Queer camp, gender odyssey, & bigot bait: This week in trans kid news

Below is a smattering of links covering just a few of the latest happenings in the world of youth transition. Consider this a semi-open thread (comments moderated); weigh in on any of these stories in the comments section below this post.


Yesterday, Jesse Singal (who, in February, penned a controversial story about the firing of Kenneth Zucker) published a balanced piece in New York Magazine, daring to discuss the decades of research showing that a large majority of gender dysphoric kids will ultimately desist.

Singal’s article got linked on the WPATH Facebook page, engendering the usual dismissals from the usual late transitioning MtF activists, among others.  The below comment is emblematic.

WPATH commenter

The gist:

  1. Persistence/desistence rates are ultimately not that important.
  2. We should just trust the gender specialists and trans activists who take such a strong interest in the medical transition of other people’s children.
  3.  If the adult “trans community” trusts a particular pediatric clinician, that’s all we need to know.
  4. The concerns raised in Singal’s piece about medical transition of children are nothing but bigot-bait.

A couple of days ago, TransActive Gender Center in Portland OR posted a survey asking trans tweens and teens about their experience with bathrooms, locker rooms, and overnight accommodations.  The intro says that TransActive plans to “guide K-12 schools nationwide in becoming compliant with Title IX civil rights protections and beyond that, provide safe, inclusive environments for transgender and gender diverse students.”

Transactive survey

Among other things, the 6-page survey asks about locker rooms accommodations.

TA survey 2


Next week, the annual Gender Odyssey convention will be held in Seattle, WA. All the leading lights of youth transition will attend, with both professional and family sessions taking place. Gender Odyssey’s website is right in line with the increasing trend of subsuming “gender nonconforming” children under the trans umbrella. Given that very few of us rigidly adhere to Barbie-or-Ken sex stereotypes (after all, we all have different personalities are gender fluid), soon pretty much everyone will fit under the GNC-trans Big Tent. Whatever. As the ad at the top of the page says, “equality is good business!”

Gender odyssey family.jpg

There are events for kids and teens of all ages, with a teen program designed by and for gender nonconforming and trans teens.  Topics include “Chest Surgery Show & Tell,” “Testosterone 101,” and “Trans-er than thou.” Lest any younger kids feel left out, the site organizers assure families that “tweens are welcome to attend any teen workshop they are interested in.”

Gender Odyssey teen program

Workshops for parents are led by some of the top names in peds transition and trans activism—including Johanna and Aydin Olson-Kennedy and Asaf Orr (of the now-misnamed National Center for Lesbian Rights). Workshops cover everything from medical care, document changes, puberty blocking, and even “outside the binary” youth–who may still need “medical care protocols.”).

Gender odyssey workshops


There’s still time after Gender Odyssey for your teen to zip over to the East Coast to attend the Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer camp in North Carolina.

Qords camp.jpg

The six-day gathering takes place to “promote the creativity, confidence, leadership, and prosperity of southern youth queers.” The QORDS umbrella covers “queer and gender non-conforming  youth or youth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQQIA) families.”

Youth are “sorted” into cabins

by age not gender because many of our campers are non-binary or genderfluid. There are 6-8 campers in one cabin with a staff cabin in between.

Happy Summer!

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Rapid-onset gender dysphoria: New study recruiting parents

UPDATE August 18, 2016: The National Review is reporting this morning that the study was “launched” by 4thWaveNow. While we are very glad to see this research effort take place, the study was initiated and is being carried out by Lisa Littman, MD, MPH at Mt. Sinai in New York. Please see below for details.


Many members of the 4thWaveNow community are parents of teens who became convinced they were the opposite sex after a steady diet of social media and/or peer influence. In most of our cases, the transgender identity came on suddenly and with little warning.

Our families’ experiences haven’t been acknowledged nor reflected in the mainstream media, but now a researcher has decided to systematically investigate the phenomenon.

The survey study is being conducted by Lisa Littman, MD, MPH, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Dr. Littman’s survey description is below. The SurveyMonkey link at the bottom of this post contains more detailed information.

If you are–or know of–a parent in this situation, please consider participating in the survey. Note that responses are kept anonymous.


Rapid onset gender dysphoria, social media, and peer groups

GCO# 16-1211-00001-01-PD

We have heard from many parents describing that their child had a rapid onset of gender dysphoria in the context of increasing social media use and/or being part of a peer group in which one or multiple friends has developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during a similar time frame. Several parents have described situations where entire friend groups became gender dysphoric. This type of presentation is atypical and has not been studied to date.  We feel that this phenomenon needs to be described and studied scientifically.

If your child has had sudden or rapid development of gender dysphoria beginning between the ages of 10 and 21, please consider completing the following online survey. If you have more than one child with gender dysphoria who fits the above description, please complete one survey per child.

This survey is completely anonymous and confidential and conducted through Survey monkey, an independent third- party. There is no way to connect your name with your responses. We do not track email or IP addresses. The survey should take 30-60 minutes. Participation in this research study is voluntary, and you may refuse or quit at any time before completing the survey.

If you know of any individuals with a similar experience who might be eligible for this survey, or any communities where there might be eligible parents, please copy and paste this recruitment notice and survey link to share.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SCX9RZY

Littman ressearch study

Mom? Dad? Whichever. Trans men are giving birth, so stop with the sterilization of prepubescent kids already

Request: Although the screen captures and YouTube videos discussed below are publicly available,  please respect the dignity of the family featured in this post.


There ought to be something worth pondering for pretty much everyone in this post–left, center, and right of the political spectrum;  gender critics, trans-identified people, parents, “gender specialists,” and anyone else who believes the issue of sterilizing prepubescent trans-identified kids is worth discussing with the nuance it deserves. We desperately need a society-wide conversation about this, something that is strangely lacking at the moment.

I’ll be featuring the Vlog of one young FtM named Sam (YouTube account name “MrSexyrexy8907”), who, like many of his generation, started as a gender-defiant lesbian who decided to medically transition. Note: In this post, I am choosing to refer to FtM Sam with male pronouns at times.

Sam began testosterone at age 20, had a bilateral mastectomy roughly a year later, and says in earlier videos that s/he someday hoped to undergo “bottom surgery” as well, when his budget allowed.

By the end of the Vlog journey, we learn that Sam ended up as a self-identified gay man in a committed relationship. At 24, Sam and his male partner became the proud biological parents of a baby girl.

Sam’s Vlog is comprised of only a few videos–short, by the standards of most YouTube FtM transition sagas. It spans a four-year-time frame, with sporadic uploads of brief videos, and you can watch all 21 of them in a sitting.

