If I could have a redo, would it change the outcome?
Peers have more influence than parents
I always believed that if my husband and I poured all the love and devotion we had for each other into our children, that we would end up with bright, confident, generous well-adjusted adults. How could anything possibly go wrong?
My husband and I both grew up in large families in two-parent households. We had loving supportive parents and traditional role models. We dated as teenagers and married in our early 20’s. We had many challenges as all people do in life. Looking back with the perspective I have now, all those setbacks seem so small. Starting a family wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. I helped put my husband through college and supplemented our income with various jobs and was finally able to have our first child six years into our marriage. I worked part time doing medical transcription until the birth of our third child (our son) when we made a joint decision that I would be in the home full time due to my husband’s work travel. When our fourth child came along we felt that our family was complete. Three beautiful girls and a boy. When my husband was home he was completely involved and hands on. We took our children to church on Sundays and taught them to pray, work hard and play hard. We often invited others into our home and were extremely social. We paid for music lessons, sports lessons and dance lessons so they could find their talents and build confidence. A majority of my time was spent shuttling kids to various lessons and activities.
When our son was four years old, he was diagnosed as being high functioning Autistic. He didn’t start talking until his little sister, who was two years younger, started talking. She was his best speech therapist and friend. He depended on her probably more than was healthy. He also let her control him. He was a darling little boy who was fixated on Toy Story and took his Buzz and Woody toys everywhere. Little sister was a pretty thing to behold with blonde curls, porcelain skin and cherry lips. She carried her Beanie Babies with her until they were so filthy we had to find an exact replica to replace them.
We took our four kids on numerous vacations to family reunions, camping trips, Disney, the beach, etc. We drove old cars and I shopped at garage sales so we could have the money to travel and make memories together. Our children were close with each other too and were hardly ever cross with each other. When the two oldest sisters went off to college and then got married, the two younger kids felt their absence. My husband and I thought we had done well so far with the two oldest happily married and working towards completing college.
At this point, our two youngest were in their early teens. Our son had done pretty well and integrated into regular elementary school working with a paraprofessional. By the time he was in middle school he no longer needed any kind of assistance. We had discovered that he was musically gifted and also loved theater and improv. He had been bullied somewhat in late elementary school, but not so much in middle or high School. He even had a couple of girlfriends in high school but nothing serious.
Little sister was hyperlexia and was placed in the talented and gifted classes. She was eager to please and so sweet and good natured. She was very well liked by adults but had trouble relating to the interests of her peers. She liked boys very much and usually had a crush on some boy at school. Little sister also loved improv and theater. At the beginning of her freshman year in high school, she came home one day and told me there was the cutest boy in one of her classes and that he kept looking at her and she at him. A few days later, she came home very dejected and told me she found out he was gay. I told her that was OK because they could still become friends, which they did. She was pretty much his only friend. They would go to each other’s homes quite often. A few months into their friendship, little sister asked me if she could go to an LGBT rally/meeting and I told her no. I didn’t want her to get involved as she was only 14. I found out later his mother took them anyway and lied to me, telling me they were going to a school leadership meeting. I’m pretty sure that is where my daughter saw her first transgender person and was intrigued. I think this because I found a card in her backpack for a transgender website. I should have cut their relationship off once I found out they had no problem deceiving me. I now believe that his mother was a groomer and my daughter was looking for a place to belong. But, I was naive. This was 2011 and the transgender cult wasn’t on anyone’s radar yet, at least not mine.
This same year we had to seek treatment for our daughter’s depression and anxiety which included seeing a therapist after she was diagnosed with Conversion Disorder. When she turned 16 and wanted to date, her GBF wanted to be her boyfriend, so they became a couple. We were so confused by this. I don’t think he wanted her to have any other relationships and she seemed to be okay with it, even though he was extremely moody and controlling. In the meantime, she became very close to a boy in Improv who was s very sweet to her. She finally dumped the GBF when she graduated High School (a year early) and immediately started dating her improv BF.
Our son graduated in 2014, the same year as his little sister, which was a year delayed for him. That Fall, he went off to college and she stayed home for a gap year and dated her BF. Everything seemed to be going well. Our son was in college, little sister was working and applying to university. Then, right before Thanksgiving, little sister informed us that when she leaves for college she will leave the church. We took this news pretty hard but told her we still loved her and wanted her to be happy. She received a full ride scholarship to the same college as her BF in the Southeast so in the fall of 2015, little sister went off to University, looking as cute as ever with a short faux hawk haircut that was the trend at the time. At the same time our son left for two years for a church mission.
