A Mother’s Response To Her Trans Identified Teenage Daughter

We don’t usually re-blog published articles but we were very happy to be invited by Tina Traster to re-post her piece originally published in Psychology Today in March this year, for the simple reason that it is unique amongst the never-ending deluge of cheer-leading child transition stories in the media. The reaction by the mother to her trans identified teenage daughter in this story is not the one the media promotes; all the usual ingredients are missing. This is no heart-warming story of a parent supporting their child to be their ‘authentic self’ through puberty suppression and hormones, but a mother who steps back to look at what’s really going on for the daughter she knows so well.

Given the very sudden appearance of ‘transgender kids’ in society, and the extreme medical treatment advocated for them, you would think that the media would be full of stories of parents such as this who ask questions. But media reporting suggests that there is only one way for parents to respond to a trans-identified child: by ‘affirming’ their identity and getting them an immediate appointment at the gender clinic. What is so remarkable about this article is actually how unremarkable this mother’s response is; it is the sensible reaction anyone would expect from the caring parent of a teenager. But given the current climate where parents are condemned for anything other than complete acquiescence to the new transgender ideology, it stands out as an exceptional deviation from the new norm.

We know that in fact this parental response is not an exception, it is just that these parents’ stories are rarely broadcast: the celebratory ‘trans kids’ media story is a misrepresentation. It important for parents to hear alternative views, to know that there is not just one acceptable way to respond to a trans-identified child and to know they are not wrong to trust their own instincts and insights into their individual child’s situation. For this reason we are very happy to give this parent’s story another outing and we are grateful to Tina Traster for writing it and to Psychology Today for publishing. It deserves to be shared widely.

 

A Parent Aims to Decipher a Teen’s Transgender Declaration

Is transgender trendy or real?

I knew in my gut J wasn’t interested in boys, and that she might never be. By the time she turned 12, 13, and then 14, there were no signs of boy crushes or any interest in socializing with boys. There was no makeup or hair styling or hogging the bathroom or fussing over what clothes to wear. Our once-adorable daughter wasn’t taking her tomboyish looks in stride – beginning in 8th grade, she began to sabotage her appearance. She piled on weight, wore her hair severely tied back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, refused to wear anything feminine. Anything with color in it got pushed to the back of her drawer. She was deeply embarrassed about menstruating. In billowing sweatshirts and loose clothing, she looked like a sack of potatoes.

She no longer lit up a room – she was trying to make herself invisible, and it was working.

This wasn’t entirely surprising. Adolescence is a time of intimacy and sexual experimentation and vulnerability. I knew our daughter, a Russian adoptee who rejects physical and emotional closeness, was going to be more socially challenged than she’d ever been in her life. I was prepared for a bumpy road.

What I didn’t see coming was her telling us she’s transgender.

I don’t care how cool LGBTQ is at the moment, or how much the media and other industries are propping up the visibility of people with these choices. In the end of the day, this is not welcome news to a parent.

The first time she said this, I recoiled. The air drained from the room. My mouth became arid. I was literally dizzy. In the grip of this traumatic moment, I didn’t believe it was true. I’m not saying I think she was lying to her dad, and me. I believed right from the start she was lying to herself.

If she’d told us she was a lesbian, we wouldn’t have been as taken aback, but we’d still remain skeptical because we don’t think our teen is mature or emotionally developed enough to know who she is yet in terms of her sexuality. J has never had a best friend. She’s always been friendly with everyone but close to no one. At her core, she’s a loner – most comfortable when she’s by herself. By seventh grade, she made friends.

We were so thrilled. They actually seemed like innocents – children who were not as sexually progressed as we were when we were their age. But during the first half of eighth grade, J withdrew from us. She became moody, hostile, shut down. Obsessed with the smart phone she’d been given in September. She wouldn’t let us help her with homework anymore, and her grades slipped precipitously. Her appearance became appalling. The only link to her former self was her continued interest and achievement as a violin player.

