What I wish the Atlantic article hadn’t censored

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 and her teen daughter were recently interviewed for an article about gender-dysphoric youth in The Atlantic.

4thWaveNow editorial note: We are grateful for Jesse Singal’s reporting on this complex issue and appreciate that he included the seldom-heard voices of teens who desisted from a trans identity, and their parents, in his article. We are aware that in some circles, the discussions we host on our site are considered transphobic and that we, a loosely-organized group of parents writing on this site, have been defamed as a “hate group” by those on the extreme end of the activist spectrum.

As always, we encourage those interested in the issue to read as widely as possible so they may come to their own conclusions. We contend that by leaving out all mention of 4thWaveNow, The Atlantic not only failed to offer parents the alternative opinions and resources we offer, but they also contributed to an environment that, due to censorship of critical voices, continues to propagate the distorted idea that cautiousness around medical interventions for minors is inherently harmful to trans-identified people in general.


I knew, when I agreed to be interviewed for The Atlantic article “When Children Say They’re Transgender,” that some of my words might be cut, or changed in ways I didn’t intend. But Jesse Singal is a good journalist. He’s personable and honest and willing to take on some really difficult subjects. He digs deep, records, researches, cites sources and ties things together in a nuanced way. Along with editors, he carefully adds and discards words, phrases, sources, quotes, and relevant ideas that lend themselves to the overall picture of what people will read and take away from what they’ve read. That’s what good journalism is.

There are a few things about our story and the way it was presented in The Atlantic that I’d like to clarify. First and foremost, the last-minute editorial decision to unlink the essay “A Careful Step into a Field of Landmines,” I’d written for 4thWaveNow, combined with removal of all mention of the site, needs to be highlighted because in doing so, The Atlantic failed to include important resources created to help parents support their gender dysphoric and nonconforming youth. The result is an article focused on the “situation” of “trans kids” that obscures parent-led examination and support for youth to explore identity without harmful medical interventions, the consequences of which can last a lifetime.

There are more choices for families than to either support their teens’ requests for pharmaceuticals and surgery on the one hand, and disowning or otherwise invalidating their interest in exploring their identity and nonconformity on the other. The Atlantic editors’ choice to remove 4thWaveNow from the discussion in effect denied parents access to important analysis that offers a balanced and middle ground.

Delta pic

The Atlantic photo editor had to dig deep in the several photos we provided to find the pensive one they chose for their article. Here’s one my daughter likes better; she suggested it be included with this post.

Part of my agreeing to contribute to this important debate is helping to create a platform. This website is such a platform. In talking with Jesse, I was upfront about my beliefs, which in part have been informed by 4thWaveNow and the great many array of voices shared here. It isn’t a monolith. Some of us are very liberal, left-leaning people in liberal left-leaning parts of the country, doing liberal left-leaning activities. Some of us are middle-of-the road, a minority of us are conservative, some of us are doctors, therapists, professors, and teachers. Some of us have allowed full social transition to give space to figure things out while still not agreeing to medical transitioning, and some have not. Excluding mention of 4thWaveNow, a site that gets 60K hits a month, fails to tell the whole story. Why do that? Why leave out one of my main sources of information and the ways that information helped me help my child?

Two of the most important aspects of my family’s experience that are not adequately addressed in the Atlantic article, are: 1) my daughter was given a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, so she was just as “truly trans” as the next kid, and 2) it was my insistence that my child wait to medically transition, not her therapist’s. My teen’s therapist, Laura Edwards-Leeper, listened to me and agreed. We were lucky. While there are some cautious, thoughtful providers, the current situation in the US is that there is also no oversight. The most vocal professionals are firmly in the affirmation camp which believes, without any long-term data to validate, that withholding hormonal interventions is tantamount to abuse.

I didn’t know, going into Delta’s first appointment, what the outcome would be. That’s how difficult this is for parents; we have no idea what the outcome will be when we have very “insistent, consistent, and persistent” children requesting immediate medical interventions. It’s a matter of luck to find a therapist who respects parents’ knowledge of their children, who takes parental concerns and insights seriously, and who are not afraid to support slow, cautious progression.

While many transgender activists argue that they understand our children better than we do, there is no evidence to support their claim. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is seen primarily, although not exclusively, in natal females during puberty. It is important to understand that what separates my daughter and many of the kids of 4thWaveNow parents, is this: None of these kids experienced distress over their sexed bodies until they came into contact with the idea that there might be something wrong with them. In other words, the dysphoria is what was “rapid onset,” not necessarily their gender atypicality. These are not kids with “early-onset,” nor do they resemble later in life transitioning people who frequently claim to have always “felt like” a girl but were too afraid or oppressed by family dynamics to admit their feelings. Then, making wide sweeping projections of their own experiences, they mark our children as being in need of the help they believe they should have had. With our kids, as with the group of young people described in Lisa Littman’s survey where ROGD was first named, their dysphoria set in quickly during puberty, often after spending hours online watching/reading others discuss their distress.

Another outlandish claim (made repeatedly by some activists and “affirming” clinicians) is that we simply missed all the signs our children were suffering earlier. I can assure you that, as a homeschooling mom who spent all day every day with my daughter, she never thought she was or wanted to be a boy prior to encountering the idea from transgender kids in her social circle. In fact, between ages 9-11, she was often “misgendered” (referred to as “he” or “him”) and hated it. It saddens me that these activists experienced such awful childhoods. However, their childhoods seem to have been negatively influenced by the religious fundamentalism and/or abusiveness of their parents; their childhoods do not remotely resemble the experiences of my daughter or the many other young people experiencing ROGD whom I’ve met.

atlantic coverTeens and tweens with ROGD often meet all the clinical diagnostic criteria for transitioning. They are often “insistent, persistent, and consistent” for more than six months, or in our case, for two years. Teens with ROGD also typically meet the clinical threshold for gender dysphoria, as mine did. It’s in her medical file. That’s correct, my “never really trans kid” had a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria under the DSM-V. This is what we hope others understand: our kids are suffering, they hate their bodies, they want and need help. In many cases, our kids had trouble making friends, experienced some form of earlier trauma, and struggle in other important ways, completely unrelated to gender, that should not be overlooked or seen as secondary to their dysphoria.

I know, because I was in pro-transitioning parent support groups, that parents are going to “gender specialists” and demanding medical interventions for their children without thoroughly considering why their children feel the way they do. I know, because I’ve heard from parents, that some therapists will give the green light to medical pathways without addressing any mental health issues. Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, who treats 900 youth at her LA clinic, is quoted in Singal’s article as saying that she “believes that therapy can be helpful for many TGNC young people, but she opposes mandating mental-health assessments for all kids seeking to transition.” As many 4thWaveNow parents and teens will tell you, this attitude denies young people the opportunity to deeply explore why they want to alter their bodies and shuts down learning about other non-medical means of managing their distress.

When I was approached to do an interview, I needed to carefully consider my motivation for doing so, and if I should agree to discuss my family’s situation at all. Ultimately, I agreed because people need to hear that there are other ways to support trans-identifying kids. Gender dysphoria is very real and it hurts. My child’s life wasn’t easy because of the intense pain of GD. I knew there had to be answers other than what I saw everywhere around me, that suggested agreeing to medical interventions was the loving and kind thing to do, and that these interventions were harmless and helpful. I agreed to be interviewed because I wanted to highlight for other parents that there are other choices: most notably, offering support (buying clothing, getting haircuts, using a new name, finding a decent therapist) while also saying “I don’t think there is anything incongruent about your body/feelings.” The Atlantic axed this part of our story, the part where parents can offer tremendous support for their children without ever setting foot in a gender clinic in search of medical interventions.

I used to be a lot more open to the idea of transitioning children, in part because I know and like many transgender people. It wasn’t until I found that in the US, girls as young as 13 are getting mastectomies, that I began to question gender affirming medicine. In the new genderist language it’s called “chest,” “top,” or “confirmation” surgery. It sounds so much nicer than a double mastectomy, almost positive and pleasant. Cutting healthy body parts off of children should not be a thing. Ever. That was the moment I decided I would never stop talking about this.

