Fighting for our son’s life...and our own
14 1⁄2 years ago, I met a man and fell in love with him. Like so many others, we combined our two divorced families into one. At that time, he brought in his 4 year old son, LJ, and I brought my 3 and 1 1⁄2 year old sons, Ace and Colt. We never thought in a million years that we would go through what we’ve been through. How the hell our marriage even survived is a mystery to us both. We weren’t bent, we were broken. We’ve been broken many times and mended just as many.
Although LJ is technically my step-son, he became my son. His biological mom has been in and out of his life, when it’s convenient for her, since he was two. When she would come back into his life, she would wreak havoc on his mental and emotional health. Ace and Colt had a similar relationship with their biological dad—however they experienced physical abuse as well, and Ace was sexually abused. It’s a long story, but we didn’t know about the physical abuse for years and only recently learned about the sexual abuse Ace endured.
It’s important to note that LJ was diagnosed with Social Communication Disorder (SCD) when he was 11. If he were to be tested now (and he will be retested soon), he would be considered high functioning autistic. In addition, he has always been smaller than the other kids. He was born blue (not breathing) and had physical issues up until his toddler years that we think stunted his growth for a while. It is also important to note that Ace was diagnosed as bipolar for a very long time. Nothing ever worked to help his moods. We recently discovered the sexual abuse and now we know that it is actually PTSD. It’s also important to note that Colt is gay. We are fully accepting of his preference for men. LJ is now 19, almost 20, Ace is 17, and Colt is 16.
LJ started high school five years ago. He had always had social issues (the SCD), but it was just enough to make him seem a little weird. He was picked on occasionally, but not often. He had a handful of good friends and a girlfriend that he had been with for a year. He had also just completed his first summer job. Even though he lived with the issues from Ace’s mood disorder (which were severe), he was happy. He smiled and laughed all the time. He was so damn proud of himself for working all summer and making his own money. He had built up biceps and abs and he LOVED that, though he might be small, now he was mighty! Our sweet little science loving, video game playing, superhero worshipping nerd was growing up. We were proud of him. He was starting high school and becoming a good man.
A series of unfortunate events took place in the time frame of 6 months. LJ’s grandfather (my husband’s step-dad) passed away. LJ and his grandfather were best friends. He grieved for his grandfather. LJ became different after his grandfather’s passing. I think he felt abandoned by his grandfather. I also think he felt alone in his grief because the rest of us did not mourn the way he did.
A few months later, LJ’s bio-mom came back into his life. Actually, it was his half-brother that reached out to us and the bio-mom just kind of followed the half-brother’s lead. That family had been completely out of touch with LJ for 4 years. We thought he was mature enough to make the decision of whether he wanted to contact his other family. He chose to do so.
Immediately, the oppositional parenting started. His other family would tell him the exact opposite of what we would. It caused a lot of problems. The problem was that LJ knew the things his bio-mom had done, or hadn’t done, when he was little. But, he wanted so badly for her to be the mother he wanted that he ignored that. They told him I was to blame for his troubles and he bought into it. It was a terrible situation that began to tear our family limb from limb.
Then, only a few months after that, after a year and a half relationship, LJ’s girlfriend broke up with him. He was devastated. She told him that they would remain friends and he believed her. Those of us who have had our hearts broken before know that that almost never happens. Since most of his friends were mutual friends of hers, he really didn’t have many people to hang out with anymore.
We tried to help him move on with his life. But, he still didn’t laugh nearly as much as he used to and he didn’t smile nearly as often. Then, he made some new friends. They accepted him and tried to help him with his break up. We had no idea what was happening socially concerning the Trans community, so we never thought twice about his new friends mostly being LGBTQ.
About a month later, I noticed LJ was wearing a sports bra. It was then that he told us that he wanted to be a girl. We told him that that was not acceptable. We explained to him that real transgenderism is incredibly rare and that you can’t just change your gender because you want to. He told us that being a boy was just too hard. We didn’t accept this and told him he would not be transitioning.
LJ’s sophomore year started. His brother, Ace, was now a freshman in high school. He had been doing amazing with his behavior by this point and we had high hopes for him having a great school year. LJ’s friends were secretly taking females clothes to him to change into when he got to school and out of when school was over so we wouldn’t know. The school allowed this. The school also started calling LJ by his preferred name and pronouns. The other kids in school didn’t say anything to LJ about his dressing like a girl. They knew that that’s how you ended up on social media as a transphobe. So, they went after Ace. Ace was teased relentlessly about his older brother dressing like a girl. With his mental issues, this quickly turned into anger and Ace started lashing out. He asked LJ to help and defend him. LJ refused. He called Ace a transphobe for not defending him and abandoned his brother to the bullies.
