“You will be told that gender is innate and that you’re not a proper girl”

This testimony was written for us by a mother and a teacher whose daughter once thought she was a boy over a period of three years. She is a member of parent support group Our Duty and although she must remain anonymous she tweets at Kate @garrottecake. Our Duty can also be found on Twitter at @OurDutyGrp.

We won’t say much about this post because it speaks for itself. This account reflects the unprecedented situation that parents find themselves in now and our hope is that it will be shared widely, particularly in schools. We are very grateful to the author for allowing us to publish it.


This is where we are right now. You’re not here, except in the words I say about you. But you are the reason I sit here. In this room with ten or so other parents, united only by one thing: our children believe themselves to be the opposite sex.

This isn’t a group anyone would wish to be a part of. We are fragile. Everyone cries at least at one point. The anger at authority – doctors, politicians, teachers – is palpable, as is the sense of betrayal. All of us have lost trust. Some of us have lost friends and family. For some of us, the very children we are here trying to protect have rejected us, sometimes in the most brutal of ways.

We are the bad parents who don’t believe. The parents who have faith are in every paper you open, in every YouTube video; royalty smiles on the supportive parents, and corporations line up to be a member of their glitter family. Whereas we meet in secret; we carry passports to prove our membership of our sad circle; we whisper names only if we want to. Here, we tell the truth – sometimes only in this room – and feel the luxury of it like a stretch: my son says he is a girl; my daughter says she’s a boy. It’s not real; it cannot possibly be so.

You are always on my mind and on my tongue. I’m different from anyone else in the room: at the moment, you aren’t saying you’re a boy. That passed, four years ago, when you entered a different stage of childhood. You thought that your difference meant you were a boy for three years, and I feel like I barely breathed for a lot of that time. I knew what the NHS said about children who were persistent, consistent and insistent in saying they were the opposite sex. Children who only played with the opposite sex. Children who exhibited extreme distress at being made to wear the “wrong” gendered clothing or hair. This was you. 

Not any more. You still have the same likes and dislikes (you’re known for your constancy) but now, for this precious time, you are proud to be a different sort of girl. You are embarrassed to be reminded that once you said otherwise, sliding off the sofa with an eye roll at your youthful self as you go to play football with your mates. 

So why am I worried? Why do I sit here with these parents, one of them and not one of them? Maybe I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t a teacher. You see, they aren’t very much older than you, those girls. The girls I’ve always taught, have always known, who close their arms and hide their bodies from approaching womanhood. Girls chose to starve themselves until they disappeared back in my day. At the start of my career, they chose razor blades to peel away the flesh they hated. 

And now they have a different way.

One of my friends at school didn’t starve, or cut. But she stopped speaking to any of us, buried herself in her books and was never seen again. When I started teaching I recognised this girl for the first time in others, and realised she’d been a lesbian and that was the difference, that the difficulty. I felt terrible that she’d never been able to say. Now, however, I watch these girls, the different ones (so like you) and they are absorbed into a rainbow fantasy. They dress like butches always have but that’s not what they call it anymore. Now they call it “being a boy”. They bind their breasts. They change their names. They join the queue for drugs and surgeries. For the chance to be someone new. For escape. Even five years ago, I had never seen this in my school. Now it’s commonplace.

In the staff room, people applaud. They say to me: “isn’t it great that these kids can finally be themselves”, as they self-consciously correct themselves around the new pronouns, the new names. Teachers think of themselves as accepting and kind: this is kindness, now. There are very few who object, and most of these are the moaners: “what, another one?” they say, and roll their eyes because it makes their life harder. There are fewer who are like me, who knock on doors and say “maybe this is dangerous?” Always trying to be as neutral as possible: I am aware that women like me are regarded as dangerous witches. I do not want to lose my job.

But I’m on a countdown. I have three years until you become a teenager. Three years until you start to move away from me and hear other voices ahead of mine. And I know, you see, what’s out there. I’ve seen the LGBT+ assemblies, the posters on the walls and the leaflets; the words put in your teachers’ mouths. You will be told that gender is innate and that you’re not a proper girl. Can the resistance we have built up to this idea survive when you turn from me to the outer world?