My part of the interview with Jesse Singal–although about my daughter–was really more about how to support, in general, a child going through this very difficult experience. It is challenging, if not impossible, to find places to discuss supporting teens as they explore their identity in non-medical ways. 4thWaveNow is the only US-based resource that allows this. We need to talk about how to support gender non-conforming kids; things like buying clothing from the boys’ department if you have a daughter, or buying girl clothing if you have a son. My part of the interview wasn’t aimed at kids, but at parents who really need more and better tools for helping their distressed children than the “transition or die” option. Without choices, how can people really make one? Pick one of the two? No thanks.

Someone asked me the other day why I care. Why can’t I just let people do what they want? The answer is really simple. As humans we are guided to protect our young. If our culture fails to do so, each of us have failed to protect our children. This is why there are laws against abusing children, laws preventing minors from smoking or drinking, laws to keep kids from driving, laws for educating children. We can argue against any one of those things, but the cultural “we” have agreed that this is for the good of protecting children from harm, and for promoting welfare. In the US, unlike in other countries, there are no laws or regulations about transitioning children. Until there are, this is up for debate and I’m weighing in.

The fact that so many parents are left with this narrative that there is only one right way to help a confused kid, is what drives a wedge between the parent and child, leaving children vulnerable to self-proclaimed internet “experts”, like Zinnia Jones, who are more than willing to validate their feelings, further dividing parent and child.

Look, I understand that there are some truly not-very-nice parents out there, but we should not be making policy around them. That’s the sort of thing that creates bad case law. Let’s assume that the vast majority of parents want what’s best for their children, even if they have no idea what that looks like.

I was even more puzzled about the Atlantic‘s last-minute editorial decisions when I saw thaZinnia Jones cheap puberty blockers onlinet, not only was any mention of 4thwavenow scrubbed in the final version of the article, but a statement by Jones and reference to Jones’ website were included. Jones has written multiple screeds denying the existence of the rapid-onset dysphoria in adolescent girls that more and more people (including clinicians) are noticing. Further,  Jones recommends (on Twitter) that young people secretly obtain puberty blockers online if their parents aren’t onboard.

Unfortunately, many therapists, and others invested in the transgender narrative, seem to be heavily influenced by activists like Zack Ford, an opinion writer for the website Think Progress who, in response to Singal’s article, enunciates the activist-notion that parental concern and insight is irrelevant to the discussion. He writes,

“Whether a parent doubts the legitimacy of a child’s transition has zero relevance to whether transitioning is best for their child. Humoring this doubt is exactly what makes the story so harmful.”

Read that quote again. Read it several times to see just how dismissive it is of parents, the very people transgender and gender non-conforming kids rely on for support. You know–the people who would be signing the informed consent paperwork at the doctor’s office, agreeing to allow doctors to prescribe permanent, sometimes sterilizing, experimental off-label use of medications, and body-altering irreversible surgeries.

The collective, cultural “we” cannot dismiss parents as trivial when we are discussing our children, whom we will protect with our lives. This protective mechanism is the prime role of parents and an important part of being human and all the moral and ethical things that come with it. This is not a divide between liberal and conservative. There are too many divisions in this world, and this country, as it is. This is about whether “we” have an ethical imperative to protect our children. Yes, we need to listen to kids. We also need to listen to parents who are not interested in stifling their children’s interests or gender presentation, but who also know their children better than any therapist ever will.

 

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Why I supported my autistic daughter’s social transition to a man

by FightingToGetHerBack

FightingToGetHerBack lives in the United States with her husband and 17-year old daughter Zoe. Four years ago, Zoe made the surprise announcement that she was transgender. 

FightingToGetHerBack shares her personal story to illustrate how even smart, educated parents can be emotionally blackmailed into supporting their children’s transition. She is available to interact in the comments section of this post, and can be found on Twitter @FightingToGetHerBack


 For almost a year, I actively supported my daughter’s social transition to appear as a man. I called Zoe by her preferred masculine name and pronouns, and introduced her to others as my son. I was by her side as she marched in a Trans Pride Parade, waving pink and blue flags and dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” I purchased the binder she wore to flatten her breasts.

Outwardly, I appeared as the supportive, loving mother of a transgender child. Inwardly, I was conflicted. Privately, I grieved. Alone, I cried.

As I look back on all I did to affirm Zoe’s mistaken identity as a man, I am mortified.

What caused me to ignore what seems like common sense: that my daughter could not possibly be my son?

Why did I dismiss my initial intuition: that Zoe was caught up in a false identity that was actively promoted at her school and online?

How did I fall for the unsupported scare tactics of “affirmative” gender specialists and the narrative widely promoted by lazy journalism: that Zoe’s mental well-being — and indeed, her life — hinged on my unquestioned support of her sudden self-proclaimed identity as a man?

Like my daughter, I became a victim of transgender ideology: a non-scientific, activist-driven dogma that inexplicably dictates protocol for medical practices, mental health counseling, school policies, media coverage, and an increasing number of laws in the U.S. and abroad.

Let me begin by telling you about Zoe. Throughout her childhood, she preferred feminine clothing and hairstyles, in marked contrast to my own low-maintenance appearance. As a pre-teen, she seemed to embrace the changes brought about by puberty, expressed excitement when her period began, and enjoyed shopping for bras and body-hugging clothes. When she started 7th grade, she begged for permission to shave her legs and wear make-up. Zoe had no stereotypical male interests and shied away from all sports, hating to get dirty or sweaty. There was nothing about her childhood that I would consider boyish, except for one: her difficulty in fitting in with other girls.

Zoe is autistic and highly gifted; socially challenged, yet intellectually precocious. When she was little, she talked to her peers as if they were adults and didn’t understand when they were bored by her academic monologues. Though we invited children to our house for playdates, the invitations were rarely reciprocated. At her annual birthday parties, the other kids ignored her and played mostly with each other. Fortunately, she was oblivious to their social rejection.

But as Zoe grew older, many girls became cliquish and exclusive. They judged each other on their appearances and their fashion choices. They were turned off by my daughter’s social immaturity and her low social status. My intellectual autistic girl had a hard time navigating their complex social cues. She was not aggressively bullied, but she was left out, and she began to realize that she was different.

Around 5th grade, she started to associate more with boys than girls; not because she shared their interests or participated in their rough-and-tumble play, but for their lack of drama. Thankfully, the boys were accepting of her quirky off-putting ways. Hanging out with them was much easier and preferable to being alone. And though the boys accepted her, she still felt disconnected from her peers. “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” she asked me more than once.

So when Zoe suddenly announced that she was transgender at the age of 13, this seemed to come out of nowhere. Zoe was confused, I thought, and had misinterpreted her difficulty in fitting in with the girls as a sign that she was a boy. My disbelief was not a reflexive reaction based on intolerance or prejudice (in fact, I have leaned toward the left side of the political spectrum, and have a career devoted to progressive causes), but based on a lifetime of observations as her attentive mother.

But I was concerned: How could such a smart girl believe she was a boy? What happened to make her believe this so strongly and so suddenly?

I asked Zoe to tell me when it was that she first started thinking she was transgender. She said she got the idea after attending a school presentation. I was appalled. I had no idea this was part of the school curriculum. Zoe also told me about other kids she knew who were transgender. I was stunned to learn that this was so common. Interestingly, all of the “trans” kids that Zoe knew were very similar: highly intelligent and with apparent autistic traits–and with a history of not fitting in.

I asked Zoe, “If you hadn’t known there were other kids who were trans, would you believe you were a boy?” Her answer was telling: “No, because I would not have known it was an option. But I don’t think I am a boy; I am a boy.” She patiently explained to me the differences between gender identity and sex assigned at birth. When I expressed confusion, she told me I wouldn’t understand because I am cis. I had never heard that word before. Clearly, she had been doing some online research.

I began to do some research of my own. But nothing I found confirmed my theory: that my child’s autistic thinking and history of not fitting in made her vulnerable to the false belief that she was transgender. To the contrary, all of my online searches told me that a child’s gender identity was not to be questioned, and that children, no matter their age, know who they are. Still, I held onto my belief that this was likely a phase that would pass.

