It's Strategy People!
There is perhaps no topic so hotly and disingenuously debated, during these days of hotly debated social issues, as the subject of gender transition and particularly gender transition and children. There are many voices being raised, and many voices being silenced. I add my voice as one who has been directly and deeply affected in the most personal way possible. I am the mother of two children who have medically transitioned. Therefore, I have as much skin in this discussion as anyone else. I have worked in this arena for several years now, and I'm currently working with an organization that was formed to give parents, people directly affected by this topic, a voice which we fully deserve to have.
The organization I work with is a broad coalition. We currently have representation from 18 different organizations and 16 separate countries, representing thousands of parents. All these parents have come together not to commiserate, but to act. We are united by our aim, which is to stop our kids transitioning. For some of us, it is too late, but we want to stop others going through the pain which we have to live with.
The stakes could not possibly be higher for these parents. Every two or three weeks we hear from another parent, contacting us after a daughter undergoes a double mastectomy, the removal of her healthy breasts. There is no other group who has a higher stake in this debate.
We have a member of our team whose son transitioned, after which he unfortunately took his own life. This is not just a political issue for parents, but a matter of flesh and blood. I have every respect for others in this debate, but no one has more to lose than desperate parents who are fighting for the health and lives of their children.
There is currently a serious debate around the language we use and who we speak to. I think that it is unproductive to police the language of others, and I'm not about to do it. But I would like to explain why we have chosen the language we have used, and why we have chosen who we talk to.
We speak to journalists from major left of center outlets, often through back channels. It's imperative to get the reality of this discussion out into the public arena, and into mainstream media, because currently anyone who reads the mainstream media would have no idea that there is even another side to consider when it comes to gender transition and children. This is a serious problem, and it is goal of our work to get the discussion started, and allow those who have concerns about the safeguarding of children to speak. I can't even tell you which outlets we are currently speaking to, because this entire debate has become so politicized. Any discussion that is opened will be quickly and decisively shut down by transgender activists. The journalists we are speaking to know that their stories could easily be pulled at the last minute, as nearly happened with the CNN documentary. We have to be very careful to do everything we can to avoid this.
The truth is that journalists, and the general public, has been grievously misinformed about the truth of what is happening to children and young adults in the gender medicine field. Most people are unaware of how quickly and unquestionably kids are being affirmed and labeled as trans and put on medical interventions. Most people don't know that therapists are pronouncing children and young people as trans and offering drastic medical measures such as puberty blockers, cross sex hormones, and surgeries after only a few short visits. Most of these journalists are unaware that a large percentage of these kids are gay and lesbian, and deserve a great deal more therapy, support, and alternatives.
Instead, medical transition is being sold to them as a solution for every discomfort they feel, a solution that is highly unlikely to even begin to solve these issues, and very likely to create more problems than it solves. These journalists, and their readers, do not know that the vast majority of these kids have underlying or concurrent psychological or medical conditions that should be addressed first, and that this isn't happening. These journalists, and their readers, assume that the parents who are objecting and concerned for their kids are just right wing conservative parents who don't really care about their kids. This misinformation is allowed to continue, because no one has been able to talk to these journalists.
I'm not a fool. I know that major left leaning media outlet is not going to go full-tilt Abigail Shrier and come to our side of the conversation after a single conversation. What we are trying to do, and what we can do, is to get these people to stop and think, moderate their message, and allow for genuine concern for the children involved to become more important in this conversation.
This is work.
Parent stories are beginning to be heard in places like the PITT substack. The general public should be beginning to see by now that, very slowly, things are beginning to change. In 2021, we had the Washington Post piece and the BBC exposé. Already this year we have had the New York Times, of all newspapers, start to question pediatric transition. Again, I’m not a fool: I know it’s only the tip of the iceberg. But it’s something. This evolution of the conversation is happening slowly, and it's nowhere near enough. But it's beginning to happen. And it needs to happen openly, carefully, and publicly. And that is why it needs to happen strategically.
We are a voice for parents with gender questioning kids. That's what this debate is about. We are being told that we can't use the words “transgender” or the word “gender”, at all. If that is your position, do you believe that changing our slogan to “A voice for parents with deluded, mentally ill children” will enable us to continue our back channel conversations, and get us the media contacts that we need? If so, please show me. Try it yourself. Other organizations exist, and they have used more direct language. They have not gotten into the media. We have. We have put parents’ faces on two national TV networks, telling the world what’s really going on (www.genspect.org/media/). There’s no way this would have happened if the producers had seen words like “deluded” or “mentally ill” on the banner of our website.