As a trans man who has given birth, Sam is definitely not alone. There are many other media stories and Vlogs about happy adult trans men who are biological parents. I had originally planned to include several more of these accounts in this post, but as I wrote, I realized we only need one–one happy family wherein the trans man bore a biological child. In Sam’s case, it is worth emphasizing, this is a trans man who earlier wanted bottom surgery, and who made no made no mention of future fertility.

The mainstream press, always eager to trans-fix us, has of late served up many accounts of blissful FtM biological parents (some of whom appear not to understand that identifying as male is not an effective contraceptive). Because the very physical experience of being pregnant and giving birth results in dysphoria for some of these FtMs, midwives  (and others) are being strong-armed by their professional organizations into using “preferred pronouns” and urged to eschew words like “mother” and other female-centered terminology, to ostensibly show respect for the FtMs who become pregnant and give birth but would rather be referred to as “fathers.” As in every other nook and cranny of civilized society, any remaining cobwebs of perceived transphobia are being carefully swept away (despite some pushback from brave holdouts).

What, then, are we to make of the activist-clinician zeal for curtailing the reproductive capacity necessary for conception, pregnancy, and birth in prepubescent kids who profess to be trans?


Sam’s 36-weeks-pregnant video was the first to pop up in my “trans man pregnant” YouTube keyword search.  It’s a fascinating tale. Sam tells us he’s in a gay relationship, and he is positively glowing in his happiness about the impending birth of his daughter, due in 30 days.

This was a planned pregnancy. It wasn’t an accident. It’s been rough, dysphoria wise…some times are harder than others.  I’m carrying really really low, so that gives me that beer-belly type of appearance.

 [7:00] I’m ecstatic to meet her and start this little family… After stopping hormones, my cycles came back. I’d been off hormones for over a year, in which time I met my partner and we decided we wanted a baby….decided I was ok with carrying her and having a child.

 Sam says a lot more in the video about the changes he’s been through since his last video, including a successful struggle to quit drinking. As I watched, I found myself liking Sam and wanting to know more about what preceded all this. Clearly, this was a young adult who had been through quite a lot by the age of 24, and was now happily expecting a baby girl.

So I went back four years to the beginning of Sam’s Vlog journey, which began in 2009, at age 20. As with most transition chronicles, Sam’s introductory video was “pre-everything”—no testosterone or surgeries yet. Sam had a girlfriend who he refers to as his “fiancé” whom we see and hear a lot about in these early videos; Sam is wearing an engagement band on his ring finger. sexyrexy youtube

 March 2010. Sam has been on “T” for 5 months, and we can see and hear the changes. He’s living in an apartment with his fiancé; he tells us wants to go back to school. He wants bottom surgery but can’t afford it yet. There are several more vids, including the requisite top-surgery post-op (always a staple of FtM Vlogs).

By July 2011, Sam’s been through a lot. He’s gone off T,  and he’s just over a year post-op from top surgery. Not only that: he’s been “in and out of rehab” and is just back home after living in halfway houses, with no health insurance. The engagement band has disappeared.

In October, Sam is cautioning other FtMs that they better be sure about medical transition. He’s off T, but he still has hair growing in.  “Your hairline will recede and your face will change.”

Sam’s videos are few and far between for a couple of years. We don’t know exactly how s/he got from A to B, but let’s fast forward to the video made soon after his daughter’s birth in 2013.

sexyrexy birth

Sam shares some very intimate details about his after-birth experience.

All of my weight gain was in my uterus and within a few days it was practically back to normal.

…Oddly enough—I have had a double mastectomy—and the other day one of my nipples was leaking. So that kind of caught me off guard…I don’t seem to be retaining any fluid or milk. [SMILING]. I don’t know if it’s a matter of not 100% everything was removed or hormones and milk ducts…either way, it was a very little bit and not a big deal.

We are thrilled to have her….

There’s  a longer video made a month after their baby was born, with lots of still shots and video clips of Sam and his partner, clearly enjoying family life together. We see a pre-birth sonogram, the baby shower, and even the actual moment of their daughter’s birth (Sam jokes it’s the “PG version”), and many pictures of the newborn with her doting parents.

sexyrexy proud parents

A final video uploaded in April 2014 is a collage of clips chronicling the kind of new-parent life many of us will recognize from our own days with a newborn.

Then that’s it for Sam’s Vlog. Life with a baby and toddler is all-consuming, and judging by Sam’s YouTube playlists nowadays (which seem to consist entirely of videos for young kids), the family might be too busy now to bother with YouTube uploads.

sexyrexy baby carrier


Sam’s story—that of a former lesbian who winds up in a relationship with a man—is not that unusual. Cross-sex hormones have the potential to alter a person’s sexual orientation. Some same-sex attracted women– lesbians—become bisexual or even heterosexual after undergoing testosterone treatment. (Sadly, those trans men face an increased risk of HIV infection.)

For the record, as anyone who reads here regularly knows, I don’t want lesbians to feel they need to medically transition. I do consider it a form of anti-gay conversion therapy. And while my regular readers may also wish Sam had felt she could live her life as the woman she obviously is, without surgeries, without hormones… for me, at least, it’s impossible not to be touched by the obvious love shining between these two parents, and their joy as they start  their new family.

At least this young, former lesbian went through puberty and had, at a minimum, one important sexual relationship with another woman before she transitioned. She did not have her fertility denied to her as a tween or teen too young to give informed consent.

Would Sam have said—pre or post transition—that s/he wanted kids at 14, or 16, or 18? Even at 20, trans-identified Sam made no mention of becoming a parent. How many of us parents knew we wanted children of our own while still kids ourselves?

As Sam says, this was a planned pregnancy.  Sam and partner– two adults–decided they wanted to create a baby.

Why does anyone—doctor, activist, parent–believe they have the right to proactively take the option to bear children away from future adults like Sam? Simply so that the “trans kid” will “pass” better? Watch Sam’s Vlogs and tell me s/he doesn’t “pass.” S/he passes just fine. Without going through natural puberty, Sam and his partner would not be parents. Whether you think Sam is a mother, or whether you call Sam (as he refers to himself) “Dad,” the fact remains that s/he is now the happy biological parent of a little girl.

Let me ask the parents who contribute here: If (as much as you don’t want this) any of your daughters (or sons) ultimately decide to transition as adults, would you still welcome a grandchild? Should your daughter—who may someday want to be called your “son”—be denied the opportunity to make that choice for herself?

Most 4thWaveNow parents fervently hope our kids won’t decide to use hormones or have surgeries. But we’re not stupid. We know that, once they reach the age of medical majority, they will make their own choices. We just want the activists and clinicians to cease and desist marketing medical transition to impressionable kids.

And here’s a challenge for the MtoF, late-transitioning heterosexual men, so many of whom—like Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner—first had their own biological children:

Watch Sam’s Vlog and then tell me it’s no big deal to keep lobbying, as you do, for the medical transition of children, which will result in permanent sterilization.

