Powerful Medicine for Parents of ROGD Kids
As the father of a young woman who has turned to the transgender movement, I struggle deeply with pain, anger, and sadness as I watch my daughter avoid the challenge of becoming a woman by believing that she can become a man. I struggle to maintain an open and communicative relationship with her while also attempting to control the media and information she is exposed to, to slow her continued descent into the transgender cult.
I also have to continually remind myself that there are reasons she is going in this direction. A significant reason for her, ironically, was the trauma of growing up in an abusive religious cult, and the subsequent trauma of living with me while I suffered with PTSD from living in that same cult.
Sadly, my daughter turned to transgenderism just as I was recovering from PTSD. Just as I was regaining the stability and tools I needed to be a functional and present parent, her unresolved trauma expressed itself. She followed the all-to-familiar pattern for parents of trans kids: she met a transgender friend in a school program, began watching hundreds of trans and LGBTQ+ videos on YouTube (unbeknownst to us) and then made a half-baked suicide attempt, followed by an announcement that she was trans.
Over the months since she announced herself as trans I have been processing many intense, painful, and negative emotions. Like many parents, I am frightened of the politically sanctioned specter of puberty blockers, testosterone, surgical mutilation, infertility, and life-long health problems that could be facing my daughter. I am also sickened by the widespread social affirmation of a psychological mechanism she is using to dissociate herself from her trauma, making it all the more difficult for her to heal.
I have also come to recognize that a large part of what she is going through is a very normal part of growing up. She, like all of us, is individuating from her parents. She is simply trying to discover and become who she is apart from my wife and I. I certainly went through this process during my own tumultuous teenage years. The problem is that, while what she is going through is perfectly normal, what society at large is doing is not normal. So we parents have very little support outside the home to help guard against the worst outcomes, let alone to help shepherd our kids through these very difficult years in a positive way.
Over a period of months I have recognized deeply that health and healing for my daughter begins with me. I cannot control her outcomes and I cannot control her beliefs—nor should I. I learned from my 15 years of living in a high control community (i.e., a cult) that excessive control causes untold suffering. I can only work with my own emotions, with my own mind, so that I can be there for her, and for my other kids. To do this, I need powerful tools and powerful medicine, and I have turned to the same medicine and tools that have been instrumental in my healing from PTSD: meditation and psychedelics.
Meditation, or mindfulness, has given me a level of emotional understanding and stability I never imagined possible. Beginning a meditation practice was the first step on my road to recovering from PTSD, and it is my daily source of stability for managing the wide range of emotions I experience as a parent with a ROGD (Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria) daughter. No matter what upsetting website she has visited, what rule she decides to protest against, what disturbing news article I read about the trans movement, or what law is being cooked up to limit my freedom as a parent—I know that I will always be able to come back to the breath, to sit with my most painful emotions and fears, and that by doing, so the feelings will run their course. I will regain my peace of mind so that I can continue doing the hard work of building my relationship with my daughter, deciding which piece of legislation to fight, and thinking clearly about the positive ways I can help her heal from her root trauma.
Mindfulness is not about just getting rid of the feelings, it is about boring into them, feeling them in all their depth, listening to them, and then watching as their energy dissipates because they have done their work. If I can be mindful of my own emotions, perhaps I can also be mindful of the emotions my daughter is going through. Perhaps I will stop pushing them away because they are uncomfortable, and I will listen deeply, and perhaps she will also begin to experience the same freedom that I experience.
There is much more that could be said about mindfulness and why it is so effective, but I will not go into that here. My personal practice is 10 minutes in the morning and 10 to 20 minutes in the evening. I use the Waking Up app as my main source of instruction. If you are a parent struggling to navigate your own thoughts and emotions around raising an ROGD kid, I would strongly encourage you to give mindfulness a serious try. Try it consistently for a month and see what happens. Some people are hesitant because they believe that mindfulness or meditation goes against their religion, or their atheism, in some way. There are many mindfulness practices, including the daily meditations in Waking Up that require absolutely no philosophical or dogmatic commitment. The practice is purely experiential and does not require a particular faith or belief, nor does it run afoul of religious beliefs, unless your religion teaches that you actually are your ego. But most spiritual traditions teach explicitly that this isn’t the case.
The next tool I use is a bit more controversial, but has been gaining widespread acceptance over the last decade. Of course I am talking about psychedelics. Psychedelics, meaning “mind manifesting”, include the classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), mescaline (peyote), LSD, ayahuasca, ibogaine, as well as MDMA, which shares some similar properties. Psychedelics have been used for millennia in indigenous cultures as part of healing and religious ceremonies. Cannabis also has psychedelic properties that can be leveraged in therapeutic and ceremonial settings.
