Letters We Never Received
Dear L & B,
We did as you requested and read up on trans ideology. We were surprised and horrified to find how little we knew about the harm being done to children and teens in the name of kindness and acceptance. We now understand why you were so upset about S’s claim of being trans, and we hope you’ll accept our apology for the way we undermined you. We realize going along with S’s insistence on being called “he” was a huge mistake and we know we need to walk that back. If we had just taken the time to listen to you, we wouldn’t have made such a mess of things, and we’re sorry. We hope we can talk together about how we can best help prevent harm to S. We’re here for you.
Dad & Stepmom
I’ve been thinking a lot about how things have been going between us since S declared she was trans. I realize that I’ve caused real damage—to you, to our relationship, and to S. For years I’ve gone against your express wishes and affirmed S’s new identity. I shut down your attempts to talk to me about this. By calling her my grandson, I colluded with your daughter against you, and I encouraged both her self-rejection and delusion. That’s hard for me to admit, but it’s true. Instead of supporting you and your family, I went along with S’s fantasies and in doing so, helped push her away from you. I was very wrapped up in being the “good liberal grandma.” I know now my actions made things worse for everyone and I think you’ve been in anguish over this for a long time. All your efforts to share information with me resulted in my being defensive and aggressively lecturing you. I’m so sorry I attacked you when all you’ve been trying to do is keep your daughter safe.
I finally read the books you gave me. I have the idea of letting S know I’ve been reading and learning, and I hadn’t realized how unsafe and risky gender ideology is, and that I made a mistake in how I handled things in our family. I want to support her towards her healthiest self even if that means she’s angry at me. I’m so regretful for how I’ve added to your pain this past year. I hope I can undo some of that.
Hi L & B,
I’m sending you this card on S’s birthday to tell you I saw the way you raised that girl, and I can’t imagine a home more filled with love, closeness, creativity, and care. I know she’s acting like none of it mattered, but I’m here to say: it mattered, it was real, I witnessed it all and it was incredible. Over the years I have been lucky enough to be a part of so many of her birthday parties, and even though she seems brainwashed right now, somewhere inside her she remembers how special and sweet you made all those celebrations, as well as all the other days of the year. Even though it’s been a long time now, I haven’t forgotten what you’re going through with this painful estrangement. I don’t buy any of this gender garbage. It’s hurting families everywhere, and I hate how much it’s hurting you and your daughter/my niece. You were (and are) great parents.
H, your sister/sister-in-law
You haven’t shared much with me about what’s happened in your family, and I’m guessing that’s because you’ve been hurt by the reactions of others. I respect your privacy, but I want you to know that I’ve done my own research and have learned a lot about how trans extremism has captured so many impressionable young people, especially girls. I am so sorry that your daughter, my niece, got caught up in this. It’s clearly a powerful social contagion.
I’ve tried to imagine what I might feel if one of our daughters estranged herself from us and wanted to cut off her healthy body parts or put dangerous hormones in her body. I would be devastated, heartbroken, and I doubt I’d be able to get out of bed. You always make such an effort to be cheerful with me on the phone, but I know there must be deep sadness behind that good cheer.
Out of the blue, S texted me yesterday. She made a point of mentioning she had no contact with you and B. I’m unsure if this is a kind of triangulation, or a way to come back to the family, or both, but I am wary. I want you to know I plan to keep the conversation always leading back to you and B, her parents. I will share memories and stories of her childhood, and I will never let a conversation go by without mentioning your name. And I’m certainly never going to agree that girls can magically become boys. I know you’d do the same for me if, God forbid, I ever found myself in the same situation.
I know you are terribly worried about S, and I am too. I never want to make your situation more painful, and I especially don’t want any part of helping S down a path of irreversible harm. What can I do to help? Maybe if the whole family could get on the same page, we could have some impact on her thinking? I’m happy to talk to mom or dad about this.
Love you sis,
Dear L and B,
We’re writing to let you know S came by tonight and had dinner with our family. We know S is living on her own and not speaking to you, and we also know how awful we’d feel if one of our kids cut us off but was spending time at your house. We wanted to let you know right away what went on here.