Put another way: If it’s such an awful tragedy for a trans teen to go through the “wrong” puberty, how come you managed to survive yours, and have exercised your basic human right to produce biological children? Without that wrong puberty, you wouldn’t be a parent today.

How can the activists and doctors who are so eager to subject young people to medical intervention–which they know full well will sterilize these kids–know for sure that these trans kids will not grow up to want children of their own someday?

The answer is: they don’t know that.

Let’s put a really fine point on this. What sort of monumental hubris leads a doctor, psychologist, or activist to believe they have the right to proactively take away the human right of an adult to choose to have biological children?

So which is it, activist-clinicians? You really can’t have it both ways.

Either:

  • you want to celebrate the “pregnant people” and their right to reproduce with dignity; adult trans people who (like most of us) didn’t figure out they wanted kids until early to middle adulthood,

OR

  • it’s more important for trans kids to “pass” and avoid the “wrong puberty” than be allowed to choose whether to reproduce when they are adults.

 WELL?

Do No Harm: An interview with the founder of Youth Trans Critical Professionals

A new organization has formed for therapists, social workers, medical doctors, educators, and other professionals concerned about the rise in transgender diagnoses among children, adolescents, and young adults. Youth Trans Critical Professionals was founded by a psychotherapist and a university professor just a few short weeks ago. The organization has a website (already publishing thought-provoking pieces from professionals), a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and many followers. If you are a professional skeptical of the transgender youth trend, please visit the website and consider contributing to the effort. Your anonymity will be protected at your request.

4thWaveNow recently interviewed one of the founders of Youth Trans Critical Professionals. She is available to respond to your questions and remarks in the comments section below this post.

ytcp logo.png

Why did you start this organization for professionals skeptical of the trans-kid trend? What is your personal interest in this matter?

I’m going to start by saying something that I will probably say several times. Our main concern is with medical intervention in children and young people that leaves their bodies permanently altered and/or sterilized. We don’t have a moral issue with people identifying as transgender, and believe that those who do should be protected from discrimination like any other minority. However, the medical treatments for children who identify as transgender are risky, not approved by the FDA, and permanent. With any other condition, we would be bending over backwards to find other ways to support these children without resorting to major medical intervention, and would turn to puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery in only the rarest and most extreme cases. It is very disturbing to the originators of youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org that these treatments, whose long term effects are not well-studied, are being offered very casually for a condition which isn’t even clearly defined.

I have a private practice where I work mostly with adults, although from time to time, I do see adolescents. I first became aware of this issue because parents were coming in describing kids struggling with gender identity. I started to notice a pattern: an anxious, depressed, or socially awkward kid who spent a lot of time on social media would announce that he or she was “trans,” often requesting access to cross-sex hormones shortly after this announcement. Every one of the mothers in my practice who reported this behavior was incredibly supportive of her child. These moms may have shared feelings of confusion or concern with me, but their initial reaction toward their child was always acceptance.

The first time I heard this story, I didn’t make much of it. It sounded like normal teenage experimentation to me, and I admired the mom’s openness to accepting her child. However, as I saw more of these cases – and I saw the cases progress to the point where the child was demanding medical intervention – I became concerned and wanted to learn more.

What I found once I started looking was that more and more young people are identifying as trans, often after bingeing on social media. For some reason that I can’t quite fathom, there is a tremendous feeling of excitement around this issue among many adults. I found out that administrators at private schools were boasting about “several kids transitioning” at their school. I heard this from more than one school while I was researching this. They shared this as evidence, I think, of how truly progressive and accepting their school is. However, I find it really odd that no one blinks an eye when four kids are transitioning in a grade of sixty kids. Given how rare transsexualism is believed to be, doesn’t that alone ring a warning bell?

The more I learned, the more disturbed I became. Where were the critical voices? Where were the adults familiar with child development speaking out for young people who are in danger of being swept along on a current that may carry them towards sterility before they have even finished high school?

I was shocked to realize that many of my fellow therapists appear to have uncritically bought into the narrative about trans children that goes something like this: 1.) gender identity is a legitimate thing. You cannot question it without being bigoted. 2.) Children know their own gender identity. 3.) If you do not immediately and uncritically affirm a child’s professed gender identity, you will be doing that child grave harm, and may even induce suicidal behavior, 4.)  The best and only treatment for a child who professes to have gender dysphoria or claims to have a gender identity other than that associated with his or her sexed body is transition – social, medical, or both. It doesn’t matter whether that child has comorbid mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, autism, substance abuse or bipolar disorder. 5.) Once a child has professed his or her gender identity, the adults around that child should follow his or her lead, providing whatever treatment and accommodations are requested by that child.

There is nothing about the narrative outlined above that is beyond controversy and shouldn’t be open to questioning. The construct of gender identity is poorly defined and lacks coherence. It surely shouldn’t be the basis for subjecting our kids to irrevocable body changes and sterilization. Assuming that children have some mysterious knowing about their gender identity seems like poor practice. Children are often very sure of things at one moment in time and believe something completely different a week, a month, or a year later. Child development is a fluid process. Refraining from immediately affirming a child’s gender identity brings with it no documented harm. The oft-quoted figure about suicide among transgender youth is a misuse of statistics. Many children (and adults, for that matter) feel significant distress about an aspect of their body or identity. Usually, therapists explore many ways to support a person facing this kind of discomfort. Sometimes medication can bring relief. Sometimes, exploration brings a new understanding. Sometimes, discomfort must be borne as we come to terms with a difficult or disappointing reality. Why the rush to change the body? Permanently?! Of course we as adults should be putting the brakes on a process that is leading toward permanent sterilization. Of course we should. Where were the other professionals who also believed this?

There is such a dearth of professional voices calling for restraint and caution in turning to medical intervention. Pediatricians, social workers, psychologists – most professional groups state that we must affirm a child’s gender identity. While we appreciate the intention here to be supportive of gender non-conforming kids, it seems the greater value ought to be protecting children from unnecessary medical procedures that often result in sterility; a central aim of youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org is to raise awareness of this.

Yes. Where are the child and developmental psychologists on all of this?  Much of what transgender activists promote seems to fly in the face of what we know about child and adolescent developmental psychology. It has been understood for decades that young children confuse fantasy with reality; that adolescents try on and shed different identities;  that children are conditioned by what they experience; that a child or adolescent’s sense of self is anything but rigid. Have you heard from any skeptical child psychs, and what will it take for some of them to start speaking out?

So far, I haven’t heard from any, but I imagine we will. You are right, and you phrase the issues very clearly. Kids do try on different identities. And we as adults don’t do them any service by privileging gender identity as some special, separate category. There is nothing innate or special or sacred about gender.