I decided the best approach was to ignore the gender issue and help Zoe develop her identity based on her interests, not on her feelings. I signed her up for 4H and nature groups. I did everything I could to help her connect to who she really was, and help her find other kids who shared her passions.

isolated girl.jpgOver the course of a year, Zoe’s anger toward me grew. Our once strong, loving relationship deteriorated, and she threatened to leave home many times. She blamed her worsening depression on me and my lack of acceptance of her “true” self. It became clear that this was no simple phase that would fade away on its own, but I didn’t know what to do. Maybe she was really transgender, I wondered. My husband thought Zoe was just being a selfish, belligerent teen. But I decided that I needed someone to help me sort this out, a trained and experienced professional to answer some questions: Is my daughter really transgender? If she is, what should I do? And if she’s not, how do I convince her otherwise? I turned to gender specialists for help.

This was my first big mistake.

I went to the Psychology Today website and contacted ten local therapists who claimed a specialty with transgender issues. After explaining a bit about my daughter’s history, every single therapist responded in a similar manner: “A child would not choose this.” “A child would not make this up.” “Once teens reach puberty, there is no question that their gender identity is set.” They all ignored the fact of Zoe’s autism. “Even autistics know who they are.” They ignored the possibility of social contagion. “It’s becoming more common now because society is more accepting.” They did not see this as a temporary identity crisis, but as an absolute, undeniable truth that was dangerous to question.

Perhaps if I had found just one authoritative professional to confirm my misgivings, I would never have doubted myself.

Instead, I deferred to the apparently unanimous consensus of the experts and decided to work with Dr. Brown [not his real name], a therapist in private practice whose clinical specialties were transgender care and autism, and who was a member of WPATH, an organization that I ignorantly assumed was grounded in a scientifically-based, expert approach to transgender care.

My husband went along with my plan. We both met with Dr. Brown before he met Zoe. Surely, based upon his extensive experience, he could tell us if our daughter was really transgender. After hearing our story, he confirmed that she was. Since it had been over a year since Zoe came out to us, and because she had been “insistent, persistent, and consistent” in her identity, this meant that yes, this was real.

Dr. Brown comforted us by telling us what great parents we were for finding support for our son; that many parents refuse to believe their children are transgender and they become estranged from them. He told us that as a transgender teen, our son is at high risk of suicide and that research shows that the best way to prevent this is parental acceptance. Dr. Brown told us to start slowly by allowing him to transition at home using his preferred name and pronouns, but to wait several months until the summer to start coming out to friends and family, and to wait until the fall to come out at school.

I loved — and love — Zoe unconditionally, fiercely, and deeply. I would do anything to save her life and minimize her suffering. I have always sought the best care for her, no matter the cost. I was — and am — a vulnerable, confused, and scared mother. So I did what Dr. Brown told me I MUST do or my daughter would kill herself. I fell for the “live son” vs “dead daughter” scare tactic.

Though it was hard to hear those words — that my daughter was really transgender and that my actions were critical to preventing her possible suicide —  in a way, it was a relief. Finally, I could stop debating with myself and just work on accepting my daughter as my son. It was easier to put my faith in Dr. Brown and his expertise than to constantly question myself. I rationalized that I had been in denial for the past year, but now I needed to face reality and focus on Zoe’s mental health, our relationship, and keeping her alive.

I began supporting the first step in Zoe’s social transition that evening when I used masculine pronouns and called Zoe by his chosen name, Joe. I told Joe about Dr. Brown and his recommendations. I apologized to Joe for my lack of support over the past year. Joe was overjoyed. Later that night, I sobbed privately while I grieved the loss of my daughter.

Joe started seeing Dr. Brown right away. After each session, Joe did not seem happy or content. He seemed more fixated on transitioning. Despite the original plan to take this slowly, he immediately changed his name and pronouns at school. The school never notified me of this change, nor asked my permission. Since there were already several other “trans” kids at the school, this was seen as a normal request that did not need to involve parents.

Joe’s transition at school, as with the other “trans” students, was met with complete unquestioning acceptance by peers and teachers alike. Trans teens had become so common that no one acted like this was a big deal. And after years of not fitting in, Joe thought he had finally found his tribe.

Though I was upset with the school staff and concerned with how fast things were moving, I said nothing. I needed to support my son and maintain his mental health, so I kept my concerns to myself.

Now that Joe was “out,” I helped with his social transition by taking him to a barber followed by shopping for “boy” clothes. But that wasn’t enough. Joe begged me for a binder. I discussed this with Dr. Brown who told me it was now psychologically necessary for Joe’s social transition to be complete. Dr. Brown assured me that as long as I bought one from a reputable company, there were no dangers. He told me if I didn’t buy one, Joe would just use duct tape, which was very dangerous. Given the alternative, I felt like I had no choice. I complied.

Within one month of seeing Dr. Brown, Joe’s physical transformation was dramatic. His appearance disturbed me in a deep and visceral way. My once curvy 14-year old daughter now resembled a pudgy, unattractive 11-year old boy. I was ashamed of my feelings and felt guilty for caring about his physical appearance. I told myself it was his mental health I should be focused on, but I still found it painful to look at him.

Dr. Brown kept telling me what a good job I was doing, that Joe is so happy now, and that for the first time in his life, he feels like he belongs. Despite Dr. Brown’s assurances of Joe’s happiness, that was not my observation at home. Joe seemed more and more depressed. His periods, which had been non-events until he started seeing the gender therapist, now became a crisis. Joe refused to go to school on those days and became angrier and more depressed. After each step in Joe’s transition process, he became fixated on the next. So after binding his breasts, his new obsession was medically stopping his periods.

During the time that I supported Joe’s social transition, I purposely avoided any news articles on the topic. And when I heard critical voices — which at that time seemed to come only from ultra-conservative gay-bashers  — the unintended consequence of their hurtful words served only to harden my support for my son’s transition and bias my thinking.

As Joe continued to see Dr. Brown, I sensed that his “therapy” was mostly about validating Joe’s conviction that his was trans, while pushing the next step in transitioning. I eavesdropped on one session where I listened to Dr. Brown ask Joe about his week, how much he enjoyed being his authentic self, and about his next plans for transition. I did not hear Dr. Brown ask Joe about his increasing depression, or explore the basis for his growing discomfort with his body.

Despite this, we continued to see Dr. Brown and followed his expert advice. Although I never stopped having fears and doubts, I tried to convince myself that I was just a worried mom lacking objectivity. Meanwhile, my husband was mostly disengaged, refusing to talk with me about my worries, but willing to go along with whatever I decided.

Dr. Brown’s experienced, authoritative, and persuasive voice continued to convince me that my actions were the key to preventing Joe’s suicide. I deferred to his self-proclaimed authority, which was seemingly consistent with the overwhelming majority of the medical and psychological establishment. So when Dr. Brown recommended that I enroll Joe in a therapeutic support group for trans kids, I complied.

This was my second big mistake.

I selected a support group at a well-respected gender clinic, a collaborative practice that included clinicians who specialize in autism, clinical psychology, and adolescent gynecology. Their approach was described as research-based and conservative.

Before Joe started attending the support group, I met privately with the head of the clinic, Dr. Jones, to learn more. He told me that every meeting began with the kids announcing their preferred name, their pronouns, and the gender that they identified with on that particular day. He explained that the goal was to impress upon the kids that their current gender identity was not necessarily fixed. He told me that every child in the group had either been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or had symptoms that suggested autism. I was reassured that Joe would fit in well with the other participants.

When I told Dr. Jones that over 5% of the students at Joe’s school thought they were trans, he denied the role of social contagion. He said the increasing numbers were a result of society and schools becoming more tolerant.

I asked Dr. Jones why kids with ASD were more likely to identify as transgender. He told me researchers do not know, but theorized that both transgenderism and ASD were caused by prenatal exposure to an excess of androgens. I asked if gender identity were innate, then why would it appear so suddenly with no signs throughout childhood? Dr. Jones explained that this was probably because ASD prevents children from thinking flexibly about gender until they are older. So although Joe’s gender identity was always that of a boy, Dr. Jones explained, Joe didn’t know his identity until recently because the ASD precluded the flexible thinking required to come to this realization when he was younger.