I was first introduced to psychedelics in a therapeutic setting during my recovery from PTSD. As I mentioned earlier, I was in a severely abusive religious cult for 15 years and experienced verbal and psychological abuse on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis for that entire time. As a result I suffered from complex PTSD, which is PTSD that is the result of prolonged trauma, rather than trauma from a single incident. At the height of my symptoms, I could barely interact with my family. I have five high-energy kids, and any fighting or screaming between the kids, any dish accidentally broken, would trigger me and I would find myself reliving the excruciating feelings of terror and anger that I experienced during my abuse. I had to hide in my room, drink, and avoid my kids so that I would not blow up at them and further traumatize them.
It was at this rock-bottom place in my life that I found psychedelics. I had heard that they were being used to help people with PTSD, so I began microdosing psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and it was very helpful at reducing how often I was getting triggered. From there, I found some therapists that work with psychedelics, and I went through a cannabis journey and two MDMA journeys with them. Without going into detail, these therapeutic journeys, along with my growing meditation practice, and my own self-guided work with psilocybin, cured me of PTSD. I was able, for the first time in my life, really, to be a father, to be fully present for my kids, and to be a locus of peace in our home rather than a dad who could flip without warning and who was usually found hiding in his room, working compulsively, or drinking a beer. My kids no longer had to fear that, if they threw a temper tantrum, I would end up shaking in a corner. I had my family back, and my family had me back. My gratitude was infinite.
After my recovery, I continued occasionally microdosing with psilocybin for extra support, and have occasionally taken higher doses on self-guided journeys when I want to explore my emotions on a deeper level, work through painful feelings, and make new connections. I recently went on a psilocybin journey with a larger dose in an effort to bring more self-understanding to my parenting of my daughter who identifies as transgender.
All intentional psychedelic journeys begin with “set and setting”. “Set” refers to your mindset or intention. What do you want to get out of this experience? What issues are you struggling with? What do you need clarity on? “Setting” refers to what type of medicine, how much, where, and with whom you take the journey. If you have never taken a psychedelic, my strong advice is that you do it with an experienced therapist or trip sitter. You don’t want to have a “bad trip”, but this really isn’t something to worry about with a good therapist or sitter. They will help guide you through the experience, which can be intense, difficult, and sometimes a bit scary—but with proper handling, even the scary parts are very healing and beneficial. Again, if you just decide to take some mushrooms without proper preparation, intention, and guidance, you are not likely to get much benefit, and it can even be a harmful or traumatizing experience.
For my recent journey, I organized a camping trip with two good friends, both very experienced with psychedelics. We went deep into the woods, where we knew we would have total privacy.
We all shared our intentions before taking the medicine, which in this case was psilocybin. Here is the intention that I shared: “I’m working on releasing my daughter to her own process of individuation, her own journey, and not grasping at what I believe is the right outcome for her, and also asking how I can best be there as a loving, strong, masculine support in her life.”
With this intention I imbibed the medicine and sat in meditation while I waited for it to take effect. We were deep in the forest and had found a spot with a beautiful mountain stream, sunlight flowing through the canopy of trees. The water was cool and pleasant, and I found a rock to sit on, my feet in the water. I closed my eyes and allowed the sound of the trickling water to fully envelop my consciousness, which it did as the medicine started to come on. Soon I felt myself immersed in the power of the mushroom and I got up to greet my brothers and see if they were having a good trip too. They were doing well and the energy was powerful and palpable. We practiced some Qigong moves together for a few minutes, and then I told them I was going to walk down the stream while staying in sight of them. We had all agreed before the journey that we would stay where we could all see each other, so we would be sure everyone was safe.
I started walking but I didn’t get very far. The medicine was really coming on strong now. A large rock in the steam caught my attention and I began exploring it with my eyes and my hands. I closed my eyes and beautiful patterns of color and shapes filled my awareness. I lay down on the rock and began embracing it. I began to think about Mother Earth, and She became at once fused in my mind with my own mother, whom I have always loved very much, and the archetypical Earth-Mother then began calling to my daughter, with a deep plea which came through my own voice, “Don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself, please don’t hurt yourself.”
“Mama, Mother, Mother, Mother help me!” My words came in deep sobs. The words were at once my own and that of my daughter, calling on Mother for help. Images of my daughter’s grandmothers, and her mother, and Mother Earth filled my mind, and the pain of a mother, her heart breaking for her daughter, filled my heart. The potential that my daughter could lose the biological capability of being a mother sent waves of sadness through my being.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I never meant to hurt you.” I cried out, feeling into the deep pain that had led my daughter to her transgenderism.
“Please don’t hurt yourself!” I then cried and pleaded, this time connecting with my own deep, fatherly, biological protective instinct for my young. I connected profoundly with billions of years of evolution, of organisms protecting their offspring, and billions of years of the double helix within organisms, male and female. I became DNA, I saw myself projecting through time and space, producing male and female, mothers and fathers. Mothers nursing and caring for their children. Fathers protecting their families. Tribes gathering around their young, passing on ancient ways. I experienced the reality of biological sex as inherent to what we are as beings. I connected with myself as a human animal, protecting my offspring, violently if necessary.
“Please, don’t hurt yourself!” I pleaded, speaking to my daughter, Mother Earth listening to my plea.