And kids have very strong feelings about what they want, and they often confuse things they want with things they need. It is so incredibly difficult to watch out child be in psychic pain. It can send us flying into action as we try to make their suffering stop. But part of our job as a parent is to use our discernment as the adult who knows them best to learn when to listen to the manifest story they are telling us about themselves, and when to listen to a deeper story underneath that.

I was talking recently with a friend who has a daughter in college. She was telling me about the awful, awful time she went through when he daughter was 13. The girl was obsessed with getting an iPhone. She cried nightly about how terrible it was for her not to have one, how it was damaging her social life and making her isolated and depressed. She was visibly distraught over this issue being any reasoning. She begged for it literally as if her life depended on it.

Thinking of this issue with trans kids, I said to her, “At least you knew that she wasn’t going to come to any grave harm if you didn’t give her an iPhone.”

My friend surprised me by saying that at the time, she felt confused about whether she was doing great harm to her daughter by not giving her a phone. “Between the peer pressure and the advertising, I was almost convinced that I was doing her grave psychological damage.” Imagine how hard it would be to stand up to a teen’s desperate demands for hormones if you had mental health professionals telling you that you were damaging your child by withholding them!

I suppose the point is that just because our kids want something very, very badly doesn’t mean that we have to capitulate or surrender our adult judgment. Teenagers don’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex. We can’t abdicate our responsibility as their parent to say no when what they fervently desire may be harmful for them, or at least may have consequences they aren’t capable of fully appreciating.

Do you believe there are truly transgender children? Are they different from the teens who claim to be trans because of social contagion?

What a complicated question! Let me break it into a couple of parts.

First of all, there is no question that there has been a huge increase in kids identifying as trans. Much of this increase is certainly due to social contagion. Kids are getting exposed to this on social media, where they are taught that “if they are asking whether they are trans, they probably are.” Look, most teenagers go through a period of feeling intensely uncomfortable in their own bodies. I think that for many of these kids, this is an expression of that discomfort. Forty years ago, maybe more kids developed eating disorders. Twenty years ago, they were cutting. This is the current way to express that nearly universal adolescent discomfort. We all need to feel that we fit in, and that we stand out. Identifying as trans hits both of those criteria big time. You go to school and announce you are now Joe instead of Jo, and let people know you want to be referred to by a different pronoun, and in many schools, you are met with excited acclimation from peers. You are different in an exciting, trendy way. At the same time, you can feel a part of the other kids who are also embracing different gender identities. It must be very heady.

So I do believe that there is a huge social contagion piece, and this is one of the things that I don’t hear other people talking about much. This matters a great deal, because it has probably happened that some anxious, socially awkward kid has come out as trans as a way of gaining acceptance and belonging, and has gotten so much support and affirmation that she has continued down the road to take hormones. In short order, she had permanently altered her body – a deepened voice, facial hair, baldness, increased risk for certain diseases – and maybe this wasn’t for her, really? Or not for her forever? But now this person has to live with those consequences forever. Testosterone and other cross-sex hormones are not tattoos that carry trivial risks, or can at least be hidden easily. This ought not to be a life-style or fashion decision, and for some kids at least, I am convinced it is. I realize this is an incredibly unpopular stance, but this is what I am seeing from my little perch.

Of course, there are those who identified significant distress with the sex of their body before transgenderism became a cause celebre. I have read the stories about two-year-olds who ask why God made a mistake. Some of these stories are pretty compelling. I am not an expert in this area, and when I read these stories, my strongest reaction is that I am grateful I have never had to be the person responsible for making a decision about such a case. I’m not at all sure what the right thing to do is, but I will say that I could imagine that transitioning might be right in some cases.

There is an Atlantic article about this from 2008 that I found very interesting. It profiled several of these kids who are “persistent, insistent, and consistent” starting at an early age. Some of the Canadian kids were treated by Dr. Kenneth Zucker. The article describes some of the things involved in the treatment such as “taking all the girl toys away.” I admit that made me cringe. Really?! Who would want to do that to their child? However, at the time the article was written, Chris, the child in question, had grown up to be a gay, effeminate man who had a healthy, intervention-free body.

My understanding is that when Zucker’s team assessed a gender dysphoric child, they closely examined the family system, considering carefully different dynamics that were in play, and then crafting an individualized treatment plan that might involve several different kinds of interventions. I believe that enforcing gendered toys was something that was done in some cases, but was accompanied by other therapeutic interventions that took into account the whole family dynamic. The ultimate aim was to help the child feel comfortable identifying with his or her natal sex.

The article also followed an American child who had been affirmed early, and had begun to live as a girl. And it made reference to the social media star Jazz Jennings, who was profiled by Barbara Walters. I found the reaction of the Canadian parents to this practice of early affirmation very compelling, so let me quote from that part of the article. (The bolding is my own.)

The week before I arrived in Toronto, the Barbara Walters special about Jazz had been re-aired, and both sets of parents had seen it. “I was aghast,” said John’s mother. “It really affected us to see this poor little peanut, and her parents just going to the teacher and saying ‘He is a “she” now.’ Why would you assume a 4-year-old would understand the ramifications of that?”

“We were shocked,” Chris’s father said. “They gave up on their kid too early. Regardless of our beliefs and our values, you look at Chris, and you look at these kids, and they have to go through a sex-change operation and they’ll never look right and they’ll never have a normal life. Look at Chris’s chance for a happy, decent life, and look at theirs. Seeing those kids, it just broke our hearts.”

So I think, if I had a little boy who insisted he were a girl, and I could do this terrible thing of enforcing gendered play, or I could do this terrible thing of altering his body and destroying his ability to have his own children, which would I pick? If I knew I would have a healthy, happy, whole gay man at the end of it, if I had a reasonably good guarantee that would be the outcome, I would much rather pack away the Barbies. The personal and social difficulties of back-tracking on a childhood or adolescence spent transitioning will inevitably be immense. If a child has been transitioned from a young age how will they know, or be able to begin to articulate, that a mistake has been made? At a recent at Cambridge University seminar entitled ‘Gender Non-Conforming Children: Treatment Dilemmas In Puberty Suppression‘ it was stated that 100% of children on puberty blockers go on to transition; it’s clear there is absolutely no going back on medical intervention.

In any case, those of us who started youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org would argue that transition is always an option into adulthood. I am familiar with the view that when someone transitions as a child, they have a better chance of “passing” in adulthood, but given the very real risk of later regret, I think we might decide that medical transition is a choice to be made by full-fledged adults only.

How do you answer charges that you are promoting harmful reparative therapy on trans youth? How is this different from trying to turn gay kids straight?

