My Desistance Story
When I had children I promised myself that I would never lie to them. When my 5 year old figured out it was physically impossible for Santa to fly to each house and drop off presents, I fessed up. When he was 6 and saw my pregnant friend, he announced with authority, “the baby comes out the belly button”. I corrected him and let him know the baby grows in a special place in the woman’s body called the womb, and exits the birth canal. He argued with me in disbelief of this disturbing news for a few weeks until I finally showed him my anatomy book.
When he was 10 he asked me how *exactly* the sperm gets to the egg. We were driving and I was trapped; this was a truth I didn’t feel ready to share. I felt the blood drain from my head and my breath quicken and I did what any reasonable parent would do—I turned it around and asked him a question. “That’s an interesting question! Did you see something”? Turns out he saw these 2 donkeys…and one was on top of the other from behind…and then it looked like…maybe his penis was going in! Flustered that he’d seen the real thing I said, “Yep! Yep! that’s how it happens! In humans too!” For months my friends teased me. They said my son would turn his wife around on their wedding night and know exactly what to do. We laughed and laughed. Little did I know groomers on Reddit would subvert my relationship with my son and derailing his sex education, by leading him to high speed internet porn. I found that out much later.
Out of the blue in the spring of 2020, my son came to me and said, “mom, I was born in the wrong body”. This was after the terror of lockdown and the death of George Floyd. He had been spending a lot of time online and we were distracted with COVID. After the initial shock, our family bumped along for the next 7 months, convinced that my son’s fixation on “trans” was a phase and would pass. We spent time as a family hiking, talking, cooking and reading. We went camping and passed time reorganizing the house. There were tears, anxiety attacks, whispers at night. We had no idea what to do. The internet told me that no one changed their minds once they were trans. Then in December 2020 I read about Keira Bell, a young woman who had “transitioned” as a teen, only to realize that she had been misled, and after having surgery and taking testosterone, changed her mind and realized she was not “trans” after all. Not only did she change her mind, by the time I heard of her she was actively working to protect other children from irreversible harm caused by transition. Keira Bell’s story moved me into action.
I joined a parent support group and learned about things I still wish I didn’t know— Internet porn, sissy porn, hypno porn, the Blanchard typology, and Reddit and Tumblr groomers. I started listening to podcasts, reading as much as I could about post-modern theory, and sharing with my husband what I had learned about the underbelly of trans. With our newfound knowledge and data, we immediately limited internet access to only approved sites and put time limits on our son’s devices. Doors were slammed, screaming ensued, but we held our ground. No porn (this was never allowed of course, we just didn’t realize) or social media. We watched, waited, and prayed. Within a few weeks, the fixation started to fade. The depression lifted, the anxiety eased and we started seeing glimpses of our son back. We had found the only known weapon to fight trans ideology—limiting internet access and preventing online predators from accessing our child.
The summer of 2021 passed quickly. We moved and enrolled our son in a new school with in person instruction, to give him a fresh start and, hopefully, a new perspective. He made friends right away and even got asked to go to a festival with a friend! I asked him what his friend’s name was and he said, “his name is Tate and he’s a musician”. On the day of the festival Tate’s father came to pick up my son. Being the nosey mom I am I walked out to the car and introduced myself to Tate’s father. The front seat was empty so I peaked into the car to find an adorable girl, introduced to me by her dad as “Kate”. My stomach dropped and I felt nauseated. Things were going so well, and now trans had infiltrated my life again! I was worried that my son would backslide into the ideology, to maintain his friendship.
I let my son go but picked him up from the festival myself. He told me on the ride home that Tate also is known as Kate, but identifies as a boy. It’s a thing now, all the kids are doing it, he told me. My son had misled me about “Tate”, and he knew it, just as he knew that our policy of “no lying” worked both ways. I reminded him of all the times I told him the truth growing up, even when it was uncomfortable. How can I trust if you lie, I said. He re-agreed to our pact. We will continue to work on our bond and our trust in each other, and I know we will get there. I am his mom, and he is my son, and our bond is unbreakable, now and always. No cultural contagion will break us apart.
Now we call my son’s friend Kate-Tate. We both know she’s a girl. Just like my son knows he’s a boy. We can have our friends, and our space to believe what we feel, but we cannot and do not lie, not to each other, not in our family.
Trans ID is a funny thing. It comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. My son came in strong demanding we accept his wrong body hypothesis and do something about it. A year and half later, my son’s trans identification left quietly, out the back door while no one was watching. I’m grateful that I had the strength to resist, to do nothing. I’m grateful that my son had the maturity and faith to remain open-minded and to trust that I would not lie to him, not even when he really wanted me to, not even when I was scared and uncomfortable. The way I see it, there are no room for lies between a mother and child. In this case, as in all others I’ve encountered so far, I’m glad I did not compromise in this. I love my son too much to jeopardize his future for a lie.