need or want to)

CHECKLIST

The following checklist covers a typical process for updating names and gender markers. Click here for more specific information for your state or territory.

Obtain a court-ordered name (if changing your legal name)
File for your name change in the state where you live or have residency.
☐ Find out if there is a fee or publication requirement and if it can be waived.
☐ Ask for your case to be sealed if you are concerned about privacy or safety.
☐ Obtain multiple certified copies of the court-ordered change (this may cost money).
Some applicants may wish to file for a court order for gender change at the same time as their name change depending on if the state or territory requires legal recognition of gender transition.

Update information with Social Security
☐ Locate the nearest Social Security office (secure.ssa.gov/locator)
☐ If changing your name bring a certified copy of your name change order.
☐ If changing your gender, bring proof of transition using one of the following:
A valid 10-year passport showing your updated gender
A birth certificate showing your updated gender
A court order recognizing a change of gender
A signed letter from a doctor on letterhead showing appopriate clinical treatment
A valid 10-year passport showing your updated gender
Click here for more details about changing your Social Security

Update state ID or drivers license with the Department of Motor Vehicles
Complete this step in the state where you live or have residency.
☐ To update your legal name, bring your court-ordered name change document.
☐ To update your gender marker, follow the instructions in the state where you live.
☐ Click here for more information.

Update insurance, financial accounts, and school or employment records
Typically, you will only need a copy of your name change order, as many of these
documents do not show gender.
☐ Update your name on bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial records.
☐ Update the name on your health, car and home insurance plans if applicable.
☐ Update your name on any other IDs or records.
The processes for updating school and workplace records may vary.

Apply for an updated passport (if you have one)

In June 2021, the State Department announced that it would no longer require passport applicants to submit medical certification to change the gender marker on their passports. Under this policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting their gender by submitting an application with the chosen gender marker selected. This policy replaced the Department’s old policy requiring certification by a physican of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, which had been in place since 2010.

As of summer 2021, applicants may self-select an M or F gender marker for their passport. In the same policy announcement, the State Department stated that an X gender marker would also be available for selection in the near future.

Apply for an updated birth certificate (if desired)
If you want an updated birth certificate for school enrollment, employment, or other reasons, follow the instructions in the state or territory where you were born, regardless of where you currently live. If you were born in another country, follow the process for that country.
☐ If you were born in a state where it is difficult to update your birth certificate you may want to get an updated passport, which you can often use instead of a birth certificiate as proof of citizenship.
☐ If the state where you were born requires a court order recognizing your gender to update your birth certificiate, you may be able to get that court order issued in the state where you currently live or you may have to petition the state where you were born.
For more information about your state’s process, visit TransEquality.org/Documents.

Inform Selective Services of a name change (if applicable)
According to Selective Service rules, all individuals assigned male at birth are required to register with Selective Service. All name changes are to be reported to Selective Service. Learn more at TransEquality.org/SSA-Trans.
☐ Fill out a Change of information form and return it with a copy of your name change court order here.
☐ Individuals assigned female at birth may need to obtain a status information letter to show that you are exempt from registering. Go here for more info.

Update immigration documents (if applicable)
If you have changed your legal name, submit your court-ordered name change document to update your name on immigration records. If you are updating your gender, you will need to submit a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, court order, or other official government-issued document reflecting the requested gender designation OR a letter from a licensed health care professional certifying the change in gender as shown in the sample letter at
TransEquality.org/immigration-documents.

Update voter registration (if you are over 18 and able to vote)
If you haven’t registered to vote yet and are able, please register!
Voter registration can be updated with the Board of Elections or with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
☐ See USA.Gov/Register-To-Vote for more information on your state.

FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE

For legal assistance navigating the complicated name and gender change process and any other legal issues trans people may face visit the Trans Legal Services Network Directory.

Source: National Center for Transgender Equality

NCTE has a printable pdf version of this information here.

Mama Bear Story Project #58 – Anna Garcia Lucas

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

MY ANSWER by Mama Bear Anna Garcia Lucas

“Are you open to the possibility you are wrong on the LGBTQ issue?”

“Are you willing to re-examine your position and change course if you realize you have been wrong?”

I’ve been asked this question as a Mama of queer kiddos, as a seminarian, as a friend and family member, and as someone who believes in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

My answer?

