Another letter .. to my girl who identifies as a boy

An anonymous letter has been published in The Guardian newspaper dealing with the terror parents face of social media sites such as reddit and tumblr ‘telling your little girl she’s really a boy’. You can read this letter here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/23/a-letter-to-my-little-girl-who-identifies-as-a-boy?CMP=share_btn_tw

Here is another letter, inspired by the anonymous Guardian writer, from a professional thinking critically about the youth transgender narrative who is the parent of a trans identifying teen. 

There was no sign of your transgender identity until you were fifteen when your ‘I want to transition’ announcement came right out of the blue.

When you were little you spent a two-week Christmas holiday in your Disney Princess dress. We had to peel it off you to wash while you were asleep and wriggle you back into it before you were awake. The following Christmas you loved your pink pop-up princess castle so much you took all your presents inside to open and wouldn’t come out. A few years later you chose yourself a rainbow bicycle with pink and silver tassels. You noticed that your brother and the boys next door had different stuff and different clothes and liked wearing your brother’s hand-me-downs and playing his games. He was your absolutely beloved hero. You loved playing football in the garden and hours spent playing knights with wooden swords. But equally you liked to abandon the boys and line up playmobil animals with your best friend Elfie for entire weekends at a time, or bake cakes with her or trampoline or climb trees and teach your doggies tricks. For years both you and Elfie wanted to wear your brother’s hand-me-downs but also you loved outgrown clothes from your girl cousins and older friends. You chose clothes you liked ‘because those shorts are orange’ ‘or ‘that t-shirt has a lion on it’ with no regard for gender.

When you went to the garden party of the Vicar’s ten year old twin daughters in your football strip because you thought fairy dresses were silly I felt in awe of your originality and independent character. You loved sky blue. You said shorts and trainers were comfy. You loved your huge group of girl-friends and being one of them. You never ever said you thought you were a boy.

When you were thirteen you said you were gay. At fourteen you fell in love with a girl who identified as bisexual. You were very concerned about her history of self-harm and took to staying up all night to support her on line, seeking advice from Tumblr, terrified to be away from your phone in case your absence led her to cut herself or stick her fingers down her throat. And then she re-identified as ‘pan-sexual’ (I had to look it up) and hey presto, you re-identified as ‘trans’ and have hardly spoken since.

You briefly told me your friends now call you by a boy’s name and use male pronouns. You found voice lowering training on-line and took to wearing your jeans low slung.  You seemed in a muddle to me because at the same time you wanted me to teach you how to put your long hair in a chignon, paint your toe nails and help you choose a yellow dress for Prom.

I have never minded how you dress or behave in relation to gender. Your Aunty Julie had a boys hair cut as a young teenager, played football until sundown with the neighbourhood boys and was nicknamed ‘Scratch’ because of her fearsome reputation for beating boys in a fight. By seventeen she was training to be a beautician and winning modelling competitions with waist length curly hair that was the talk of the town. Your Aunty Vanessa has never worn a dress in her adult life and I haven’t had any cosmetic routine to inspire you to love applying make-up. I thought the message of your childhood was that everyone, especially you, is naturally beautiful howsoever and exactly as they are.

I haven’t yet directly opposed your plan to become a boy. There were no scenes though I was deeply shocked. We agreed we would both try to find out more about transitioning. I know you’re too young to fully understand your adult sexuality or to definitively know how you want to comply with or challenge the general conventions prescribed for gender conformity in our neighbourhood or your world. You’re not a ‘girly-girl’. That’s what you’ve always said. But until the months of researching self-harm for your girlfriend on Tumblr when you were fifteen, you never, ever said you were not a girl.

And today you wrote to me on whatsapp:

 ‘‘trans people think they’re born in the wrong body and really they’re a boy. I don’t understand that … if someone asked I would still say I was trans though because it’s easier than explaining all that’

And then,

 ‘there’s no point talking about the dangers any more, I know what they are and I’m still going to do it’

Well, I’ve been reading about transgender, the hike in identification of teenage girls as FtoT, listening to the voices of de-transitioners and reading blogs of people who express trans-regret. I have interrogated the evidence on side effects of taking hormones which include – but aren’t limited to – infertility, mental health jeopardy and osteoporosis. I’ve researched the side effects of surgery including physical and psychological scars, urinary tract infections, septicaemia and strokes. I don’t want any of this for you. You have a healthy female body. I cannot stand by and facilitate harm to your body through medical intervention because you are being persuaded it is a requisite for living in the gender of your own choosing. You can live in any gender variation you like. You always have. You always will. But I cannot collude in plans to harm your body. This is not transphobic. It is resisting clinical injury.

