A careful step into a field of landmines

by Jenny Cyphers

Jenny Cyphers is a homeschooling parent. She has been writing about that experience for many years, in various online forums. Jenny has been married for 24 yrs to the father of their two children, one adult and one teenager. They all live, work, and create, in Oregon. Jenny is available to interact in the comments section of this post.


“Jenny, you’re wrong. You’re playing with your child’s life. It’s that simple. Putting your misguided beliefs before your child’s well-being could cause irreversible harm.”

This scathing judgment came from another mother in a trans-support group for parents. I’ve seen many fads and trends over the years, but I’d like to talk about the transgender fad, which has impacted my life.

I have a transgender teen. My teen has held tightly to this identification for just over 2 years. Throughout this time, I’ve heard many stories from parents whose children are gender non-conforming or questioning their gender, their identities. Like most parents, we want to support our children and help them through their obvious suffering and pain.

In order to examine the “Jenny, you’re wrong” statement, I need to address what causes “irreversible harm”. Within the trans support groups, there are two diametrically opposed camps. One–and this is important because it is the predominant narrative–is the camp that believes If a child or teen says they are transgender, the protocol is to confirm, affirm, and transition. If parents opt to not transition their child, it puts you in the other camp.

What is transgender? That’s the crucial question. As far as I can tell, the answer is a definition based off individual philosophy. I’ll let others do the defining. One aspect that’s generally accepted is that a person can be transgender whether or not they medically or surgically transition.

But there’s one exception to that accepted definition: a transgender child or teen. As the predominant narrative goes, we’re supposed to confirm, affirm, and transition a transgender child or teen. But the irreversible harm I want to avoid for my transgender child is medical and surgical harm. I made the error in a trans support group of admitting that.

“Jenny, so your support is conditional based upon what you chose to believe. So what makes you qualified to make that decision for your child aside from being the parent?”

What makes any parent qualified to make any medical decision on behalf of their children? This is both an honest question and a rhetorical one. Parents get to make all sorts of decisions for their children. We decide what to feed them, which doctors to take them to, and how and where they’ll be schooled. We decide whether to circumcise and whether to vaccinate. Both of those are medical choices fraught with contention in either direction one chooses.

Jenny cap 2

How do parents make these choices? We talk to our doctors. We talk to our own parents. We talk to our friends and people we respect. We read books. We ask questions. We research and research. The more controversial, the more we research. What parent would NOT do these things?

So, what do I believe? Nobody asks that in honesty unless they are friends who genuinely care. Trans support groups do not care what individuals believe, especially if it questions the necessity of medical intervention for a transgender child.

I’ve had surgery. I know how traumatic it is. I’ve had to take medication with terrible side effects. I know how it feels to be dependent on medicine that makes you feel sick. That experience caused me to question the side effects of drugs used to transition children. What I discovered was surprising.

“When it comes to situations that may require medical assistance parents have the responsibility to seek professional advice.”

“Your support is absolutely conditional. You have essentially decided to control how your child transitions based upon personal belief and nothing more.”

“You’ve drawn a line in the sand with nothing more than personal belief to back it up and you’re controlling how your child transitions despite what the medical establishment recommends. Disagree all you like but your prejudices should not be more important than the wellbeing of your child.”

When I started to ask questions, I found it difficult to get basic answers to the most basic of my questions. It was especially hard to get that information from trans support groups and doctors. I expected to find experts who had done their research. I did get answers, but not the sort I was looking for. I wanted to know actual data and statistics about safety of cross-sex hormone treatment. Instead, what they insisted, without corroborating evidence, was that it was safe and not a big deal at all. Given my own experience with taking medication, I did not automatically believe that. I dug deeper.

I had only ever heard of puberty blockers from knowing a child with precocious puberty. The puberty blockers had dangerous side effects. I knew that already from listening to the mother of that child and hearing her weigh the pros and cons of whether the puberty blockers were worth the risk of broken bones and eventually needing a wheelchair to support fragile bones. These are the exact same puberty blockers being used on transgender children. That alone gave me pause. My own kid was already about a year and a half into puberty, so we weren’t looking at blockers anyway.

While reading about puberty blockers, I also learned that in the United States, nearly 100% of children who choose to take puberty blockers then go on to use cross-sex hormones. So, despite hearing that blockers are meant to give a child time to figure things out, that is not actually what happens. When you stall puberty, you go on to transition. All data that I’ve read, anecdotal and otherwise, supports that. What surprised me even more, in researching, is that when a child uses puberty blockers and then goes on to transition with cross-sex hormones, it results in permanent sterilization.

That fact deeply disturbed me. Bringing up the subject of sterilizing children also brings up the question of ethics and eugenics. Currently, from what I’ve seen, we- the collective we- are okay with sterilizing transgender children. I was surprised to find that many parents were okay with this. It didn’t bother them in the least.

My personal belief, and I do believe I’m entitled to one, is that sterilizing children is wrong.

If an adult is allowed to be transgender without medically or surgically altering their body, then a child should be allowed the same. Furthermore, my bias is that children should not be medically and surgically altered based on being transgender.

I didn’t come to that decision overnight. It took a lot of research and a lot of reading. My teen may have been too old for puberty blockers, but still wanted to transition through hormone replacement therapy. But there is a huge risk of sterilization from hormone replacement therapy. It’s not 100%, all the time, but the percentage is high for all people who do hormone replacement therapy. At 14-years-old, my child didn’t care about sterilization. Very few young teens want children; it’s not on their radar, which is totally normal. That’s why parents make life-altering decisions for their children. Parents are able to see the larger picture.

“So, your answer is that you have no credible information that supports your child because everyone who says you should can’t be trusted?”

“It really sounds like you want to wear the label of supportive so you can feel better but don’t want to “walk the walk,” as they say.”

Let’s talk about support. What is valid support for a child dealing with this?

When our child told us they were transgender, we’d already experienced many teens changing their names and adopting nicknames, which made it easy to adopt a new name for our youngest kid. The insistence of pronoun changes was difficult, but we tried. My husband,who’s a lot like our child, was a champ at being supportive.