We love the long friendship between our kids, but our first allegiance is always to you, our dear friends. I spoke to S as I know you would speak to one of my own daughters were the situation reversed. I said she was welcome here, but that I expected her to tend to her most important relationships first- namely, her parents and brother. We told her there was no one who loved or cared for her more than her family. We told her people who truly love her will always point her in the direction of home.
I also wanted you to know that K and I only used her real name and pronouns, even though our kids kept “correcting” us. After S left, we had a long talk with our kids about how cults operate, and the importance of not making delusions or estrangements worse. We hope we did right. If not, and there are things we can do to better support you, or S, let us know. We can’t imagine how painful this all is.
We love you,
A & K
Dear L & B,
It was so great to have you guys visit! We loved seeing you.
M and I talked after you left and realized we owe you both an apology. We really pressured you about going along with your daughter’s pronouns and then picked an argument with you about gender. Quickly we realized you were the experts here. We thought we were offering a brilliant solution when obviously you’ve already tried everything, read everything, thought about this daily for years. Sorry for our arrogance.
We also realized we were insensitive towards you by talking so much about our daughter and how well she’s doing, etc. We know you raised your daughter with absolute love and it’s so unfair and shocking that now she won’t even speak to you. In our happiness to share our lives, I think we both forgot that you are two grieving parents who have lost so much. We should have been more tender with you both.
We now understand this is a cult, and cults can ensnare anyone. Please know it is not lost on us how painful and draining it must be to educate and argue with your friends and family while being so heartbroken and sad. We won’t hurt you that way again.
Lots of love,
P & M
Dear S’s parents,
We have been S’s teachers for 3 years now and watched her grow and take on many new challenges as she heads towards high school graduation. The 4 of us have always felt lucky to have her in our classes and have only positive things to say about your brilliant, studious, and deep-thinking daughter. It’s clear she comes from a loving and supportive home.
Recently, along with many of her classmates, S has declared she is trans and has asked us to keep this a secret from you. We don’t believe it is a teacher’s role to hold secrets from loving parents, especially not in service of a dangerous social contagion. That is why we told S that we could help her with math, writing, science, and history, but any caring teacher would never try to be her parent, nor keep secrets from parents. We told her she should go directly to her mom and dad, both of whom we know and trust.
The four of us have formed an alliance and we are working with the administration to educate staff and parents about the harms of gender identity. We hope we will not lose our jobs, but we also can’t go along with any belief system that so clearly harms both kids and families.
Let us know if we can support you in any way,
S’s Math, Science, Language Arts and US History teachers
Dear Parents of S,
I am a provider at Planned Parenthood and am writing to alert you that your daughter visited our clinic seeking cross sex hormones as part of our Gender Questioning Care Program. After an extensive medical history, including seeking records from all her medical and mental health providers, it is our professional opinion that S does not meet the criteria for being a part of our program, much less for a prescription of testosterone, which is what she was seeking.
As you know, S has a history of struggling with both an eating disorder and cutting, both of which have gone woefully unaddressed by her therapists and doctors. It’s clear you as parents have been tireless in seeking help for your child, but the system has failed you. It appears, after a thorough reading of her records, that once a provider heard her declare she was trans, they ceased any real therapeutic care and simply affirmed her identity and the idea that all her problems would resolve once she “transitioned.” To safeguard the health of gender confused clients, it is our policy that any co-morbidities must be addressed and resolved first. Our Gender Questioning Care Program is a 2 year long intensive involving therapy, education around the health consequences of cross sex hormones and surgeries, and outdoor service/volunteer work. Participants also listen to testimony from detransitioners. We wish you and your daughter well.
Dear L & B,
I am writing to let you know I have resigned from my position as a therapist with the ---.
For the past 5 years, I have advertised my services as a trans therapist practicing an affirmation model, and available to write letters of recommendation for those seeking medical transition. I know this is why S chose me as her therapist.
I am a natal female who transitioned during my college years. I have lived my life as male for over 5 years. It was during my sessions with your family that I began to question the services I was providing.
I want to acknowledge how poorly I served S. The scope of her mental/emotional issues were beyond my skill and training; and I downplayed those issues and only focused on her claim of being trans. I went along with her idea that transitioning was the answer to her mental health issues. This was grossly negligent on my part.
