A first? The Guardian allows skeptical mom to voice worry that her teen’s rush to trans is a form of self harm

The Guardian is generally known for its rigid adherence to the politically correct paradigm, so it was a surprise to see this (albeit in an advice column) from an anguished mom, whose situation sounds a lot like that of many of my regular readers. [Update 8/17/15: The comment section is still open, and the pro-con comments are far more balanced than I originally noted in this post.]

My daughter, who is 16, has a history of mental health issues. Her father is an alcoholic who left the family home when she was very young; she hasn’t seen him for some years and finds meetings with him upsetting. I am sure that this perceived rejection is at the root of her troubles as she suffers from very low self-esteem. She is overweight and was bullied at school, finally refusing to attend. She has been out of education since she was 12.

We have had some input from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), but nothing has helped and she will no longer engage with them. She has never slept well and was prescribed melatonin. Then, last November, she was prescribed medication by a GP for persistent headaches and took a month’s supply in one go. To the family, this was the strongest example yet of her self-loathing and tendency to self-harm, albeit also perhaps a cry for help.

Following this, I had a telephone consultation with her psychiatrist, who raised the issue of autism – this has been a concern of mine, as she does display a number of traits associated with autism.

However, she is now convinced that she needs a sex change. Given that she has never previously shown any inclination to be anything other than female, it would appear that this is yet another form of self-harm and/or a cry for help.

I am worried that because of the amount of time she spends on the internet, she is being influenced to believing her intentions are correct.

She needs someone she respects sufficiently to listen to and open up to, who will dig deep enough to uncover the underlying issues, and help her to resolve them. I feel that, without such help, she will continue down her unhappy path, perhaps pursuing gender-change (without realising that this would not resolve any of her underlying issues), or leading to an even worse conclusion.

This worrying story has all the familiar plot points: painful childhood, mental health issues, self-harm, the sudden idea that “transition” is the answer from a girl who never mentioned it before. And let’s not forget the influence of the Internet…

As of this writing, many of the commenters (in so many words) either accuse the mother of transphobia, or insist that the gender dysphoria is the root cause of the teen’s other problems, although, interestingly, not a few do acknowledge that a trans identity seems to be pretty common in people on the autism spectrum–particularly natal females.  This comment is typical:

So many of the problems you have described could have a root cause of body dysphoria. Your child is struggling with something huge, distressing, and potentially life-changing, and little aggressions like misgendering or voicing doubt at their confession will not be helping.

Mom. Stop with the misgendering.  That’s a form of “aggression.” Don’t you know it’s against the rules of trans-parenting to  “voice doubt” about what your child is saying?

Your language choices really concern me. “I am worried that because of the amount of time she spends on the internet, she is being influenced to believing her intentions are correct.” – you’re worried that your child is finding people out there that make them feel supported? ” perhaps pursuing gender-change (without realising that this would not resolve any of her underlying issues), or leading to an even worse conclusion.” – you think that gender-reassignment is comparable to suicide or serious self harm?

Hey, the Internet is a benign force in the lives of young people. It’s just a support group! And the Thought Police don’t like your “language choices” when you talk about this person you’ve known for 16 years.

I think you should take a look at your fears and what they mean. What are you afraid of here? Is it truly that your child is just latching on to an idea, or is it the fear of the change that comes with a trans child? It’s a big thing to adjust to. Educating yourself will help, as will talking to other parents, and, of course, listening to what your child has to say.

Remember, mom: your child knows best. Let’s turn the spotlight on your fears, your lack of education. Maybe you’re the one who needs the psychiatrist?

There are a few who are pushing back, though. And very incisively.

.“…you’re worried that your child is finding people out there that make them feel supported?”

This kind of obsequiously emotive statement is so nebulous that it could just as well apply to a child communicating online to ISIS recruiters.

But the Tumblr and YouTube trans communities surely aren’t comparable to a destructive cult? 

She is clearly concerned about her child talking to an inherently biased group of people encouraging a specific pattern of thinking, rather than a medical professional seeking an evidence based diagnosis. That should not be difficult for you to accept, unless you are already biased towards a particular outcome.

Nailed it.

also encouraging a near irreversible change that a TEENAGER wants could also be seen as neglect and aggression.

Heresy! I thought the parents who DIDN’T go along with transition were the abusers?

Fact is 9 of 10 decisions a teenager makes are bad ones, it’s a time when we are are most suggestible and very, very easily influenced. a time where science shows that we are irrational and make bad decisions, I didn’t pick up a tone for the parent to suggest she is against trans, it was one of concern at her child making a rash decision.

Someone who actually brings up the fact of poor executive function in adolescents–another taboo topic allowed to surface in the pages of the Guardian.

And using the internet to self diagnose is all sorts of bad, she could have Aspergers instead, maybe she doesn’t, we don’t know. but she could go on a forum for that and find support, hell, she could find support on a website for those who want to commit suicide, doesn’t mean it should be welcomed.

The most forbidden topic of all: The cult of “transition or suicide” is exposed. Are the Guardian’s comment moderators asleep at the wheel?

Clearly she wants people to talk to and people who have undergone the change aren’t the ones to talk to as their advice to her would be biased, intentionally or otherwise.

But if she is serious about finding out who she is she should spend a few years actually in therapy and see what she wants and work out who she is that way, not through unregulated internet forums.

So this is a good start. Now can we see some of this un-Thought Policed discourse in the news or features section of major newspapers–not just in advice columns?