The steadfast identity of being transgender grew over time. Nearly every conversation I had with my child was like a careful step into a field of landmines, in which everything was about being trans, but we couldn’t actually discuss it without upset. The only acceptable discussion was my being supportive. One time, when I tried asking my kid honest questions, I realized I had stepped on the landmine known as being one of “those moms”. The unaccepting ones my kid was reading about online, who didn’t accept their kids’ trans identity, and who made their kids complain about how terrible and miserable their lives were because they had bigoted parents who didn’t accept their trans identity. The reality of how our actual relationship had always been up until this point was ignored in favor of feeling oppressed. Being transgender became the focus of every aspect of life.

We were already used to doing life a little differently to accommodate a sensitive child’s odd quirks. Accommodating transgender was just another step down this path. Right up until we could travel no farther down the path. And this is important. The insistence on personal gender identity is so pervasive that one cannot question it. To question it is tantamount to cruelty and violence and bigotry. Transgender is a deeply felt sense of self. Questioning a person’s sense of self is a personal violation. Framed as a personal violation of self, questioning the transgender identity invalidates their very existence. In social groups, both in person and online, there is one accepted dialog: that identities are to be accepted at face value. For most involved, it’s already an accepted truth that anyone can be whatever they identify as, that this is healthy and good and right.

jenny nat geo coversRight around this time, National Geographic put out a specialty magazine about transgender and other identities. When I studied the cover, it was glaringly obvious to me what wasn’t represented, a regular run of the mill female person. Of the kids and teens and adults represented, there is a female identified person, and it isn’t a natal female woman. There is a transman. There is a person marked as male, but nobody marked as female. To be fair, the magazine did some in depth coverage of the material reality of being female across the world. However, the cover was a tiny glimpse into transgender ideology, in which women are being erased- unless of course a transwoman identifies as one.

From that point, it was like a cascade of ideas came into focus for me. I had small epiphanies about how this all impacted civil rights. The transgender politics and policies have the potential to undo civil rights for all people. If civil rights are not based on material reality, then anyone anywhere can undo them and change them. This seemed extremely dangerous to me. When that idea hit me, it was like a sucker punch; it was the pulling of the thread that began to unravel the tapestry of transgender ideology.

Just before this time, my kid was insistent on seeing a gender therapist and getting into a gender clinic to start transitioning. I dragged my feet. Doctor appointments cost precious money we have little of. We finally did make the appointment, and my kid started seeing a regular therapist also. This is when the massive anxiety and depression started taking hold. The combination of seeking out a gender therapist and the deeply held identity of being transgender caused so much distress, which led to more anxiety and more depression. But seeing a therapist was a good thing, anyway. Right?

The cascade of ideas swept over me, just as coverage of the BBC Two documentary “Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best”. I watched it, and then rewatched it with my transgender teen. It’s no longer available to watch, which is really unfortunate. It’s a well-done documentary that helped bridge a conversation gap with my child. The unsupportive parents in the documentary really made my kid mad, and we were able to talk about their feelings. For my part, I was looking at this trans issue in light of civil rights issues and bathroom bills, and the documentary opened up a way for me to discuss civil rights with my kid. The documentary was the first and only really in-depth discussion I’ve been able to have with my kid about transgender issues.

bbc trans kids who knows best

In the profound conversation that came out of that documentary, in a moment of very deep pain, my child shared that no amount of wishing or believing or transitioning would ever make her into a he, even if they looked the part and acted the part. It was a moment filled with tears and vulnerability, as my child admitted aloud that she would never be biologically male, even with surgery.

My child was very sad about this, and I could see the struggle. The struggle is very real. Every parent who has a child going through this will understand this feeling, this pain, this struggle. This is what drives parents to do anything to make that pain stop. I get that completely. And deep inside of me, I knew there were answers that didn’t involve medical and surgical transitioning. I talked about it with my oldest daughter and she said something really important. She said, of her sibling experiencing the pain, “What’s wrong with that?” and what she meant was that it’s normal for people, for kids, for teens to feel pain and express it.

I tried to understand where this was coming from, this desire to be male, to change this body, this personhood so drastically. For years, I’d been looking at what drives individual behavior, in part to ease the frustrations my child had from being a sensitive person in a callous world. Had there been an inciting moment that had caused the identity crisis?

When this child was 11, and in the throes of the onset of puberty, I almost died. I had two heart attacks and emergency double bypass heart surgery. I didn’t make the connection right away. Nobody seems to look at underlying trauma of trans-identifying kids. I brought the subject up with both the regular therapist and the gender therapist. The gender therapist we found was surprisingly thoughtful. I didn’t expect that. I shared with her my reservations about allowing my child to transition without first addressing underlying issues. I shared with her my feelings about how impulsive this particular child was and how firm they held ideas they impulsively grabbed onto. I suggested this may be one of those ideas. She took my feelings into account when I told her I was wanting to wait until my child turned 18 to transition, that I wanted everything to go very, very slowly.

My kid was mad at the therapist’s final assessment that waiting until 18 was prudent. I made all the therapist’s paperwork available to all medical professionals that were to be working with my kid, but the pressure to transition didn’t stop.

In Oregon, the age of medical consent is 15. Since medical professionals were unwilling to read available medical charts explicitly recommending waiting until age 18 to transition, I made sure that I had access to all medical care and records. I had my child sign all medical release papers for that to happen. Every parent living in a state with low consent age should do this.

When we went to doctor appointments for totally unrelated things, they would refer my child to the gender clinic, even though we’d already been, and tell my child they shouldn’t have to suffer and that they could easily take testosterone to alleviate these horrible symptoms like periods and breast development. But they wouldn’t actually prescribe my child testosterone; they’d instead just reiterate that it was an option. My child already knew that this was an option, but that the gender specialist had said to wait until age 18. It felt like hope being held out of reach, like a cruel bait yanked away.

It happened every time. The doctors wouldn’t stop dangling the bait. Because of the turmoil this caused, I had to stop taking my child to the doctor, unless it was an emergency.

“So let’s not pretend you are supporting your child. You’ve clearly convinced yourself that you are but the fact is that you could be causing your child grievous harm and you seem totally unconcerned.”

