One Family’s Story
As I sit here writing to you, our 18-year-old daughter is packing all her things. She says that she will never speak to us again.
How did we get to this unfathomable place, to this tragic end for our family?
My daughter, raised in relative privilege, was always a gifted child. She also struggled socially growing up. She had one best friend all through primary school. In middle school, she finally built a nice friend group of girls. However, at this time, I, her mother, went through a significant depression and was unable to work or meet her needs emotionally. We also moved twice during this time. I believe this had a significant impact upon her stability.
My daughter started high school with high hopes. She seemed to thrive—she was academically successful her ninth grade year, winning an award for her participation in speech and debate. However, she withdrew as she entered her sophomore year—locking herself in her room, obsessed with her phone. We grew alarmed at her mounting depression. We found a therapist, and she was diagnosed with major depression and referred to the UC Davis Mind Institute, where she was diagnosed with anxiety, ADHD and Depression. She also suffered from binge eating disorder. She was seen at this time as having conflict with us, her parents, and as gender questioning.
Because of her worsening depression, we got her into an Intensive Outpatient program that included a therapist, a group of adolescents her age and a psychiatrist. She appeared to be getting better. But then, COVID hit. Once again she withdrew into an online world, immersing herself in Discord, Anime and who knows what other websites. She told me she had found out what was really going on with her on the internet.
She started not wanting to go to school as well as hanging out with a boy who was transgender. I believe this was through a group at school for LGBT allies. Then, in 6th grade, after we watched Dear Evan Hansen, she came out to me as a lesbian and I was fully supportive. Later, in high school, when she announced a trans identity, I tried to be supportive as well, thinking it was the best thing to do.. We tried to be supportive, using her preferred name and pronouns. We even paid for a breast reduction because she was so large chested. I feel so responsible for not educating myself as to what was going on along the way. She was so angry and combative and downright hateful to me, her mother during this time, and I was trying my best under the circumstances.
My daughter eventually went off to college and, after about six months, she announced she was going to start taking testosterone as her therapist had written a letter for her to do so. (The therapist had never spoken to us about this, or her gender questioning).
About one month later, she announced she was getting a double mastectomy during spring break. We were alarmed at this development, and tried to slow things down. While continuing to pay for her college tuition, room and board, we took her off our insurance, stopped her every other week Zoom therapy, took back our car and stopped paying for her phone. We were beside ourselves with shock and worry, and hoped that our actions would help her to see what adult responsibilities really are.
Within a week, however, she managed to get her phone paid for and get health insurance. She will likely be able to continue with her “treatment” on Medi-cal. There was plenty of “help” available for her to destroy her body and separate her from her family.
I fully expect to get a call one day about her de-transitioning. Who knows what kind of emotional shape she will be in at that time? But no matter how she is, or what she’s done, we love her and always will. We will pick up the pieces, help her and hope for the best. Our daughter has agreed to twice weekly family therapy sessions and we are grateful for this chance to keep the lines of communication open. However, for now, we have no choice but to let her make these life-changing mistakes, and hope that she knows in the back of her mind that we love her unconditionally and that we will be here for her, waiting, no matter what.