Trans Kids May Reject Family, Not the Other Way Around

Trans Kids May Reject Family, Not the Other Way Around, by journalist and filmmaker Tina Traster, was published today in Psychology Today. It was up for three hours. It had about 1,500 clicks and more than 80 comments. The editors then took it down.

In explanation, this is what the editors wrote:

“This post is more problematic than needed.”

Tina Traster is a socially-conscious, award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. She is the director of the award-winning documentary Catnip Nation and author of the award-winning memoir Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother’s Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder. She has written about the transgender trend for Psychology Today. We are happy to re-publish her post here.


Trans Kids May Reject Family, Not the Other Way Around

More than a third of New York City’s young people in foster care identify as L.G.B.T.Q. A recent report published by the Administration for Children’s Services, the city’s welfare agency, reveals this cohort is more likely to experience homelessness than their counterparts.  

The New York Times writes “While some children are placed into foster care because of abuse, neglect or poverty, many L.G.B.T.Q. teens enter the system after families reject them.” That language assumes a causal relationship between homelessness and a parent’s reaction to a child’s choices.

The A=B in this formula is disingenuous to many parents struggling to parent L.G.B.T.Q. kids. Teenagers are not necessarily entering the foster system because parents have rejected them – many enter the system because they have rejected their parents.

Let’s talk about trans kids. The generally accepted narrative among activists, the therapeutic community, and the media is that many trans kids are living with parents who reject them based on morality or intolerance. However, there are legions of parents who themselves are being rejected because they have not picked up a pair of pom poms to cheer their tween or teen through cross-dressing, name-changing, hormone-treatment and life-altering surgeries.

Parents who detected signs of gender dysphoria in their very young or prepubescent children might feel more comfortable in accepting that their child really has been disordered for a long time. But a different cohort – those grappling with a sudden “coming out” as trans at 13, 14 or even through their 20s, remain skeptical. That skepticism guided a study done by researcher Dr. Lisa Littman, who looked at why a sudden spate of teen girls were announcing themselves as trans.

Littman’s ground-breaking but controversial research focused on feedback from parents who largely said their daughter’s decision to become “trans” came out of nowhere or appeared to be related to social contagion within a friend group. Littman coined the term “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria,” which is threatening to those who believe any self-diagnosed trans-declared person deserves to be affirmed as such and should have access to any medical care to achieve transition.

And that is often the critical junction where tension escalates between “trans” children and parents. While some skeptical parents can support, or at least participate in pronoun changes, short haircuts, cross-dressing and name changing, medical intervention raises the bar. Many trans tweens and teens – who are not old enough to vote, drink legally, or marry – are, with the help of the therapeutic and medical community, starting on hormone treatment or considering double mastectomies.

In today’s culture, children spend more time with Tik Tok, Reddit, and Instagram than they do with their parents. Children believe every question can be answered on Google. If they’re looking for role models, social media influencers are there to cheerfully guide any journey, particularly for children who are led to believe they may be trans. It’s a strong suction, the internet. One that parents can hardly compete with. Add to that the new normal – a world where the policies of schools, summer camps, therapists, doctors, and social communities – reinforce the notion that being trans is cool and normal and should be supported no matter what.

Amid this pull, parents are experiencing parenting dysphoria, as they fight to preserve their relationships with children who are often taught to treat them as if they are the toxic ones. Parents tell their trans declared children that they are worried about them, that they don’t think they should make life-altering decisions, that they’re young and they should explore slowly. In return, trans children will recite what they’ve learned to parrot from internet influencers and activists. They will call these parents transphobes. They treat parents like the enemy. They will demand total buy-in or the gig is over.

Worst of all, parents find that some therapists are the ones who are accelerating the tear in the familial fabric. There is much testimony among parents of trans kids who have been told by therapists that lack of support for these children is the same as harming them.