I also failed spectacularly during the family sessions we arranged. I will never forget the moment when you turned to me and asked, “So, is it your view that every young person who walks through your doors and claims to be trans, is trans? What are your criteria for determining who is and isn’t? Have you ever turned down a request for a letter approving medical transition? Why or why not? Don’t you think the ideal outcome would generally be that a person accepts their sexed body rather than run the risks of surgery and becoming a lifelong medical patient?”
You may remember I was unable to answer any of these questions. You may also remember that I barely spoke 3 words during your fast paced family sessions, and at the end of one session I commented “You sure are a loud family.” This was uncalled for. The truth was, my dismal skills as a therapist became glaringly apparent to me. I was not prepared for the complexity and depth you, as S’s parents, brought to the sessions. I saw clearly that S had very loving, present, curious, and caring parents; not the villains she had painted you to be.
You may also remember that S ran out of the office repeatedly whenever asked to answer a question or engage in sustained conversation with you. I characterized her outbursts and exits as “a great sign they are learning to take care of themselves.” This was a ridiculous spin on what was obvious to you but not to me: S was in no way mature or mentally well enough to even begin discussing such a serious decision as cross-sex hormones or surgery. I ignored every red flag and re-branded S’s inability carry on a simple conversation as “setting boundaries.” I came home from those sessions filled with doubt and a sense that I was part of something profoundly unethical.
Overall, I believe I helped further confuse and delude S and push her further away from you, which is the opposite of good therapy. I no longer have confidence that I can make good decisions nor be helpful to gender confused young people.
I have written a separate letter to S explaining all this. I have also written a letter retracting my approval of her surgery. I am in no position to help anyone, as I face the unraveling of my own beliefs and come to terms with what I have done to my own body and to the young people I have misled.
Hi L & B,
As S’s former therapist, I feel I owe you a long overdue apology.
I had been working with S in a therapeutic capacity for some time when we decided it was time to invite S’s parents (you) in for some family sessions. I remember the day I called you to issue that invitation. Your response so shocked me that I thought about it for days afterward: first in anger, then in doubt, then in shame.
I’m sure you remember that call. I told you I was calling on behalf of your then 22-year-old child to invite you to a family therapy session I would facilitate. Your response was not at all what I expected. You said:
“Of course, we will always show up to work on our relationship with S. But how can we trust that you are a competent therapist, when you start out by perpetuating our daughter’s sense of herself as helpless, unable to even make a phone call? How can we trust that you can help S if you do her work for her and enable her to be her lowest functioning self? It doesn’t give us any hope that you want S to grow or develop inner strength. If our daughter can’t even call us, what evidence is there that she is functional enough to talk to us in therapy? And why are we having to point that out to you, instead of you pointing it out to our daughter?”
At this point I told you that I was making the phone call for S because of safety issues. You responded:
“Safety issues? There are no barriers to S calling us except her own discomfort, and discomfort is something a good therapist would be helping their client face and tolerate, not avoid. Are you saying you think we’re unsafe?”
I said I was referring to emotional safety. You responded:
“A good therapist would have asked S, “What’s the worst that could happen if you called your parents? Do you have any evidence that they would mistreat you if you called them? And let’s say they did respond in anger—couldn’t you simply hang up, or tell them you didn’t like it? This seems like a growth opportunity for you, S, and if I do your growth work for you, I can’t really call myself a therapist.”
Well, your words bounced around in my head for weeks. I tried to dismiss it, but the truth is, everything you said is spot on. I have been babying and rescuing many of my trans identified clients instead of challenging them and helping them grow. Thank you for setting me straight. I have made significant changes in my clinical approach since our conversation.
Again, my apologies,
Hi L & B,
I know you must be worried about S, and though as her new therapist I can’t reveal anything to you without her permission, I wanted you to know what my philosophy is regarding young people in distress. My aim is to help my clients be in their bodies and to focus on truth rather than fantasy. My goal is always to guide clients back to their deepest connections- to self, to family, to well-being, to reality. We focus on healing the mind. I want to assist my clients to have a rich variety of relationships rather than placing limitations and demands on others, and I want each client to find their own strength rather than expecting the world to bed to their will. In other words, I am always asking: how can we be our most functional selves? I hope that’s helpful to you both during this painful time in your family.