Yeah, I know: I sound like your mother

This critical comment appeared as part of a Tumblr thread today:

Okay but what you’re describing sounds dangerously close to conversion therapy.

I know a lot of people (especially since John Jolie-Pitt started becoming a big media sensation) think that parents of transgender youth are the ones with all the agency when it comes to their children’s transition. In reality, a lot of us have to *beg* our parents to let/help us transition.

My response:

I think what I, and maybe some other parents, are trying to do is suggest that young people explore alternatives before–or better yet, **instead of**–making the huge, permanently life-altering decisions involved in hormones and surgical treatments. And parents like me (and I am not like the religious nuts who talk about sin and hellfire), because we want to protect our kids from making decisions they may regret later, just aren’t down with financing and supporting these invasive medical interventions.

With respect, I totally get that you and some others have felt thwarted by parents when you really, really feel medical transition is the right thing for you. But what alarms me is that the trend in society is toward speeding up transition, dismissing any doubts, even when those doubts are based on legitimate concerns about the permanent effects of hormones and surgeries. There is really no going back from many of the effects, especially for girls who transition. If you’ve spent any time at all reading the writing of women who have detransitioned,  they now have to struggle for the rest of their lives with the changes wrought by “T” to their vocal folds, their reproductive organs, their hair follicles, and (in some cases) their brains (many talk about being much angrier than they were before). Yes, I know it all seems like the right thing now. Maybe it will STILL feel right to you when you’re 40, 60, 80. But you don’t know now. You CAN’T know.

Why not just be gender nonconforming without tampering with your body until the frontal lobes of your brain are fully developed? Look it up: That doesn’t happen until the mid-20s. Why does that even matter? Because that part of the brain is in charge of things like awareness of future consequences; impulse control; perspective; judgment.

Do whatever you want short of medical intervention, then see how you feel in a few years.  And you know, making big medical decisions is an ADULT thing. You can be angry at your parents for not agreeing with, and not paying for, a decision you want to make;  but it seems fair to me to ask a child to reach the age of medical majority, then work a job, or do whatever else it takes, to pay for and cope like an adult with all the expenses and difficulties of transition, if that’s what they really want at age 18+.

It’s hard, because a lot of therapists, and the media, are telling you that transition is the way. Why don’t those adults sway your parents? Well, I don’t know how many of you have parents who have bothered to look more deeply into this, but the long-term effects of medical transition have not been studied  and there are some worrying indicators. (My blog is full of those indicators.)

And this is the part where (if you’re under 30 especially) you will probably stop listening: Trust me when I tell you that I was 100% certain about a lot of things between ages 15-25 that I have totally done a 180 on as an adult. For what it’s worth.

You guys forget that parents were adolescents once. Yeah, I know. I sound like your mom. It’s easy to hate us for not granting you exactly what you want, when you want it. It’s much harder to realize most of us are asking you to slow down because we actually do love you.

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15 thoughts on “Yeah, I know: I sound like your mother

  1. You only talk for teen who suffer from gender disphoria but I’d like you talk also to person who are30-40 etc…
    There is no such a biological proof that a pwerson must transition instead of simple change name or clothes. Instead we have done this for millenia… native american societes did not care about body, they changed only clothes and role… have they a different brain? And why they did not care about being beautiful person of other sex like us gender non conforming?
    I still dont understand why psycologists agree with these treatments…

    I really like your blog
    (Even if I am not a parents)

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    • Thanks. The whole foundation of transgender treatment and activism is that there is some innate male and female brain at birth, and that the body must be altered to match it. There is no proof at all of this idea, as you say.

      I tend to focus on young people because I believe they need protection from the pressure to transition, and the chance to reconsider their options. While I’d love it if my writing also resonated with people over age 25 or so, many I hear from have either transitioned already, or made up their minds to do so, and they can be very hostile about defending their decision.

      But as I continue to write this blog, I will likely expand what I write about. Your mention of the berdaches in Native American tribes is very interesting. Would be interesting to study whether they were happy in their bodies, vs feeling the need to alter them drastically.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with you that no parent should feel pressured to provide the funds for drugs and/or surgery. Adolescents may scream, “It’s my body!” and as a mother I knew said, “That’s right. And when you provide your own food, housing, toiletries, etc, you can do what you like to your body.” (She said this in reference to piercing, which is hardly as life-altering as so-called transition.)