In December, right before Christmas, the floodgates opened. We learned J had taken on a masculine alias. Via Instagram, and with inappropriate pictures of binding her breasts, she was broadcasting her new identity. She was convinced she is transgender, and when confronted by all that was going on, she came “out”.

As I said before, I don’t think this is ever welcome news to any parent, and it wasn’t to us. But here’s the thing: If, after the shock of it, I searched my soul and thought it to be true, I would have accepted the notion, and done what was needed to move forward. However, that is not what happened. I took a deep breath, a cool step back and tried to observe with an objective eye.

What I’ve realized is that being “trans” has made our daughter interesting, edgy, different, among her peers. Mostly, she tells the world she’s a boy, and dresses like one. What I believe, and I’m not a trained therapist or a professional but I am a mother, and one who has made J my highest priority and my life’s work — is that our attachment-phobic daughter is using transgenderism as a shield against intimacy and sexuality. When I’ve suggested to her that perhaps she’s a lesbian, she is most defensive and unhinged. If you’re straight or gay, you’re still in the game of sexual exploration, and some of the girls in her group have experimented with one another. But J’s otherness keeps her a step apart. She never talks about sexuality, only genderism.

She’s never been interested in boys or in the masculine realm. In fact, she’s always responded to female mentors and teachers, and specifically not to men. She may not have played with dolls much, but she also didn’t play with trucks or guns. Nothing about her existence up to this point suggests that she’s “a girl in a boy’s body”.

Just pick up a newspaper or flip on the television, and there are daily reminders of the growing acceptance (perhaps even the glamour and hipness) affiliated with the LGBTQ movement. I believe in some cases it’s a haven for teens who are having trouble defining themselves in other emotional ways. It’s taken on a life of its own as a way to stand apart. Many youngsters are using these labels and preferences to garner a sense of inclusiveness, or in J’s case, to use it as a shield.

Our stance with our daughter is this: When you’re 18 years old, you’ll have legal rights. You can change your name. Take hormones. Make adult decisions about an adult topic. For now, she’s not going to wear a skirt or date a boy, or even date a girl. We’re going to strike a neutral pose so we don’t alienate her, because that’s a death sentence for adopted children with attachment disorders, and we’ve worked too hard to get her to attach and stay attached. At the same time, I’m not convinced she’s coming from a place of self-awareness.

Recently I was talking to a therapist friend who specialized in LBGTQ teens. I told her what was going on, but said I was skeptical. I was expecting her to talk me down, and tell me why it’s important that my husband and I embrace J’s declarations and enable her. Instead she told me the therapy community is having to dial back on what seems to be an “outbreak” of transgenderism, and to approach the subject with more skepticism. That was enough for me, for now.

Tina Traster is a socially-conscious, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. Her 30-minute documentary, This House Matters, is an examination on historic preservation in the Hudson Valley. The film has screened at the YoFi Film Festival, the Kingston Film Festival, the Hoboken International Film Festival, and the Nyack Film Festival. Traster’s work has appeared in scores of newspapers, magazines and literary journals including The New York Times, The New York Post, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Redbook, Family Circle, Parade, Time Out New York, Audubon, Ski Magazine and many others. She is the author of the award-winning memoir Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother’s Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. Since 2006, Traster has written the “Burb Appeal” column for The New York Post.

20 Comments

  • nel Reply

    … and yet science knows full well that the vast majority of GNC youngsters not groomed by adults to accept they are the opposite sex and fed lies, puberty blockers and synthetic cross sex hormones, grow up to be Gay adults.. This is surely Gay Erasure?

    • Sasha LPC Reply

      Agreed completely. Or for other kids, who may not have same sex attraction, but instead struggle with severely warped body-image, high levels of anxiety, or chronic depression, transition can be what they view as an answer to why they’ve struggled and suffered for so long. Well meaning people have no idea what kind of crisis is happening right now with young girls.

