Counselor Ignores Parents’ Request to Review Son’s Past Mental Health Issues
This is a transcript of a Partners for Ethical Care (PEC) parent story. The original version can be found here, and the podcast version can be found here, as part of PEC’s podcast series, “The Witness: True Stories of Children and Gender Identity.”
Like so many others who claim to be transgender, our young adult son is a loner, gifted, introverted, socially awkward, on the Autism spectrum, diagnosed with depression and spends too much time on the internet, on sites such as Reddit and Deviant Art and video games. To the unsuspecting eye, these sites appear benign.
While he was in high school, we had knock down battles with him over the amount of time spent on the internet. Had we really known what was going on, his story might have been SO much different. He was on the high school wrestling team and took great pride in his appearance and style; he dated numerous girls. He did however experience depression and was on Prozac. We did have access to his doctor and diagnosis. Nothing ever came up about being transgender or suicidal.
Fast forward to his junior year at a private university where he was excelling yet again. The depression returned. He sought mental health care from a licensed professional counselor at his university who referred him to a private LPC. He was prescribed Pristiq. We voiced many concerns about the safety of this medication. We asked him if he liked this new counselor and he said yes. Wanting to respect our son’s privacy, we didn’t ask about the cause of his depression; we thought it was related to his fears about death and dying, over which he would obsess at that time in his life.
He dropped the bombshell on us the week after his sister’s wedding. Our reaction scared him. We raised some facts and questions, causing our son to compartmentalize this revelation for over a year. The 2nd time he “came out” to us was one year after his college graduation. He was becoming very successful in his professional career and he had been dating his “soulmate” girlfriend for over a year.
Our son made a self-diagnosis of dysphoria without ever consulting a professional.
At that time, he agreed to let us meet his new LPC who identifies as a transgender woman in an LGBTQ clinic. The so-called expert told us we should affirm, embrace, celebrate and don’t question the treatment. This LPC labeled me homophobic and anti-trans because we brought up our son’s past mental health issues. This therapist did nothing to ease the tension that had escalated between our son and us during this 1-hour session.
Our son agreed to see what we thought was an unbiased psychiatrist for both individual and family sessions. Once our son mentioned the thought that he might be transgender, the entire approach taken by this professional changed. The therapist immediately began referring to our son as she. Affirmation and navigating the transgender path quickly became the “treatment.” There is still a misguided notion that exists regarding transgender protocol and mental health care which is that one must live as the newly-identified gender for a specified time. THERE IS NO LONGER SUCH A PROTOCOL.
His narrative sounds scripted and eerily similar to other young adults in his situation and taken straight from internet sites and threads we’ve read that are pro-trans. After one trip to a physician’s assistant and signing an informed consent form (no medical/mental health history taken) he began taking female hormones. (Potential side effects were NOT fully discussed.)
He’s been on hormones over 2 years, he has become disrespectful and dismissive toward his family, dropped the girlfriend who wants no part of this, has left his promising job of two years and has moved 200 miles away. He has changed his name and his gender marker. His new company is “inclusive of diversity” and calls him by his new name and preferred pronouns. He wears dresses, carries a purse and has pierced ears. Once again, he is on antidepressants and is contemplating an orchiectomy.
We do not and will not affirm him. This is a lie. Taking hormones and antidepressants concurrently is a recipe for disaster. Thorough mental health care, not irreversible cosmetic changes to his body, is what our son needs.
Somebody please help.