So I sit here, in this room, and listen, and speak, and cry. And I know this small and fragile group will take what we say here and bring it out into the world to try to change it. What else can we do? You need us.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Tony Turner

    How very moving, and unsettling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We need more people like you to put forward a different perspective, to counteract the other more strident voices which insist that it is normal for young boys and girls to change gender.

  2. Dhrdng

    Brave & heartbreaking post. Thank you for for putting it together.

  3. Bex

    Thank you for your bravery, your honesty and for your truth. I am one of those parents. My daughter is one of those girls. My life is on ha razor’s edge until she realises she is who she is. I pray it won’t come too late.

  4. Eva

    I feel all of this. Thank you!

  5. Daidri Vejil

    A wonderful article. I have a daughter who thinks she’s a boy. Im enraged at a world that presents this ridiculousness as a valid choice. Its insanity. Im angry at a doctor who after 15 minutes with my 18 year old daughter agreed she really is a boy and prescribed powerful injectable testosterone. It’s 100% malpractice.

  6. Lyndsey Simpson

    Parents- please get involved in your kids’ school in any way you can, PTA, governor, join the diocesan board of trustees if it’s a church school, whatever. It gives you a voice, and be brave and confident in using it. It’s good when the staff are a little bit nervous of you (as long as you’re friendly and an asset in as many ways as possible!). They’re being asked to teach nonsense, many of them are not alert to it at all. As a last resort, move schools. There is a place for stay-at-home mums to take this on. It’s a great use of your time.

  7. Sarah Read.

    As a educator, I share your concerns. I am near retirement now and worry about young teachers coming into the profession and how they’re to be programmed. My son, who shares my views on this collective delusion, worries more than me as he is at the beginning of his career. Recently I was made aware of a referral form to a young person’s mental health service in which “gender identity” issues and “preferred pronouns” were to be defined. I will not provoke youngsters about this issue. I will not ask them such questions. I will merely fill in the form with gender and sex correlating naturally. This world is hard enough for our children without destabilising them in this manner.

  8. Joanne Fithian

    I feel your pain. My granddaughter who has been very feminine, loved girl clothes, dolls, fixing hair, wearing make up, no signs of wanting to be a boy until a year ago. She now dresses like a boy( which I dont care about that) wears piercings, wants tattoos, short bleached hair and says she is a boy. She is a pretty girl with a great figure who now binds her breasts. She has had a lot of mental instability and now her mother has taken her to a mental health dr and she put her on Ambilify, an anti- physicotic drug. She went thru a rough spell at 13 with her brother moving in with her dad, had a little sister born and was bullied at school. On top of that her mom wants to be her friend and not her mother. Plus her mother has mental instability too. She lives with her mom and my son who is her father does not know what to do. We love her, and accept her but do not believe she is a boy. I believe in transgender, but she has never shown any signs of being a boy. She is 16 now. I have cried over it and have even been to a therapist. Her school calls her by her boy name and she uses the boys bathroom. She is an “authority” on transgender and I dont believe this would have happened if it was not for the internet. I just hope and pray that this will work out.

    1. Transgender Trend

      Yes, we’re happy for our resources to be used as long as there is attribution and a link back to the original on our website.

  9. Lizzie M

    As a teacher of 23 years, this whole thing concerns me as well. I have not had the experience as a parent though, I am only imagine the pain and difficulty.

    This is dangerous, no doubt about it. I am scared to even talk about it though, if the JK situation had taught me anything (and it has, really has!). No open discussion is allowed in the slightest; I would instantly be named a TERF and insulted and cancelled. How do we deal with this as concerned teachers? Empathic truly caring people who live to help teens ?

  10. Azia C

    Well written and poignant. Thank you for writing this.

  11. Laurie Weber

    Yesterday my 20-year-old daughter informed me she started testosterone via a Planned Parenthood doctor and now thinks she is a man. She never presented this thought before now. There is nothing in Ohio, USA, that I can find online, only support for transitioning. Do you have any resources or connections to help?

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