“Yes. Yes, I considered it the first time my oldest son was 3 yrs old and displayed characteristics that he was “different.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it the first time his biological father called him that horrible slur word. He was six and helping me sweep the kitchen, wearing my apron.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it the first time he said he loved a boy. He was seven.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it every single time someone physically assaulted him, abused him verbally, berated him, called him an abomination, and abandoned him.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it as I held him in my arms following his suicide attempt (not the first and not the last) which I was called home for from a deployment to the Middle East. The lady at the Red Cross told me to be thankful he wasn’t brain dead.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it as he sobbed because his biological father severed ties with him.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it as my daughter came out as bisexual and, 8 years later, as my 12 year old came out as bisexual.”

“Yes. Yes, I considered it each and every time I’m brought back to the feeling I had when I carried them in my womb and when I held them in my arms and when they told me they loved me.”

Each time, I can conclusively say I wasn’t wrong then and I’m not wrong now.

My babies are beloved of God and loved by God.

They always were and they always will be.

I can say unequivocally to all LGBTQ+ people that I wasn’t wrong about them either.

They are all beloved of God and loved by God.

They always were and they always will be.

If I, as a human being, can love all queer people as I love my children, I cannot imagine how much more God loves them.


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 31,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.



Mama Bear Story Project #57 – Kate Liebetrau

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

My daughter was born a rainbow baby, after a previous loss. I was attacked at age 19 and my reproductive system badly damaged, but miraculously was able to carry her full term. We wanted to call her Phoenix, as she and I are rising from the ashes, but someone said it was a boy name and an awful choice. So, we went with Gabrielle Taylor (family reasons), but I always referred to her as my little Phoenix, my Pea.

So that she would know that, regardless of anything in life, I will always love and support her, I had her name tattooed on my spine as an Ambigram which reads Perfect Miracle the other way.

In our very equal rights house, she is raised under love is love, respect is a right. When she was about 4 she told me she was “bischmecshuwal.”

At age 10 she was diagnosed with Aspergers/ASD1, after a long road to figure out her struggles.

At age 13 she said she preferred to be called by her nickname Phoenix and told me she is queer and likes girls, only girls and not boys.

So, my rainbow baby is a rainbow 3 ways … birth after loss, spectrum and lgbtq!

To honor her, I updated my spine tattoo and put a Phoenix above her name with a rainbow tail to symbolize my endless support for her (and my) many struggles where we keep emerging from the ashes, and for our continued ability to. To know she can keep inventing herself and that struggles like spectrum don’t have to be hidden, but be her superpower too.

Hats off to all moms and all your journeys.

May we all keep rising.


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 31,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Mama Bear Story Project #56 – Sandy Diaz

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

Relearning Gender

When we are little, we learn that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Many of us also learn that boys like cars and blocks, bugs, superheroes, dirt, snails and puppy dog tails. They have short hair, and wear pants. Girls, however, prefer dolls and tea parties, princess movies, crafts, sugar and spice and everything nice. They have long hair, use makeup and wear dresses. We learn, when we’re little, that gender is finite. In fact, a measured milestone for children is that they know the difference between genders and can identify their own gender by the time they are 3 or 4. Children use all of their experiences, observations and what they’ve been told to differentiate between boys and girls, between male and female. They determine the differences based on social and societal norms in their culture and their environment.

My son knew what the rest of us couldn’t…  He IS a boy.  

When my son first tried to come out to me as a transgender man his freshmen year, I wasn’t completely prepared, but it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. He has always, since the time he could choose for himself, preferred a more masculine look. From his pants and shirts to his swimming trunks and rash guards, we bought 97% of his clothing from the “boys” section of the store. The other 3% were his underwear, for which I insisted on “girls” underwear. For whatever reason, that wasn’t a line that I was willing to cross. During play, he chose to be the prince or the boyfriend or the brother. He’d happily play Barbie with his sister, but he would be Ken. In the home movies that he and his sister recorded, he can often be heard saying, “pretend I’m Freddy, your brother.” When he tried to come out, I had already begun thinking about the idea of gender. I strongly believe that gender is a spectrum and that there is no one way to be a woman and no one way to be a man. Women are as strong and brave and smart as men, and men are as sensitive and empathetic and creative as women. Some women are considered to be masculine and some men could be considered feminine. What really matters about a person is that they pursue the things that they love, and that they don’t let anyone change who they are…

BUT…

Could he please just continue to be “Gaby?” Could he be the “Gaby” who sometimes wears pink and always wears pants, the “Gaby” who likes cars, and sports, and also enjoys drawing and creating stories about Tito the Soccer Dog? Could he just be the “Gaby” who fiercely loves family and would protect them at all costs? Could he just be “Gaby” without the labels?