Ultimately, particularly as children enter their late teens or early 20s, they are more emboldened to leave behind their families, to disconnect from parents who’ve wanted nothing more than to make their children happy and whole. There are many exceptions to this, of course; some trans children have suffered abuses at the hands of their families. But trans kids have also co-opted the “I was abused” phrase to describe a home life where their gender choice was not embraced, either in part or at all. Equipped with the fevered feeling to transition, the scripted language they study online, and the sense that there’s a “glitter family” out there waiting to make their world a perfect utopia, teens are more empowered than ever to walk down the lane and shut the garden gate, maintaining the belief their parents don’t love them. In many, many cases, they are very wrong.

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Jenny Cyphers

    This is my comment on the original article in Psychology Today. I don’t always save comments, but I had a feeling that article might disappear because of the firestorm of comments there.

    “Thank you for adding some much needed discourse to this topic.

    I’m a parent of a desister. I supported my teen in every way, except to allow extreme medical interventions on my teen. That singular stance put me in the position of being “unsupportive”. It’s important for parents to be knowledgeable about what it is to experience gender dysphoria and the trajectory of current standards of care for this condition. As a parent, you absolutely have the right to question medical care and how it impacts immediate and long term health. The most common narrative given to parents of kids with gender dysphoria, is that they are transgender and that if you don’t follow the path of social and/or medical transition, then your child will commit suicide. This is egregious unethical medical manipulation and absolutely should be called out.

    Parents CAN support their gender non-conforming kids who suffer with gender dysphoria. Parents CAN disagree with the premise that this experience makes their child transgender. Parents CAN seek better care and better options for their distressed children.
    There is no such thing as a transgender child. To transition a child is an extreme and experimental treatment for a stressful condition that absolutely deserves better care and treatment with parental support and care.

    Keep parents at the forefront of care for their own kids. Help kids understand that even if they disagree with their parents, that it’s better to maintain connections and improve those familial relationships. Assume that most parents are supportive of their kids.
    I helped my teen desist by creating more connections and giving her more support while not allowing her to permanently alter her body. This shouldn’t be a controversial stance to take. There were moments where my teen railed against me. This should not surprise any parent of any teen that sometimes teens don’t know best and dislike their parent’s choices. Play the long game. That’s just good parenting.”

  2. Joseph

    Thank you for your article!

    1. Dina

      Joseph thank you so much for your comment and standing up to the medical community. We are all struggling here and your comment and approach gives us strength.

  3. Loving Mom

    Excellent comment Jenny!

  4. Kay

    Thank you for posting this. We (parents of ‘out of nowhere’ gender dysphasia kids) love our children and we can see that they are struggling with something, and we are extremely worried for them on so many levels., but there is almost no guidance out there for us telling us how we can help them, what we should do, other than letting them call the shots. If we do speak up, we are demonized, which isn’t fair or just, because all we want is some HELP!

  5. Diane

    My kid, who we have fully supported and embraced and who was a very hard nut to raise with ADHD, fully and completely adopted the story that they were abused and rejected by us, the loving parents. ANY discussion is suspect and results in crying and screaming on the kid’s part. The first therapist (a transman) involved wrote a transkid manifesto that included the rejection of the family. The next did not believe in discussion as that would lead to suicide. Lay this on an instable kid who is taking hormones designed for a different body. The whole thing is a powder keg and ridiculous. My kid ran away into the loving embrace of the anime trans dysfunctional teen world and we pray that the transnet, who so fully pushed a false narrative, holds this kid and guides them as we have no more influence.

  6. J

    My heart broke in two when I was rejected by my child and told I was abusive and transphobic. All I ever said was “I love you and I want you to be happy.” I was supportive, listened, cared, tried to understand, used the chosen pronouns. I did, once, suggest that it’s good to move slowly and check in with themselves to ensure it was making them happier and giving them inner peace. That was enough. I am now quite sick myself from the anxiety and the abuse that has been hurled at me and I am disconnected and sad. My next daughter is entering her teen years now…there is an icy terror in my heart that I may lose her too. People who love you ought not to be discarded like used kleenex. How can anyone believe this is helping vulnerable kids to remove them from their circles of love and support? Has anyone studied what happens to parents after they are rejected? Does anyone care?