Meanwhile, I intentionally started focusing on big-picture ideas with my kid. We acquired a telescope and fixed it up. Now, we discuss stars and planets and the universe. We used our now freed up money, that we were spending on doctor appointments, to take more dance classes. My husband, a musician, includes our kid in making music. I bring my kid with me to help in the theatre I work in, where their quick engineering skills are valued. We support their new interest in herbs and plants and research how to care for them and what to use them for. We use websites and books to identify rocks and stones. We drive to visit friends that live in nearby cities, for a change of scenery.

When we started on the new transgender journey, together, my child and I decided that no matter what, this was not going to be the life focus. We opted not to join any queer youth support groups. What I’ve seen in those groups is that life becomes very narrow. One doesn’t play music, they play queer music. One doesn’t do art, they make queer art. My kid even began to notice this and didn’t want to make life all about being transgender. A too-narrow focus goes against the very fabric of our family life, the one we built by bringing the world to our children and our children to the world. Our life has evened out a little.

Our teen is now desisting. The goal wasn’t desistence though; it was to prevent irreversible medical intervention of a teen, whose identity is malleable and in flux, as all teens’ are. If one can BE transgender based on feelings, deep seated and strongly held and persistent feelings, then why must the push be towards chemically and surgically altering one’s body? If we are to accept each person’s identity at face value, what does it actually mean to BE transgender? If my child desists, does that mean they weren’t ever transgender to begin with?

If I’d opted to follow through with all the current protocols, my kid would be taking testosterone right now, with an eye towards mastectomies and a hysterectomy. If we’d done that, and my child desisted, would they have been truly transgender? What if I’d gone into the gender therapist’s office and pushed for transitioning? If being transgender means that one is the other gender born into the wrong body, but not everyone fully transitions medically and surgically, then why must children do so to be truly transgender?

I’ve been accused of causing grievous harm to my child by not following this path of hormonal and surgical transitioning. I’ll be the first to say, I could’ve been super supportive of transitioning my child. I could have entered that gender therapist’s office and insisted that we jump through whatever hoops were necessary. I know of people who have done that. I’m sure that’s what my kid expected me to do. I’ve been accused of being unsupportive of my child by not confirming, affirming, and transitioning my child. This is laughable that anyone who knows me would say such a thing. My kids are my life, literally and figuratively. I think that’s true of most parents, even the ones who make terrible mistakes that destroy relationships. Even those parents who are lost and don’t know how to deal with transgenderism, but love their child and don’t readily accept whatever their kids say. Even parents who are religious and object on moral grounds. Even parents that are very liberal and accepting.

For every parent reading this, remember that most mistakes are recoverable. You can apologize and move towards restoring the relationship. Don’t buy into the emotional blackmail so common among the transgender community. Keep your children close. Make all the choices in the world to build up your relationship. Do it as if their life depends on it, because it does. If they can wait until they are older, and they do end up transitioning, they will need you as their support. Let me be very clear here. You do NOT have to agree with the choices your adult children make while still supporting them as people. If your focus is on imparting bigger ideas than self-identity, there will always be ways to support your child, no matter what choices they end up making.

I’m much more concerned with mental health and maturity to handle the long-term effects of transitioning, than I am about identities. Identities are always changing as you grow and learn, and while some aspects of your past will always remain a part of you, some things you choose to discard when they cease to be relevant. Teenhood and childhood are all about trying on ways of doing and being in the world and seeing how it works.

You cannot discard a body that’s been altered to bring back the old one.

Get angry, read, research. Seek help when you need it, from people you know, trust, and respect. Then get out there and focus on the things that bring you joy and include your children. Be brave. Most of all, don’t be afraid to question the prevailing narratives.

jenny landmine

 

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74 thoughts on “A careful step into a field of landmines

    • She did right here: “my child shared that no amount of wishing or believing or transitioning would ever make her into a he, even if they looked the part and acted the part. It was a moment filled with tears and vulnerability, as my child admitted aloud that she would never be biologically male, even with surgery.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • ” my child shared that no amount of wishing or believing or transitioning would ever make her into a he, even if they looked the part and acted the part.”

      I also chose caution and research. My daughter has also come to this conclusion and is desisting. I don’t know if we are really done, but at least I feel like we are moving the right direction.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Never says if the “teen” is a mtf or a ftm …

      Look again:

      …in a moment of very deep pain, my child shared that no amount of wishing or believing or transitioning would ever make her into a he…

      And that is why expressions like ‘m[ale] t[o] f[emale]’ and ‘f[emale] t[o] m[ale]’ are insidiously dangerous: they promote magical thinking.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I would tend to agree that it DOES make a lot of difference because natal female children are the vast majority of childhood transitioners. That speaks volumes of the culture that exists in which girls do not feel okay being girls or growing into women.

      Others have pointed out the answer.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Thank you for this terrific piece! And especially for your own willingness to “come out of the closet.” You have such interesting and creative thoughts about all this.

    One thing that really struck me as I was reading the first part of the piece, especially, is that the attitude of the pro-teen-trans lobby towards medical procedures is sort of like your college economics professor’s about theories. It always struck me as so funny when some factor that was outside the theory would pop up, and the professor would say “assume it away.” I know that has to be done to make the theories work at all, but this is an approach that should be confined to a classroom or a textbook. Obviously, assuming away the “known unknowns” of medical interventions, when it comes to children and teens, is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. And it also shows what happens when a theory that should have stayed in the realms of academe escaped to do damage among us mere mortals!

    I wish you the very best with your daughter and family going forward and again, thank you for your bravery in sharing your (and her) story.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Yes, dealing with all of these “known unknowns” is what pushed me to read and research. I’m continually struck by the idea that, for children, there are no 3rd, 4th, or 5th options for gender dysphoria. That seems problematic to me, especially when the available choice is life altering and forever.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Actually, the author does make it clear that her child is a girl. She writes:

    “In the profound conversation that came out of that documentary, in a moment of very deep pain, my child shared that no amount of wishing or believing or transitioning would ever make her into a he, even if they looked the part and acted the part. It was a moment filled with tears and vulnerability, as my child admitted aloud that she would never be biologically male, even with surgery.”

    And I would like to thank you, Jenny, for having the courage both to resist all of the mindless pressure you’ve received to medically transition your child and to tell your story.

