8,760 the number of days since I fell in love with my daughter, sat and held her for hours in the still of the early morning wondering what adventures we would have.
8,760 the number of days since I happily took on the mission to do whatever I needed to clear the road for my child and see round all the corners.
0 the number days since I realized I was massively under prepared and unworthy of the gift I had been given 8,760 days ago.
686 the number of days that I haven’t seen my daughter.
758 the number of days that I haven’t had any communication with my daughter.
0 the number of days that I haven’t missed her with every fibre of my being.
5 the number of days that I haven’t had to bear witness to the gut-wrenching pain in the eyes of another bewildered parent that’s been hit with the wrecking ball of trans ideology.
43 the number of days that I haven’t had to sit with my husband while we’re balled on the floor sobbing for our child.
0 the number of days that I haven’t blamed myself for losing my grip on my child’s hand when she was in the deep water.
Ragged, I smile, I joke, I try to find the beauty in the little things. A stray cat wandering along the sidewalk offers itself for a stroke and chin scratch. We both enjoy the moment. The tree wearing autumn in the sun. The tree I planted with my daughter. I am back in the pit of my stomach, lurching between tears and fury.
Respite comes from sitting with others in the same liminal space for the wretched and worn. I don’t have to hold my breath or watch my words. We are all wrestling with the knowledge we are ready to lay waste to the world if we thought it would save our children, but we’re also impotent to act, because we fear losing our children forever.
Children who have been bullied, side-lined, assaulted, abused, groomed, whispered to, forced to pick a side, made to believe that, because they are confused and distressed, they shouldn’t trust their instincts and turn to those that love them the most. Children who have been told they shouldn’t trust those who have picked them up when they’ve tumbled, held them close, brushed them off and carried them on their shoulders when they couldn’t carry themselves another step.
Parents have set up groups to support each other. They pick the rest of us up along the way. We have become the experts in this field. We consume all the reports, articles, and discussions. We visit the dark web, the vile web, keep up on the lingo, figuring out how to block sites, which games are good, which are bad, track usage, read the subreddits, the chatrooms of ‘shipping’ sites, check the GoFundMes for the familiar faces of our children, passing on information that might be useful to others through closed channels and hushed conversations, like a modern day resistance. We wade through the same internet routes that drew in our children, trying to gasp, understand, find that magic thing that we can use to bring them back. It alludes us all.
Some of us write to anyone who will listen. Some of us don’t have the words. Some of us reach out to politicians, doctors, therapists, social workers, nurses, journalists and teachers, trying to help them understand the devastation that is being wrought. Some of us don’t have the words.
I will be forever grateful to those parents who are doing this work, while they too are dealing with their own trauma, because I don’t have the words. Most of the time I have just impotent rage.
Others have set up organizations to give parents a voice, a pipeline to other professionals and influencers, people who might not immediately see parents as credible, worthy of their time, stable. They have recognized that our voices and stories needed to be amplified and have put their time, money and professional reputations on the line to make sure we’re heard. They can push in ways that we can’t, to be interviewed, to give talks, to attend conferences, to open avenues to other professionals who are waking up and looking for a way out. They are throwing a life raft to whistle blowers, moving the institutional conversation on. For all this, they are pilloried and suffer personal attacks, taking the full ire of the trans lobby and their allies.
Cancellation, stigma and public abuse are the weapons of choice for those who perceive a transgression has been committed. Impotent rage is no match against the righteous on a mission and I don’t have the words.
So, I thank those individuals and organisations that shield me from the worst of the abuse by putting themselves front and centre, saying the things that I cannot, articulating my glottal paralysis into something that others will understand.
I hang on the words of those that have been there and come out the other side. They give me hope. Parents whose children have desisted are congratulated, they saved one, we saved one, but not our own, not yet. For those like me, we ravenously consume the Detransitioner accounts, still looking for that magic thing that we can say or use to bring our children back from the depths. But the ugly truth is they may never come back. They may never feel the need to return and then we parents will need those support groups and organisations to be ready to catch us, brush us off and stand guard while we piece ourselves together. There is an avalanche of parents like me on the horizon. We seem small, distant and silent, but we will wreak a thunderous havoc on the medical, political and social landscape when we descend.
So I thank those individuals who have stepped forward to share their experience of being behind the looking glass, in the upside-down and I’m sorry that we are still so ill equipped to give you the medical and social support that you need, but heartened that more help is on the way and more people are aware of what you’ve gone through. You’ve helped me understand what my daughter may need when the white rabbit leads her back.
I have learned not to expect anyone to have “the answer” to all this. Anyone who professes to know the solution is not being honest. They are selling homespun hope to the desperate and anguished to bolster their own ego and self-righteous mission.
I have learned that my long held feminist views are tested, daily, when speaking about dysphoria, gender non-conformity and the hard lines that many in this have taken.
I have learned when to hold my tongue and enter the fray when I’m feeling strong, sure and stable.
I have learned that this is a marathon for parents, not a race or a test. Slow and steady, one foot in front of the other.
0 the number of days that have passed where I haven’t felt hopeful that this madness will end one day.
0 the number of days that have passed where I haven’t been grateful for the help and support of others.
0 the numbers of days that I haven’t missed my daughter with every fibre of my being.