Dear President Obama
On this Presidents Day I hope you decide to speak up about the out of control transgender train
My daughter was 5 years old when you became president. On inauguration day, she went to school with patriotic-themed ribbons tied around her little blond pigtails. Looking back now I can see that there should have been nothing at all political in my 5-year-old child’s life. But it was a moment of such hope for the country and our whole family celebrated. Our front porch that day was decorated with campaign signs and red, white, and blue streamers.
As my children grew older, we took time each year to pay tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. on his namesake holiday. We took trips to museums, went to movie screenings, listened to the “I Have a Dream” speech. Your second inauguration fell on an MLK holiday. By this time my children were beginning to resist the museums and planned activities but I was able to bribe them that day with some sort of take-out food. We sat down and watched (most) of the ceremony before I let them head to the park with their friends. Today, I look back on these early DEI lessons with much less certainty. Had I simplified and romanticized an ugly and awful struggle? Was I, at that point, participating for some sort of virtue adrenaline rush and to ensure I was counted among those on the right side of history? As Fred Sargeant said, Pride used to be a march, not a parade. When your child comes to great harm you rethink a lot of what you did. I wonder now if I intruded upon her development and imposed a false division between her and her classmates. Placed her in a category that could later be exploited. I was busy making sure she was kind and tolerant but what other lessons did I miss? I do know that I made bending that arc towards the next social justice movement an exalted goal. Today, my daughter has taken up the trans flag and is participating in the social justice cause of her generation. My kind, intelligent and honest daughter with boundless potential for good, has been pulled into a movement perverted by hubris, dishonesty and authoritarianism. For me, it was hard to square that striving for justice could ever have a dark side. But you, as a student of history, must have already understood this lesson well.
Hindsight can be lethal. Looking back, I can see the moment I was celebrating with ribbons and streamers was the start of a shift in our society that would lead here—to a grief that consumes me. My daughter uses my employer’s health insurance policy to purchase testosterone that she injects into her thigh on a weekly basis. Using insurance, it costs her about $15 for a 3-month supply. I have not actually witnessed any of these shots. But I do, like many other parents I would guess, have an image of this in my mind’s eye. My daughter was 18 when she obtained this prescription. According to her state university’s website, the university will not initiate hormone treatments but will help maintain a prescription. The university refers students to the local Planned Parenthood where all they need is one appointment and their signature on an “informed” consent form. My health insurance policy also deems a double mastectomy for a trans-identified teenage girl to be medically necessary. My daughter can access this surgery with minimal safeguarding and at a cost of what amounts to a summer’s worth of earnings.
I don’t think this was your intent when you and your administration championed trans inclusion and wrote non-discrimination guidelines into healthcare. I am sure that when your administration endorsed and codified the concept of a gender identity, you didn’t expect teenage girls on Tumblr to take it and run with it. Affirming identities and promoting access to care for a rare and marginalized population seemed kind. I probably didn’t take much note of these policies at the time but of course I would have supported any policy that seemed kind and progressive. By now I am sure you understand that these treatments are no longer rare and that a significant portion of the population accessing this care are highly vulnerable girls and young women. There are certainly many factors funneling young female angst and distress into the gender vortex. But there is no doubt that the expansion of coverage has done much to propel the meteoric rise in gender clinics and gender-affirming medical procedures. We can see that doctors are willing rush in and address demand when the financial rewards are guaranteed.
I am sure you remember how difficult it can be to say no to your child. How it leaves your child feeling powerless, misunderstood, miserable—and hateful. It is important for you to understand that, when kids are absorbing trans doctrine, that potential for hate is ratcheted up to dangerous levels. Children are primed to expect rejection and to view any questioning by their parents as hate. This interpretation is then validated all around them in our society. To question is to hate—even termed terrorism in some instances. Valid concerns about unproven medical treatments on minors are labeled in the mainstream media as “anti-trans”. My child has grown up in a society so polarized that she never had the benefit of diverse opinions or honest discussions. I am the only voice in my child’s life telling her that she cannot change sex, that doctors don’t know what the f*** they are doing and that she cannot know at 18 if she will want a child at 30. (I am bleeping my language here out of respect for your office, not out of any respect for these doctors). Since I have crossed to the other side of the battle lines, I have been rendered powerless to help my child. One day I think she will understand that I am speaking out because of love and my instinct to protect. But for now, I am labeled as either unsupportive, bigoted or hateful, or sometimes all three, by my daughter and a large portion of society. I think now I do have a glimpse of what a real fight for justice may feel like. Or at least I know what is feels like to be in an exhausting march day in and day out and to feel the sting of betrayal from institutions that you thought were there to serve and protect you.
So President Obama, my request to you is that you use that communication apparatus of yours to get a message out into the public domain. Send a word of caution. Offer some nuance on the topic. Give permission to other liberals to express concerns. If you can get a message out there, my side of the battle will know how to amplify it. One thing I must be honest about—a message from you won’t matter to my young adult child. She isn’t a big fan anymore. A message from Bernie . . . maybe? But a message from you would matter to her parents and to society at large. I won’t try to persuade Bernie—or even Joe. I know it is a big ask for someone still in the political game. But with you I think I stand a chance. I still trust your judgement and your ability to look deeply at an issue. On that cold, sunny and hopeful day back in January 2009, neither you nor I had any idea where my actions or your policies would lead. But now that we do, let’s accept that hatred is a fair price to pay to protect these children.
Your 2X supporter