On the Cusp of Desistance
I wrote the following in July 2023 as our daughter was desisting. I wrote it in response to Eliza Mondegreen’s request to hear from parents about the difficult position we’re in. It was the first thing I’d written about our experience. Our daughter has since desisted and is doing well.
July 21, 2023:
Our 13-year-old daughter is on the eve of desisting after two years of gender nonsense, so we are in a better place... almost out of the woods.
The main aspect of the difficult position we've been in is: our child's adoption of a trans identity is a maladaptive coping strategy and we see that clearly, but all the institutions around us claim it is a legitimate identity. Therefore, we've been unable to point to anything in the structures of society to make it clear that this is maladaptive; instead, our daughter has been armed by all the external structures to make the claim that it is liberation. We've had to depend on ourselves and our ingenuity and sensitivity to carry our daughter through this.
Some background info below.
Our daughter checks a couple of the main boxes of ROGD kids: she’s ASD level 1 and experienced sexual trauma. Her trans identity occurred at school after learning about gender in health class. She and a close friend socially transitioned simultaneously.
The two of us parents check many of the boxes of parents of ROGD kids: GenX/Millenial progressive Democrats who happen to eschew sex stereotypes, who were always pro gay marriage, and always supported trans people's rights.
We have taken a slow and gentle approach with our daughter, playing the long game. For the first nine months of her gender talk (which started two years ago), we told her she could use whatever words/name she wanted with her friends, but that we her parents were going to hold down the fort with her legal sex and legal name.
But ten months in, we caved on the pronouns and the name. Why? Because our child had just told us of the sexual abuse that had occurred at school a few years before, and she was a wreck.
And as a family we were faced with the difficult job of reporting the abuse to both the police and the school.
As parents, we were holding steady for our child's sake while falling apart inside.
We caved on the name and the pronouns to keep our daughter close. We didn't want her to feel there was a disagreement between herself and her parents at this most vulnerable time. We didn't want there to be even a hint that there could be a wall between herself and her parents.
During the past few months -- after the healing effects of leaving the school where the abuse occurred, getting her ASD diagnosis, and attending a new school that fully accommodates her ASD -- our daughter's trans identity has shifted to agender with continued use of he (and sometimes they) pronouns. While in the past she would dig in her heels and spout gender rhetoric to us, for the past few months she is much more open to reality. We can see that she only needs a nudge or two to get past the finish line, and those nudges are happening this summer.
We had specific reasons for letting the use of the fake name and pronouns go on this long. We hunkered down, focused on healing and gentleness, got the ASD diagnosis, supported her through her first year in a wonderful new school... and now it's time to put gender insanity in the past and inoculate her for the present and future, as the gender nonsense persists in the culture and will be rampant in her generation for years to come.
January 10, 2024:
PITT parents are navigating by the seat of our pants in response to something we never could have dreamed up. We’re all doing it (or did it) in different ways, as fits our families and circumstances. This week I read a comment on a PITT post in which a mother said she has space in her heart for families doing what they think is best, and that it’s important for her to build bridges with parents who are navigating the minefield in a variety of ways. Yes, yes, yes. We are all doing an amazing job in an infinity of ways in response to absurd circumstances.
For more on this author.