I am up against a huge campaign from trans advocates who seek to convince you that medical intervention with all its attendant harms is best for you. I am determined to turn back the tide of those domineering voices. I am not afraid of backlash. I am no longer frozen by your anger or certainty of rejection. I am only afraid that irrevocable harm will come to you if I do not struggle to speak out and turn back the tide of trans tyranny which is blocking sensitive discussion of the divide between gender confusion and intervention. I am your mother. Every fibre of my being is geared towards protecting you from harm.

What if you will not listen and you take steps towards medical intervention even though you know it will not alter your sex or determine your gender or assure you of future happiness? I will still love you. You are my child. However you live in relation to social definitions of gender is fine by me. But I cannot stand passively aside when you are so confused by the transgender trend or cheer you on to the starting line to injure your very own body. Not when you say yourself ‘I don’t understand’.

I have to intervene and to fight for you.

You have all of my love and endless support. You always will.

Mum xxxx

19 thoughts on “Another letter .. to my girl who identifies as a boy

  1. People do not understand how hellish this is for parents. I used to put on a happy face & smile, faking “support” when I was dying inside. I didn’t want to “kill” my daughter by denying her “true gender”. The only other parents of “trans” children I heard about were “wonderful people” who supported their trans children – not wretched mothers like myself who were heartsick & terrified that their children would mutilate their bodies & become life-long medical patients. My daughter very slowly outgrew her desire to transition. She has returned to claiming her female reality & it feels so good to call her my DAUGHTER again. I used to choke on the word “son”. She is talking about a future in the medical field, having children with a female partner or alone, living a free powerful life without having her breasts cut off. She just turned 17 (she started talking about transitioning when she turned 13. This all lasted for about 3 years. But when she outgrew it she lost her peer group. Lots of pressure to transition once you’ve made that declaration). The longer you can postpone any medical transition the better. Encourage her to claim her “identity” without having to medically transition like those “truscum”.( A vilified minority whose pain is appropriated & trivialized by Tumbler trans activism). I hope your daughter has the time & space to outgrow this. That damn 18th birthday can be terrifying. Like you, I kept quiet about my terror & grief. That might have pushed her irrevocably into transitioning out of teenage rebellion. Right now this is still just a phase. I hope it passes quickly despite all the media & peer pressure. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It truly is hellish.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Penny –
      I too have a 15-year-old who recently came out as transgender (Jan 2016). My child is not a liar or crazy attention seeker. I do believe my child truly believes that she is a transgender male. I on the other hand know my kid very well. And again, I want to mention that she is 15, an extraordinarily impressionable age.
      She came out as being gay and then a few months later transgender. I do believe she is on the gay spectrum. Give me a flag and I will march in any parade!

      I am not against transgender or the options surrounding transition. Whatever makes a person feel good about themselves, do what you gotta do! But I can tell you, I know my child is not.
      That being said, for the purpose of showing our child our support and the possibility that we are wrong, we are on board (as far as she thinks) calling her “him.” We have given our permission for her to change her name. (not legally) We took her to get a boys haircut. She wears relatively androgynous clothing. Even ordered her two binders online.