Please?

I was afraid of a lot of things three years ago. I was afraid of how the world would treat my child. I was most afraid of how his father would react and how our family would treat him. I’m still afraid of those things. What I failed to consider then was how continuing to deny who he is could and would affect HIM.  

I’ve done a lot of reading in this area which, in turn, has contributed to a lot of my own unlearning and relearning about gender and gender dysphoria. So, when he sent me a Tik Tok video of a transgender man documenting his own transition process beginning with testosterone injections, I thought to ask, “Gaby? Are you trying to tell me something with this video?” When he replied, “yes,” I accepted his YES. 

I’ve heard a lot of the statistics, many of which are really scary. I probably only know about 5% of what I will learn in the coming months and years, but I do know that I can believe and trust my son when he tells me WHO he is, regardless, or in spite of what the world or anyone else thinks or says. I will continue to learn so that I can guide where possible and follow where I need to as my son continues on his path to live authentically as HIS TRUE IDENTITY. 

My son is 18. His name is Gabriel. You can call him “Gabe.” He wants to be a firefighter when he “grows up.” When referring to him, you may use he/him pronouns. He is gracious and understanding. He knows that we will all make mistakes and trip and stumble. I do it ALL of the FECKING time! I’ve been heard to say, “she…argh…SHIT…he,” and then we move on. It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to take some courage from all of us. It’s going to require massive amounts of kindness.

I am confident in us, though. I am confident that my  people can, as Brené Brown says at the end of every one of her podcast episodes, “Stay awkward, brave and kind.”


Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 31,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.

Together We Can Change The World

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If you are not already a monthly supporter of the Mama Bears organization please consider giving to the Mama Bears organization today on #GivingTuesday.

For as little as $2 a month you can become a monthly supporter of the Mama Bears organization.

The Mama Bears organization is dedicated to making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ+ people to live and thrive.

We support, educate and empower parents of LGBTQ+ kids and the LGBTQ+ community.

We offer a network of private groups, websites, resources and special programs including our Mama Bears to the Rescue program, Mama Bear Safer Schools Program, Mama Bear Blanket program and Mama Bear Little Box of Rainbows program.

It takes a lot of hours and a lot of money to keep everything going. If you would like to see us continue to do the work we do we need your support.

Your support will help keep the Mama Bears organization going and growing so our groups, websites, resources and special programs remain available.

Become a monthly supporter for as little as $2 a month HERE ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!!

Top Surgery Tips from Mama Bears

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Mama Bears share top surgery tips.

These tips come from personal experience.


Here’s a link to a printable pdf version of the flyer.

TIPS FOR TOP SURGERY

Things to have on hand:


A small bucket or waste can with garbage bag in it for ride home from surgery (just in case).

At least two (4 is better) large malleable/flexible ice packs to rotate out. There are lots of options online. Many stay cold for up to 8 hours.

Seatbelt pillow/pad for Post-Surgery Comfort to protect against pressure from seat belt for ride home after surgery. You can find these for sale online.

Pregnancy pillow to prop up and help make them comfortable after surgery.

Mastecomy pillow after surgery is also very helpful.

A boppy pillow can help elevate arms and keep them from rubbing where drains enter.

Post Surgical Drain Bulb Carrier Pouch for Shower

Compression  vest (some surgeons provide the vest and some don’t – check with your surgeon) Some patients prefer to use ace bandages instead.  Having a spare vest (or ace bandage)is a good idea as they can get smelly. Always consult with your surgeon if you plan on deviating from their instructions.
Recliner if possible.

Neck pillow for sleeping in recliner.

If recliner is not available use pillows to prop up patient so they don’t roll onto stomach when sleeping.
Button front shirts or zip up sweatshirts.

Big flannel shirts with big front pockets are also comfortable and the drains bulbs can sit in the pockets.

Masculine looking mastectomy shirts are also suggested.

A track jacket with inside pockets also works well to hold the drains

Lanyard for holding the drains in the shower.