Privately, I thought all of his explanations seemed far-fetched, but as I had been doing with increasing frequency, I kept my doubts to myself, followed the “expert” advice, and agreed to allow Joe to participate in the program.

The kids in the group had many traits in common besides autism. Their trans identity came on suddenly when they were teens, they seemed really smart, and they were obvious social misfits. All had serious mental health issues. Compared to the other kids, my daughter appeared the most well-adjusted.

Although the clinicians acknowledged that these kids may change their minds, all of the parents were told to put their children on hormone blockers. When I questioned the possibility of side effects, my concerns were arrogantly dismissed. The head clinician told me that blockers were well-studied and perfectly safe, and encouraged me to set up an appointment with the clinic’s gynecologist. He recommended that Joe take blockers for one year, which he euphemistically described as “buying time.” At the end of his year on blockers, Joe would likely be ready to proceed to the next step: testosterone. Unconvinced, I refused to consent.

While Joe was in group, I got to know the other parents. We were all genuinely troubled by our children’s trans identity. We talked about how we lost friends and family members over this issue; how we had become more socially isolated; how our marriages had become strained; how surprised we were when our kids announced they were trans; how there had been no signs of this throughout their childhoods. Like me, these were caring, thoughtful parents who were determined to help their children in any way they could.

Unlike me, all of the other parents consented to medical treatment for their kids. Some were on blockers; others were already on cross-sex hormones. Apparently, I was the only one who had concerns about the medical protocol, and the only one who still harbored doubts about my child’s transgender identity. As the months passed, I felt more disconnected from the other parents. They began to question why I refused medical treatment for my son, told me I was endangering his mental health, and seemed personally offended by my non-compliance. I started to keep my opinions to myself and wondered if there was something wrong with me. Were my doubts and concerns well-founded? Or could I just not accept the reality of having a transgender child? I now believe that if I had met at least one other parent who shared my misgivings, I would have had the courage of my convictions to question the trans narrative much sooner than I did and would have escaped the power of groupthink.

So what finally woke me up? It was when the head of the program, Dr. Jones, the  well-respected “expert” threatened me: “Your choice is between a mental hospital or hormone blockers.” That’s when I finally realized the clinic’s true agenda: not to therapeutically help my child, but to push her on a dangerous path to medically transition under the pretense of it being a psychological necessity.

That night, I turned to the internet to figure out what to do next. That’s when I discovered 4thWaveNow, TransgenderTrend, GenderCriticalDad, and other reasonable gender-critical voices.

I could not stop reading for days. All of my original theories were shared by a group of intelligent, thoughtful, and eloquent parents and therapists.. For the first time since my daughter announced she was my son, I found evidence-based information to support my own ideas. My God, how could I have been so stupid to doubt myself? How did I fall for this? How could I have played along with her ridiculous belief that she is a boy? How did I not see that this sudden increase in trans-identifying teens at her school was part of a psychic epidemic? That these vulnerable children were being medicalized by unscrupulous professionals? That most journalists were singularly focused on portraying transgenderism as a human rights issue, rather than what was obviously a psychological and sociological phenomena?

It has now been over one year since I discovered the online support I needed to realize the truth. But my daughter remains a victim. It is as if she has been brainwashed. And increasingly, it seems as if society has been brainwashed.

Thanks to Zoe’s school, her gender therapists, professional health organizations, the media, and the internet, my daughter is still certain that she is really a boy. She refuses to discuss the topic with me, and refuses to listen to my concerns. She is also convinced that medical transition is necessary for her future happiness, a process she plans to begin when she turns 18 next year. And I will be powerless to stop her.

The only thing I can do is speak the truth and encourage others to do the same.

If you are a doctor or therapist, please don’t reflexively endorse a child’s belief that s/he is the opposite sex. Children need good therapy to explore underlying issues that are likely fueling their discontent.

If you are a member of a professional health organization, please demand that they base their professional guidelines for gender-confused children on science, not politics or ideology. Organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Endocrine Society will continue to irresponsibly promote ideologically driven protocol as settled science until they are held accountable by their membership.

If you are a college professor, administrator, or counselor: Please speak up about a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common across college campuses. Although most college students are legal adults, their brains are still developing and they are just as prone to social contagion as young teens. Those with underlying mental issues, often exacerbated by the stress of college life, are especially vulnerable. Many students begin their medical transition services as part of their college health plan — with little or no mental health counseling to explore other underlying factors.

If you are a journalist, please re-think the currently popular mainstream narrative and investigate this issue more deeply. Why are there suddenly so many kids who think they are trapped in the wrong body? Does science really support “an innate gender identity?” Why have the number of gender clinics treating children skyrocketed in the past ten years? What is the source of the millions of dollars that is funding this movement?  Does it really make sense to treat children medically on the basis of a belief which is likely to change over time?

Whoever you are, please speak up. Please help prevent more children’s minds from being poisoned by lies, bodies from being irreversibly altered, and families like mine from being destroyed.

I hated her guts at the time: A trans-desister and her mom tell their story

 Sarah R. is 19-year old lesbian from the US Midwest. She says: “From ages 14 to 16 I believed that because I was gender non-conforming, I was a transgender man. Gender critical theory saved me from potentially mutilating my body irrevocably. Today, I share my story in hopes that other young women can also overcome the hatred we are told to have towards our bodies, and to remain unapologetic about being gender nonconforming females.”

This post originally appeared in a different form on her blog, here. For 4thWaveNow, she expanded some sections, particularly to do with her thoughts about her mother’s role in her temporary identification as a trans man (and her eventual abandonment of that idea). We also invited Sarah’s mother to contribute her own views, which you’ll find in in this updated article. Sarah openly acknowledges how much she detested her mother when she refused to agree to transition, but things are different now.  

Sarah R can be found on Twitter here.


by  Sarah R.

Tumblr is a cool place:  writers, artists, activists. Lots of people find solace there. I tried to, when I first made an account in 2013, when I was still in middle school. Actually, it wasn’t so cool back then. Hordes of young girls like me, with their newfound platform, curated ‘Black-and-white’ blogs (just check out some of the usernames), impressive collections of grey-scaled gifs, a smorgasbord of para-suicidal images: self-harm, handfuls of pills…

Thankfully, vices on Tumblr quickly find themselves replaced by new fads; gone are the days of glamorized self-mutilation– hello, fandom! (My own guilty pleasure was House MD, if anyone’s curious. Dark, dark days.) But like black-and-white blogs before them, these profiles were also quickly replaced. This time? by SJW blogs.

Now, granted, not everything about the new justice craze sucked. For one, it’s where most of my peers and I found Feminism 101, even if it got some things quite wrong (e.g. feminism is for men, too; makeup is empowering; kinky is progressive, etc.), and the general atmosphere of tolerance allowed for young gay teens like me the freedom of expression that wasn’t as safe on Twitter or Facebook at the time. Still, a lot of crazy shit came out of SJW tumblr.

When things like otherkin, fictionkin, and aesthetigender (for full effect, I’m going to have to ask you to go through the pain of scrolling through the whole list on that last one), are accepted as anywhere even near the realm of reality, it’s no wonder that ‘Woman’ has become distorted, conflated, and commandeered.

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My own personal attraction to the booming trans trend is obvious in retrospect. Teen girls are taught to hate everything about themselves. None of us can win. Even the thinnest, most clear-skinned, prettiest of girls find an enemy in the mirror. Imagine my horror to look at my reflection and see a fat, short-haired, lesbian staring back. In a world where my style, my interests, and my attractions weren’t fit for a girl, transgenderism offered the perfect solution: Be a boy.

It wouldn’t work, of course. How could it, when all of my problems–the struggle to meet the expectations that society had for me, my depression, my anxiety, my dysphoria, and my dysmorphia, all of my unhappiness–had nothing to do with how I identified and everything to do with what I was: female. Of course, as a 14-year-old, this didn’t occur to me quickly. My transition to ‘boy’ was my ticket out of Self-hatred-Ville, and you’d better believe I was going to take it.