      She has been seeing a therapist for the past year. She started off at a regular adolescent therapist as a girl with anxiety issues. It was during that time that she “discovered” she was transgender. Not in a theropy session… ONLINE!!! Once my daughter told me of her revelation that she was transgender, she asked me if she can switch to a sex therapist. Being in an absolute panic, I searched one out. Without going into too much detail, after a few sessions with the sex therapist, my husband and I felt that the therapist might have an agenda. Probably not the case, but when you are trying so hard to believe and understand what is going on with your child, you have to truly believe in the source that is providing you information. After many phone calls, I found another sex therapist. Again, she seemed quick to jump into the idea that my kid should join some transgender youth groups, etc. I didn’t need anything else to fuel my kids fire. After a few sessions with her, I was frantic!!! I started interviewing various therapists and doctors. How was it possible that psychiatrists, as a whole, knew so little about transgender??? How was it possible that not one sex therapist would say that the Internet and media (along with us parents allowing our kids to be subject to it all) could be the cause and not true body dysmorphia?
      After interviewing about 10-15 psychiatrists and sex therapist… Might I add, none on my insurance, I stumbled across our current therapist based on a conversation with a friend I ran into at the grocery store.
      While interviewing him, he was the ONLY sex therapist to mention what I was thinking…this could be a phase.
      My daughter has met with him a handful of times now. Luckily, I too have had the opportunity to confide and speak to him privately. He is a professional and does not tell me personal things they spoke about. He did however agree that she might be a (wording is not to offend) “lipstick lesbian.” He said we are lucky because she does not seem to be in a rush to start any hormones. The fact is, my husband and I had already explained to her that hormones were not an option in the near future. That much theropy and “living” had to take place.
      So why am I writing this? I believe that my daughter has been somehow unconsciously mirroring the behaviors and speech of the people she has been watching online. Her script is the same as so many teens that showed NO signs prior to the coming out day. Gay probably… Male… No!
      Now that the Internet/media mirroring (unintentional brainwash) has set in and taken over my teens head and body, what do I do to get those words out of my kids head? She is so convinced that this is her truth.
      What did your daughter hear or experience to open her eyes and return to her female self?
      We will continue with this therapist… But I need more!! Theropy is only one hour twice a month. The media and web have 24/7!!!
      Also, do you believe that by my husband and I going along with her transgender revelation, that we are inadvertently empowering her and allowing her to think something is in fact wrong with her body? I want to explain to her that we support her, and we are a “safe place,” but don’t necessarily agree that this is in fact accurate.

      Thank you for posting your story and becoming a glimmer of hope for so many of us in this situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How a girl can identify as a lesbian at 13, I simply don’t understand. Adolescents are mentally grappling with subjects they’re far too young to understand and it’s having very detrimental affects. In my view they should be protected from the media and allowed to grow up more slowly, as an ideal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people seem to know their sexual identity very young, some people don’t. I certainly did not think about my sexuality at all when I was 13, I never masturbated, and I didn’t know what to do when a girl at school told me she loved me when I was 14 (I wouldn’t have known what to do if a boy had said the same thing). But I am not all people. Some people start masturbating very young, some people have crushes very young, some people obviously know they are homo/hetero/bi very young. I agree that children need to be protected from media and even more they need to have full and interesting lives. I feel so sad about all the young people with nothing to do but play video games and social media — there’s a big world out there and it is not to be found online.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, but quite honestly, I don’t think 13 year olds should be having a sex life or rather, that sex and romance should be part of the social life of children that age, not in the way that it is for adults. I think the age of consent is a good idea and it would be better higher than 16 as it is in Britain. So if a child’s too young to legally have sex should they be describing themself as a lesbian, because lesbianism does include sex.

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      2. @ Nienna ‘Should a child be legally describing herself as a lesbian, ..at 13.. because being a lesbian involves having sex’. … Not all lesbians have sex. Some have cats instead. I know….

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Nienna, I honestly think different kids develop at different rates. I am like you, in that I did not let my kids watch TV at home (except Saturday morning cartoons because that’s when I got lazy!), have Game Boys, or use computers at home except for schoolwork until they were well into their teens. I think by 14 they knew if they fell in love with boys or girls, though. My kids knew about gay and lesbian people not from TV, but from the gay and lesbian adults in their livesI. was not eager for them to have sex early and I don’t think they did. I would guess that what Penny was talking about with her daughter wasn’t so much sex, either, but her daughter knowing who she fell in love with.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story, I know how hard it is to see your wonderful daughter go down such a self destructive path. I fully understand why you keep your opposition quiet, you have to keep the relationship going, but its such a fine line to be able to do that without being an enabler.

    Hang in there, stay strong.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you mean “the capacity to father children, and boy can’t become someone with the capacity to become pregnant”. Unfortunately, our biology cannot endow us all with reproductive rights.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on feudaltimesblog and commented:
    The last lines sum up the dilemma for all parents. Sometimes our fear of losing our children makes us acquiesce against our better judgement. Tough love can make you unpopular in the short term but being an unpopular patent is better than being an indulgent one. The Internet is radicalising our children in many different ways.