      That being said, I do find several aspects of this mom’s narrative problematic:
      “There was no makeup or hair styling or hogging the bathroom or fussing over what clothes to wear. Our once-adorable daughter wasn’t taking her tomboyish looks in stride – beginning in 8th grade, she began to sabotage her appearance. She piled on weight, wore her hair severely tied back in a ponytail at the nape of her neck, refused to wear anything feminine” – it seems here that mom is adhering to the same dangerous social roles that likely push young girls away from their female-hood in the first place: the pressure to place conventional attractiveness as a top priority and to adhere to traditional ideas that femininity is the only desirable way a female can present herself.

      I empathize with this mom and I also empathize with the child, who doesn’t have the emotional maturity or even ranking within social hierarchy to decipher lies being told to her by the school, her friends, the media, etc.

  • Kellogmom Reply

    I’m another mom questioning the ‘trend’. My daughter came out 4 1/2 months ago and I have been to hell and back in my mind over this. The support that is thrown to her ‘journey’ leaves us her parents out in the cold with absolutely no help or support. It took my attempting suicide for her father to finally be told. My family doctor wants me to be supportive of a mutilation that I know with 100% certainty she will hate and kill her self because she is not bravely facing her future she is running from feelings that she may think are not normal. Plain and simple she is in pain and because of her online presence she has been latched onto by a hateful community that think nothing of threatening her mother with physical harm.

    • Mia Reply

      Whoa… I am so sorry you and your daughter are going through this.

      I would first make your public profile invisible or set the security higher on Facebook and other social media sites.

      Please continue to reach out to others in the same situation. Is there perhaps a support group in your city?

      • Kellogmom Reply

        I’m lucky enough to have a friend in the LGBT community so that person will not have an easy time with her plans to move here. I’ve gone radio silent on all social media. The urban community I live in doesn’t seem to have support for me but they did manage to have my daughter in and out within the week. So thankful for sites like this and to know that I am truly not as alone as I have felt these last few months. I also have friends that are monitoring public online discussions that my daughter is having and will alert me if she is in trouble. I’m just glad that her dad knows now as well. Also I should point out that her coming out triggered abuse memories for me and those are what pushed me over the edge.

        • Transgender Trend Reply

          Thanks for coming here and commenting Kellogmom. We know the distress caused to parents and what this ideology is doing to families and we send our support to you. Please take care of yourself, you are the sane one x

          • Kellogmom

            Thanks I’m feeling a lot better since finding this site with so much valuable information about this trend.

    • Jessica Reply

      Dear Kellogmom, please hang on in there. I know exactly where you are at with this – my precious child physically assaulted me having been infected by what I view as this “mind virus”. There are loads of us living on the edge – that doesn’t make it easier – but please know you are not alone in this. This blog is one way of reaching out to other fraught parents who are living through this nightmare. Sending support xx

      • Kellogmom Reply

        Thank you, for the first time in months I don’t feel alone!

  • susan Reply

    My child is lost to this—on hormones and all.

    HOWEVER, I do not accept this and here is why. My daughter exhibited the exact same behavior as the girl in this article. I spent years taking her to therapists, staying up all night worried, seeking treatments, etc. Nothing made sense including that she was “transgender”. It just didn’t fit.

    Recently, I started reading about Asperger girls. It was as if someone had written a book on my daughter. Everything now makes sense. The negative body image, lack of a sex drive, social issues, etc.

    So, now I wait. Until my daughter is ready to deal with her underlying issues, she will suffer through this trans mess. And, make no mistake, I blame these therapists and doctors who have encouraged this trend.

    • Kellogmom Reply

      I’m so sorry. I fired my doctor because of her telling me that I HAVE to be supportive of my daughters journey so I totally understand the failure of the system and the bitterness. I’m new here and am finally feeling better about my instincts because of the information that is shared here.

      Hugs

      • Transgender Trend Reply

        If you haven’t already, please look at 4thwavenow.com – excellent writing and a very supportive parent community – and also youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org – professionals who are very concerned about the move to medically transition kids. Much support to you.

