Layers of Sadness
In 2021, my 19 year old son walked from his college campus to Planned Parenthood and was prescribed wrong sex hormones on his first visit, no therapy required. There was no differential diagnosis. Some days, it’s an effort to walk my dog and cook dinner, let alone write an essay about the nuances of what my family is enduring. But I can write about sadness in bullet form, which is apropos, since my family has been fired upon by insidious gender ideology like a spray of bullets, hitting us randomly from all directions.
Our voicemail: On our landline voicemail, for over a year, is the last time our son called saying, “Hi, it’s Mark” (name changed to protect privacy). When my husband and I chose the name Mark, we were grateful for our miraculous healthy baby boy. Sometimes when I'm alone in my house, I listen to this phone message. My husband and I have a tacit agreement not to erase it. Even though our son wants to erase himself.
My husband: My husband is heartbroken. He’s angry with the zeitgeist undermining his effort to be a good father. He says it feels like a knife in the back that his son disregards his parents’ guidance instead deferring to the trans cult. He feels rejected as a male role model, another layer of sadness. I tell him the cult could have snatched our daughter instead. He gets it, but this doesn’t change that his precious son was stolen. To distract himself, he goes to the basement to throw something away, and sees a robot project he and Mark worked on. Then he cries, and I crumble too, with his tears.
My daughter: Two years older than Mark, she and her brother were buddies growing up. She misses her brother. She misses our close family. Fixated on his female fantasy, Mark has threatened to shun his sister if she cannot endorse his delusion. With her peers as well, my daughter worries she will be canceled if she does not speak enthusiastically about her brother as her “sister.” I’m sad that she is caught in the crossfire of gender ideology.
My son’s bedroom: A month ago, I faced my fear, and opened the door to my son’s bedroom. I sat on his bed, looked at his posters still tacked on the walls, and endured another wave of grief. To cope, I decluttered. Since this horror began, decluttering helps lighten the load. My mind was numb during hours consolidating my son’s stuff. The worst part was his laundry basket filled with the khaki pants and polos he wore before his awful stereotypical female wardrobe. Do I launder them? Do I give them away? I folded and returned them unwashed to his dresser and closet, feeling grim and sad.
Photos: I’m sad every time I walk by the family photos that hang in the hallway. Do I take down these photos of our family on a boat ride, at the beach, of my son as a toddler grinning with his sister on a carousel? No. Though my memories are tainted, I do not deserve to have them deleted. Some days, I allow a glimpse of my handsome son in his senior photo before he graduated high school. This photo, now in a drawer, used to be on the fridge, but it was too painful there. In the living room, my wedding photo pains me too. On that special day, it was inconceivable that my future child would try to escape his own body, and that his self-harm path would be sanctioned. I struggle to hold onto the reality of the goodness of my family and the meaningfulness of years filled with the daily effort of raising my son. My confused son deadnames his birth name and devalues his family. Along with the present and the future, the trans cult stomps on my memories. There is sadness in every direction.
My son: Mark is an exceptionally intelligent, quirky person with a great smile. He has a history of speech delay, affect dysregulation, anxiety, constrained food preferences, rigidity, and difficulty making friends. He is likely on the autistic spectrum. He was unlucky to be a teenager in the digital age when this social contagion spread. In high school, he flirted with the trans cult, but my husband and I thought we had helped him find his way back to material reality. Of course, his anxiety has not magically gone away with wrong sex hormones, and an SSRI joins his mix of daily pills. Mark was a tall teenager on the verge of thriving as a young adult. Today he is a tall, gullible young man who believes his longer hair, small HRT induced breasts, and costume of dresses or skirts fools others. During his formative college years, his mind and body have been hijacked by an evil mind virus that was and continues to be aided and abetted by Planned Parenthood, others institutions, and many gaslit people. It’s terribly sad.
My town: When I drive by the high school on the way to the grocery store, a cloud of sadness fills my car. Just a few years ago, I drove my son each day to high school. Despite his anxiety, Mark was enthusiastic about school, earning all As and participating in clubs. I delighted in his zest as he scurried into the high school and at dinners chatting about his day. Senior year, I beamed when he played the suitor in the school play, wearing my husband’s suit jacket. Driving home from the grocery store, I see high-schoolers file out. I notice teenage boys who look okay, and I envy their parents. Why did my son succumb? The dark cloud follows me home.
The empty nest: My empty nest is soiled. After decades of being involved, caring parents, this was supposed to be our golden years. Now it’s a challenge to not have them be our sad years. Because we cannot affirm his delusion, our son is largely estranged. The sparse connection when I reach out to Mark is a diminished remnant in cruel contrast to the closeness my family shared before the trans cult infected him. It feels like a long nightmare that I can’t wake up from. Actually, it’s sleep that offers an oasis, though less so on nights when my dreams are filled with helpless distress.
The future: The part of my son obsessed with his womanhood fantasy is murdering the rest of him in slow motion. Instead of blossoming as a young man, Mark falls deeper into the dark abyss of gender ideology. Maybe if his fantasy crashes into reality, or his brain matures, or after enough societal backlash, he will desist. Or—maybe he won’t. Despite profound loss, I know I need to reach for as much wellbeing as possible—for my daughter, my husband, and for myself. But my heart feels like lead, and I grapple one day at a time with feeling okay. Because what's been inflicted on my son and my family is sad. Unceasingly sad.