After this emotional release and these visions of ancestors, and biology, I found myself quietly laying on my back on the rock, my limbs limp in the water, flies landing on me, and I stared upwards at the trees above me, their leaves dancing in the radiant sunlight. A deep quiet filled my being, and I got up to return to my friends.
“I don’t want to let them hurt my daughter.” I told them. “They want them to take her body apart. They want to sterilize her with puberty blockers and hormones. It’s so sick and wrong.” I sobbed as my brothers held me, all of us processing this atrocity together.
I stood up and gazed around at the pristine natural beauty around me. It flowed into my mind, my senses still wide open from the power of the medicine. “We are free!” I exclaimed to my brothers, my arms wide. “We are free here in the wilderness. We are not in a concentration camp. But in society we are building a prison, a prison of the mind! I know what that is like! I lived in a cult, I know what it means to be in a mental prison. You lose the tools to think outside the prescribed lines because you live in fear! Our society is living in terrible fear! We have to fight to free people from the mental prison of the zeitgeist!”
I stopped my sermon and my brothers shared their deep feelings as well, and we all comforted each other. Men, deep in the bosom of Mother Earth, revealing our fears, our wounds, our vulnerability with one another. Then I stood up and beat my chest. I growled and screamed. I released primal energy. They did too. We laughed fiercely at the power moving through our bodies and our hearts.
One of my friends faced some very deep childhood wounds, the other his fear of commitment. Deep fears and wounds, healing in brotherhood, embraced by Mother Earth.
As the medicine lifted and we came back to a more normal state of consciousness, we began talking and philosophizing, concepts still impinging on us at twice the normal rate, but no longer in the visionary state. We packed up our bags and began hiking back to our campsite.
The journey clarified several things for me and left me with concrete steps I could take for my daughter. I could connect her more with my mother, for one thing. They don’t have a close relationship, but the normal, female, motherly connection could be healing for her. I also realized I needed to bring her into closer contact with Mother Earth, so powerful, so seemingly chaotic, and yet bringing forth life itself. I also more deeply embraced my biological drive to protect her. As much as I need to allow her to individuate, I will fight to protect her body and her mind from harm. The trip also reinforced the truth that the most important thing I can do for my daughter is work toward finding my own balance and inner peace.
The journey helped me process my fatherly sorrow and fear. It cleared away the stifling web of anger that had built up and it gave me renewed freedom. It clarified for me, in a visceral way, how brainwashed and misguided the politicians, the doctors, and therapists have become who are under the sway of this ideology, bent on divorcing us from biology, shredding apart families - the very matrix from which whole children emerge - and dividing communities - the context in which children can be supported and truly thrive as they individuate.
When I returned home, I was able to have a deep, heartfelt conversation with my daughter, and I delivered the simple message I had received, “Please don’t hurt yourself.” I listened with understanding as she told me how she “feels like a boy.” We spoke about her trauma, which we both know is at the root of her dysphoria, and we spoke about how we could work on finding healing for it together.
As an aside, my wife read the account of my journey and said it would likely freak people out who may be afraid of expressing their emotions powerfully in front of others. I want to make it clear that people experience psychedelics in different ways. My wife, for example, doesn’t grunt or beat her chest, but simply feels very open during her psychedelic therapy sessions. I just happen to express things intensely during my journeys. Others are happy to stay in bed with eye shades and listen to a well chosen playlist while they journey, and they can still reap the same benefits. It all comes down to going into the process with a clear intention and having the right support - “setting” - for your journey.
For me, the psychedelic experience facilitates an unfiltered, unrestrained release of the energy of pent up emotions, and allows their power, which can at times be crippling, to dissipate. It allows my deepest, most primal, and my submerged subconscious thoughts, as well as their emotional content to manifest, for me to express them, to live through my darkest fears and my greatest joys, and to find beauty and stability on the other side. Coming down from this experience I am then able to re-engage with the world afresh, with new determination and strength, having received the lessons my animal, emotional, and subconscious mind has wanted to teach me. My pent up anger and powerlessness transformed into strong, loving, determination. My sadness and grief around my darkest fears are transformed into love and understanding of the suffering of myself and those around me.
One deep connection between meditation and psychedelics seems to be the penetration and full experience of emotions, their full expression, so that their lessons can be absorbed. Psychedelics facilitate the dissolution of the self, which so often stands in the way of experiencing and processing our emotions. Our self is afraid of the negative feelings and pushes them away, so when it goes offline during a psychedelic journey, our subconscious thoughts—creative insights, fears, emotions, all come rushing, uninhibited into our awareness.
If the mind was an automobile, meditation is the everyday maintenance, steady upkeep, and long term plan for smooth functioning and improvement - psychedelic journeys are like a total engine overhaul, everything taken apart, cleaned, and thankfully, reassembled. The two practices go deeply hand in hand.
I hope sharing this experience has been helpful for you. Parents with ROGD kids need powerful medicine. May we all find our way to peace, in our own ways, through these trying times.