A Letter to a School Administrator and Counselor from a Mom in the Trenches
Dear Counselor and School Administrator:
In recent conversations about gender inclusion at our school, I noticed some language around parents that troubled me, particularly the label "unsupportive" in reference to those who do not prioritize gender identity over sex or who question whether “gender" is the best label for what they see going on with their child.
What I've learned over my many years as a parent of someone in the trans identified community is that the majority of kids who are gender questioning or adopt a trans identity in adolescence have neurological differences such as autism, ADHD or OCD, and/or mental health challenges such as bipolar, depression, anxiety, and/or non-normative sexual orientations such as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Parents know this, they see this, and they may see that concretizing gender identity when a child is struggling with other issues is not appropriate.
These parents, despite popular opinion, are the opposite of unsupportive. It’s time for therapists and schools to understand this, and to honor and respect the parents’ essential role in their children’s upbringing. I'm attaching a couple of articles by therapists in this context, one on triangulation and the other on helping clients focus on the larger issues they may have in light of lurking triangulation. I hope that school leaders, counselors and teachers will take care not to frame parents as unsupportive when it comes to their children’s gender identity.
Also despite popular opinion, the existence of “gender identity” is not grounded in science. It's how some people conceptualize their feelings about gender roles and sex-based stereotypes, but it's a hotly contested concept. Many feel it's led to the alienation of parents and the unnecessary medicalization of a generation of gender stereotype non-conforming young people.
For a wider perspective on gender identity, I highly recommend the Gender: A Wider Lens podcast, which takes a global, holistic view of the topic. It is my hope that you will take the time to review some of the resources I have provided, and that the school begins to provide equal support to parents on all sides of the gender controversy.