Well, I’m not sure I believe that we should try to “talk kids out” of believing that they are trans, first of all. If a fourteen year old kid came into my office and said, “I’m pretty sure I’m gay,” or “I am gay,” I would say, “Tell me about that! What is that like for you? How long have you known? What lead you to first wonder about your sexual orientation? What is hard for you about knowing this? What kind of support do you need?”

If a fourteen year old kid came into my office and said, “I think I am trans,” or “I am trans,” I would ask similar questions: “Tell me more about that? What does that mean to you? Help me understand your internal experience that leads you to know yourself as trans? What kind of support would be helpful in addressing this? When did you first start to wonder?”

The purpose is both cases would be to do the thing that therapy is meant to do – to explore our experience so that we can understand it more deeply.

There are a couple of differences. First, while I would be interested in hearing from the gay child about his particular way of experiencing his gayness, we all have a pretty clear idea of what that means. A gay boy experiences sexual attraction to other boys, and not so much with girls.

The notion of gender identity, however, is much less clear. If a boy of fourteen were to tell me he is really a girl, I would want to know about that experience. What does that mean? In what way do you experience this inner sense of femaleness? How does this experience manifest for you? What are the different ways of understanding this experience? Is it a consistent experience, or is it subject to variation? How does this experience influence your understanding of yourself?

Sexual orientation and gender identity are actually quite different and these differences justify different approaches. Sexual orientation has shown itself to be quite stable. Most gays and lesbians knew from very early on that something was different. These feelings aren’t dysphoric, although they may cause distress because of homophobia. It isn’t dysphoria, it is just an awareness of who you are. It isn’t a sense of being wrong, or in the wrong body. And it doesn’t tend to change. These feelings are generally stable throughout the life span.

This isn’t the case for gender dysphoric kids. We know that a majority of them will naturally desist. Unlike sexual orientation, gender identification does tend to change for the large majority of dysphoric kids.

The other major difference – and this is the heart of the artichoke – is intervention. Gays and lesbians are not seeking intervention. They just want to love whom they love. My hypothetical gay boy client and I would be free to discuss and explore his experience of being gay and his coming out process without any high stakes medical decisions hanging over our heads. If I knew that my hypothetical trans patient would not have access to medical intervention until she was, say, 25 years old, she and I could spend our therapeutic hours exploring her experience as a trans woman, and I could offer support for the difficulties involved in being different in this way.

My goal for therapy with a trans kid would be to provide a warm, judgment free space in which they could explore their gender identity and what it means for them without a rush to medical intervention. I wouldn’t aim to convert. No. But I wouldn’t want to close in on this being the final answer, since I know that so many gender dysphoric kids will desist of their own accord.

I would hope that no one would ever be shamed or persecuted or made to feel unworthy or respect and love because of these feelings. I would argue that there is another approach in between rejection and affirmation, and possibly the word for that would be acceptance. I accept you as you are. I support you. I am curious about what you are going through. I want to hear more about your experience. And I accept that your sense of your own identity might change, and I will accept you then as well. But in any case, I would hope to delay medical intervention until the person was at least 25 years old.

Maybe the last thing to say about this is the most controversial. It isn’t really clear what exactly “gender identity” even means. It appears to refer to a subjective inner state, but when pressed, those who identify as trans will often resort to gender stereotypes in describing their discomfort. Forgive me, but I am not going to want to send any person down a conveyor belt toward permanent mutilation and sterilization over a self-diagnosis of an inner state.

Gender is a social construct. If gender is the problem, why on earth change the body? Is seems obvious that the right thing to do is to change or even abolish the construct altogether. Changing the body to fit the social constructs we have around gender only serves to further entrench the constructs we are trying to escape – and these are socially, not biologically constructed; there is no evidence that gender identity is innate.

What is your vision for Youth Trans Critical Professionals? What do you ultimately hope to achieve?

Initially, we are hoping to solicit posts from 100 professionals writing on the trans child trend from how they see it. By doing this we aim to assemble the first collection of voices of Youth Trans Critical Professionals to evidence our mutual concern. There is a meeting being planned, and we are also discussing the possibility of co-authoring a book. Ideally, we would like to help move the needle on this conversation, hopefully resulting in clearer standards of care that protect gender dysphoric and nonconforming young people from unnecessary medical intervention and permanent sterilization.

How can a group of anonymous professionals make a difference? Without a public face and voice, who will believe you are who you say you are?

Anonymity certainly limits our credibility at this point. Many of us are contending with constraints of professional institutions which broker no dissenting views. It is our hope to speak out publicly once there are more of us. In the meantime, I hope that we will be judged by how we write and think. I believe that people that read the site will know that we are striving to do this in order to protect children from unnecessary medical procedures and permanent sterilization, not out of hatred or bigotry. In addition, some professionals working with us are also friends and relations of children and young people identifying as trans and need to remain anonymous to protect their loved one’s privacy.

In the few weeks the site has been live, have you heard from other professionals who want to be on-board?

The site has been up for less than two weeks, and it has already been viewed over 2,000 times. The overwhelming majority of the comments have been positive. (I have not deleted any comments, if that tells you anything. One person wrote a critical comment, which I approved.) And yes, professionals are reaching out and asking how they can be involved not just from professions allied to medicine, but teachers, youth workers, practitioners of law, artists and writers and so on.

How can parents find therapists and other medical providers who will resist the current trend to diagnose kids as trans? There are no public directories, while there are tons of  published resource lists of “gender specialists.”

What a good idea! Perhaps we could gather the names of such providers and maintain a directory. This would be a great resource because families are telling us they reluctant to access services because they do not trust service providers to tread a sensitive line between gender confusion and medical intervention.

As a therapist, how would you suggest a parent deal with a child insisting they are trans? The current trend seems to be “affirming” the child’s identity, no matter how old the child is.

Well, this is another complicated question. Obviously, we always want to communicate love and acceptance of our children. We can accept and affirm our child and respect their struggles and personhood without necessarily affirming a professed identity.

Part of what makes this a thorny problem is that there is no neutral stance. If we affirm the kid’s gender identity, we likely tip the scales in favor of a trans identity. If we look for other ways to express our support and empathy for our child, we likely tip the scales the other way. Given that even doing nothing is not a neutral intervention, we have to ask a difficult question. Is desistance a better outcome? If we had to choose which way to tip things, what is the right way? For me, it is clear that, all things being equal, desistance is a better outcome because it avoids invasive medical procedures and sterilization. Whenever a young person is engaged in keeping the conversation about their trans identity open, they may feel comfortable deferring medical intervention which will have the side effects of irreversible sterilization – at least this puts growing maturity on their side.

There is also the very critical issue of social contagion. I believe that many kids identifying as trans for the first time as teens – and perhaps many younger kids as well – have “picked this up” from social media. Parents are not infallible, but we are likely the best judges of whether our kid is truly suffering from deep-seated gender dysphoria, of whether the gender issue is a way to express other issues.