    When she’s a mature adult, she will still have the option to pursue transition if she feels she must, but if she transitions now, she will permanently lose the sound of her natural voice and, possibly, her ability to ever have children of her own. Medical transition involves filling your body with chemicals that are likely to lead to a host of medical problems on down the road, including cancer. By resisting the pressure to transition her, you have given her the gift of options. When her brain is mature, she will be able to better decide if the benefits are worth the costs.

    My hope for her, for my own daughter, and for thousands of others who have dissociated from their sex is that they can resist the pressure to change their bodies to escape someone else’s limited ideas of how they should dress and behave.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. This is a spectacularly well-done piece – kudos to you! I love that you posed more questions than offered answers. The public is fed an ideology that doesn’t allow questions – questions as loving as ‘Is this medication safe for my child to take the rest of their lives?’ and ‘What are the long-term side effects?’ and ‘Will hormone treatment and elective surgery resolve their mental health issues?’ No, these questions are not allowed. We need to start somewhere to address the well-meaning, mass mistreatment of children and teens and prompting honest and loving questions is the best place to start. My best to you and yours!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks so much for the kind words.
      I’m a curious person by nature, so questioning is what I do. People should think for themselves, truly. I believe the best way to do that is to ask questions and explore the answers.

      Partly, what I’ve seen is that many answers to questions should be, “I don’t know, but this is what is known.” Instead we get platitudes and feel good answers with some small kernels of truth thrown in. A lot of the answers in all of this really aren’t known because transitioning children is pretty new. Our children will be the data. I’m simply not okay with my child being the statistic.

      Liked by 4 people

    • ” If I’d opted to follow through with all the current protocols, my kid would be taking testosterone right now, with an eye towards mastectomies and a hysterectomy.”

      Like

      • How could you or anyone possibly know this? It’s presumptuous nonsense. Only my child can know this narrative. Most especially, a stranger from the internet cannot.

        Liked by 5 people

      • And I am a man in a female body. Follow me around all day and you’ll understand what I mean by that. Quit with this nonsense thinking, it really is demeaning to the full range of options that women have in life, won with the blood, sweat and many many tears of women before us.

        Liked by 5 people

  4. Thank you for your bravery, Jenny. This inspires me. It is clear that you love your child very much and have used your authority as a parent to help her see beyond the narrowness of defining oneself solely by labels. So much is fluid at this age. It is a scary time in which to grow up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If people define childhood, and adolescence and being a teenager, I guarantee, the words “fixed”, “static”, “concrete”, “consistent”, “stalled”, or “passive” will not be in that definition.

      I have an idea about defining by labels. I’m waiting until I have it more fixed or concrete to share it! It’s an idea from mythology. That’s all I’m saying at the moment. I do love to draw parallels from the vast human existence, of other times and places.

      Liked by 3 people

      • A lot of pre-teens and teens love Greek and Egyptian mythology! They love fantasy and are coming off the cusp of their most imaginitive time of childhood (one reason transgender is so attractive too). Explaining the endless variety of ways to be a girl or a boy in mythology terms could be really fun!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Jungian notion of anima and animus seems quite apropos for one. Adolescence is precisely the time when kids are supposed to struggle with identity. Medicalizing that struggle is lunacy, and doing so in a way that encourages disfiguring surgery and organ-damaging chemicals is child abuse. Camille Paglia has said this may prove to be the greatest human rights tragedy of the 21st Century, and I agree with her.

        Like

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I also live in Oregon. If you read the full law, the line right under where a 15 year old can have surgery without parents permission it states the child cannot get contacts (if it is their first time) without consent (madness!)

    Do you mind sharing how you got her to agree to medical waivers? I have a couple of years yet, but want to be prepared just in case.

    Thank you so much!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good, you have a couple of years. What I’ve done is to build up a trusting relationship. It’s rewarding work, that takes a conscientious effort on my part as the adult and parent.

      I’ve been asking myself what to say to others who ask exactly this question. It’s tricky because teens want privacy and need privacy. As each of my kids became teens, I started asking if they wanted my help at doctor’s office visits. Usually they did. I made sure that I didn’t answer questions from nurses, staff, and doctors, directed at my kid. I tried to be respectful of waiting to ask my own questions.

      I gave my kids space at home. I didn’t interfere in their personal lives. I didn’t snoop or spy, ever. They know this of me, so there’s an inherent understanding between us. I’d say it was all of these little steps that caused my children to trust that they had power in their own voice.

      So, when I needed to use that “do this please, it’s important” card, they knew it was important to me. I had trust built up in the bank, to cash in on something important.

      Also, most teens could care less about dumb doctor paperwork and likely won’t know what it is about. I picked up the copy of the paperwork without my kid with me and brought it home. If you do it in a doctor’s office they will do the whole informative lecture about what they are asking you to sign.

      Three things:
      1. If you have time, take the time to build up trust
      2. If you don’t have that with a teen and you NEED to be involved, get the paperwork, bring it home, say, “sign paperwork” and stand there and make sure it happens and is handed back to you.
      3. Make sure everyone has YOUR phone number and email, not your child’s.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Howtoinspire, I am in Oregon too, and my daughter is 15, and I’m terrified. I did have an honest discussion with her, saying yes the law will let someone cut you up and pump you with hormones right now without my permission, and yes some advocacy groups will even offer to pay for it, but they don’t love and support and know you, and they wouldn’t die for you. It was the right conversation to have with my daughter, but obviously every family dynamic is different. I would also love to connect with other Oregon skeptics and see about organizing to counter the small but loud group that badgered our legislature into passing this hideous and probably unconstitutional statute.

      There are at least four Oregonians in this thread, Jenny, you, Genderskeptics, and me. Perhaps we can find a way to connect? I know it’s a rock and hard place, because we must maintain our children’s anonymity. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk to other adults amongst ourselves and see if we have some common goals we can work together on in our community. Because Oregon is a Ground Zero in this insanity, and until we find each other they can always use divide-and-conquer to win.