To exactly nobody’s surprise, Tumblr was ecstatic at my ‘realization’. A plethora of congratulations, encouragement, and support was sent my way–something that girl-me never got for being exactly the same as boy-me, save having a different name and pronouns. So of course my new identity felt right. How couldn’t it, when my mannerisms and appearance, which had previously othered me, were now suddenly in congruence with my gender, and my ‘bravery’ was being applauded by all the people I looked up to– both bloggers online and friends in real life.

Something that I feel like a lot of adults get wrong about this phenomenon is that people like me were bullied into identifying as trans, but I don’t think this is the most accurate way to put it. There’s a very specific kind of mental mind-fuck that went on on Tumblr during this time that cultivated the perfect atmosphere for confused, self-hating teens (which is like, all of them) to somehow come to the realization that they’re transgender. First came a kind of twisted rewriting of history, women like Joan of Arc or Christina, Queen of Sweden (who once wrote she was “neither Male nor Hermaphrodite, as some People in the World have pass’d me for.” Interesting… maybe society has always been telling GNC (gender nonconforming) women that they aren’t true women…) now became ‘trans men who didn’t know at the time, because it wasn’t accepted’. By telling GNC women, who weren’t around to ‘defend’ their womanhood, that they were men, is it any wonder those of us who were around started to think we must be men, too? Another thing was the constant validation of trans people. In order for me to become instantly ‘valid,’ all I had to do was be a man. How could I do that? By feeling like one.

What did that feel like? I don’t know, since I didn’t feel like a woman, which I now realize is because I can’t; woman isn’t a feeling. The most harmful message to come out of the cultist ideology of trans rights is that you are x because you feel like x. But in the same way that I didn’t feel working class, or feel like a white person, or feel like a Midwesterner, I didn’t feel like a woman, which according to trans ideology, meant I wasn’t ‘cisgender’, and so from that the leap was easy for me to make: I must be a man. What’s glaringly obvious to me now though is that feeling didn’t play any factor into my status as any of the aforementioned descriptors. I simply was those things, and reality didn’t give a shit whether my feelings aligned or not.

It at the time all seemed very progressive: by ignoring history and biology, we could rewrite reality, and anyone could be anything they wanted (might I remind you of this list once more). What was really going on though was the complete opposite.

First of all, words didn’t have meaning anymore. According to new gender logic, even male and female were fluid. A trans woman was now female by virtue of identifying as ‘woman’. All attempts at any kind of discussion about gender and sex were rendered impossible, because 1. Any disagreement labeled you a transphobe and a TERF, and you were quite literally ostracized, and 2. gender didn’t mean anything anymore (save some mysterious, cryptic feeling that refuses to be defined, apparently).

By the time my mother figured out what was going on with me, I was in deep. Female-to-Male transition videos filled my Youtube suggestions, and I had already decided I would want a metoidioplasty over a phalloplasty (a decision that I now recognize as a desire for my maleness to be real, not a section of skin from my arm or leg, an impossible desire that could never be fulfilled, I know now, because I’m not male). I decided to take my first physical ‘transition’ step by getting a binder. Just one problem– being 14 meant I had no job, and no money. So, I improvised. As a blogger with several thousand followers (nope, I’m not going to link myself, as I would be chased off and/or doxxed in approximately .00023 seconds), I put out a quick plea for help in buying a binder. Within a few hours, a well-meaning follower asked my size and told me it would arrive in a few short days. Unfortunately, or so I thought at the time, I was unable to intercept the package before my mom did.

Accidentally being outed sucks. I remember getting a text from my mom while in school which said something along the lines of ‘We have something important to talk about when you get home,’ which, to nearly any teen, could mean a multitude of terrible things, and exactly zero good things. Throughout this whole story, my mom approached things really well, but I see that in retrospect only. I hated her guts at the time. She picked me up from school and let me marinate in the soul-crushing silence until we were about half-way home. She got straight to the point and told me that she had opened my package and found my binder. I immediately went into panic mode, so I don’t exactly remember how she coaxed a confession of transgender out of me, but it involved a lot of blubbering. She let me know from the get-go that she thought my ‘felt like boy’ spiel was all a load of crap, though to be fair, put it much less insensitively, but asked me to show her videos and literature about it. I did.

She wasn’t impressed.

I remember being afraid that this meant she was now going to make me grow out my short hair, or–god forbid– start wearing dresses, in an attempt to stifle my ‘transness’, but that wasn’t the case. It was hurtful to me that she wouldn’t use my new name or pronouns, but I was allowed to continue to be as GNC as I saw fit, something that I know helped my self-acceptance as a woman today. She made it clear that medical transition was not going to happen, which felt like the end of the world to me. In the same way you wouldn’t tell a schizophrenic that their delusions are real, she took no interest in pretending that male was something that I was, or ever could be. But most importantly, she let me know that that was okay. That I could be masculine, that I could like women, and that I could exist as myself, in my body and that pumping myself full of hormones and cutting off my flesh would change my appearance, but not me. My mom helped me understand that if I was ever going to be happy, it had nothing to do with my pronouns, or my genitals, I had to accept the female, and the woman, that I was.

As I was writing this piece, I asked Mom what she had to say about our journey together:

“When you first told me, I was really lost. I didn’t really even have any idea what [being transgender] meant. I mean, like if it had to do with you being gay or what. Of course the first thing I did afterwards was research it heavily. That scared me even more! The videos [of FTM transitions] you sent me were nice and the people in them seemed happy, but the first thing I thought was ‘what if I lost my daughter’s voice like those mothers did?’

I know at the time you thought I was prejudiced and that’s why I made the choices I did, but I didn’t have anything against transgender people, I just wanted to do the right thing as a parent, and letting you do things to yourself that you could never change even if you felt differently down the road was not the right thing for me to do. But your happiness was the only thing behind my decisions. If you ended up being genuinely transgender and that was the only way you could be happy then I would’ve been able to live with that. I just knew you were too young to be sure about something like that. If by the time you turned 18 and could do what you wanted [medically] you still wanted to get testosterone I wouldn’t have stopped loving you. Of course. I’m glad to still love my daughter more than you could know.

It still keeps me up some nights thinking about ‘what if I had given in?’. The only important thing though is that you are happy now.”

And her advice for parents in similar situations:

“I can’t tell anyone what is the right thing for their child. But it was hard to stay strong in my decision against what other people thought. It was made out like I hated transgender, or that I was abusing my child by not letting her make decisions to cut off her breasts. Stay strong. Wanting what is best for your babies isn’t prejudice. Also, be prepared to be hated by your kid too. Any teenager doesn’t like her mom. Not letting her go to a friend’s house that you know is bad news is enough to make her hate you. Not letting her change her entire body is even bigger.”

Our relationship is wonderful now, but Mom’s right about me hating her back then. And yeah, maybe I would’ve hated her anyways, at least according to her theory that all teens hate their parents, but in my situation, I could name directly and specifically why, and that gave it a lot of power. I remember posting all the time online about how abusive she was for deadnaming me, or not letting me bind, which I now feel terrible about. I didn’t feel like I could talk to her about anything (especially gender things) because I had made up in my mind that she thought my very existence (as a trans person) was invalid. Her resolve was beyond admirable, though, as well as her patience for my angsty bullshit.

Not everyone was so hesitant to accept my identity as my mom, though. As I mentioned, the internet was enthralled, but my friends in real life ate it up, too. Whether intentional or not, most young gay people are in social circles comprised of other gay people. Not all of my friends were necessarily gay, but even the ones who weren’t were into the same SJW ideology as I was. They readily accepted my new trendy name, and did their best to use my pronouns. Even though they messed them up a lot, I wasn’t accosted like when my mom didn’t use the right ones, because I knew that they still thought of my identity as real. In retrospect, their support didn’t help my journey of desisting, but I don’t think they hindered it much either. They were being good friends, and for that I’m grateful.

