Mourning The Living
Fighting for my gender confused daughter
As I lay, alone, on my back in Room 23, waiting for the lidocaine gel to do its job, I heard myself say, aloud, “You asked for this...” I know that, as a woman of a certain age, one cannot live on coffee, wine, leftovers, and no water. I never drink enough water. And, yes, I did ask for it. In fact, I prayed for it. My body is bleeding somewhere that it is not supposed to be, and the doctor is trying to figure it out. I confessed the poor self-care to her at our consultation, but I didn’t tell her that I had been praying to get sick with something, possibly terminal, for months.
Now, here I was waiting for her to check inside my body to see if the power of prayer applies to non-believers. For the record, I also simultaneously prayed for famine, war, civil unrest, but I am certainly not taking credit for the Pandemic or the violent Summer of 2020. Why, you might wonder, would a healthy, happily married, middle-aged mother of two teenagers and a dog, with an enviable life, pray for terminal illness?
Well, my world changed forever about two years ago when my smart, beautiful, self-confident, extraordinary girl crashed and burned in the next room and was “saved” by a transgender identity. Yes, my girl, with no history of issues with being a girl, suddenly decided that her whole life had been a lie, a secret, and that she “had always known but was too afraid to say anything”.
After the initial recovery from such a slap in the face that I would have missed something so obvious to her, I took to the internet and found a lot of websites that congratulated me on my kid finding her “true self”. I found a lot of “would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son?” rhetoric. I read stories about CPS removing children from “unsafe” homes that did not affirm their child’s new identity.
I quickly realized that I would not be able to investigate this using my real name, since those that did before me had lost jobs and had their lives ruined for trying to talk about it. I created an anonymous email account and began looking for rational voices. I joined Twitter which is, sadly, the only place I found valuable information. The left wing media, my sole news source for my entire life, was refusing to address this. I found the Atlantic article by Jesse Singal. I wrote to him and he responded with empathy, but offered no answers. I wrote to Lisa Damour, expert on all things teenage girl and renowned author of Under Pressure and Untangled. She never replied. I wrote to James Caspian of Bath Spa University and he wrote a thoughtful reply and mentioned that he had been seeing this sort of thing in girls and boys since 2013. Dr. Eric Villain directed me to 4th Wave now, which was a wealth of information and confirmation that I was approaching this the right way.
I found Lisa Littman’s paper. Then it made sense. If my daughter hadn’t sounded EXACTLY like the anecdotal descriptions in the paper (depressed, anxious, too much time online, and she had just fallen hard for another kid identifying as a boy), I may have gone against my better judgement and succumbed, like so many parents do. Taken down pictures of her in the hallway. Called her a boy. Gave her a binder for her 14th birthday. Celebrated her rebirth on social media. I didn’t do any of that.
I did let her get a haircut. I did buy her some men’s shirts.
Maybe that was a mistake, but I felt that she needed to be able to explore this gender business a little bit. Forbidding it only leads to an increased desire. When she played the suicide card, we took her to a psychiatrist. When she threatened to harm herself
to get out of a girl’s soccer game, I told her I would have to take her to the psych ward if she made good on that threat. We went to gender therapists, met with specialists, consulted with cult experts. My husband called twenty psychologists, most of whom told us that she was unlikely to change her mind. I attributed this to the recent passage of a bill in my state that forbade discussion of gender identity with minors.
My husband really wanted to go Full Hungarian (a phrase that came out of a support group for parents like us where one mother, a Hungarian woman, didn’t give into anything and actively badgered her kid until she desisted). Based on all the people we had met with, that was unlikely to work and would very likely strain our relationship
with her. Things kept ramping up and I became overwhelmed with managing my spouse, my younger child and pretending everything was normal to our friends, despite the obvious and sudden change in our daughter's appearance.
We became closet activists. We put up billboards, wrote letters, sent emails, mass mailed “Irreversible Damage” to doctors, schools and psychologists, and met with lawyers, Senators, and Representatives. We organized protests and talked to our close friends. Then I started praying. For something HUGE to happen to shake it all up. To stop the momentum so we could breathe. You see, I can put this away for moments, even days at a time, and experience joy and appreciate my wonderful kids. My husband on the other hand, eats, sleeps and breathes the terror of this experience. He never puts it away. I am grateful that he is on the same page, as so many of my new friends in this gender club have no support, but it is taking a toll on our relationship in ways that may never be repaired. I’m worried he might die from the stress. He went to his doctor and, when he explained the source of the stress, the doctor made a light-hearted joke about “ah, well, so, now you have a son!”. It is all we talk about. Living in a state of urgency is profoundly unhealthy and unsustainable.
So, I prayed.
Maybe, if I got really sick and everyone had to contemplate death and the value of life, health etc. maybe my kid might see that trying to become someone else is not the solution. Maybe I could, on my deathbed, make her promise not to do anything medical, ever. If that would end this constant state of stress and worry that we inhabit, I am all in.
The worry we feel about her is the same worry we feel about someone we love who might die. I tried to explain this to her, but I don’t know how it landed. I am not trying to be dramatic or play the victim card. I am just expressing what this experience feels like firsthand, for all of those people who have no idea. It feels like she is edging closer to death every day that her 18th birthday draws nearer. Death by Testosterone. Death by double mastectomy. Death by self-annihilation. It is unbearable to think about the future.
It turns out that my prayers were ignored. I am not sick with anything but worry. So, I am not meant to die as a martyr in the Gender War. I am meant to stay and fight. For my kid. That is what I will do.