During the two years our son is away, little sister’s hair gets shorter and she stops wearing makeup and feminine clothes. When our son returns home and goes to spend time with her, he is informed that he is to use they/them pronouns. The name we gave her can be male or female so at least that never changed. But still nothing about this was said to us.
Our son went back to college that winter semester in the West and little sister started wearing men’s clothes, like she’s twinning with her BF. In her senior year of college she started interviewing for MDPhD programs and went to the interview dressed like a man. Maybe she was hoping I would ask why and then she could tell me, but I was too afraid to know the answer. I realize that is one of my weaknesses. I tend to avoid confrontation and things that are uncomfortable. Little sister was accepted into an MDPhD program out West and also received the Truman Scholarship. When we went to Kansas City to see her receive this scholarship, we learned that the week she spent out of town with the other scholarship recipients was pretty much a boot camp for political activists. When she graduated with her bachelor’s she was dressed like a man with a bow tie wearing a rainbow sash. She had held a leadership position at the LGBT resource center. She and her BF were still together. I couldn’t figure out why. She certainly didn’t look like the girl he first started dating.
A few months later when we attended her white coat ceremony. She seemed embarrassed that we were there. She was reluctant to introduce us to anyone. In hindsight it was probably because we wouldn’t use her preferred pronouns. She was more focused on introducing her BF to everyone. They were going to be separated for a year while she went to school and he worked at his new job.
A few months later BF and little sister were engaged. With her approval, I started making a wedding dress. She told me that she wanted to wear pants for the reception because that fit her personality. The wedding was to take place in May of 2020 but, as we all know, COVID ruined many plans. Instead, they had a tiny wedding ceremony in our yard, attended by only 11 family members. Our son got a license to perform the wedding ceremony. Our daughter made sure there were no mentions of husband, wife, Mr. or Mrs. in the ceremony. I was unaware that she had started taking testosterone sometime earlier. She had already put on too much weight to wear the wedding dress I had made. She wore a pair of dress pants and a blue blouse. She was also wearing a chest binder. She had been staying at her BF/fiancé s apartment and I had not seen her months prior to the wedding due to COVID. She looked awful. She wouldn’t allow me to do anything with her hair or makeup. She wouldn’t even let me hug her. Everyone had to maintain social distance. I had prepared a post wedding dinner and she insisted that I set up tables for social distancing so we would not get close to the groom’s family members. If we stayed outdoors we were allowed to be closer so we made a bonfire and tried to be as festive as we could.
The next time I saw our daughter was at Thanksgiving during a FaceTime call. I thought that her voice sounded funny but attributed it to her having just woken up. At Christmas time, we had another family call and noticed her voice was distinctly lower. My second daughter checked on Facebook and saw that her preferred pronouns were he/him. She gave us this news after we got off the call. My mind was reeling, I was sick to my stomach. How could this be happening? I couldn’t sleep for several weeks. When I was desperate for sleep I took sleeping pills. My husband seemed to be stronger than me but I knew he was grieving too. My other kids were also struggling to understand what this all meant. We also couldn’t understand why her husband would go along with it. It didn’t make sense to any of us. We just knew we couldn’t go along with it.
My second daughter’s husband read Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage” and suggested I read it as well. I was surprised to find it on Amazon and I ordered it. I couldn’t put it down. It described my youngest daughter to a T! I thought I should warn other parents. I took a picture of the book and posted about it on Facebook. I expected little sister would be angry and she was. She immediately went on the attack. There were also some friends who came out as trans allies. There were many friends who texted me privately and told me they were going to read the book and thanked me for sharing. Then little sister texted and finally told her Dad and I that she is transgender. We told her that we would always love her and that she would always be our little girl. She didn’t like that. We were told that she would be distancing herself from us.
We didn’t hear from her for a few months. We took a trip to see our second daughter and her husband for Easter of 2021. Second daughter wanted to reach out to little sister to see if she and the hubby would come to join us for Easter dinner. She said they would both come but if she felt at all “unsafe” they would leave. I seriously rolled my eyes at this but all of the adults were creative and found ways not to use any pronouns. The visit went well although it was awkward at times. We established somewhat of a relationship going forward where we talk on the phone now and then and see each other for short visits if we were out West of if she were visiting in-laws in our area. We usually had to meet her and the hubby somewhere other than our home. My husband and I were ok with this arrangement. It was hard to spend too much time with her. It was traumatic to see the beautiful girl we raised turn into an obese hairy woman with sideburns and a deep voice. Just a little over a year ago, I learned that she was now non-binary and had stopped taking testosterone. I, of course, wondered if this was a compromise between her and her husband. Maybe he finally drew the line when it came to her cutting off her breasts. I was ready to accept that this was what life would look like for an indefinite amount of time and couldn’t imagine it could get worse, until it did.