Almost immediately after my coming out, I was put in therapy. Despite my own desperate requests to go to a therapist who specialized in gender issues, so that I might acquire that coveted letter of recommendation for HRT, I instead was taken to the general therapist I had visited sometime earlier for self-harm issues. At the time, like so many other decisions my mother made, it felt invalidating, and upset me, but also like all of her decisions, I’m now grateful for it. Going to someone who would try to get to the root of my identity and dysphoria and resolving that cause itself instead of validating my mental illness and okaying a lifetime of hormones, mutilation, and sterilization was paramount.

For the first few sessions I was still angry about the therapist choice, but once I began to open up, I was surprised to find the doctor wasn’t dismissive of my feelings like I had thought she would be, but seemed to understand and coaxed a lot of more out of me about my transness than I had thought about myself. The most helpful thing she did for me was make me examine why I identified as a boy, and what that meant. By being asked to define what being a boy felt like without using anything that I already knew was only a stereotype about boys, and my subsequent failure to do so, I eventually came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t be one.

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Freeing yourself from the task of climbing a mountain whose peak can never be summited is your only chance of ever actually being happy.

One of the biggest problems I think with being transgender is it comes out of an unhappiness, and that the impossibility of the accepted solution amplifies the unhappiness. Having short hair doesn’t give you an adam’s apple, testosterone injections won’t change your bone structure, a phalloplasty won’t let you produce sperm. The closer you get to the real thing, the bigger the gap between you and being a real male grows. Freeing yourself from the task of climbing a mountain whose peak can never be summited is your only chance of ever actually being happy.

I eventually stopped looking for validation as something I would never be, and started the process of loving myself. There’s no real how-to I can give for overcoming gender dysphoria and accepting your given gender, but there are some tips I can spare.

Firstly, be patient. Whether it’s you or someone you love who is trans, one conversation, experience, or epiphany is not going to change anyone’s mind. Secondly, and this is geared towards trans-identified females: Get into gender critical theory. Liberal feminism tells us that women are oppressed because of their gender, but that isn’t true. We’re oppressed because of our sex, by means of gender. It was hard for me to give up the imaginary solution to my oppression before I understood this. Thirdly, think long and hard about why you feel trans. What is the feeling? What would it feel like to be ‘cis’? If your answer is ‘comfortable with your sex/body’ then hardly a single woman falls under that category. Is it to feel comfortable with the expectations, limitations, and stereotypes of your gender? Once again, nary a single female applies. The hardest and final push for me to ‘detransing’ was realizing and accepting that whatever I was ‘feeling’, it wasn’t ‘boy’. It was dissatisfaction with the constraints of womanhood, as in the stereotypes, expectations, and roles that it accorded me. Understanding that is the most important step in becoming happy with your femaleness.

For a long time, I’ve been hesitant to talk about my experience with trans. I was embarrassed, for one, into being duped by an agenda that wanted to convince me I was something I’m not, nor would ever be. I was afraid, too, of backlash. The climate among my peers these days is such that disagreement of nearly any variance means public ridicule, and being shunned. I thought people might try to tell me that I wasn’t really, truly trans (though no one has seemed to come up with what that means), or that I was just unable to come to accept my transness. I’ve decided I have to cast these doubts aside, though, because there’s something more important at stake: young women learning to love themselves. If I can convince even just one girl to love her body for what it is, and to know that no amount of dissatisfaction with stereotypes, or love for suits and sports, or short hair, or discomfort with her anatomy makes her less of a woman, then any shit cast my way is worth it.

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.

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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

 

Too much trust

4thWaveNow contributor Overwhelmed is the mother of a daughter who previously identified as transgender. Her daughter is now comfortable being female even though she chooses to eschew conventionally feminine clothing and sports a short haircut.

Overwhelmed can be found on Twitter: @LavenderVerse


by Overwhelmed

Why does the public seemingly trust that gender doctors know what they are doing? Well, one of the reasons is the frequent media portrayals of trans kids. Children who have recently undergone medical transition are being presented as success stories, even though no one knows the long term consequences of gender-affirming treatments.

I came across this article on the University of California San Francisco website. It covers the transition of three children—two who have puberty blocker implants and one, a natal female named Oliver, whose treatment has included puberty blockers, testosterone, a double mastectomy with chest contouring, a hysterectomy (at 16 years old!) and plans in the near future for the first in a series of phalloplasty surgeries. The article also highlights the involvement of three gender-affirming pioneers—Dr. Ehrensaft, Dr. Rosenthal and Joel Baum—whom I will discuss a little later in this post. But first I will focus on Oliver.

Oliver’s story (which I’ve pulled from three separate articles) starts off as expected—a young child uncomfortable in dresses who likes short hair and playing baseball. When puberty started, it caused a great deal of distress. Suicide was considered. And then:

A few months before his 15th birthday, …stumbled across the word “transgender” online. He read about people who had had medical treatment to align their bodies with their gender identity – their inner sense of who they are.

“Bam, my life changed,” he says. “It lifted a major weight to find out I could do something about all this pressure I had been feeling.”

 At first Oliver’s parents, especially his father, didn’t accept that their daughter was really their son.

“It took me a bit to become a really supportive dad,” ….

For months they didn’t speak. But in the end, reading the suicide statistics for transgender teens brought him around.

“My kid’s not going to kill himself,” …. “I don’t care what he is, as long as he’s a productive person in society, and he needs all the support we can give him.”

Oliver was taken to UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center.

By age 15, Oliver… was on a dual regimen of testosterone, plus puberty blockers to keep his endogenous estrogen from competing with the male hormones.

While he had to endure a second puberty, and he’ll need to take testosterone for the rest of his life, he’s had no second thoughts about transitioning.

The summer after his sophomore year, he had “top” surgery – a double mastectomy and male chest contouring – in San Francisco. To pay for the procedure, which was not covered by insurance, he used earnings from years of showing and selling pigs at the Tuolumne County fair.

“It’s a lot of money for a 15-year-old,” he says of the $8,000 price tag. “But I appreciate it every day.”

His family’s insurance also wouldn’t cover a puberty blocker implant, so… at first chose cheaper but “gnarly” monthly shots. Later, concerned about unknown long-term effects of the blockers, and hating the painful shots, he opted for a hysterectomy at age 16 – performed by the same family doctor who had delivered him.

In June, he’ll undergo the first in a series of “bottom” surgeries to create male genitalia.

His only regret, he says, is not finding UCSF’s Gender Center sooner. “To not go through the wrong puberty, those kids are lucky,” he says. “That’s a team effort. You have to show [gender dysphoria], and parents have to catch it.”

Oliver’s story has been published in at least three media articles, likely reaching a large audience. The teen has also been influential in Oliver’s small town high school  where at least four other transgender students have since come out.

ucsf-logo

An increasing number of children like Oliver are announcing they’re transgender, and families are looking to the experts in the field for guidance. Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, a clinical and developmental psychologist, is one of a number of pediatric gender-affirming pioneers in the San Francisco Bay area. She is Director of Mental Health and founding member of the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center. She is a well-known proponent of the gender affirmative model and has authored two books on the subject. Ehrensaft has a private practice in Oakland and serves on the Board of Directors of Gender Spectrum.

Her credentials seem impressive, but there are concerns that her stance could unnecessarily pressure parents into eventually medically transitioning their children. She’s often quoted in news reports about trans kids. Here she is in the Duluth New Tribune article from above, rationalizing the dramatic increase in trans-identifying kids seeking treatment:

“We have lifted the lid culturally,” said developmental psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, whose Oakland, Calif. practice has seen a fourfold increase in the number of gender-questioning kids in recent years. “These kids have always existed, but they kept it underground.”

She is also quoted in the UCSF article:

“When a child says, ‘I’m not the gender you think I am,’ that can be a showstopper,” says Diane Ehrensaft, PhD, the Gender Center’s director of mental heath as well as a private-practice psychologist in Oakland. “Some parents say, ‘Not on my watch. No way am I signing off on a medical intervention. When they’re 18 they can do what they want.’ I say, ‘You’re absolutely right, you’re the ones minding the shop, but let me share with you the risk factors of holding back.’”