    • Paul Reply

      Right on! I am there with you. It is absolutely appalling that the medical establishment has medicalized gender. The DSM 5 is bad science and bad healthcare in this regard. Let these kids grow up and find themselves naturally. We are experience the negative consequence s of technology and the internets.

  • Kate Reply

    Interesting article that chimes with this story on the BBC site today that also refers to the sudden jump in numbers.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40814995

    I couldn’t help noticing one of the children featured is growing up in a family with a trans step-parent and the mother mentions friends with children who are already on hormones so you have to question how much this child’s decision has been influenced by people around them

  • Kellogmom Reply

    I just had my first therapy appointment and all they could say was your not ready to accept transgender so you need to work on that. She was planning on giving me information for transgender support groups but she can tell I am one of those people who needs to explore my issues around not accepting all the information that is out there that this is not a choice Yada, yada I started spouting some of the information that I had found here and other ‘critical thinking’ sites and she said as a clinician she can’t read that sort of thing because it’s biased. I just give up. My daughter died on March 21, 2017. I don’t know what else to say

    • Transgender Trend Reply

      So sorry to hear this. As if transgender organisations are NOT biased…it is very Orwellian, the re-education we are all supposed to accept and believe in without question. Parents are not critisised in any other area for finding out all they can about an issue which has such an impact on their child. Sending support to you and your daughter, she may come back, please don’t lose hope.

    • susan Reply

      OMG Kellogmom—that was my exact experience. Everything I said to the therapist who was pushing T on my child was met with “I understand you are in denial” and “those studies (that I was referring to) are outdated. Even research that came out 6 months ago is wrong, only I can tell you what is a valid point of view…”

      What kind of a professional community of wants to push a life time of drug dependence, surgery and social rejection on innocent and confused kids? The pharmaceutical companies are getting rich off the backs of kids and the misguided therapists who are pushing this agenda. It’s madness.

      The bottom line is that this will not “fix” these kids because it is not what is wrong with them. They will come back to us. And, as is starting to happen, they will seek damages from the therapists and doctors who blindly encouraged them.

      • Kellogmom Reply

        I am sorry you’ve had the same experience. I have another appointment with this person tomorrow and I’m really tempted to record it but I know that would be illegal.

  • Kellogmom Reply

    She handed me support group information so that I can accept that my daughter is now my son. So I have done a serious amount of thinking and crying and I am disgusted with the ‘professionals’ that I have access to. I also remembered that when she was 5 she wanted to be dead so she could live with her grandma angel (my mom died when I was 7 weeks pregnant). She begged every night to die because that’s what she wanted at age 5. This carried on every night for approximately two years. By the transgender community guidelines I should have respected her desires and let her kill herself because that is what she wanted. I’m now searching for a ‘critical thinking doctor’. When I called the college of physicians at first they said they could not help. When I related the above story they paused and then said ok you can call these 2 doctors. So sometimes when you reframe an issue to a person they might just see and think differently from that point on. As for my therapy she was really happy that I’ve moved on from anger, she even clapped and said ok where are you now? I took a moment and looked her dead in the eye and said rage, I’m at the rage point.

    • susan Reply

      Oh Kellogmom—welcome to RAGE! This is insanity. I cannot wait until the lawsuits really pick up steam—there is a trickle right now—I will be there cheering the victims on. My therapist has thought the whole thing is crazy since it started. He’s a smart, highly regarded PHD who has no time for any therapist who refuses to address the underlying problems.

      My child is now—to the best of my knowledge—on T. AND she is finally seeing a therapist who specializes in girls with Aspergers. Her therapist is very aware that Aspergers girls have gender issues but they are NOT Trans. She told me what she is seeing being pushed on them is frightening and that she has a lot of patients who finally start to see the light.

      Keep up the RAGE, Kellogmom! If possible, find someone to laugh about this with. My sister has been my savior in this whole mess. She found 4th wave and we laugh about the insanity all of the time. xoxo

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