Sticking my head above the parapet in a rainbow sea of harmful affirmation - A parent’s perspective
I live in a country far behind the UK and Europe, the USA and Australia in terms of gender critical advances. In other words, I am surrounded by those still blindly in the thralls and thrills of the militant affirmation glitter rainbow. All the adults in the room seem to have forgotten basic biology and logic. The ability to think things through seems lost to the harmful ideology of wokeness.
In my country, private medical care is expensive and you need an expensive monthly medical insurance to access it — that, or huge wads of cash. The public health care system is a failure and, quite frankly, often deadly. The age of consent for sex here is just 12 years old; medical emancipation is 16 years old, and you are legally considered an adult by the age of 18. Women's rights are seen as a nuisance and the legal system favors the richest person in the courtroom and is designed to traumatize the victim— the perpetrator gets all the deals and advantages. When it comes to abuse (including high levels of domestic abuse), or rape, the women are victimized by the patriarchal system all over again. Convictions are few and far between and the truth be damned. When it comes to ‘hate’ speech—a category into which transphobia has been included—anybody can say their feelings were hurt for it to qualify for a conviction. Jail time in this country is basically a human rights violation.
Where I am, young girls and women get unwanted and inappropriate looks and comments, as well as touches, brushes and gropes on a daily basis, in what is largely termed as toxic masculinity elsewhere in the Western world. As it is normal to feel uncomfortable and dysphoric with your body changes as a young woman and it is normal to experiment and explore your identity as a young adult, it is no wonder that the allure of instantly solving this with the transgender ideology, is so strong and, for many, irresistible.
My daughter was never a girly girl. I did not provide that as a role model, and as a single mother, I had huge influence as a strong independent ‘non-gender stereotypical conformist’. Life was fast paced but grounded in nature and family values, including dinner together and bedtime stories. No subject was off the table and honesty was king, even for uncomfortable topics. Freedom and autonomy was encouraged.
Despite all these positive efforts, the boundaries I set for my daughter were not always rigid, especially in her later teen years. In hindsight, I allowed her too much unsupervised time on the internet, too much time for her to retreat into a teenage cave. Due to work commitments, family trauma, legal fallout from that trauma, and being a single mother, I was not always emotionally available during these years. I see now that I did not stop and really listen and affirm feelings and insist on going out in real world and having fun. I take my responsibility for the dysfunctional family dynamic and mental health outcome.
My daughter was easily influenced and had a history of becoming obsessed with whatever she was ‘into’. She was also heavily bullied, lonely and had difficulty making friends. She started cutting because one girl she wanted to be friends with did it. We started seeing the school therapist and this was resolved quite quickly. She also had an abusive boyfriend whom she eventually broke up with for the right reasons. I thought she had learned her lesson not to allow others to dictate her thoughts and feelings. I thought she had the lesson of being true to yourself.
Then traumatic events happened in the family and, with this unresolved, she started college and left the safety of our home. I thought this would be a new chapter, one that would be good for her.
At first it was. For the first year she seemed to flourish and looked happy. I was distracted with family fallout still and perhaps did not see the signs. The following year she rejected me and broke contact.
I was distraught as we had always been close. I was very worried. I started looking online to see what was going on. She had always used her drawing talent as a means of expressing her feelings. When she was at home I could see her mental state through what she drew. I now found that she had multiple social media accounts, each one more dark and pornographic than the other. She had been involved for some years on Deviant Art and become caught up in the Furry Fandom and Anime. Now, on Tumblr and Twitter, she was moderating violent gay boi porn using these characters, shipping in the worst possible way. She was drawing violent and deviant male sex acts. I was horrified. I noticed she was presenting with pronouns he/him and asexual flag and erroneously assumed it was to protect her identity in real life from the online groomers and deviant predators. None of whom were censored online no matter how much they were reported.
I confronted her with this and spent time explaining what porn does to your mental health, how this is not real nor an indicator of real relationships and good sex. This lead to further rejection and accusations of breaching trust and privacy. No public social media accounts are private and any potential employer could find this disgusting material. After this conversation, her actions were no longer public, and the worst porn dedicated account was deleted, although given the pervasiveness of her activities, I doubted very much that the shipping and gay boi obsession had stopped. I still see drawings now, but at least they are not porn and I keep an eye on the groomers accounts to this day.
