Love and Loss in New Zealand: How Trans Destroyed My Family
My story is depressingly similar to so many others..
Two and a half years ago, just after the first lockdown in New Zealand was lifted, my much loved teen told me that he was transgender. I was blindsided.
My son, whom I had raised single handedly from the age of four when his father died, had shown no prior sign of any interest in anything feminine. He is on the spectrum, (with what used to be called Asperger’s), and was always a little awkward, socially inept and solitary—but also extremely clever. And of course, he was on his computer much of the time, more so during the enforced lockdown. He was also like many kids who were indoctrinated into thinking that a gender change was the panacea for all the difficulties and angst of puberty. Like many others, he was probably finding information and support on sites such as Discord and TikTok. He told me that he had met some trans people online on a gaming site and ‘suddenly things made sense’.
When he came out to me I was at a loss as to what to do. I had never really thought much about transgender. I’d read books by people like Jan Morris and others and had been sympathetic to their difficulties, but didn’t know any trans people in person and I had no idea that the trend was spreading in our schools in the rapid way that it was.
As far as I’m concerned people should be able to live their lives in any way that makes them happy so long as they’re hurting no one, and I believe that there are some who genuinely feel that they are the opposite gender. However, I had always imagined that such people were adults when they decided on that path. Now here was my teenager telling me that he wanted to be a girl. And as I began to devour everything I could on the subject I became very disturbed at just how widespread and insidious the gender issue had become and how apparently intelligent, professional people were encouraging it amongst our kids.
We went to my son's doctor to talk over the situation and get advice. He was unsympathetic to my worries. He couldn't discuss my son, he said. Anything they talked about would be confidential; he was over 16 . Basically he could do what he liked was the message I received. We left with a referral to a gender clinic.
When we finally were given an appointment at the clinic (it took several months) my son was immediately affirmed, and called by his preferred pronouns and his new name. I was told that, when asked, he had said that he had been suicidal and had thought of harming himself. I didn’t believe this; I was convinced that he had been coached. Of course, the old chestnut ‘would I rather have a live daughter than a dead son?’ was trotted out, though at that stage I didn’t know that this is a story repeatedly told to parents who question the process. I told the doctor at the clinic about my concerns, the suicide of my son’s father when he was four, the depression in his wider family, his ASD. It made not a whit of difference. He received no counseling, just affirmation.
I tried to be positive and supportive. I took him to appointments, even to the fertility clinic to store his semen. The whole process was excruciating. How could puberty blockers be ‘totally reversible’ if this was necessary? He wouldn’t discuss the situation with me and when, worried for the possible adverse effects on his health, I pointed out that perhaps he was actually gay; that anything he might do in the future—the hormones, the surgery—was cosmetic and harmful and that he could never truly change sex, he told me that I was a transphobe and he had thought me better than this. He said that the only difference between men and women was hormones. As my son is someone who is scientific I found it impossible to understand how he could possibly believe this.
He was almost finished at his high school and looking forward to university after doing extremely well and gaining several scholarships. When I helped him move his belongings into Halls at university at the end of February, I was a proud mum, hopeful that he would put all this behind him. I didn’t want him to go but I had thought it would be good for him to be with others of his age rather than to live at home. I didn’t realize when I said goodbye to him that I would not be seeing him again.
I have neither heard from nor seen him since. He doesn’t reply to texts, phone calls or letters. I am bereft. I lie awake at night and think of the funny little boy I raised and my heart breaks. He has not only cut me out of his life but others close to him as well; his Big Buddy who has been his mentor since he was seven, his music teacher, his older brother and sister who live overseas. I assume that he is being influenced by others. I know that activists tell kids that if their parents aren’t 100% on board with their transition they should be excised from their lives.
He and I have been through so much together in the past fourteen years and I never imagined that something like this could happen to us. The only positive thing to come from it is that I have made many friends—between parents like me, others who sympathize, and members of organizations like Genspect, I have had so much support and information from abroad.
We may be a small country at the bottom of the world but we are just as embroiled in this ideology as North America and Europe. Discussion and debate is a thing of the past. Too many good people are afraid to voice their feelings. All I can hope is that one day this mad craze will be over; that one day the scales will fall from people’s eyes and the whole situation will be recognized for what it is—this century’s ‘Emperor’s New Clothes.’ And beyond all else, I hope my son comes back to me.