If a parent has a teen who comes out as trans, I would be interested in knowing the following:

  • Has the child been anxious, depressed, or struggling socially?
  • Does the child have other mental health issues, such as PTSD, substance use, or bipolar disorder?
  • Has the child been spending a lot of time on social media? What sites? How much time?
  • Are the child’s peers (or desired peers) coming out as trans as well?
  • Did the announcement come “out of the blue,” without prior indication that the young person has ever struggled with their gender or identity before?

If the answers to these questions are pretty much “yes,” I would actually suggest that the parent state firmly and clearly that they do not support their child’s transition. I realize this is heresy. I would, as David Schwartz suggests, stop talking about gender. Anxious and depressed teenagers may learn that they can get a rise and a reaction out of adults when they mention gender. Addressing only the gender dysphoria instead of the underlying issues does these kids a huge disservice.

We know that social media sites like Tumblr and Reddit are fertile ground for social contagion and that many children start talking trans following immersion in these worlds. We know it’s easier said than done, but disconnecting them from the internet, especially social media, does give space for developing more self-reliant thinking. For some families it may be possible to remove a young person from their environment completely. Three months spent in nature away from screens, or overseas, or volunteering in a challenging environment may serve as a “hard reset,” allowing them to focus on something other than themselves. (After all, gender dysphoria is in essence very solipsistic.) Of course not all families have the networks or necessary resources to broker new horizons for their child in these ways. Parents are telling us it is extremely difficult to work out the best ways to support their child. But we are gaining increased confidence that saying ‘no’ to your child’s trans aspirations can inspire your child’s confidence for reflection. All parents try to keep their children away from dangerous trends sweeping youth culture and the trans trend requires the same vigilance.

I do believe that parents can have an impact. Letting a kid know that you don’t buy the gender identity drama, stating plainly that you love them as they are, but you don’t want to see them destroy their health and sterility can have an impact. They might roll their eyes, but I believe they hear you. At least if they ever look back in regret and despair they will know that you tried to protect them.

How can we support you?

If you know a lawyer, doctor, therapist, academic, nurse, teacher, guidance counselor or other professional who deals with young people and questions this trend and is thoughtful, please send them to our website! We are hoping to solicit 100 professionals to post on the site over the next few months. They can reach us from the site, and can send us material to post – anonymously if they wish.

Send parents, trans youth and their allies to the site too. Our aim is to cohere strength amongst and between us to bring serious, committed and critical attention to the dangers of trans orthodoxy.

Minor surgery? Top US gender doc agitates to lower age for genital surgery

Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy of LA Children’s Hospital is one of the better known “gender specialists” in the United States. She has achieved notoriety amongst gender critics for her controversial advocacy of early cross-sex hormone treatment and “social transition” of young children.

Her latest efforts to push the envelope on child transition are on display in a post she made two days ago on the public WPATH Facebook page, wherein she lobbies for the next WPATH Standards of Care (SOC 8) to support lowering the age of consent for “bottom” surgery (officially recommended to be 18 or older in the WPATH SOC 7).

To date, Olson’s post has garnered 52 “likes,” with plenty of enthusiastic responses. Only one clinician has raised a shadow of doubt.

What does Dr. Olson-Kennedy want? Nothing more than for immature preadolescents to be allowed to undergo–with full insurance coverage–major genital surgeries so they can impersonate the opposite sex at an earlier age.

Olson orig post

Because of the upside-down activist-driven reality we live in today, rather than helping gender dysphoric young people come to terms with their healthy young bodies, Dr. Olson-Kennedy and her colleagues socially transition children to believe they are the opposite sex.  By “affirming” a child’s (by definition, childish)  idea that they are born in the “wrong” body, pediatric transgenderists like Olson-Kennedy condition the child to reject and even abhor their “wrong” body, thereby making natural puberty an enemy to be “blocked” at its onset—in the example Olson-Kennedy cites in her post, as early as age 11. Everyone in the child’s life is “supportive” and “affirming” of the fiction that one’s sex can be changed, so it’s not surprising that 100% (the figure cited most often by these gender specialists) of socially transitioned, puberty-blocked children desperately want to move on to full medical transition (and into the waiting arms of surgeons and endocrinologists). Carving up, sterilizing, and drugging a child’s body is becoming more and more normalized.

It’s worth noting that the WPATH Facebook page is not only frequented by doctors and psychologists. Comment threads are often dominated by trans activists, whose views are typically received as expert opinion. One such activist is trans woman Kelley Winters, a PhD. in electrical engineering who has presented to WPATH and is deferred to as an authority on matters of pediatric transition. Winters is not the only one; typically these individuals have no training in medicine or child psychology, with their only claim to authority on pushing for mutilating surgeries and hormones for other people’s children being their own transgenderism and conviction that turning other people’s children into lifelong medical patients is the right thing to do.

Winters and Olson

So Olson-Kennedy and others have created a medical condition that can only be treated by massive infusions of cross-sex hormones and surgeries. The children are blocked early, and now we have a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course these “girls” are not going to want to stop feminizing hormones. Of course they feel their lives have been “put on hold,” and they are all going to want “functioning vaginas.” The gender specialists have quite successfully crafted a situation where these young people will long for a surgically-engineered body as young as possible. How could they not want that? And how difficult would it be to desist from these longings once the train has started down that road, with all their friends, their families, and a prostrate media cheering them on?

Just to establish (and for my regular readers, review) a few simple facts:

  • “Bottom” surgery aside, puberty blockers followed by cross sex hormones results in guaranteed lifelong sterility. This is a fact that is never disputed by any specialist, but which is downplayed and seldom mentioned by anyone. Sterilization of children in any other context would be considered a human rights abuse, not a social justice triumph.
  • There is no research or clinical evidence that gender identity is innate. On the contrary: There is decades of research showing that gender identity is a matter of identification with gender stereotypes and parental modeling. It is impossible to find a story about a “trans child” that does not include anecdotes about these children preferring typical gender-stereotyped activities, clothing, and hairstyles of the opposite sex.
  • Frontal lobe development—in particular,  sound judgment, the capacity to understand and care about future consequences, and impulse control—is not complete until the mid-20s.
  • Young brains are highly plastic. It is patently obvious that the very act of “socially transitioning” young children to believe they are “born in the wrong body”  conditions them to continue on to full medical transition, with all the attendant risks and consequences.

Olson-Kennedy’s thread is ongoing, with many enthusiastic commenters and supporters. I encourage readers to see for themselves and then inform others about what the leading lights of pediatric transition are doing and saying. This is the future for gender nonconforming children and preteens, and the public deserves to know.

Teen decides she’s not trans, after all, but struggles with peer pressure

The guest post below, by pj white, is the personal account of a mother whose teen daughter temporarily identified as “trans,” but at 16, desisted.