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12 thoughts on “A first? The Guardian allows skeptical mom to voice worry that her teen’s rush to trans is a form of self harm

  1. Hello,

    I have just left a comment at the Guardian. It will be interesting to see if it stays up, the Guardian is quite bizarre in what it does and does not allow to stay up (I have had comments taken down that link to other Guardian articles before).

    I thought of your blog immediately when I saw this article, and have included a link to your piece on David Schwartz.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve got quite a few mentions in the comments 🙂 What I found most disgraceful was this: “don’t let your kid become the next leelah alcorn, who killed herself because her parents kept using the wrong name and pronouns for her.”

    Who threw himself under a truck because of severe mental distress. His parents didn’t even know his internet name.

    Who threw himself under a truck because of severe mental distress. And whose parents never knew he called himself Leelah online. That is a fucking disgrace.

    Liked by 3 people

    • As you know, Cheki, the suicide card is what the Thought Police pull out to silence dissent–over and over again. This Guardian piece is very important, because it opened the lid a tiny crack on the preexisting, underlying “severe mental distress” you mention here. Suicidal ideation and self harm are very common in young people who want to transition. It’s been taboo to look more deeply into that, but maybe that is starting to change.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. The Guardian is not allowing comments, mine have been removed. That is crazy.

    Here is my latest, it will probably be removed.
    It appears that many have forgotten the pains of being a teenager. Every single one of us went through troubling times as our faced became filled with zits, our bodies grew out of proportion, and our hormones raged. This is nothing new, however, what is new and alarming is that our teens and youth are being consumed by gender and the trans agenda has inappropriately filled their heads with a solution that has no merit, no objective findings and a very uncertain ending.

    The solution seems to have big pharma and medical infiltration written all over it, and there only seems to be a one way ticket to the destination. I challenge those in the trans community to come forward and stop thinking of themselves, realize that not everyone is trans, not everyone will benefit from this so called treatment when at best it is a bandaid waiting to be ripped off the skin. I challenge the gender specialist to not just follow the protocol set by WPATH and the adjacent doctors who are shooting at the hip and following big pharmas lead without any long term studies and real proof.

    We need more answers and less procedures, we need a society that will be accepting to differences and not just try to place people into perfect little gender boxes. We need religion to stop condemning those who do not fit into the religious paradigm so to stop people wanting to hurt themselves to feel “normal”. Enough is enough, I challenge all of you to take a step back, a deep breath and take a look at what is happening here. Is the world turning upside down? Are humans getting more confused than ever, what is happening here, boys wanting to be girls, and girls wanting to be boys in epidemic proportions? Please stop the madness, take it from someone who has been through the fire, have watched many go through the flames and is now questioning the status quo.

    Here is an interview with a de transitioner

    Liked by 3 people

  4. .“…you’re worried that your child is finding people out there that make them feel supported?”

    This kind of obsequiously emotive statement is so nebulous that it could just as well apply to a child communicating online to ISIS recruiters.

    And couldn’t this train of thought apply to so many people in so many situations, not just teens. We all go thru crisies in our lives; we reach out for hands and voices that support us and… so often those that appear to be on our side are looking for others to serve their own agenda.

    I don’t think the internet/social media has created any problems that didn’t already exist, but it’s certainly facilitatated the aims of those who seek to do harm, or at the very least, care less about harming others in pursuit of their interests: fraudsters, paedophiles, cults, terrorists, etc…

    So often it’s other ‘vulnerable’ or just plain cynical folks who latch onto confused kids (and/or adults) to bolster their own shaky beliefs/delusions. If us men are predisposed to be dominant, why is it necessary for us to prove as much time and time again thru violence? Why is any suggestion/evidence to the contrary considered a justifiable trigger for rage? Why are we destroying others and ourselves on a hiding to nothing?

    Whether it’s girls and women identifying out of male oppression – or trying to – or boys and men colonising femininity; femaleness and sorority are the losers, it seems. In time, we might come to realise that humanity – and the world at large – also lose. Either way, it’s a sad indictment for our species; one that will hopefully come to be seen as ‘just a phase’ in our history.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m likely mildly autistic, and I have wondered for some time whether gender scripting conditioning doesn’t set as well for autistic people, in the same sense that other sorts of social conditioning doesn’t. So we just develop in our own individual offbeat ways, and when we are abused for not following social norms, it comes as a painful surprise. I could easily see people obsessed with medical transitioning targeting the autistic.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Miep, I agree. There’s a suspicion that girls with mild autism may be underdiagnosed, because the expression of autism may be different in boys than in girls. Undiagnosed autistic kids trying to cope with the social consequences from their peers, without the support of a diagnosis and professional help, can be terribly isolated and heart-breakingly vulnerable to exploitation.

        Kids with an autism diagnosis are more likely to identify as trans than neurotypical kids. The reverse is true; trans kids have higher rates of autism than non-trans kids. It’s easy to think of reasons why that might be true, but I haven’t seen anyone try to investigate why. That may be just because the association is a relatively new finding.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. The greatest social experiment in the history of civilization and our children are the lab rats. You have to be 21yrs. old in the US and 18 yrs. old in the UK to purchase alcohol but a minor child can have a sex change? Where did we all go wrong. These are our children we are talking about. Screw the PC police. People need to speak up about this atrocity and quit fearing being labeled. I am not a homophobe or a transphobe. I am not afraid of either I just do not agree with allowing children to undergo these procedures. Why do we not hear the the term heterophobe? It is a term we may want to start promoting as the LBGTQ community certainly sees anyone that disagrees or questions intent is the enemy and viciously attacked.

    Like

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