Our son was attending college in the same state as his little sister and they were only an hour apart. They were spending free time together on some weekends. Our son lived in a large house with numerous roommates. During COVID he had to quarantine on six different occasions when different roommates had the virus. He became extremely depressed. In the fall of 2020, he checked himself into the hospital because of suicidal thoughts. He had a crush on a girl who decided to date one of his roommates. He was put on medication and seemed to be doing better by Christmas time.
In the beginning of 2021, my husband bought him a car and they drove across the states to bring him back to the Southeast. He only had a couple classes left to complete this degree and he could take them online. He got a job and quickly moved out and lived in a nearby college town with some really nice roommates. His dating life didn’t go well the four years he was in college. We were heartbroken for him. It didn’t go well after college either. He had a decent job where he could work from home but he was pretty isolated. He had stopped attending church and moved into a different apartment so there was very little social life. At the end of 2022, he discovered he had a hardened testicle and was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January of this year. He had surgery the end of January and a testicle was removed. He then underwent chemotherapy. He suffered extreme anxiety throughout the whole ordeal.
In March, he told us that he had been told there was a foundation that would pay for counseling. We didn’t see much of him for the next few months. He flew out to visit his sisters in May and the second daughter told me that he was wearing some interesting eye makeup when she saw him. I should’ve been concerned but he is a musician so I didn’t dwell on it. The last time we saw him was in June. We asked him to come spend the day with us on my husband’s birthday. We had a lovely day together hiking up a mountain and then watching a laser show. He went to church with us the next day. I wept when I heard his beautiful voice singing the hymns. He had lunch with us and then was on his way back to his apartment. Then when we didn’t hear from him for over a month, my heart was heavy and I had a sense of dread. On a Friday night towards the end of July my husband said he was pretty sure our son moved back out West because he can see the charges on his credit card. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Our son finally contacted us a few days later after we sent texts asking how he was doing. He told us he had moved into the same neighborhood as his little sister. We know that this is an LGBT community that is close to the college where she is getting her MDPhD. He would not give us any more details.
A few days later we saw pictures of him on social media. His ears were pierced and he was wearing makeup. He was also clean shaven which he hadn’t been for years. It was a few more days after that when he finally made his official announcement on Facebook. He had a sudden onset of gender dysphoria. Turns out he had always hated himself but now he is on cross sex hormones and is happier than he has ever been! He also shared his pronouns and his new name. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. My first reaction was anger! We had given him my husband’s name and his grandfather’s name. He was lying! He was never feminine in any way and didn’t show interest in activities or entertainment that females enjoy. He didn’t care for sports but there are many men who don’t care for sports. How could he have always hated himself? He was handsome and talented and so funny! People love him but he just couldn’t see it.
Now he has all these new friends and everything is so exciting! I was in shock for about three days while I thought about what I was going to say to him. Then I sent him a text so that he can re-read it and not misunderstand me. I told him that his father and I love him more than he will ever comprehend and that it gave me comfort to know that he belongs to us forever but that I cannot go with him on this journey. I told him it would be like burying the son I had always loved and that watching him do this would send me to my grave. Then I sobbed. He sent a text back telling me he was the same person inside and that he finally has the life he has always wanted. We haven’t spoken since. Little sister hasn’t been speaking to us either. She knows we won’t affirm and probably suspects we hold her accountable for influencing him.
Many questions are going through my mind: Will we ever have the whole family together again? Will we ever have another family portrait to hang on the wall? Will my husband and I and our two oldest daughters ever be happy again? Our two oldest daughters are heartbroken as well. They have children that they do not want to expose to this gender madness. These little children won’t understand what has happened and why their uncle now wears makeup and wants to be called aunt.
Slowly, we are going through this grieving process once again and finding a new path to normal. The pain in my heart has finally subsided and I am able to sleep through most of the night. My husband and I go to the gym and workout together. I truly feel exercise is therapeutic. My husband and my two oldest daughters are my rock and my faith in God is pulling me through.
I’m grateful for all the other stories that have been shared on this Substack. I feel your pain as I read your stories. I pray that this nightmare will be over soon for all of us.