      Like

  6. I’m in Oregon too, it’s a really rough atmosphere for gender critical people. Cliques of trans identifying spring up everywhere. You can get testosterone before you can drive or get cigarettes. I’ve decided to homeschool as well because of this issue + exposure to pornography being ubiquitous in schools now, too. It’s rough for kids now.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Thanks for this very helpful essay. I particularly appreciated your insertion of comments of other supportive parents whose opinions re child-rearing are the opposite of yours, when it comes to early medical transition. I agree that they seem fairly laid back about the sterilization concept — which makes sense if they’ve been taught the choices are “transition or die,” you know?

    The beliefs they express are beliefs they HAVE to hold in order to feel they have made a moral/ethical choice with their kids vis a vis medical transition.

    Of course you and your opinions and experiences constitute a threat to these beliefs. Every kid who’s treated with a similar style of support — loving, sympathetic, realistic — and who does not self-harm constitutes a threat to those beliefs.

    I feel bad for those parents, as I am sure they feel bad for you/us.

    I can only hope that if the world keeps moving in the direction it’s moving, the notion of “transition without medical treatment” becomes increasingly viable for these kids. (I don’t think it’s a brilliant idea, either way, but … I’d sure rather have a transman as a kid with an intact, healthy body, vs one who felt compelled to use testosterone, have a double mastectomy, and quickly follow that with a complete hysterectomy. Those are not benign interventions.)

    I also appreciated the perceptive comment from your child’s sibling — that pain is part of the human condition and not a signal for immediate radical medical action. Somehow a lot of parents have gotten the idea that their kids have to be shielded from discomfort of all types. Thus we have a generation of college kids entering higher ed as fragile flowers who need safe spaces and trigger warnings and protection from anything resembling actual free speech.

    And of course I hate to see my kids hurting, whatever the reason, you know? Of course good parents would like to minimize that. But sometimes you can’t erase it. Sometimes pain is how you grow.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Some of the quotes are from a mother of a 14 yr old child who had a double mastectomy. I wasn’t even aware that this was happening to children as young as 13!

      For a parent who has allowed this, there is zero room for regret, ever. For that parent and that child, they should be in ALL the most supportive places online and in real life. But they should also allow others to have their own medical choices.

      The transition or die narrative is very scary for any parent. Making decisions based on fear, isn’t healthy, unless of course you are jumping quickly away from a freight train barreling down upon you.

      Liked by 3 people

      • What I am curious about is what happens when one of those children grows up and regrets it–will the parents be held responsible? There’s no way this isn’t going to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That was one of the questions I had also. Who gets the blame for that?

        I knew I didn’t want to be the person held responsible for permanently altering my child’s physically healthy body. Partly, I think so many people take for granted, their healthy physical bodies. I don’t take that for granted because of my own health issues.

        When I had just given birth to this particular child, I had a dear friend that was visiting the ICU at the same hospital I was getting nursing help from. She shared that people kept asking her if she wanted a boy or a girl. She kept answering that it didn’t matter, that she wanted a healthy child. That’s not what she got. Her child was deprived of oxygen during delivery. Her life and that of her family, forever changed. I keep that story near to me when I think about harming children with physically healthy bodies.

        Like

      • Lilly and Jenny, that thought popped up for me too, not least because I spent many years working as a medical paralegal for attorneys working in medical malpractice and products liability class action suits. The short answer is, yes, someone can be held responsible, but it will take litigation to find out who.

        Regardless of what insanity Oregon decides to put in its statutes, it doesn’t change the overarching law about minors and consent. There are already desisters in their 20s realizing that they’ve suffered life-altering damage, and testifying on YouTube that they were never offered alternatives.

        I can tell you that when medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers push something like this, they have actuaries that help them calculate the risk-versus-benefit numbers. How many wrongful deaths, disfigurements and injuries will result, and what is the approximate value that juries can be expected to assign to them; and what, in turn, are the expected profits from pushing the dangerous medication, device or surgery? And there will be a memo in which someone says the benefits outweight the costs, so it’s a go. I worked on a high-profile products liability case in which we eventually found that internal memo, and then the settlements cascaded.

        I’m not a lawyer nor a psychic, so I can’t predict when it will start, or what legal defenses will be raised, or how the courts will interpret the problematic waivers in which minors who don’t legally have the right to make decisions are nonetheless voicing that they have informed consent. What I can say is that it will be messy and tragic, and that it will make some ambulance-chasing SOBs like my old bosses very, very rich. And in this case, they will have my blessing.

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  8. I do think it is vitally important to discuss what parents go through. However, one thing which I think is not being discussed enough is that we are talking about a cult system that is recruiting young children. So the issue also needs to be discussed through the lens of cult criticism and deprogramming as well. What is shown in this article, as well as other parent testimonies, is that they have literally had to deprogram their child from transcult indoctrination. Which is difficult even at the best of times.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Imagine you are an anthropologist examining an odd foreign culture. Now, take that type of examination into any trans support group and really look at the language that is being used.

      It’s fascinating, in a way, to see what people do and how they act and react and twist and turn with group think.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wanted to add to this.

      My own child has recognized this. They stepped away from a lot of online activity, as they saw how pushy and mean people are in regards to self identities. I could not have predicted this outcome, but it gives me hope that young people are smart and if you’ve taken time as a parent to keep connections strong, you can be a great sounding board against the backdrop of the angsty noise of social media.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much. I almost could have written this, but still waiting on the desisting part. I’ve joined some online support groups but found that I can’t openly discuss any iota of dissent from the party line without being shut down. Is there perhaps a group online that allows more interaction than this blog for parents of trans kids on our camp? I’d love to know and join.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m an admin of a new and very public group on facebook. You don’t have to ever comment. The admins will post anonymously if you like. It’s specifically for asking and answering questions. I won’t link it. You may search Transgender Questions (parents)

      I have found that all trans support groups only support the singular narrative of confirm, affirm, and transition. It’s the same information you get, literally, everywhere.

      I chose to write this because I knew that there were lots of people like me and you and I have a suspicion there are hundreds of us wanting something different.

      Liked by 4 people

      • The group linked above is all gendercritical people, as well. All dealing with trans-identified kids/teens/young adults and all striving mightily to help their kids get through without medical intervention. Founded because people were crying out for an alternative to the “transition your kid or they will die” narrative, as well as the “safe and reversible” trope regarding blockers, and other typical statements that are not, in fact, evidence-based.