A parent swayed by Ehrensaft’s logic may believe that, contrary to historical records,  there were always this many trans kids. This could lead parents to disregard the impacts of social contagion. And she tells parents that being cautious and holding back medical interventions until their child is 18 could lead to serious “risk factors.” Suicide seems to be implied.

Stephen Rosenthal, MD, is another pediatric gender-affirming pioneer in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a founder of the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center and currently serves as its Medical Director. He is also the program director for Pediatric Endocrinology, director of the Endocrine Clinics, and co-director of the Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD) Clinic. Additionally, Rosenthal spends time as a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCSF and conducts research. Currently, he is participating in an NIH-funded study of pediatric medical transition.

He has stated that “these kids have a very high risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Not treating is not a neutral option. He promotes early treatment—puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sometimes surgeries—to alleviate these symptoms without any proof of long term relief.

Under his direction, the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center has grown substantially. It opened in 2010. By 2012 there were 75 patients and currently there are over 300 patients with about 10 new referrals a month. Business is booming. Clinics are being added in San Mateo and Oakland. The UCSF Gender Center network isn’t the only place in the San Francisco Bay area offering pediatric gender affirming treatment. Stanford and Kaiser Permanente provide similar services.

What could be driving all of these children to seek treatment? Well, the San Francisco Bay Area has been well-educated by Gender Spectrum, a “national advocacy group for gender expansive youth whose mission is to create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens.” Many schools in the area have hosted training sessions by Gender Spectrum. The goal of gender sensitivity training is to increase acceptance and decrease bullying, but it’s likely that some children get confused by the information, leading to a rise in referrals to gender clinics.gender-spectrum-logo

Joel Baum, MS, is an advocate for pediatric gender affirmation. He is the Senior Director of Professional Development and Family Services at Gender Spectrum and is the Director of Education and Advocacy for the UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center. He co-wrote Schools in Transition, A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools, which I discussed in this blog post. He has spoken in schools, at conferences (mentioned in this 4thWaveNow post) and, according to this article, promotes transgender awareness on radio shows.

Per the article, it was Baum who helped Emily and her husband realize that their son was really their daughter (Kelly).

One day Emily got a call from her husband, who was in his car listening on the radio to Joel Baum, MS, the Gender Center’s director of advocacy as well as the director of education and training for the Oakland-based nonprofit Gender Spectrum. “You’ve got to turn on the radio,” he told her. “I think this is our kid.’”

Emily was horrified to learn about the high rates of harassment, school failure, and suicide among transgender youth. “I couldn’t talk about it without weeping. I kept going to all these images in our culture for transgender people, that they’re on the edge, disenfranchised,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t lose my kid. I don’t care what her gender is. I’ve got to get on the other side of those statistics.’”

Her path forward, she says, was “unconditional acceptance of my child’s truth.”

The family started regular visits to Gender Center clinics and let Kelly be their guide. She grew her hair long. In third grade, she switched her masculine birth name to a gender-neutral nickname. At age nine, she transitioned socially, becoming “she” to relatives, friends, and classmates.

Intensely private, Kelly wanted no emails to parents, no classroom announcement. Just a quiet switch in pronouns. Her elementary school administrators and teachers – faced with their first transitioning student – were “incredibly supportive,” says Emily, who sought out staff training and put Kelly in a classroom with only one student who knew her from “before”: her best friend.

Now 13, Kelly has a matchstick-sized implant under the skin near her left bicep to suppress the male hormones her body produces. She’s blossomed into a “beautiful, smart, artistic, empathetic, fun kid,” Emily says. “I’m like, ‘Whoo! I hit the jackpot.’ But it was definitely a process and a journey for our family, and our daughter, to come to understand who she was.”

Ehrensaft, Rosenthal and Baum are promoting treatment for gender dysphoric children based on unproven theories, not solid evidence. There has been a dramatic rise in trans-identifying youth, but instead of questioning why, Ehrensaft says that the increase is due to hidden trans kids coming out. Rosenthal seems to believe that pre-emptive treatment (leading children to become permanent medical patients with unknown long term side effects) is worth it to potentially avoid future depression, substance abuse and suicide. Baum doesn’t appear to consider that transgender advocacy can lead some impressionable kids to mistakenly self-diagnose as trans. Or, that it can affect how parents interpret their children, potentially leading their gender defiant kids unnecessarily down the path of transition.

And each uses suicide statistics, flawed as they are, to justify early intervention. I’ve seen many parents in news articles state that the motivation to go along with transition was to avoid suicide. Parents are scared and feel pressured. They want to keep their children alive, no matter what. They don’t feel like they have a real choice. “I can either have a live son or a dead daughter” (or the reverse) is a common saying. When parents trust the advice of gender experts, they will accept puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, mastectomies, and hysterectomies as necessary. Unfortunately, though, this approach does not guarantee a live child.

Tremendous pressure is being placed on parents to provide gender affirmative “support.” Media articles never quote these pioneers recommending what we do at 4thWaveNow—to support our children in defiance of gender. We allow our children to choose their haircuts, clothing and interests. We accept them as is, without pressuring them to conform to societal expectations. We urge caution and encourage reflection on what it means to be male or female. We consider the long term impacts of medical interventions. We don’t rush into gender affirmation via pronouns or treatments. We want to avoid suicide in our children, but realize that the underlying reasons are more complex than the trans kids media articles portray. And some of us have had success with this approach.

There is a great deal of trust being put in the experts in the field, but we need to remember that they are pioneers in the strictest sense. They are still developing new ways of thinking about and treating gender dysphoric patients. The process is not complete. Gender science is rapidly evolving and changes to treatment protocols are likely. Today’s success stories may not be tomorrow’s success stories. The trust in experts should be viewed from this perspective.

Internet parenting expert berates mom of teen who grew out of trans identity

The quoted comment was submitted in response to a 4thWaveNow post about a teen who desisted from a trans identity.  Below the comment is the 4thWaveNow reply.


I’m honestly so surprised. There are so many comments on here that just blow me away. It surprises me that many of you call yourselves mothers. I barely know where to begin.

First of all, the transgender community is not a “Cult.”
Transgender people surround themselves with other transgender people because they understand each other. They feel welcome and accepted, which is important. From reading these comments, I can tell that many of you are not making your home a welcoming environment. If someone isn’t transgender, it is a very difficult thing to understand. It’s like this right here. Mothers flock to each other to talk about the issues they experience with their children. Do not even begin to say that trans people are an issue. The issue is close minded people. I’m not saying that you should be open to everything, but I am saying that this is something that you should learn to accept. I don’t know the whole situation with your family, but if one day your daughter just “dropped” all of the said “masculine traits,” then I’m going to assume that she was: 1.) Nervous and unsure 2.) Realizing that it wasn’t exactly what she wanted 3.) Feeling hopeless. From reading this, it sounds like you pretty much told her that you wanted no part in her life if she made any decision. News flash- this is the child’s body, not yours. This is the child’s happiness, not yours. From reading a lot of this, it sounds like many of you are purely selfish because you can’t even begin to understand something bigger than yourselves.

Secondly, there is actually proof. Don’t believe me?
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/
The fact that some of you said that no proof exists was out of ignorance, and I understand that. This was an easy source to find, please read it and educate yourselves a bit more.

Third, I’m not trying to attack you. I know that this is scary but you need to keep in mind that this isn’t your choice. No, I’m not saying that a child should transition at a very young age. Anyone going through this needs to take it slow. It’s a long and scary process. Then again, I wouldn’t have a say in every situation. I’m also not saying that every therapist is completely correct. The reason that therapists are so eager to label “Trans” is because they want people to understand that it shouldn’t be scary. They aren’t trying to sell you some “scary trans cult” or anything of the sort. It’s so upsetting to see mothers act like this.

You are treating the children- the young adults that you are raising- like objects. You need to listen to them. Being trans isn’t a trend. It’s becoming more known and more accepted. Please read this and think a little. If your kid just dropped their identity like that, I’m going to bet that there’s something going on that they’re not telling you. Please show them that you care. This is scary and a lot of these comments are scary. I can’t imagine being in a lot of these kid’s positions, especially with the way a lot of you bad mouth and degrade your children.

