A Light in the Dark?
How I got here
Please join DIAG, Democrats for an Informed Approach to Gender. We are an organization of lifelong Democratic voters working to depoliticize and shed light on the ideologically driven "gender affirming care" medical scandal. To change the discussion around gender ideology, we need numbers. We need you. To learn more, go to di-ag.org.
We’ll be launching our new website today, February 12th, 8 pm EST, 5pm PST, and celebrating with an X Space Launch Party. Hope to see you there! If you missed it, here are the recordings part one and part two. There are two parts because of technical problems. Works best to listen from your phone.
The story behind the launch of this effort will be a familiar one to many readers on this site. Please read on to learn more. You may see yourself here.
It’s 7 pm, well past dark already, even though I can feel spring just beyond the reach of my outstretched fingertips. The camelias are blooming as are the trees with their delicate chains of yellow pom poms that look so pretty but smell musky and awful. I don’t know where my son is. It’s late and he hasn’t come home, won’t read my texts or pick up my call.
He had been fine at home, and with me, since dropping out of college after one semester. It wasn’t a surprise, really, although I had hope. We dropped him off and I wondered if, taking advantage of the sudden independence at 17, he’d find a way to illegally access estrogen. But he seemed to be making friends and was excited about his classes and his professors, and gender seemed to have taken a back seat to life. After a rocky start, when he didn’t talk to us for a month, he made contact. After another month, he and I were FaceTiming on Saturday evenings, when most of the kids — largely locals at the small midwestern school — were home for the weekend. Toward the end of the semester things started unravelling. First small frays at the edges. “I think I want to change my major.” And then, “I think I might want to drop out.” I don’t know what happened, or if anything happened. Maybe it was just that homesickness and overwhelm set it. Like the rest of my son’s inner world, I am not allowed access.
I was so calm and kind. Measured. And so proud of myself, having talked him off of the proverbial ledge. Everything was fine. He was fine. Staying in school. And then a week later, more talk of dropping out. Definitely dropping out. No, fine. I’m fine. Maybe I’ll drop out. I’m definitely dropping out.
I convinced him to at least take his finals. He slept through one, flunking a class he could have easily passed. Another F in some other class. No idea which one. It doesn’t matter. But he passed the rest and did well in some. We welcomed him home, while not making any official moves to withdraw him, secretly hoping he’d change his mind.
In January I flew back, packed up his stuff in the giant plastic bins he’d insisted on keeping in his dark, depressing cubicle of a dorm room, and flew primarily dirty laundry 2,400 miles home.
For the first month and a half, he and I had a great time. He enrolled in the local community college with solid plans and excitement over where he was headed. And then suddenly he was angry with me. Sulking and seething at first, and then furious, with no explanation. And then it all came rushing back and the rage I’d seen two and a half years ago, back when I’d refused to consent to hormones for my then 15-year-old son, against the advice of the clinical director who’d never set eyes upon him and my affirming husband who wanted an end to the incessant explosions, came flooding out.
“Cancer should have killed you! You were supposed to die! Kill yourself! Kill yourself NOW!” And then tears and moaning. How I’d withheld his medical care and now he was stuck in this body — the perfectly healthy body of a tall, handsome young man with long hair and the golden skin and ambiguous beauty that you see in mixed race kids.
And my heart just fell apart into a million pieces. My son believed that he was broken. Wrong. Wrecked by the natural process of growing up. Believed that I was solely responsible for his torment, and — because only hatred and bigotry could compel a mother to stand in the way of her child’s lifesaving care — that this was a justifiable way to respond. This ugly world had done this to him. Lied to him and everyone else. And they all believed.
Except for those who didn’t.
I was lucky to find a support group for non-affirming parents toward the end of our first year as the parent of an ROGD kid. I have learned so much from them. They are family now. I love them. And I grieve as much for their children as I do for my own son. As much as I do for all the damaged children and their devastated, exhausted, confused, traumatized families.
And that’s why I started DIAG, Democrats for an Informed Approach to Gender. Because this brutal, senseless harm simply has to end, as does the illiberal ideology that nurtures it. Otherwise, we accept a post-truth world where an assembly line of children are celebrated into rejecting themselves. How is it kind to lie to a child? How is it progressive to medically, irreversibly, align children with regressive stereotypes? Why is this the only time in history we’ve seen this phenomenon? And why can’t we talk about it?
I began to gather these mothers and thinkers and writers and journalists around me to help reach our fellow Democrats, because I believe that most liberals know this has gone bad. DIAG is about being counted as a Democrat (or politically homeless/recently ex-Democrat) who stands against the belief that introducing medical harm into healthy bodies is a reasonable response to mental distress. It’s about giving people a voice and the power you get when you can say to your elected official or your candidate, I’m part of DIAG and I represent 1,000 or 5,000 or 10,000 disillusioned, disaffected Dems, and we want to have a word with you.
Just as importantly, it’s about reaching our family and friends and neighbors. We have to shift the narrative away from a political one to a question about what “care” actually looks like when you rely on evidence rather than ideology.
We must be able to have those difficult conversations and change hearts and minds. We know what doesn’t work — the facts and the evidence and the obvious. Now we need to find out what does, and we need to connect and build the skills it takes to change one mind at a time until we reach the tipping point. We need a nationwide public health messaging campaign (from the world in which I professionally dwell) to protect our vulnerable young people and provide parents with the information they need to safeguard their family. At some point, hopefully not far off, when the country shifts to catch up with… Alberta, Canada, we will need a way to help all those people who have been harmed and to guide the stragglers back to reality. I believe DIAG can help lead that effort as well.
These are big goals, I know, I know, but we have massive challenges to face, and like it or not, each of us is on the front line.