    1. KP

      I am going through this exact thing currently and I am completely baffled by it and very hurt. I have repeatedly stated that I love my child and have been supportive yet I am suddenly hated and heartbroken.

  7. Christina

    I feel your pain., this is exactly what happened to me and my family. I am so sorry for your pain.


  8. Karen

    I am sorry. My daughter who is transgender calls us toxic parents

  9. Kristine

    Thank you for your article. My autistic 26 year old son is now convinced he is transgender. Within 1.5 years of that decision he started female hormones and has been taking them for 6 months, dresses as a female everyday including at work, speaks in a high pitch voice, plans to legal change his name and have gender reassignment surgery in the near future. He has completely rejected his family. He acts like he is completely brainwashed. We spent decades of our lives working to help him overcome the difficulties of his autism to be tossed aside because we questioned his choice to transition so quickly. We are now the enemy. He is being love bombed by the LGBTQ community. He was assisted by someone in setting up an Instagram page with his new name. He instantly had 1,800 followers. He posts pictures of him dressing as a woman and us flooded with comments of encouragement to keep going. For an autistic person that never had friends this attention is intoxicating. So much so that he’s willing to cut us off because we questioned his decision.

  10. Kim Huselid

    We are having a similar experience with our 34 year old adult child. A rush to take hormones without thinking through consequences. We have supported them as they have struggled to get on solid ground for 10 years. Now they won’t speak to us and I worry, worry worry they are making decisions that will affect them forever. I am so heartbroken. Is there a support page for parent like us? I was so close to this child…what happened?? It feels like they have joined a cult.

  11. Maureen

    Completely agree and have talked to and met many parents that have the common story – the template is the same over and over and over. Mine was 23 yrs old when she was bought into the fold -not enough said about 20-30 yr olds – everything focuses on 18 and under -good to see some of the 20 somethings speaking out as desisters. THANKS for this website guys !

  12. Frances

    My son was my best friend, my whole world. Then he decided he was a woman. ok, I can work with that but due to a horrible therapist and online brainwashing I have completely lost my child. Every day I mourn the loss and worry about her, out in the world without the support of her family.

  13. Raven

    I am going through a similar situation with my 18YO child. She started taking testosterone as soon ash she turned 18. The dr prescribing them has only met her via a 30 min telehealth visit. I am a nurse and am blown away a dr would prescribe a life altering drug to an 18YO so easily and without much follow up. My daughter and her siblings are angry at me because I don’t support this. The health implications are terrifying. I cannot find any support groups for parents that aren’t on board with the medical transition. I feel very alone because it seems there aren’t many people that agree with me or are willing to admit it. Any recommendations?

  14. Heartbroken Mom

    My heart is breaking. We raised a son who at 27 realized that she was suffering from Gender Dysphoria. She spent years struggling and our relationship was always strained. No matter how much we supported her she had this sense of entitlement and underlining anger against us at the age 12. Before that we were very close. To our shock she sprang the news on us by phone, she was living in another state with wife and son, that she had a new gender, new name and new pro noun. Overnight we knew we had to change and accept everything. We worked very hard to join support groups, research and understand what she was going through. In reality, we were somewhat relieved because we now finally had some answers and although we lost our son we now had a daughter and were looking forward to a new relationship. Although she had hardships, lost the son, wife and incurred extreme debt, she now seemed so happy in her skin. That’s all we ever wanted. For her to be happy. Unfortunately after 2 years supporting her abroad, she moves back to the area and within a week, her abusive treatment of us returns and we have now not heard from her for 6 months. She has cut off all family, including her brother who has always been very accepting. They were very close growing up. No one has heard from her. We have tried to reach out and she ignores us. She has essentially killed us off like her dead name. I see by this thread, our situation is not unique and is rarely discussed. You always hear about the family rejecting not the other way around. It’s sad but I always thought if we accept our children for who they are they would accept us for who we are. Sadly this is a pipe dream.

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