    I wish adolescents who have parents who actually care could realize what it is like to be ABANDONED as an adolescent as I was (my husband was as well). I was basically left to fend for myself in many ways from age 12 on, and I moved out of my mother’s home when I was 16. I would have given anything to have had a parent who listened, who paid attention to my interests — I wanted to be a forest ranger and was told that was impossible, which it was NOT — who showed some care for me instead of being incredibly self-absorbed. I cannot imagine spurning someone’s interest in me and pursuing the phenomenally stupid goal of rejecting my own biology.

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  3. Nice to see a parent taking a critical view of this.

    I would not allow my child to alter their biological development. If I had a female child I would simply allow her to be herself. I wouldn’t indulge her fantasy that she’s male. I’d allow her to reach the age where she’s an adult and make her own decisions.

    It saddens me to see this happening to little kids who just happen to like the opposite gender accessories.

    Someday there’s gonna be a huge backlash to this. I can feel it starting already.

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  4. The frightening thing is that once your child turns 18, there isn’t a single thing you can do to stop them from altering their body. We are trying to “allow her to be herself”, but the trans-crazy current voices online and in society are screaming louder at her. We constantly let her know that she is loved, and that she is beautiful and perfect the way she was created. And praying constantly that one day she will realize this for herself.

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    • Once she turns 18, hopefully you can still be a trusted advisor. You also don’t have to financially support medical procedures you don’t agree with. But yes, it is scary to realize that once they reach the age of majority (despite still having undeveloped judgment and reasoning skills) your influence diminishes. The trans activists celebrate that, of course, seeing parents like us as nothing but close-minded demons for objecting to a lifetime of drugs and surgeries. Keep the faith. We are not alone.

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  5. 4th wave, I too have a kid like yours — now age 16, wishes she cd transition (she’s still using fem name and pronouns at school and home so I will use them too). Dysphoria arose after early menarche and was abetted by … youtube vids. Sigh. Not that she’s ever been girly and we’ve never encouraged or pushed that. We always figured she might be gay. She claims not to know.

    we have told her she can make a social transition if she thinks this would make her happy. she wears guy clothes, a binder. (we make her take the binder off after school.) beyond that — it’s all hanging. when she brings it up again, if she does — cannot as a parent in good conscience advocate irreversible medical steps to a minor, like this. she would have to be WAY more upset/depressed than she currently seems to be, for me to feel urgency about going to a gender clinic with her. when her brain develops more, when she can make a better assessment of pros/cons, based on something other than vids and reddit — then we shall see. I love the kid and will support her, regardless, if that ends up being the path. but right now — I cannot help but be appalled by the rush, and the psych community’s complete lack of clarity, and the utter lack of long-term research that is useful in this area, especially regarding long-term use of T in natal females.

    my kid’s an adoptee who’s already had so many decisions made for her. She’s going to make this one for herself. but it’s a grown-up decision, and a grown-up, she is not. yet.

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    • Amen! I have dealt with trans people in my job for many years and all of them that I have encountered have pretty serious mental health issues. It’s frustrating that the mental health world is terrified of being “on the wrong side of history” and happily encouraging distressed patients to make permanently life-altering decisions without ever examining the core mental health problems. When you consider other mental health disorders that center on the patient’s perception of their body (i.e., anorexia, body integrity identity disorder), transgenderism is the only one in which the medical profession, including mental health providers, energetically indulges the patient in their delusion about their body. It’s bewildering in light of the very serious consequences of transitioning.

      The idea of puberty blockers and pre-pubescent kids starting hormones is akin to child abuse. This area is so poorly understood and poorly regulated. I agree with the previous commenter that there will indeed be a backlash.

      The other thing that really strikes me is how deeply misogynistic transgenderism is. In trying to eradicate the gender binary, they in fact more sharply polarize it and put it on a pedestal. Men don’t transition to female, they transition to June Cleaver. They focus on the most superficial and sexist trappings of feminity. Women don’t transition to male, they transition to “dude.” Often they come across as deeply self-loathing women in a world that has an issue with non-conforming women. Ultimately they become caricatures of gender.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your last point is what I was wondering… why do mtfs want to transition to sexy girl? (Generally)
        This is so mysoginistic and sexist! In my previous comment i was talking about native american. If I understand, they have got “third gender” and they were maximum crossdresser… why do they not care about body? Because only our society is so narcisistic… is this a proof that the wiring of the brain is wrong? If the wiring of the brain would be universal, so there are transexual who hate their body in all societies past and present, but it isn’t.

