No glitter life: Don’t be swayed by middle-aged transitioners–including me

by Helen Johnson

As time permits, Helen will be available to interact in the comments section of this post. As always on 4thWaveNow, comments that challenge the author will have a better chance of publication if they are delivered respectfully.


My name is Helen Johnson and I am a trans woman.

That’s partly true. I am trans, but I’m not telling you my real name. After you have read my piece, I hope you’ll understand why. Transgender activists reserve a special kind of treatment for apostates who speak out against their dogma. I have no wish to deal with their threats and intimidation, but neither can I remain silent when those transgender activists are driving a contagion that is consuming our young people.

Much has been written about the explosion in the number of children who have come to believe that they were born in the wrong body. I’ve said nothing because — like other trans women who transitioned as adults — I’ve nothing to offer. I’ve no childhood experience of living as the opposite sex and my own kids are thankfully unscathed by this epidemic. I can therefore only sympathize with other parents whose children are struggling with their gender. Some have asked me directly, but I have always suggested that they seek support from other parents in the same position. Certainly not from me.

Unfortunately, other trans women think differently and some of them seem to think they know best. Entire pieces have been written about trans activists like Rachel McKinnon,  who told trans kids to dump their moms on Mother’s day and join the “glitter-queer” family of adult trans activists. Worryingly, Dr McKinnon is far from alone. The message is pervasive, and it is sinister: transition your kids or lose them. Sometimes it is subtle.  For example, Julia Serano, a leading figure in the trans community, suggested that children will grow distant unless parents affirm the transgender behavior. Others are more blatant. Caitlyn Jenner is one of many who throw suicide statistics around like confetti.

None of them are experts. All they have to offer is their own experience of growing up. But if they can do that so can I and, unlike deluded fantasists like Zinnia Jones who thinks they actually were an adolescent girl, I am in touch with reality.

Gender dysphoria was present in my earliest memories; it persisted throughout my childhood and stayed with me in adulthood. It made me socially uncomfortable and I struggled to make friends. My dreams of becoming a girl were never fulfilled and I reluctantly accepted that there was no alternative to becoming a man. I’ll say no more about that. The trans narrative is repetitive and it is tedious. But just like McKinnon, Serano, Jenner, and Jones, I survived childhood and everything it threw at me. Yes I had difficulties, but lots of children have difficulties. Growing up is hard.

Today’s youngsters are being fed dangerous and fallacious nonsense. Society has been infected by post-modern, post-facts, post-truth ideas that spread unchecked on social media. Opinions and feelings are on the ascendancy, while facts and evidence are cast aside. For socially awkward children struggling to understand themselves, McKinnon’s “glitter-queer” family may look superficially attractive; an easy escape from reality. But it comes at huge cost.

I am glad that I did not succumb as a child.  Male puberty was a mixed blessing for me. It changed my body in ways that I did not like, but it enabled me to have my own children. Today they are my pride and joy: fine kids who are now making their own way in the world.  They would not be here had I been transitioned in childhood.

It’s now becoming all too clear that the first generation of child transitioners may have thrown away more than the chance to be parents.  Sex reassignment surgeons need material to work with. Only after male puberty did I have sufficient tissue for my vaginoplasty. Children who never experience natural puberty, like Jazz Jennings for example, are finding that they have a serious problem. To be blunt, there is no way that a functional vagina can be created from a penis only two inches long and an inch and a half in circumference. Sadly, Jazz may never be able to enjoy the sex that adult male-to-female transitioners take for granted.

Even transitioning later is a mixed blessing. I am in remission from the gender dysphoria but that is only half the story. My life is harder in other ways. Whenever I am clocked as trans I am treated differently, and not better. Mostly I deal with this by living in stealth. In my day-to-day life I just don’t mention it. People can’t discriminate if they don’t know. But that brings troubles of its own: when I’m asked about my childhood, I obfuscate; when asked about my children, I fudge; when asked about my private life, I create back stories. I hope they are consistent. When acquaintances become friends, I anguish over whether to come out to them, then when to do it and finally how to do it. Lying about your past is not great, but admitting it is harder especially in the early stages of a new friendship. Securing a life partner is something else. Trans people are seen as exotic curiosities rather than possible suitors. Rarely are we seen as human beings, usually as trans human beings. Not quite the same and not quite suitable.