While “gender specialists” and researchers often discuss younger children who persist in their gender dysphoria as they reach puberty, next to nothing is said about a phenomenon that more and more of us parents have personally experienced: the teenage daughter who, never having had a problem with being female as a child, suddenly insists she is trans at puberty–after a heaping helping of social media propaganda. And often these girls, like pj’s daughter, have other mental health issues that, once explored and addressed, help alleviate the desire to “transition.”

Every parent will respond to this situation in a different way; I’m grateful to pj for sharing her own parenting journey with us in such detail. And I’m particularly glad to hear directly from a parent about how difficult it can be for an adolescent to desist from trans-identification once they’ve started down the road. The glib insistence by trans activists and some “gender specialists” that social transition and puberty blockers won’t accidentally ensnare kids who really don’t want to persist is clearly unfounded. Peer acceptance and pressure is a real thing—yet another truism about adolescent developmental psychology that is ignored by the media, as well as too many providers entrusted with the care of young people. Luckily, a few researchers and clinicians, notably those in the Netherlands who pioneered the use of “puberty blockers,” are beginning to recognize the impact of media and “social transition” on those who might want to desist.

pj white notes that her daughter could have pursued her desire for “top surgery” had she been 18. But as I wrote a couple of days ago, the trend (supported by WPATH itself) is to allow such irreversible surgery at younger and younger ages. Can a move to permit total hysterectomy for 15-year-olds be far behind?

Pj white is available to respond to any remarks or questions you may have in the comments section of this post.


by pj white

My daughter has always been a dynamo. She hit the ground running as a toddler and didn’t stop until puberty hit her and knocked her flat. She never had the slightest interest in traditional girly gender roles. When she started middle school, I expressed fear that she’d be negatively influenced by other kids and want to start acting like a “Barbie Girl.” She put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes, and said, “yeah, right, mom – I can’t wait to get in touch with my inner plastic doll.”

But when she started to develop breasts at a young age (11), and men started hooting at her from their cars, her sense of strength and power evaporated. She stopped washing and brushing her hair. She wore baggy dirty clothes, and her hair hung over her face in greasy knots. The other kids made fun of her, and eventually, she became more depressed and started skipping school.

Right after turning 13, she told me she was really a boy. This shocked me, because she had always expressed such pride in being a girl. She was proud when her period started at age 10 (we called it “the good blood”) and I taught her from a young age to be proud of her vulva, too. Girl Pride had been a big part of her life. Now she told me she wanted to have her breasts cut off and to inject testosterone.

I was devastated, but I tried to hide it from her. I didn’t want her to be damaged by my “transphobia.” I had been a single mom for most of her life. It had always been the two of us – mother and daughter – two strong females taking on the world. But my daughter was telling me she didn’t want to be a girl anymore. And I was afraid I would damage her by challenging those feelings.

At her request, I took her to a barber to get a “boy’s” haircut (she looked adorable). I also took her shopping in the “boy’s” section of Target to get her a new “boy’s” wardrobe (which was silly, because her clothing choices had always been androgynous). She also asked me to order her a breast binder, which I did.

Perhaps luckily, I couldn’t afford a psychologist, so I took her to the Castro Mission Health Center in San Francisco where we live. The staff there is absolutely lovely, and did not pressure my daughter to transition. They just accepted her where she was. (This is actually a great resource for kids who are LGBTQ). But the staff could not protect kids from the peer pressure they felt to follow through on transitioning once the decision had been made. And to my knowledge, the topic of having room to change one’s mind was not addressed.

The pressure I felt came more from the pop psychology I’d read on the Internet than from professionals (I couldn’t afford private appointments with professionals). According to social media, I was supposed to wholeheartedly celebrate my daughter’s sudden desire to transition, and was forbidden to question or feel sad about it. I felt as if I had only two choices: to be evil and transphobic like the Duggars, or to be a great mom who loved having a transgender son. There was no room for doubt or fear or grief about losing the daughter I thought I had.

I sent my daughter to a free support group where she met truly wonderful kids. I would gladly have adopted the two young trans men I met through my daughter’s participation in that group. I’d have been proud to have them as my “sons”. But I couldn’t help noticing that they came from very traditional families (one’s family was devoutly Muslim and the other’s had come from rural China). I feared I was being transphobic for thinking they might not have felt compelled to transition had they come from backgrounds more accepting of gender non-conformity/lesbianism.

My daughter stood out like a sore thumb in this group for trans boys, because she suddenly decided, for the first time in her life, to start performing femininity. Her femme performance was so over the top she put Ru Paul to shame. Somehow, identifying as a boy gave her permission to perform femininity as an experiment and a game.

My head was spinning. My daughter was now claiming to be a gay male drag queen in a girl’s body. She also insisted, to my relief, that she did not have to cut her breasts off or take testosterone to be a man (I did an internal happy dance). But when I tried to explain to her that gay men would probably not be attracted to her (she looked like Drew Barrymore after an assault by a drunken makeup artist), she got very upset with me. She said only transphobic gay men would refuse to date her. I tried, as gently as I could, to explain that gay men are not usually attracted to people with female bodies. She angrily reminded me that she did not have a female body. When I persisted in explaining that gay men might disagree, she burst into tears.

That was checkmate. She had won. I assured her that any gay man would be thrilled to be with her. Ugh.

During this time, while she was doing female drag and looking more girly than she ever had in her life, she decided to assert her maleness by using men’s public restrooms. I was with her at a park, and when she went off to use the restroom, I assumed she’d use the women’s room. Nope. She walked right into the men’s restroom. And I walked right in after her and dragged her out (The LOOKS we got!). I angrily lectured her on the dangers of men’s public restrooms, especially when, to all appearances, you are a 14-year-old girl. She accused me of not affirming her identity. I said I didn’t give a damn about her identity when her safety was at risk.

Slowly, the hyper-femme drag phase passed, and at 16, my daughter has regained some of the self she lost at puberty. She once again identifies as female, but wears the same type of gender-neutral clothing she wore as a child. She currently identifies as a lesbian, but has not yet had a serious dating relationship.

When I was finally able to take my daughter to a psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with ADD and depression. The doctor explained that many kids with ADD miss out on developing social skills, and when puberty hits, they become very self-conscious – feel inferior – and become depressed. This is compounded in girls who also feel an acute loss of social status when puberty hits. They go from being cute little human beings to pieces of meat subject to adult male harassment and assault. I believe this is what happened to my daughter. She didn’t fit in socially “as a girl” and she loathed the degradation that came with being an adolescent female. She saw transitioning to male as a way out of her pain (sounds crazy, I know, but these are adolescents we’re talking about).