        I really appreciate your words… i hope you can help us!

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      • Yeah, the same “mental health world” that brought us the satanic abuse panic and the recovered memory disaster is now all-in on trans* treatment.

        Am I the only one who has a serious case of deja vu about the whole thing?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Puzzled, so glad you found your way here. Like you, of course I will accept and love my child if she eventually takes this decision. But we wouldn’t be good parents if we didn’t intervene and share our concerns. Watch out for therapists. Like you say, very, very few are willing to go against the tidal wave of trans acceptance, lest they be accused of “conversion therapy.” I have talked to a few who say they are afraid not to toe the line, despite having serious doubts. I feel more and more strongly that parents like us have to keep speaking up until the media and professions take notice. Right now, the narrative is being run by trans activists and those who aid and abet them. We can change it, but it’s going to take time. Would you consider a featured guest post on this blog? Please let me know.

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  6. Frankly, I think this whole trend is conservative. Iran executes its lesbian and gay population but will allow them to get “sex-change” surgery instead. Social pressures also pretty much force anyone gender-nonconforming to get the surgery. So, how exactly is it progressive to claim that societal gender roles (designed to oppress women) are actually true and that if you don’t follow them you were “born in the wrong body”? The answer is it’s not. Plus, you can tell this is a conservative movement with young women being encouraged by their friends to alter their bodies as a response to not fitting in with society. Also, nowadays most MTFs are creepy hetero men who are beyond pissed that real lesbians don’t validate them sexually.

    Regular plastic surgery on women (like “boob jobs”) is also about women putting their health at risk to conform to the made-up, photoshopped beauty standards that men invented (and their conformity makes it harder for other women to refuse). But not a lot of people criticize it because it’s all about the individual and his/her choices in the US.

    But yes, there is no other psychological problem and/or body dysmorphic disorder where cosmetic surgery and risky, off-label drugs are presented as the solution. Plus, youth groups that used to be for gays and lesbians have heterosexual MTTs acting as the puppet masters and they promote this stuff. A lot of people already believe that trans stuff is something only homosexuals do, and hetero MTFs like that because it takes attention away from them and their sexual festish behavior. The group at my first college started out okay, but by the end you pretty much had to pay lip service to the trans movement and at least pick some navel-gazing identity like “agender” or “genderqueer” or else you were “cis” and being “cis” is bad because MTFs really fucking hate real women. In their definition, “cis” means you are totally comfortable with your sex and the gender role bullshit that comes with it. Yeah, because as a lesbian and an anti-natalist, I am totally comfortable with the notion that a woman’s job is to be barefoot and pregnant and care for a waste-of-space man. Interestingly, the in-fighting on the executive board for this group died down, which indicates to me the presence of hive-mind behavior. There is definitely a cult-like mentality in some of these groups and ironically lesbian and gay youths have been leaving the groups that used to be for them because they know bad things will happen if they say anything publicly against the trans cult.

    I agree with the other comments on here that if your child wants to say “I’m an adult and can do what I want with my body” then you certainly don’t have to pay for it. Most parents don’t usually pay for their children to have piercings and tattoos, and those are not nearly as risky as a woman taking testosterone. Being an adult means paying for vanity stuff on your own.

    Even men taking testosterone is dangerous; there are already lawsuits from those “low-T” pills marketed to insecure middle-aged men because those pills can cause heart-attacks and strokes. If your daughter wants to take testosterone, it might be worth-while to point those things out. Hopefully she hasn’t already decided that if she doesn’t transition right now, she will commit suicide. (Sadly, that happens a lot and if that’s the case then her “friends” are probably already telling her that they knew people who didn’t transition right away who committed suicide. Nevermind that getting surgery and hormones without treating the underlying psychological problems doesn’t actually decrease suicide rates.)

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  7. I just want to add another reason parents have to be wary of trusting the “experts” advice is that many of us are old enough to remember that this same class of “experts” brought us the whole “satanic abuse” panic and followed that up with the “recovered memory” disaster.

    In short, they don’t have a track record that warrants trust in their decisions – especially when money, fad-following, and the welfare of children is involved.

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