Laxatives

Nylon fanny pack can be used to hide the drains – you could have 2 and use one in the shower instead of the post surgical drain bulb carrier pouch for shower.

Body wipes for personal cleanup until the surgeon oks showers.

Dry shampoo.

Pads to sleep on – put them under a towel to avoid messes.

Slip on shoes.

Plenty of snacks – healthy ones if possible since patients don’t always eat much the first few days after surgery.

Bendy straws.

Cup with a lid.

Pull up pants, athletic pants.

Plenty of fluids.

Throat drops or hard candy for right after surgery to ease the sore throat from the breathing tube.

A lap desk/table.

2 weeks of meals pre-made in freezer ready to go if patient is living alone.

Things to do:

Ask about anti-nausea patches for after surgery.

Discuss incision lines with surgeon prior to surgery. If curved lines will cause disphoric thoughts then demand straight incision lines. Many surgeons do not ask/discuss this but are happy to meet your needs.Ask the patient if they want before and after pictures.Ask your surgeon about using silicone scar tape as it can help with healing and scarring. 

Rearrange fridge and pantry for easier access to food because the patient will be like a t-rex for several weeks.

Make sure microwave is in easy reach if possible.

Administer pain meds per doctor’s instructions.

Make sure patient eats before taking pain meds

Get patient up and moving within a couple of days (more than just going to the bathroom). Taking walks 2 or 3 times a day can help the recovery process a lot.

Make sure the patient knows to ask for help

Patient should avoid reaching for things.

Be diligent with scar care for a full year after surgery!

Plan for the post-surgery restrictions.  Expect patient to be out of commission 10-14 days. Other restrictions  can last for several months.  

Building up pec muscles in advance can help.

Beware of the mood swings. Arm yourself with lots of positive statements of support and encouragement.

Put a tiny drop of soap on your fingertips when squeezing the drain tubes (a bit of soap makes your fingers glide along the tubes).

Write medication administration schedules and similar stuff on the bathroom mirror with a wet erase marker

Write down every pill taken and when it was taken so all caregivers/patient are on the same page (some like to create a spreadsheet with medications listed across the top row to list administration date and time administered under the medication given)

Keep notes of drain outputs to take to the after surgery follow up appointment.

Plan ahead for how to combat boredom – visitors, movies, books, phone calls etc.

If at all possible have multiple caregivers because it takes a lot of energy and time to help the patient during recovery and having extra help allows everyone to get rest as well. It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves too so they can give the support needed.

Take pics during bandage changes so you can compare progress/swelling/improvements and identify any unexpected changes. You can also send these to the doctors if needed.

Follow the doctors instructions to a T.

Be prepared to experience lots of emotions, both the patient and yours and their partner if applicable – fear, worry, excitement, anxiety, love, pride, joy and many more emotions will most likely be experienced by all involved.



Campus Pride releases “The Absolute Worst, Most Unsafe Campuses For LGBTQ Youth” in the nation.

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Campus Pride releases “The Absolute Worst, Most Unsafe Campuses For LGBTQ Youth” in the nation.

At 180 schools, the list is the longest it has been in its six-year history.

The colleges and universities included in this year’s list have either received or applied for a Title IX religious exemption to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth, or they have a demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices.

“These aren’t just bad campuses or the worst campuses — these campuses fundamentally are unsafe for LGBTQ students, and, as a result, they’re fundamentally unsafe for all students to go to,” Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, said.

LGBTQ+ crisis support hotlines and resources

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Crisis Intervention/Suicide Prevention

The Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 (online chat available)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text from anywhere in the USA to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564
The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743
Both provide telephone, online private one-to-one chat and email peer-support, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States.

Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
Trans Lifeline is a trans-led organization that connects trans people to the community, support, and resources they need to survive and thrive.

Youth Information

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)
Provides advice and assistance to runaways, including resources, shelter, transportation, assistance in finding counseling, and transitioning back to home life. NRS frontline staff will also act as advocates and mediators if/as needed.

The True Colors United: (212) 461-4401
The True Colors Fund is working to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves. True Colors United runs a database of service providers.

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)
Addresses individuals coping with non-suicidal self-injury, including locally-based information, support and therapy referrals.

HIV/AIDS Information

AIDS in Prison Project Hotline: (718) 378-7022 (English and Spanish)
This hotline provides HIV and AIDS information for prisoners, and accepts collect calls.