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  5. I am so glad I found this website! I, too, am the mother of an aspiring FtoT, and am out of my mind with concern and worry for her. We have a slightly different story… our daughter went through a relatively brief (6 month) period of strongly wanting to be a boy, when she was about 5 years old. At the time, we attributed it to her having two older brothers, who were doing “all the fun stuff,” and although she grew out of the intensive “I want to be a boy” (never I AM a boy, BTW), she was never a real girly girl. In high school, she seemed on the lower end of the spectrum of being concerned with appearance and boyfriends, although she did enjoy dressing up, having her hair done, etc. when it was time for prom.

    By her senior year, she seemed to be more trending towards the lesbian side of things, and although we were supportive, she didn’t formally “come out” until she had been at college for a few months. After that, she had two long-term girlfriends but then a bad break-up in the middle of senior year. As the years at college (a women’s college) went by, she adopted a more and more boyish type of look. She is extremely slight and I believe she has taken to wearing something to minimize her breasts (no matter how thin you are, I don’t think they spontaneously disappear!).

    I was absolutely flattened when I found out, earlier this year, that she is seriously investigating “transitioning” to male. This is entirely new for her so far as I can tell. Other than the short time when she was very little, we never heard another word about it until just now. I do know that she made a close trans friend at college and that this person has been “guiding” her.

    As I moved forward into this, I started investigating what it would really mean for my daughter to attempt to medically transition to male. I am horrified. I do not want this for my daughter! And, as smart as she is, I honestly don’t think she’s in a place to make such a permanent and potentially harmful decision at this time. She was receiving “therapy” up at college, and seems to have come home with all sorts of buzz-words and catch-phrases. It’s almost like she was coached to say certain things to justify all this, but as her mom I know she’s kind of making up a whole big story about the way things were.

    And to make matters immeasurably worse, I am also a leader in a local chapter of a group for support for parents of LGBT children! Believe me we are expected to swallow the “trans narrative” hook, line, and sinker… support every parent in every gender changing decision… no matter how reckless or ill-considered it seems. (Or else, guess what, I’m transphobic.) I am on the verge of resigning because I just can’t do it anymore.

    I love my daughter so much, and I cannot stand the idea of her hurting herself, possibly not being able to have or nurse children, and maybe even setting herself up for serious medical problems, not to mention psychological ones when she realizes what a terrible mistake she’s made. But, I also do not want to alienate her, to have her go off and make all these awful decisions completely cut off from the people who really love her, not just want to use her to validate their own agenda.

    I am looking forward to meeting other parents on this blog and hope we can share our ideas and support through this terrible time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Worriedmom, I hope you’ve also found 4thwavenow.com, TransgenderTrend.com, and gendercriticaldad.blogspot.com.

      Can’t imagine the stress of your position, having to swallow encouraging people to submit their kids to hormones and surgery in the ‘support’ group. Maybe you could quietly tell them of these links to maybe explore toward making informed decisions, and discreetly bow out. But the present politics of even being seen to question… crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for the references to this other interesting information. I must say, I was firmly convinced that I was completely alone in my questioning of this narrative. The entire trans phenomena, and everything that goes along with it, is accepted uncritically and entirely by virtually everyone I know. In fact, it’s what my younger daughter is being taught as established FACT in high school.

        It also seems to me that if I indicate the slightest doubt or uncertainty about any of this, that will immediately earn me the label of “trans-phobic.” This is why I feel it would be better for me to resign my position, even though I’ve been active in the support group for over eight years. But the things that I have seen and heard in our group, especially in the past two years, have made me increasingly uncomfortable in terms of my tacitly endorsing them or even telling parents they should support their children in the trans process. I am sure that if I voiced any doubts, I would be asked to resign in any event.

        I just wonder what will happen in 10 or 20 years when a lot of people start to realize what a horrible mistake this has all been.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for sharing this experience and extending credibility to our concerns. I hope your daughter will keep conversation open with you so you can stay by her side

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      1. Hi, at the moment we are not discussing trans matters. I have been educating myself and have been very surprised to learn that there is a countervailing view! Certainly from any media that I ever look at, you wouldn’t think so. It seems from everything that I see, that the “pro-trans” ideas are the only right and correct ones, and that anybody who questions or possibly thinks otherwise is just an ignorant, far-right-religious bigot. I guess this is the way I looked at it, too, until fairly recently, when my common sense and life experience began to overcome these theories that are, on their face, entirely ridiculous.

        Liked by 1 person

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