We noticed that LJ was going to feminist websites, Trans websites, and started talking to random people online and giving them personal information. He even started catfishing men in various places telling them he was a girl and talking to them about very explicit sexual things. After numerous warnings, blocking, and groundings from his phone and laptop, we ended up taking away both permanently. He hated us for it. His friends and other family told him that we were just being controlling and that we didn’t really know him. He turned against us. He completely demolished his relationship with me. He was so mean and hurtful that I couldn’t look at him without getting angry and hurt. He constantly lied to his dad (who took over the bulk of his parenting at that point) and refused to do what he was told.
Then, the pandemic happened. This was what broke LJ. He couldn’t go to school and didn’t get to see his other family much because they were afraid of getting sick. He was stuck at home with the brother and parents he hated. He was only able to talk to his friends on our home phone and it had to be in our presence so we knew he wasn’t talking to some random person about sexually explicit things. He was spiraling into depression. We tried a couple different therapists for him, but they were all gender affirming and made everything so much worse. LJ kept saying that we hated him because we accepted Colt as gay, but not him as a female. We stopped the therapy after that.
Ace asked to be home schooled because he couldn’t deal with all the bullying anymore. Colt didn’t want to deal with it, as he would have been going into that high school soon, so they both ended up being home schooled. LJ stayed in public school. He was dressing as a female full time at this point. We were so exhausted, hurt, and depressed that we just didn’t even refute it anymore. He and I hardly spoke and the majority of the stuff he spoke to my husband about was all lies anyway. And, LJ’s depression continued to get worse.
LJ spent the summer after his junior year with his bio-mom. He was 18 years old by that point, so we really couldn’t say anything. My husband made LJ promise that he wasn’t going to move out and that he would come home and finish his senior year of school. He came back home for two weeks, was even more depressed, and moved in with his half-brother after that. It was a plan that they set in motion over the summer. I’ve seen my husband cry a handful of times in 14 1⁄2 years. That night, I held him as he sobbed for our son and cried with him. We had failed. And we were lost.
LJ moved in with his half-brother. He did finish out his senior year, but because he had to work to try and supplement bills, his grades plummeted and he ruined his chances of going to a prestigious four year college. He was able to start estrogen with only one online visit to a therapist. Before LJ finished his senior year, his brother told him that he was moving and that LJ would have to find his own place. LJ had no real life experience at this point. That other family that said they understood him and wanted to be there for him abandoned him, yet again, and he had nowhere to go.
LJ ended up moving in with his grandmother (my Mother-in-law) after high school. After 6 months of living with his grandmother, and her even calling him by his preferred name and pronouns, she deemed that he was just too depressed for her to handle and told him he needed to move home.
While LJ was gone, my husband and I started trying to put our family back together. Unfortunately, Ace couldn’t overcome his trauma, broke the law, and wound up in jail. He is still there. Colt is in therapy for the trauma he has been through and is starting to do much better. My husband and I are still in therapy. We still have work to do, but we are getting there. Thanks to our working on healing ourselves, we were able to make a plan for LJ to come home. And, he did come home.
We compromised with him. We call him by his initials, LJ, but will not use female pronouns and do our best to avoid pronoun use altogether. He is required to go to therapy once a week (that we pay for) and it is a therapist that specializes in trauma that is not gender affirming. He happily goes every week. He will also be starting at the community college in the fall. We bought him a car (in my name, not his until he gets a grip on his depression).
He still presents as a female. He knows that we don’t agree with his transitioning and that we will never support it. But, he was also able to sit down and listen to our reasons. His depression is slowly getting better. I’ve seen my son smile and laugh a lot since he has been home.
So, why did I tell you this long story? So you might be able to learn. So someone might see this and recognize something in their life and try to fix it. What I’ve told you is only a very small fraction of everything that happened. If I told you all of it, you’d be on chapter 84 of my book by now. But, people need to know. People need to hear what parents are going through. And, not just parents, but the siblings and other family members.
My son wants to transition because he is afraid of dealing with his trauma. He has abandonment issues, difficulty fitting in (the SCD/autism), and has witnessed sexual assault (long story) and that caused him to hate sex and male body parts. This stuff is difficult for children to work through. They think it’s easier to just change who they are and leave the past in the past. What they don’t understand is that the past never goes away and it will catch up with you.
Even though we are in a better place, we are still watching our son destroy himself. He is fighting his body’s natural processes, so he is always sick. He always has a stomachache, headache, or has no appetite. He battles depressive episodes. He is so skinny that he looks malnourished (probably is). It scares me. But, we’ve just got to keep trying.
And, to those who read this that are on the other side of this transgender movement, those who promote it, those who affirm it: how dare you! How dare you make parents watch helplessly as you take our children from us and then tell us we are horrible people. How dare you say that you know my child better than I do. The child that I raised. How dare you come in and tell my child at one of the most impressionable ages of their lives that I don’t know him. YOU don’t know him. No one loves my child as much as I do. Because of people like you, we ended up fighting for our son’s life and fighting for our own. So take your transgender bullshit and shove it.