US States AIDS Hotlines and Resources

Other Hotlines

U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 (English and Spanish) (800) 787-3224 (TTY)
They also have an online chat feature available. Operating around the clock, seven days a week, confidential and free of cost, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides lifesaving tools and immediate support to enable victims to find safety and live lives free of abuse. Highly trained, experienced advocates offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in over 170 languages.

Pride Institute: (800) 547-7433 24/7
Chemical dependency/mental health referral and information hotline for the LGBTQ community.

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)
The nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence, RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

Go here for links to more resources 

Mama Bear Story Project #55 – Harriet Sutton

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears

When my first child was born, he had sparkling blue eyes, blond hair and an infectious laugh. I felt an immediate bond with him and he stole my heart. He grew into a beautifully creative boy who also loved basketball and roller blading.

We were attending a Presbyterian Church while he and his four siblings were growing up. We firmly believed the very conservative teachings of this church, including their teachings that homosexuality is a sin. He loved going to our church and accepted Jesus at an early age. He participated in Sunday School, church services, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday Night dinners, and youth group. Later, in his church life, he started working in the nursery on a regular basis.  I look back at this time and I don’t understand why I didn’t question some of their teachings, but it would take much greater events to start my metamorphosis.

When my son was around 17, he was outed by a man in our neighborhood. Our internet was connected somehow to theirs and, unbeknownst to us, the man had been tracking my son’s messages to and from other people. My son was taken by total surprise when he was outed and my ex-husband and I were completely blindsided. I look back on that day with shame and regret, remembering how we repeated our church’s beliefs to our son. How could we be so heartless and so uncaring? This was the beginning of a difficult journey for our family.

My heart began to soften and change the day he came home and told me that the ministers wife stated that he no longer worked in the nursery.  Immediately, images started popping up in my head of my son standing there, confused and heartbroken and not knowing why. It became obvious to me that he was being punished for being himself. This was one of the events that made me start to question and doubt what we had been taught for so many years. Why would a good theology lead to such bad fruit? Where was the love the Bible talks about? How was it okay for people in a church to love and adore a child as he grows up just to turn on him when they find out he is gay?

I began questioning what we had been taught and this threw me into many years of studying, learning, and deconstructing my faith. It was not an easy journey, but it was well worth it. My heart was filled with joy when I came to the realization that the Bible does not condemn homosexuals and that God created them just the way they are. My theology changed from one of fear and judgement to one of love and acceptance. It was as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I could now see how horribly many churches treat the gay community.

I have gone to my grown son several times, in tears, and asked for his forgiveness for the words I said in the past and the terrible way I handled things when he was younger. I have so much remorse and sorrow about that time. But he has forgiven me and I have finally been able to forgive myself. There has been so much forgiveness, healing and growth in our relationship. I truly believe that having a gay son turned out to be one of the greatest blessings in my life and that it led to wonderful growth and changes in my heart and mind and I treasure my relationship with him immensely.

Much has changed since 1988. At the end of 2020, my precious youngest daughter came to me and told me that she is gay. I was immediately excited and happy for her. I could see the joy on her face at having discovered who she really is and I have watched her blossom ever since. I am thankful that I am not who I used to be, that I have grown and changed, and that what I now believe can help me be an encouragement and a support to others.

I may not be able to change the past, but I can rewrite the present and future and it will be better, brighter, more loving and more accepting than ever before. That is the hope we have, when we open ourselves up to studying and learning new things…there is freedom when we get to let go of the chains of a rigid conservative theology. We can stop judging and condemning others and start loving them the way God wanted us to in the first place. We can also learn to forgive ourselves.

This year, I decided to fulfill the lifelong dream of writing a book. I wrote a book called Riley Rae’s Pronouns, for ages 2-7. It is about a child that uses the pronouns them and they. I was able to publish it on Amazon and it is now available. In the “About the Author” section, I mentioned the Mama Bears organization, in hopes that it could help anyone out there that is searching for answer. It’s my wish that my book will touch hearts, change minds, and make a difference in the world.


You can purchase Harriet’s book “Riley Rae’s Pronouns” for ages 2-7 here.

Serendipitydodah – Home of the Mama Bears is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto of the group is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”

The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 29,000 members.

For more info about the Mama Bears and all of our groups, programs and resources visit our website at realmamabears.org 

This story can also be viewed on the Mama Bear Story Project Facebook page.