        Good for you, Jenny, for making a facebook group. There will be a lot of crap slung your way but stuff will never change if we all just hide forever. Brava. I’m encouraged lately by a lot more questioning articles in the major media in the UK. I wish we could see some similar coverage in the US.

        Liked by 6 people

  10. Jenny,
    Thank you for this thoughtful and candid account of your journey through Transland. I am glad that you were in communication with your daughter and that she did not completely shut you down. She is now looking at the big picture. Hurray!
    The reactions you have received from the unquestioning and “supportive” parents are interesting. The mommy wars on steroids? Most parents want to do the right thing and perhaps parents who are supportive and trying to do the right thing also realize deep-down that this entire trans narrative is dangerous nonsense.
    I am glad you brought up that it is now taboo to question a person’s sense of self. It was not always that way. I recall receiving much advice and questions when I was young.
    Did your daughter discover transgender via the internet, or was it her immediate peer group? Just curious. This wasn’t even a thing a few years back and now we have all of these young women looking for a way to channel their pain and identity. Speaking of pain, I am glad you brought up trauma. I think many of these girls are traumatized in some way. It could be one large trauma–or a series of smaller traumas.
    Again, thanks for being brave and sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Did your daughter discover transgender via the internet, or was it her immediate peer group?”

      It was a combination of both. It was brought into our social sphere, and then it was cemented via social media.

      My own kid has said that they felt the pressure from every single social sphere online. It was and is very intense for teens navigating social sites online.

      As a side note… as I was writing this comment, my oldest kid (23) came into room and was telling me about how Facebook was pushing sponsored posts on her feed that were horribly body negative, about hating one’s body and how to fix it. She was mad about it because as she says, it feeds negativity to people.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Jenny, I was also surprised by how many parents, in a parent support group that I have attended, were fine with sterilizing their children. One woman was angry with me when I brought up that serious problem and she responded by saying that her “son” could just harvest “his” eggs and keep them until they were needed. It’s as simple as that, I guess?!?! I know that egg harvesting is not that simple and when the time comes the success rate for a viable pregnancy is very low.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really does highlight the insane amount of privelege doesn’t it?

      For a family like ours, it would have been off the table for being cost prohibitive. Egg harvesting and storage are expensive.

      Also, it did seem silly to me to destroy a natural body system in favor of something not.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Very thoughtful and compassionate article. We have a niece who wishes to transition. She is living as a boy. However, she is taking blockers and is very small and fragile looking and we fear what the hormones will do to her. Her mother absolutely does not allow any discussion about the situation and will only listen to the ‘transition as soon as possible’ groups. We fear for her long term health. She is not our child, so we get no say. All we can do is pray for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry. It’s very difficult to watch this happen. I knew that by writing this, I would very likely hurt people I know, that have allowed this to happen to their children. Sometimes, we can’t avoid that when we speak about things like this within a larger context.

      You can still be supportive of your niece as a human. She’ll have likes and dislikes and interests beyond her identity. Focus on those things. Those things will be more and more important for her as she grows older.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jenny. One of the things my kids gender therapist and myself clashed over was the view that being uncomfortable with and even hating ones body was a unique trait of those with gender issues. I even told her to google “do women feel comfortable with the idea naked bodies”” . Any woman with any insight understands how deeply many girls , teens and women struggle with body image. The therapist simply said “well… this is different”. When I asked how she could not provide an answer. We are taught at a very early age by all the messages society throws at us to not be satisfied with ourselves. Those messages are bad enough for boys but for girls it is crippling. I have read article after article about how anxiety and depression have sky rocketed for teen girls in the recent years. I’m tired of the ridiculous reasons many give as to why this is happening. Our society’s messages spread via internet are creating a generation of young women who need medical or psychiatric cures ( psych drugs and surgeries and testosterone) for something they ,with caring help, could be taught to deal with in truly healthy and empowering ways. A young woman needs to connect with other females who have already gone through the tumultuous teen and young adult years. But more and more the young have turned away from those voices and have been “educated ” by the Internet. My heart really breaks for these kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Girl power is not enough anymore is it? Girls need connections, to themselves and others. The Internet is fun and interesting. For a kid going through identity crisis, one of the very best things is to get out into the real world. My idea (and I’m probably not the only one to think of it and if someone can point me to people who write about it, that would be awesome) is that children know themselves by knowing others. They know who and what they are by the culture they are immersed in. If that culture is the Internet, it will be all in one’s head. It misses the physicality of people, the way they smell, their energy, their smiles and body language. People know themselves by how all of those things interact in subtle and not so subtle ways. By removing all of that in favor of what is in one’s head, and combine that with a sensitive child or quirky child or hurting child, you have recipe for an identity crisis, especially if they aren’t connected with their immediate family members.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely. Which makes it all the trickier when you’re in a community where girls’ identity questions are suddenly being pushed into a trans box. We talk here about how much we’re censored when we try to speak with other adults, and I know because I’ve experienced it. But think how much worse it is for impressionable kids? My daughter’s shared with me some of the things her friends talk about, some of the unique new ways kids are bullied. And as a parent on the school’s web page I’ve seen some of the stuff that’s being pushed by parents through their children. Is it any wonder that kids of an already vulnerable age are manifesting that vulnerability in unprecedented ways? Oy vey.

        Like

  14. I found this blog after finding Sandra’s group.

    I’ve known Sandra, Joyce, and you (and others) for the better part of 20 years. I’ve read your writings on parenting, children, and unschooling. I’m not a random troll off the internet here to cause dissent.

    I’m here, as a fully transitioned trans person for more than a decade, to tell you that: Words matter. Actions matter. Your child, the child you love wholeheartedly, who you’d give your life to protect from harm, is watching you, and listening to you.

    If your child is truly trans (not going through a phase, not experimenting with gender, not somewhere else on the gender spectrum), it won’t go away. Trans people are a resilient bunch. We can deny, we can hide, we can throw ourselves into our expected gender roles with a passion, and pretend what we feel doesn’t exist. But eventually, no matter how hard we try, it doesn’t work. Trans people, before transition, are faking it, and hoping to make it, as their biological sex. But it fails. Just like Exodus International found with being gay: you can’t pray it away. It’s always there.