But, people say, at least I have found my true self. Maybe, but I’ve always been my true self. I transitioned to escape the pressures that I faced but I will never really be a woman, I merely live as one, and I am always one step away from being outed. It works but it’s an expedient tactic rather than a fulfilling solution.

But you must be sure, they say. How can I be sure? All I have are circular arguments: because I needed to transition I must be a woman, and I must be a woman because I needed to transition. But I can never know what it is to be a woman. All I can know is what it is to be me. My experience will always be different from the women around me. It isn’t a glitter life, it’s a hard life. It works because I make it work, but it’s not great.

To kids contemplating transition I have no answers, only questions. Do you really need to transition? Give up the chance to grow up and form relationships as a human being rather than a trans human being? Have your own children? Have sex like other adults have sex, and live free from lifelong medication? If gender expression is the issue then be yourself and embrace your gender, but don’t try and change your sex in the process. One day, society may free itself from the shackles of gender norms, and feminine men, masculine women and gender-neutral members of both sexes will be able to take their rightful place in it. Make it your generation that does that, not the ones that follow you.

To your parents I would say, give your children a hug. Love them and nurture them. Let them be free to explore their gender and help them make that break from the crushing weight of society’s restrictions and expectations. But steer them away from transitioning from one gender prison into another, certainly before they can experience what it means to be an adult. If their gender dysphoria persists, as mine did, they can always transition in adulthood. That option will always be there. If it desists, then they will have avoided making a truly catastrophic mistake.

But above all, parents, don’t be swayed by middle-aged transitioners. That includes me, but it also includes McKinnon and the others. You know your children, we don’t; you brought them into the world, we didn’t; you love them and care for them, we don’t even know them.

Have confidence in yourselves because, when it comes to your children, you will always know better than people like me. Never forget that.

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MtoF tells trans kids to dump moms on Mother’s Day and join the “glitter-queer” family of adult trans activists

It’s Mother’s Day in the United States, and trans activist Rachel McKinnon, PhD in philosophy and lecturer at Charleston college, has a YouTube message for all you cisnormative, unsupportive moms out there: Get with the trans-activist program, or risk losing your kids to the “glitter-queer” family of adult trans waiting with open arms.

mckinnon

McKinnon, who is childless,  spends just under 3 minutes lecturing moms on how to parent kids who might believe they’re trans, then speaks directly to the children (as the YouTube written description puts it, “offer support for trans kids whose parents may not be supportive”):

I want you to know that’s it’s ok to walk away from unsupportive or disrespectful or even abusive parents. And I want to give you hope that you can find what we call your glitter family. Your queer family.  We are out there. 

You sure are: on Reddit, YouTube, Tumblr, and other online fora, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, tweens and teens will find plenty of trans adults like McKinnon, eager to take them under their wing.

And the relationships we make in our glitter families are just as real, just as meaningful as our blood families.

It’s Mother’s Day, but you trans-identified youngsters shouldn’t be thinking about breakfast in bed or a nice card for mom. No, you need to know it’s perfectly ok to abandon your mother, if she’s not onboard with your sudden mission to change sex. Not to worry: adult trans activist “glitter” families are “just as real, just as meaningful” as the people who have known and loved you all your life.

At 4:18, McKinnon, the childless parenting expert, generously offers to be a safe harbor:

Also, you can reach out to me. You can email me. You can call me.  We can Skype. I’m happy to talk if you need someone to talk to.

glitter queer familyUPDATE 5/15/17: In the YouTube comments last night, McKinnon confirmed that parental refusal to use pronouns or a new name was tantamount to abuse and a good reason to “walk away” to the queer “glitter family.”  The comments were altered this morning, but are archived here.