In our case, it was the trendy trans-ideology promoted on Tumblr that caused us the most difficulty. We both bought into the trivialization of a very profound and rare condition: sex dysphoria. I believe we all should be very suspicious of the sudden desire to change sex at puberty. People are so irrational and malleable at that age. Kids need room to experiment and grow without committing to permanent life-altering medical treatments and labels.

It can also be mortifying for an adolescent to change his or her mind about transitioning. My daughter is too embarrassed to face the sweet kids in her former support group. An adolescent’s need for acceptance by peers, and the pressure to follow through on transition when that’s what your peers expect of you, should not be underestimated. This is particularly true when a kid is celebrated as “brave” and “heroic” for coming out as trans. How do you change your mind about transitioning under that kind of pressure? And what if “the courage to be trans” is what people celebrate most about you? My daughter was too ashamed to tell her friends she’d changed her mind – she just withdrew/disappeared from the group. She was homeschooled at the time, which was likely a key factor in allowing her to pull back. If her peer group had been unavoidable (i.e, in school), I don’t know if she’d have been able to desist.

I worked extremely hard not to pressure her during the whole process, because I didn’t want her to defiantly assert her “right” to transition. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done: having to cry alone in another room over her desire to have her breasts cut off. I was terrified and horrified. And although I would never have let her do that under my watch, I knew she could if she were over 18. It was so hard to let her come to her own decision not to transition. In our case it worked, but I know every situation is different. In some other families, more assertive parenting might be necessary.

I am incredibly grateful that my child passed through her desire to transition. I think her depression, ADD, social awkwardness, and “gender nonconforming” personality all contributed to her falsely believing her gender was the problem.

My heart goes out to other parents struggling with this – it’s horrible to be accused of transphobia/bad parenting for not wanting your child to do permanent medical harm to herself. And while I’m very glad my daughter found her way back to herself,  it saddens and frightens me that current trans ideology made her journey back so guilt-ridden and difficult.

A “gay boy in a girl’s body” desists: Guest post

This is a guest post by long-time 4thWaveNow community member overwhelmed. She is available to respond to your comments and questions in the comments section for this post.

Most trans activists and gender specialists will concede that at least some prepubescent children will grow out of gender dysphoria. (How many? No one knows, but it’s a current hot topic which I’ll be tackling in a post in the near future). But it’s touted as if it were gospel that once puberty hits, if a teen says they’re trans, then they are–case closed. Gender dysphoria at puberty = gender dysphoria for life.

As my own personal story attests, this is simply not always the case. I’ve been hearing from more and more young people who have bucked this supposed hard-and-fast truism. And now we hear from another mom whose daughter has changed her mind.

It has long been known that upwards of 90% of gender dysphoric girls are same-sex attracted, but overwhelmed‘s daughter is one of a growing number of young women who are opposite-sex attracted but who also believe themselves to be transgender.

As I experienced with my own teen, overwhelmed tells us that most of the medical and psychological professionals she encountered–far from being cautious and methodical about handing out a trans diagnosis–rushed to the assumption that her daughter was transgender simply because she claimed to be.

Seeing a pattern, readers?


Another mom listens to her gut

 

by overwhelmed

Earlier this year my daughter revealed that she really was a gay boy trapped in a girl’s body. She had never shown any previous signs of discomfort with her body so I was confused by this belief, especially the urgent desire to medically transition NOW!

I called my pediatrician’s office for a referral to a psychologist for my daughter. The nurse who answered the phone had just attended a transgender educational seminar and felt like she knew all about my daughter, even though she had never met her. This nurse completely dismissed my over 16 years of knowledge of my daughter. Just like that. She told me that my daughter’s pre-existing depression and anxiety were symptoms of her being transgender, not the other way around. I told her that my daughter had been online in Tumblr communities and had watched a lot of YouTube transition videos that had likely influenced her. The newly educated nurse, however, basically told me that I needed to accept that she was transgender, and to start supporting my daughter in being her authentic self.

My daughter’s first psychologist also completely dismissed any knowledge I had about my daughter. At the time I was just relieved to have found someone to talk to my daughter who I was concerned might be suicidal. I was happy that this psychologist had experience working with others who were transgender. I mistakenly believed that she would be able to tell that my daughter wasn’t an authentic trans boy. While traveling to and from her therapy sessions, I shared transgender scientific research with my daughter— that many people identifying as transgender have mental health problems, that the vast majority (80%) of kids outgrow their gender dysphoria, and so forth. I didn’t realize it initially, but my daughter was also sharing this information with the psychologist. And, the psychologist was telling my daughter that the information I was telling her was bogus, made-up information. She mentioned that she had a PhD and knew much more than I. She told her that I shouldn’t believe everything I read online. She told my daughter that she wanted to include parents during the next session so that she could “set me straight” on the facts.

I fired her.

In the meantime, I felt the need to get information out there, so that other parents could benefit from the information I had found. There is such an overwhelming amount of information online touting that gender is unchanging, that transition is the only cure. I know this is wrong. All you have to do is look at the scientific research, or even to the growing number of detransitioners who are speaking out. I started submitting comments to transgender media articles and even on some parenting forums. I am a person who tends to be pretty careful in what I write, never intending to be offensive, but one site I went to banned me immediately because I recommended googling “transgender regret” as a way to get information from a different perspective! I have also had quite a few comments on media articles disappear due to similar recommendations.

Overall, as a parent who did not buy into my daughter needing cross-sex hormones and lopped off breasts, I am ignored when I voice my concerns. I’m silenced. I’m vilified. I’ve been called transphobic and gleefully told that it isinevitable that my daughter will commit suicide due to the lack of support.

Unfortunately, parents concerned about their trans-identifying children face a perfect storm of opposition. They are battered from many directions, told that they are wrong, warned that if they don’t start supporting their child that suicide is a likely outcome. These messages come from their own children, the overwhelming pro-trans voices online, the news and media, medical professionals, government officials, and even school districts.

I admit that there were times when I doubted my gut instincts. But, fortunately I was able to find a group of parents in the same situation (thanks 4thwavenow!) and have greatly benefited from their support. And, fortunately I found another therapist for my daughter who was able to uncover the reasons she felt disconnected to her sex. She had once felt powerless as a female (due to some traumatic experiences) and thought a male identity would be a better fit. Now she no longer identifies as transgender. While still eschewing most things considered conventionally feminine, she has embraced the fact that her presentation and passions don’t make her any less female.

Although I am able to relax about my own daughter’s status, I am still very concerned about the vast majority of parents in this situation. I fear that many won’t find the support system that was so beneficial to me. I fear that they won’t be able to find a mental health professional that will try to uncover their child’s underlying reasons for identifying as trans. I fear that many parents will succumb to the pressure.

It shouldn’t be like this. There shouldn’t be so much pressure against parents who are genuinely concerned about their children’s health.