    Being trans isn’t something that’s easily explainable to someone whose gender aligns with their biological sex. But it’s real, it’s debilitating physically and emotionally, and it can be deadly. I can only ask you to imagine waking up tomorrow as yourself, but finding yourself in the body of a man. You’ve got male genitalia, chest hair, and facial hair. You’re you, but everyone is calling you John, not Jenny. The world doesn’t see you as Jenny, but as a man, John. They refuse to call you Jenny, they use male pronouns because what they see is a man. But inside you’re you, you’re Jenny. It might be interesting for a day or two. But eventually, like a new pair of too-tight shoes, it doesn’t fit. It’s uncomfortable. It’s painful. Nobody sees YOU, they see somebody else. You’re stuck, and you long to show the world your true self, to have the world see you as you see yourself. Let that go on for months, years, decades. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Yeah, it’s not.

    But why I’m writing to you today: at the heart of this is that child you love so much.

    I’m a parent of two young adults. I totally understand how you want to know everything about this, and why you are rightfully wary of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. I absolutely agree with getting multiple opinions from therapists and doctors. And it’s totally understandable to want your child to wait until they are 18 before making any permanent decisions. I applaud you for your dedication to your child (and children).

    As with most things, we can find a lot of things on the internet, and some of it is true. But a lot of it is garbage. I liken it to this: if you were searching for information on radical unschooling, would you ask the local public school superintendent about it? The school board? Would you expect to get accurate information from them? Of course not.

    The same is true of a lot of the information being posted in that other group. It’s garbage. Conflating being trans to being trans species? Really?

    But what’s more harmful than misinformation is the language that’s being used on this blog and in that group about trans people, and to trans people who speak up: Words like argumentative. Troll. Condescending. Deceitful. Liar. Misgendering them. Laughing at trans people who try to help you understand. Aww, aren’t they cute trying to inform us?

    What trans people are hearing: You don’t matter. Your life doesn’t matter. Your lived experience doesn’t matter. You’re mutilated. You’re deceitful. You’re living a lie. You’re less than.

    Remember, your child is watching and listening. Are these the words you want them to hear about themselves? Because that’s what you’re telling them. And they’re hearing that, loud and clear. And my heart breaks.

    Like

    • Someonewhocares,
      If you would truly like to help us understand, then could you please explain what exactly “it” is inside of you that makes you believe you’re a woman and not a man? Is there some little being that resides within the confines of your skin, maybe in your liver, maybe in your spleen, that is calling out telling you this? If you are not your body, then who are you? And please don’t respond saying that since I am not trans, I won’t understand. And also, don’t respond by calling me transphobic or any other name because you are unable to answer my question because I know that you won’t be able to answer my question.

      And your scenario of waking up in a body that is the opposite sex of you are is purely fanciful. It could never happen. That being said, if I woke up in a man’s body physically, then I would be a man.

      Liked by 4 people

    • I guess my question to you then, since you feel that words matter so much –

      What about the words that we, as gender- and medical-procedure-challenging parents, continually hear from the trans activists? About the violence they threaten (and sometimes carry out), about the demeaning and misogynist words we’re continually called, about threats to rape us and chop off our body parts and feed them to us and throw us in a volcano and burn us and hang us by our heels and then forget to turn the lights off? (Just kidding about that last one.) Gotta say, in my now-60 years of living as a woman, I’ve never once in my life heard a woman talk to another woman like that, but I hear and see it routinely from trans-women, directed at women. Don’t believe me? A quick visit to https://terfisaslur.com/ should set things up, just not on a full stomach.

      Do you go into your activist spaces and inform your allies how hurtful and awful and violent it is, to talk to people with whom you disagree like that? When we call you “condescending” and you tell us to “choke on [your] lady-dick,” do you really even feel that is equivalent?

      If it’s so harmful and psychologically injurious to have people characterize you and your arguments in a way that you don’t like, or even to call you names, so be it.
      I’d submit that you have an awfully dirty house to get in order first, before you come over here and start critiquing our mild and really quite restrained language – especially when it’s OUR kids who are stake!

      Liked by 3 people

      • And I have seen parents here on this same site threatening to lobotomize, disown, abandon, and abuse their children for even thinking about engaging with the trans community. What is your point in bringing up the arguments of a few? People have a right to be angry when parents threaten these things. Both sides of this argument have a right to be angry and have their demons. Worriedmom, you are not listening to a thing this person said, you are just arguing back with “internet garbage”.

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      • “…lobotomize, disown, abandon, and abuse their children for even thinking about engaging with the trans community.”
        This will be “Null’s” last published comment. We are posting it to illustrate how trans activists blatantly lie in their efforts to discredit parents who won’t bend to their will. As to the rape and death threats aimed at women/parents who thwart that will? Well documented. Spend a day on Twitter.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Null did bring up an interesting point.

        “Trans community”
        If there is such a thing, and I’m reluctant to say there is, what is it and who is it?

        The idea of “arguing both sides” suggests there are 2 sides and 2 options.

        Let’s say there IS a trans community with a singular voice and opinion, and couple that with a side being taken to argue, what is it they are arguing for or against?

        If the argument is that children should not be questioned, that they should be ONLY affirmed in their trans identity, and then go on to medically sterilize themselves and have permanent bodily damage, I’d wager that the “trans community” does not actually care about children or their parents. Which does leave me to wonder what it is the “trans community” does care about.

        Please note the VERY black and white thinking involved in this.

        As parents, we know that the world is not so black and white. To treat every child as if it is, doesn’t help anyone, least of all, the sensitive odd and quirky children.

        Liked by 1 person

    • “If your child is truly trans (not going through a phase, not experimenting with gender, not somewhere else on the gender spectrum), it won’t go away.”

      This is exactly why I wrote the article. There will be children who grow up and continue to identify as trans. Until recently, children who wrestled with their gender identity had time to figure this out without altering their bodies. For most of those kids, going through puberty allowed them to think and feel differently about themselves, and for those that didn’t, they could go on to transition.

