From Darkness to Desistance
After two gut-wrenching and disorienting years, my teenager has announced she no longer identifies as trans. It feels too soon to celebrate, but at Stella O’Malley’s urging I want to share some hope for other parents. It’s been amazing to see my beautiful daughter emerging from this period with unprecedented confidence, comfort in her body, and a “can’t-fuck-with-me” attitude.
I was blindsided by the trans announcement, having long enjoyed my gregarious daughter’s wide-ranging interests and “girl power” convictions. The pandemic isolation took a massive toll on her mental health. It’s a familiar story.
My first response was saying all the “right” supportive statements, but so much didn’t add up. When I found the Wider Lens podcast, my world broke open and I was released from the gender spell. I believe Stella’s words were, “What do we think about this idea that reality is the illness?”
My deep dive took me to Lisa Marchiano’s work on motherhood. I learned from her about the heroine’s journey to the underworld, returning with new eyes to claim her legitimate authority. I felt that transformation in myself.
From Sasha Ayad I learned a gentle way of leadership. She taught me to argue less and demonstrate my love more, making special meals for my daughter and letting my facial expressions and body language reflect my adoration.
Slowly, my daughter stopped forcing her voice into a lower register. She moved through a phase of deliberate ambiguity reflected in her clothing choices and preferred name. Her body continued to mature and finally moved out of the awkwardness of early adolescence into a solidly adult shape.
She made new friends and found new interests and outgrew the trans identity. She tells me: “Whatever, it’s over.”
I don’t feel entirely out of the woods and perhaps I won’t until the country wakes up. But in case it’s of use to other parents, here are the convictions that got me through:
1. You’re not crazy. Hold tight to what you have long known about your child, about child and adolescent development, and about the capacity for well-meaning people to be misled. Be the haven of sanity, the port in the storm.
2. Gender ideology is a religion of spiritual possession. The entire edifice rests on mass belief in, and pledge of obedience to, non-physical animating spirits that seek to reshape human bodies. Public officials and medical professionals conspire to mutilate and sterilize children to satisfy these imagined spiritual inhabitants. This is horrific, medieval abuse hiding in plain sight.
3. You are the authority. As the parent, you remain the authority in your child’s life. Do not cede that authority to an ideology of disfigurement cloaked in the language of acceptance. Lovingly claim and exercise your responsibility to act in your child’s long-term self-interest.
4. Connect your child to the physical world. Sit down for meals together. Walk outside. Play with pets. Ground your child in physical reality and the pleasures of the senses.
5. Shower your child with love. Love overrides all delusion. It was so hard not to constantly engage my child in debate and bombard her with information, but I trusted the wisdom of Stella, Sasha, and Lisa and leaned in with affection instead.
I wish I could speak about all of this openly. If it weren’t for my daughter’s privacy, I would, and damn the consequences. But my private conversations have gotten bolder, and I wonder how the various adults who rushed to adopt new pronouns against my wishes are going to process my daughter’s restored self-acceptance.
For now, I wait for this dark period in our history to pass, rejoicing in my child’s health and remaining so grateful to PITT for this platform to speak truth against the madness.