People are welcome to take other approaches, but our approach is working. We have had stories placed in other parts of the mainstream media, like the BBC, Telegraph and Times. Please show me how your approach and your language can achieve this.
We are working with countless parents behind the scenes as part of our advocacy project. This has resulted in stopping actual kids from being socially transitioned, in actual schools, which have changed their actual policies on pronouns, bathrooms and changing rooms. If you think that you can get schools to listen and stop socially transitioning kids using your language, please show me how successful you have been. There are children today who have been prevented from socially transitioning at school and have desisted from a trans identity crisis because we have intervened with the school and stopped it. If it weren’t for the obvious need for privacy, I could name the kids we have rescued from social transition.
We successfully got a British detransitioner on national television. If you think that language like “mutilated” will get a detransitioned person on television to explain to the public that transition regret is real and that young people are being harmed, please show me an example of how you did that. Please name the producers at center and left of center news outlets (which are the ones we want to reach) who would still talk to us.
If you think that you can replace the Gender Unicorn with resources that are compliant with regulations but don't mention the word “gender”, please show me. We have teachers emailing us, asking for resources which mention gender but don't teach gender identity theory. Our Gender Giraffe is a tool that teachers are using to discuss this issue, one that kids are hearing about from the media and the internet, in a factual way that confirms that we all have a personality, but sex is dimorphic. There are states that require teachers to teach about gender. The law in many states (e.g. California, Oregon, Washington) and provinces (e.g. British Columbia) literally compels teachers to mention “gender”, by name. If you think you can satisfy this requirement in some way, without using the word, please show me.
We have a trans person on our advisory board. What that means is that centrist and left of center journalists, politicians, producers, and activists face an immediate obstacle when they try to shut us down by labeling us as transphobic. If you believe that you can make the headway that we have made without making that same decision as we did, please show me. Many organizations have tried, have made different choices, and we respect them for that. But they have not succeeded in the same way that we have.
Other organizations have changed their approach over time, because they have realized that they weren't getting anywhere. Our strategy is not accidental. The mothers I work with are intelligent, professional, strategic, and desperate. They have spent a year, or two, three, four or five years thinking about how to get through to the media, the schools, the therapists, and the politicians. When you have had as many sleepless nights as I have, wondering where your child is and whether someday a surgeon will dissect her arm, cut her genitals apart, and scar her for life, please come talk to me. We are doing what we can because we believe it has the best chance of success. As feminists, I hope you would agree that professional and intelligent women who have spent years in this battle might be capable of formulating a strategy with a particular goal in mind. I hope you will also recognize that this has destroyed my family, and nothing I do comes from ignorance of any of the issues here. None of that is to say that other approaches don’t have their own merits: they do. But they won’t, and don’t, achieve the specific goals we have set ourselves.
We are literally at war for our children. War is about strategy. It's about winning battles, and the stakes here could not possibly be higher. Imagine that you are in Nazi occupied France. You're in the resistance, and you need to blow up the railway lines, in order to stop the enemy from advancing. If you don't have a German speaking diplomat on your team, you don't know which railway lines to bomb. We can't afford to be purists here. We have a common enemy, and it would be preferable to focus on the actual battle, and not on which people are allowed to fight it. We need different people, taking different approaches.
Difference does not have to mean disagreement. Every approach is needed and valuable. I'm not telling anyone that what they are doing is wrong. Ideally, we could have complementary approaches with common goals. The goal of parents, and I am one, is to stop our kids from medically transitioning.
It's true that there are many other issues in this debate. The erasure of women, the erosion of single sex spaces, the capture of women's sports, men in women's prisons, and the demolition of lesbian community are all real and important issues. But at the end of the day, children being led into a lifetime of medical harm is truly outrageous. We are witnessing the greatest medical scandal of all time, and we are currently not allowed to talk about it. As a parent, and a woman, I care about all of these issues. But the safeguarding of children must take precedence, because children, of all people, deserve our protection. Children are unable to advocate for themselves. And parents currently are unable to advocate for them. Please give us a voice, and join us.