But enough heartfelt cooing from the surrogate trans parent. As important as this message is, trans kids, the bulk of this video isn’t really about you.  Nor is Mother’s Day about you, you cissexist mom.  Once the online support-group advertisement is out of the way in the first 5 minutes, the real meat of the infomercial is this:  Daddy, once he “transitions,” has just as much right to be celebrated as a mom as you do:

Is it ok for trans women to be a mommy? Is it ok for trans women to take on the mantle of motherhood?  I talk to a lot of trans women who had children before they transitioned. There’s this idea that going from being dad…to being mom…is somehow taking away from their wife or partner or their children’s mother. It’s somehow “usurping” [air quotes] something that belongs to the original mother. And I wanna suggest that this thought that “mother” and therefore “Mother’s Day” belongs to the cis mother in the partnership, is BOTH cissexist and heteronormative.

McKinnon goes on for several minutes, attempting to justify the idea that someone who fathered the children should get to be called “Mom” because, after all, there are lesbian families with two moms—so what’s the prob? A cis mom and a trans mom are exactly the same as two lesbian women! McKinnon goes further:  if the “original father” who is ostensibly now a woman doesn’t get to be called “mom” too, this “erases lesbian mothers.”

For good measure, McKinnon adds adoptive parents into this “argument” too, drawing a false equivalence between adoptive mothers and men who fathered children and now want to be called “mom” because mothering isn’t just about biology.

And it’s cissexist to say a trans woman can’t be a mother…because it seems to suggest she’s not really a woman. The language we usually use for a woman parent is “mother.” So to deny that to trans women is to suggest that cis women own motherhood. And that’s a problem.

cissexist bs

Once McKinnon finishes schooling viewers in the proper language to be used, we get a lesson in all the ways families can celebrate Mother’s Day with their newfound enlightened thinking:

You could both celebrate on Sunday, or –and this is what a friend of mine does – one of the mothers is celebrated on the Saturday, and the other mother on the Sunday, and every year they swap who gets Sunday. …so that way, both moms get equal treatment …they both get to feel special.

We wouldn’t want the former dad to feel diminished or snubbed on that special day, now would we?maddy

Another issue is that trans women sometimes don’t feel comfortable being called “mommy” or “mom.” …What are some alternatives? One common way is for the trans mom to be referred to as “Maddy” or “Mada” …

Then there’s Didi and Dommy, but as McKinnon helpfully points out,

…although for the BDSM people, that last one might have a completely different meaning.

dommy

Then you can always

…encourage the children to produce their own affectionate nickname for the trans mother.  I know trans women early in the transition are uncomfortable being called “mommy” but that may change over time. So be open to your preferences shifting. Also it’s important that it’s about your preferences and people respect your preferences.

I know we have a tendency to worry about the children but I think if we communicate to the children that this is important to you and that it makes you feel bad if they call you daddy, if you would prefer mommy, that they will come around to it, they will respect it.

Don’t worry about “people” like your kids (or the “original” mom)—they’ll come around.  Because it’s all about what you, you, you (me, me, me!) —YOU, the trans woman want and feel.

So, yay! Happy Mother’s Day!

If you, as a trans woman, want to take on the mantle of mother, awesome! I think you have permission to do that.

On Twitter, McKinnon is miffed that (so far) the video has gotten a thumbs down: WTF is wrong with them?

mckinnon gripe twitter

According to McKinnon, only a transphobe would find anything peculiar about an adult trans activist inviting “trans kids” (again, McKinnon’s term, generally understood to mean transgender people under the age of 18) for direct contact via Skype.

Mckinnon bad message

This morning, McKinnon added a new comment to the YouTube video, claiming that the repeated use of “trans kids” in the video/video title is only in reference to “teens and adults” (even if true, teens under 18 are still minors).

Like the “teen or adult” in the video at timestamp 3:16, presumably?

If–despite all evidence to the contrary–McKinnon really wasn’t targeting the “call me, Skype me, email me” invitation at minors, one simple sentence in the video itself would have sufficed to make that clear, like: “Now, of course I would never interfere in a relationship between parents and their minor children, but if you are a legal adult in need of support, contact me!” McKinnon did add a disclaimer to the description text below the video days after the YouTube was originally posted; no such caveat existed until we blogged about it.

Better late than never?