For the parent of an adult ROGD “child”
Much of what I read and see about gender dysphoria and transgender issues concerns younger children, mainly pre-teen and teens. I’m older (61), and so is my daughter (23). I’ve been in this a long time (coming on four years since she medicalized). In some ways I’m envious of the “younger” parents, and/or parents of the young. They have some control over the drugs their child takes, name changes, and if surgery is on the table. Don’t get me wrong—I understand that dealing with a child who is under the delusion he/she can change sexes is maddening at any age—but experiencing this with an adult child is a slightly different challenge.
Adult children don’t need their parents’ permission to move forward with any procedures. They can easily obtain hormones at Planned Parenthood. If they can afford it, they can proceed to surgery whenever they want. They can legally change their names. All this is possible from age 18.
So, finding myself in an impotent position, but still terrified of what gender ideology is doing to my daughter’s brain and what testosterone is doing to her health, here’s what I tell myself. Perhaps these mantras may help you, fellow older parent:
This is a fad and fads end. Someday it may be deeply uncool to be trans.
Most people leave cults. According to Pat Ryan, cult mediation specialist, 90% of people who affiliate with these groups leave them on their own. Gender ideology has cult like features and attractions. I don’t think Pat Ryan would classify gender as a cult but it sure is a powerful belief system
Some of this is normal. These trans-identified adult children are doing an age-appropriate thing—separating from their parents, and developing as an individual—they are just doing this in an inappropriate and harmful way.
Detransitioning is not a panacea. As much as you wish they would detransition, all your problems will not go away if/when they do. I find myself indulging in that fantasy sometimes, telling myself “If she would just desist, life would be perfect”. It won’t be. I have to remind myself of that. Other problems will arise because…that’s life.
Adversity begets wisdom. Many of the detransitioner stories I’ve read are filled with regret, and some with anger and shame. But those who have been through transition and detransition seem to have also developed a better knowledge of themselves. Having been through this experience, they emerge less beholden to the opinion of others, with a willingness to share their personal history in the service of others. Maybe my daughter will gain wisdom from this experience.
Expense of transitioning can be prohibitive. The older they are, the closer they are to getting off your insurance. It is especially galling to me that my insurance is covering the costs of cross sex hormones and all the associated medical expenses, and those costs are massive. I have entertained the idea of dropping her from my insurance, but I know that may result in estrangement and prevent her from seeing a mental health profession, which I have hoped (in vain, to date) will help her address the underlying issues driving the trans-identity.
Biology is working in two ways. Although they are adults, the pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed in people under 25. Perhaps when they reach that age, they will be better able to accomplish executive brain functions and see gender ideology for what it is. The other way biology is helping me deal with this is that my daughter is not a man. It’s as simple as that.
Services for detransitioners. The longer they wait to detransition, the more detransition services will exist to help them. Yeah, I’m reaching on that one but every little bit helps assuage my anxiety. Genspect (https://genspect.org/beyond/) and detrans voices (https://www.detransvoices.org/) come to mind.
Momento Mori – Remember that you will die. Try to meditate on it briefly each day. Is obsessing about your child’s spectacularly bad decision how you want to spend your precious time? Because…
You can’t do much about it anyway. You have little influence with an adult child. And trying to use your influence or reason them out of their trans-identity will often cause resentment, possibly estrangement. I haven’t attempted to share an article related to gender with my daughter in years.
At this age, how much would you normally be involved in their lives? If/when they detransition, they will probably move away from you—hopefully with a good education, a fulfilling job, a nice place to live and a loving partner. If that all works, you’ll see less of them anyway.
Try to envision a happy future. The less you obsess about this now, the less you will resent them if /when they desist for how much you obsessed about this.
They are alive. No, I don’t buy the “better a live son than a dead daughter” emotional blackmail. But I know people whose children have died. That has not happened to us. That’s worth remembering. Daily.
These are the thoughts that work for me. Sometimes. I hope they can help you, fellow older parent.