      There are a few factors at play here. 1. The way transgender children are treated has changed entirely from how it has been done. Instead of allowing children time to grow and figure things out, they are affirmed in their belief that they are trans. 2. There are large numbers of children trying on trans identities. There is a social contagion aspect here. It’s a current trend among tweens and teens. 3. When you combine these 2 things, what you have are a lot of kids identifying as trans that aren’t likely trans, but the treatment is the same. Some kids try it on for attention and some kids truly have gender dysphoria, but are not trans. Kids who deal with this feel it intensely. If the medical community doesn’t keep barriers for children, there will be children like mine, transitioning, when they aren’t likely trans. The more children that are transitioned that should not have, the worse it will be for actual transgender people to be taken seriously.

      “I’ve known Sandra, Joyce, and you (and others) for the better part of 20 years. I’ve read your writings on parenting, children, and unschooling.”

      For others reading this, unschooling is a style of homeschooling that comes from the open classroom concept from the 1970s. I won’t be discussing that here because it has zero to do with what I’ve written. I don’t know if I know this person as they are not using their real name and have not bothered to reach out to me privately to address these issues they have with me.

      If I’ve said things that are offensive, then this person, who says they know me, should tell me privately.

      All the other issues brought up can be discussed in the forum they found them. Bringing conversations from one forum to another is bad form at best, and rude at worst and I won’t engage in that.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I admit that I have resisted gender therapists and clinics (in part because our local center was disparaged by my child’s therapist who specializes in addressing gender and sexual orientation issues and is also a lesbian) but when I talk to my friends and acquaintances (like other parents) who of course are big on affirmation and how brave and wonderful it is for my child to come out as trans and I explain that while I am fine with using the name and pronouns that my child prefers, that I share all of the feelings expressed here by Jenny they almost entirely seem to get it and a number already know about kids who have desisted. I guess what I am saying is that I hope that more nuance is coming. And to the trans person who felt attacked by the words used here, I would agree that at times folks on this site are so worried for their kids and feel so misunderstood and attacked that they reflexively attack those who disagree or want to see an intentional villain. But when the mainstream media won’t even acknowledge our concerns as having any basis in reason then we too feel unseen and unheard and it can lead to acting out.

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    • “I guess what I am saying is that I hope that more nuance is coming.”

      Me too. I want all vulnerable people to be protected, including children. That’s always my base point, protecting children.

      What I know is that the only way for nuance, is to talk about it, even when it’s messy and people are hurt and angry.

      Like

  16. @4thwavenow In an inflammatory response to my comment… how interesting. I am not a trans activist yet me pointing out flaws on this website is somehow dangerous to you? Twitter is your best argument for ‘rape and death threats’? Really? You are in complete denial that other parents abuse their trans children. I worry that some parents will take these articles the wrong way and use this as a grounds to oust their children from their households. I am on this site because I was referred here from a mother who did this very thing. As someone who works with LGBT parents and children, and actively sees this happen, it is incredibly dangerous to deny that at all. I have never said these opinions on here were bad, but they are deeply flawed. Not allowing alternative opinions and voices to this breaks your own rules. Not only that, but I’ve seen this site publish my replies much later than mine in order to encourage “dogpiling” of refuting comments which is more than disappointing.

    Like

    • You claimed, falsely, that people on this site want to “lobotomize, disown, abandon and abuse” their children. That’s not pointing out “flaws”–it’s blatant, slanderous lying. This community isn’t a group of abusers, and I suspect you know that. Respectful, alternative opinions are often published here–but not from those who comment in bad faith. We’re done here.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Jenny, it breaks my heart to hear that you, too, experienced cardiac problems and worry that it affected your child.

    At a tender age, my daughter witnessed me in two separate cardiac events, and during one of them she thought I had died. She herself has significant medical issues. We’ve been through a movable feast of self sabotage when she’s feeling uncomfortable with growing up, and particularly when she’s had some kind of success–with treatment, with school, with maturity. It’s taken so many different forms, but always at developmental breakthroughs, always following success, and always in some way sabotaging the idea of growing up, and old, and having a mother who could grow old and die. At one crucial point she even told me and her therapist point blank that she didn’t want to grow up because getting older meant I would die. So it’s not my imagination to see that there is a huge symbolic significance to this. And it was horrifying, when this appeared out of nowhere, to discover that a therapist we’d recently hired to help with anxiety management and qualifying for special ed services, knew about this for four months, didn’t tell us, and spent the whole time coaching my daughter in affirming this new “discovery” and preparing to disarm us if we might fail to accept her “new identity.”

    Fortunately, my relationship with my daughter is a lot stronger than a four-month therapeutic relationship with someone who’s been given her walking papers, and my daughter knows I would never lie to her or do anything to hurt her, whereas she now knows that this therapist practiced waaaaaaay out of her expertise and blatantly lied to both of us. Our family has had to be honest–we live in Oregon, so my daughter could have this done tomorrow without my permission and there are activist groups here who would pay for it–and appeal to our intelligent kid’s sense of knowing when someone is lying to you or manipulating you. Many talks about Salem, and Little Rascals, and Repressed Memories–all things she was already interested in and outraged by.

    But what kills, kills, kills me is the data on sudden onset in teen females, and the prevalence of trauma, brain damage and developmental issues. If that isn’t a screaming red flag that something is wrong, then nothing means anything any more.

    Our family has long known that something was coming down the pike, because we’ve dealt with all the other iterations of self sabotage since my cardiac events and since my daughter’s own medical crises. We just didn’t for a moment expect it would be this, and least of all that when it came there would be so-called experts who would treat this obvious cry for help as something that should be taken at face value, or (worse) who would actively undermine our efforts to get help for a fragile child at a crucial developmental crossroads.

    Thank you for speaking out, Jenny. I am in Oregon too, and if there’s any safe way for us to pursue meeting each other, count me in. I have registered with the folks on the Gender Critical group, but haven’t been contacted so far, meaning either that they’re not very far along, or that other Oregonians haven’t registered. But whatever it takes, I want to have an in-person group where no one needs to be afraid of expressing skepticism. Ditto goes for Genderskeptics and Howtoinspire. There are four of us on this thread alone who are in Oregon. That’s enough people to make our own support group. I get that people may be here anonymously–I am too for the sake of my daughter’s privacy. But being open to other skeptical parents is fine with me. So if I get a WordPress message from Jenny, or Genderskeptics or Howtoinspire I will send you my personal contact info.

    Like

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