After this discover, I felt there was more going on and was still devastated that my child had rejected me. I had a huge loss of confidence and went over all I had done or not done as a parent in the past.
The following year, she graduated and came out to me on graduation day with the scripted ‘I am a man’ bomb. Of course it was a day where I felt joy and pride instead of shame, and it was a good day until that point.
After this first bomb was dropped, we went back to the same therapist and, unfortunately, she took the full affirmative approach and ignored all of my daughter’s history. I was told: affirm or suicide, they never change their minds, gender identity is fixed and I must not try be therapist and give advice or help.
At this stage my daughter was militant and 1000% sure of her new identity. She would not explain or discuss her self diagnosis. I was essentially shut out. We were referred to a ‘gender’ psychiatrist who I hoped would see through the scripted answers and rewritten history but he took 30 minutes and declared her trans and invited her to go to his gender clinic immediately for testosterone. She had Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens. Because of this, she already had high levels of testosterone and adding more would be dangerous for her heart health immediately.
Luckily she had work as intern (low wage) and no drivers license yet and I refused to pay for anything. She had moved in with her grandparents who she did not come out to, so this stalled the rush for medicalization. Shortly after this the pandemic and lockdowns started and my daughter moved back home with me. She continued working from home. By this stage she had serious eating disorder and had grown obese during college and refused to do any exercise. The euphoria from social transition had worn off and she was heavily depressed and having anxiety attacks. Staying awake all night and working during the day. Once home I made sure she got good healthy food, prepared from scratch using naturally grown ingredients.
All the research I did online came up with affirmation of trans identities. This felt so wrong. I refused to affirm pronouns and instead just removed all pronouns from my speech. I tried to think about affirming but I just could not. I became depressed and obsessed over what I did wrong as a parent. I could not sleep properly. I had no confidence in my ability at all and self flagellated. I thought about suicide.
A little orphaned kitten arrived on the porch and my daughter became a ‘Mum’. This responsibility helped bring her out of her head and into reality and became the first tenuous communication thread and I was able to connect with my daughter again.
For first year her weight did not improve and when we were cleaning out her room in June this year, I found an avalanche of sweet and chip wrappers. She vowed to take her food health seriously and her weight began to drop and the daily walks got easier and longer. We are now doing 5km in the lunch hour and her weight is dropping slowly and steadily. She is feeling better about herself and more confident for having beaten the food disorder beast. I am very proud of this achievement.
After I found Genspect and other resources online, I started putting firm boundaries in place and had many conversations about affirming the feeling but not the delusion. Boundaries of: mutual respect and empathy; basic rules of being a decent human being living together; basic cleanliness and hygiene (it felt like I was starting again with a toddler sometimes); chores and expectations of financial responsibility (and paying your own way); and proper sleep (we all sleep better as the internet is switched off every night). This has made an enormous difference and has nothing to do with gender ideology. I also started organizing once a week, fun outings and hikes.
Her ‘best’ friend from college is a very confused lesbian who loves to draw my daughter as a gay boi and is still a cheerleader for my daughter to transform into a male. This friend continues to communicate with the groomers and deviant porn predators and to create disgusting content. I wonder if her parents are aware. I am not able to get any information to even be able to contact them. I am currently trying to get her involved in real life clubs and activities outside of the current glitter glee club of cheerleading ‘frenemies’.
I have made it clear I will not help her self harm, and I will not be joining her in her delusion should she continue down this destructive path. She has promised to see a therapist properly and stop lying to herself before going any further. She has taken responsibility for her physical and mental health and is now on medication.
And she has promised to look at all the facts and all sides, not just the online glitter echo chambers. She has admitted to questioning the ideology herself and she has watched one detransitioner’s video. I keep sending her resources, mostly non gender related, that encourage critical thinking, in the hope that she will eventually look at them.
I keep having difficult conversations about online safety, brainwashing and social dysphoria. I remind her I am real, here and on her side. That the internet friends are not real or here; and how many will be there to cheer her on when she does change her mind? I know some of it does stick. I see her giving advice to others online. I say she has a responsibility to her followers not to put them in danger from her groomers and deviants. That she is responsible if she converts any vulnerable child to the trans ideology.
She still says she will not change her mind and that I am trying to ‘unbrainwash’ her. I take responsibility for my part in this and I will do everything I can to support her recovery and be a parent she can count on. The rest is her journey and up to her.