Sorry if I offended anyone, but this whole website is a bit ridiculous.


Maddy, you speak with righteous authority, presuming to judge and condemn the caring parents who have congregated here– one of the few places on the Internet where a diversity of gender-skeptical parents feel safe talking about what their families are going through. Your viewpoint is everywhere to be found—as are your efforts to shame us, and to shout down any critical discussion about major medical intervention on kids who not infrequently change their minds–as, it turns out, several of our daughters have.

You misread our critical thinking as being “scared” to accept an inevitably correct trans identity. We’ve heard everything you say umpteen times before, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve spent a minute contemplating the alternative views expressed on 4thWaveNow. Since you came over here, it might behoove you to spend more time listening to what parents on this site have to say, rather than bludgeoning us with the same stuff we all hear 24-7. You might actually learn something. Believe it or not, we aren’t actually in need of your unsolicited parenting advice. We’re smart, well read, and quite a fair few of us have formal education in child and adolescent development—which entails a lot more than simply “affirming” the self-proclaimed, temporary identities of our offspring. Oh, and yeah, by the way–we love our kids.

Here’s the newsflash: Adolescents have tried on and discarded different identities since time immemorial—one of the many well-established realities of human development which people like you choose to ignore. Permanent chemical and surgical alterations to validate those often-shifting identities? That’s a recent phenomenon.

Like so many who take it upon themselves to scold and berate the community of parents on this site, you refuse to acknowledge that there is a social contagion going on amongst tweens and teens. Perhaps your livelihood depends on not acknowledging it? Most of the parents here don’t have kids who insisted they were or wanted to be the opposite sex from toddlerhood. Instead, our daughters (and a few sons) were happy in their bodies, with no inkling of gender dysphoria, until a bout of social media bingeing,  or until an entire group of their friends decided they were some variation of trans, genderqueer, or nonbinary. My daughter was one of these, and her eventual desistance was not arrived at under duress.  (As if a teen can be forced to do anything; as if a teen will do something simply because her parents want her to–do you have any experience with teenagers at all?) It was undertaken freely, with time, and with the support—yes, support—of her family and friends to be a gender-defiant female without thinking she had to permanently alter her body with the two Ts—testosterone and top surgery. Extreme medical intervention was what the three gender therapists I talked to thought she should be entitled to immediately, on her own (sudden) say-so. That’s the current trend in “gender therapy” today: “informed consent,” not the careful, slow consideration you claim is the norm (again, if you had actually read much of this site, you’d see that this rubber-stamping of medical transition is rampant in the US).

If gender therapists recognize any distinction between a child who has wanted be the opposite sex since toddlerhood, and a (typically) lesbian or bisexual teen who thinks transition is the answer to her internalized homophobia or discomfort with puberty, they don’t let on. (Of course, even among the most persistently gender-dysphoric young children, most have historically desisted, but that is becoming less common now that so many are socially transitioned and puberty blocked, effectively conditioning them to believe they are the opposite sex.)

As to telling our daughters we want “no part in their lives” if they do eventually medically transition, there’s nothing in the post you responded to, or for that matter, anything on this website to indicate any of us parents are rejecting their kids as you so knowingly assert. Of course, this is just your veiled attempt to say, couched in more polite terms, that we awful parents are driving our kids to suicide because we are rejecting or not supporting them in their trans identification. Telling our kids that we won’t pay for medical transition, that they’ll have to wait until adulthood if they want to make those choices, is the opposite of not caring about our kids. It’s recognizing and understanding that trying on and discarding different identities is the work of adolescence, not a call to turn them into permanent medical patients. If people like you weren’t enabling and propagating the medicalization of the normal explorations of young people, this site wouldn’t need to exist. If organizations like Gender Odyssey didn’t market “workshops” like “Testosterone 101” and “Chest surgery Show and Tell” to teenagers, but supported young people in developing unique personalities, regardless of regressive sex stereotypes, 4thWaveNow would never have come to be. Where are the workshops entitled “How to be gender defiant without drugs and surgery”? or “Might you be lesbian instead of a trans man?” or “Medical transition has major consequences: Be very very sure before you do it”? Nowhere to be found.

If you bothered to read more of this site, you’d see that while many of us question the concept of transgender children in general, all we are trying to do (and all we can do) is protect our kids from the surgeon’s knife and the endocrinologist’s needle while their brains are still in development, until their ability to understand future consequences is more fully mature. We support gender nonconformity (what I prefer to call gender defiance) but we don’t think gender specialists, trans activists, and Internet strangers (like you) preaching to us from their high horses understand our kids (or for that matter, adolescent development in general) better than we do.

What else do you refuse to acknowledge, Maddy, besides social contagion? This: the fact that many young people with gender dysphoria used to grow up and out of it to be happy gay and lesbian adults. That many young lesbians don’t fully claim their sexual orientation until the early 20s—long after gender specialists have started them on testosterone, binding, and even top surgery. Does it occur to you that we are protecting our lesbian and bisexual daughters, as insightful parents ought to? Does it occur to you that some of the parents eager to welcome a straight, surgically and chemically altered “son” are more comfortable with that outcome than a lesbian daughter? Read some of the interviews and writings of detransitioned lesbians, on this site and elsewhere, if you think such parental and internalized homophobia is nonexistent. There are several writers who are beginning to question whether transition in many cases is actually homophobic reparative therapy in disguise. Take a look at this comprehensive post by theHomoarchy for one such blog.

As to brain science, I know the Russo study you mention very well.  But it’s hardly the be-all, end-all you make it out to be. What it points to (as one sexologist has deftly pointed out) is possible brain differences pertaining to sexual orientation, not innate gender identity (for which there is no proof). I expect you’ve seen the MRI study by Daphna Joel et al, which illustrates the opposite of your cherry-picked conclusions? In fact, as Joel and colleagues found, most human beings demonstrate a mosaic of traits typical of both sexes, with some individuals falling more at one end of the spectrum than the other. Instead of medical treatment, young people should be encouraged to express themselves in any way they choose—without the oppressive gender policing inherent in defining someone as “really” the opposite sex. But trans activists and gender specialists don’t tend to cite Joel’s study much—it harbors too many inconvenient and uncomfortable implications. In any case, the nature-nurture argument can never be won by either side, since (apart from in newborn babies) it’s impossible to disentangle neurobiology from life experiences and influences.

We don’t all march in lockstep at 4thWaveNow. We don’t all see the issues exactly the same. Some of us call our kids by their preferred pronouns; some of us don’t. Some have bought binders for their daughters, while some refuse. Some are only concerned about medical transition, while others believe that everything to do with gender identity and transition is bogus and to be challenged.

But 4thWaveNow is a forum for all parents who are raising their kids without simply bending to the will and dictates of people like you, who arrogantly presume to understand the complex family lives of the parents who have found safe harbor here. Such hubris you have, Maddy. How do you think parents of lobotomized patients might have felt some decades ago, if supercilious, know-it-all therapists told them the only solution for their troubled offspring was to have a chunk of their brains removed, lest they kill themselves? Or psychiatrists who told parents they’d be “literally” killing their kids if they didn’t agree to electroshock “therapy”?  4thWaveNow parents think for ourselves. We aren’t interested in simply deferring to professionals or activists who have no love, understanding, or parental wisdom invested in our teens —only their rigid ideology and a blinkered refusal to consider that they might actually be doing harm to other people’s children. Our children. Not yours. Guess what: Some of us have experienced those harms first-hand.

Rather than telling us what we’re doing wrong with our own kids, why not try some introspection?  Why not take a real look at why a website like this became necessary in the first place? Why would (mostly) politically liberal, feminist, pro-LGB parents feel they had nowhere else to turn?

Come back when you have something constructive and nuanced to add to the conversation; when you’re prepared to concede a few points. When you can demonstrate a little humility. Until then, your comments are pretty much only a candy-coated rendition of the tiresome, screeching accusations we’ve heard so many times: “YOU ARE KILLING YOUR KID!!!! You are a transphobic monster!!!!”