The Crimes of the Mother
Her bedroom is empty, waiting for a visit I hope, but know she will not be coming any day soon.
This is the house she grew up in, in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs. Her view out of her bedroom window is of a large backyard with flowers and trees. We, her parents, have all the memories the house held for us, the ghosts of Christmases and family gatherings, so many birthdays and holidays, dinners and graduation celebrations, and just moments of playing board games and watching favorite shows on television.
I hear the echo of laughter and sorrow too, of lost family members and break ups with friends and boyfriends and all the anxiety and fear that goes into growing up. The tears and fights too, about braces, about grades, wants and needs, learning what is not possible and what is.
All the love poured into our daughter and all the memories that make up a life. The trips to the mountains and beach, the trips to places she wanted to go like Hawaii and Florida and even trips overseas. The ability to save and, with help from relatives, have her college education completely paid for to help ensure a future with promise.
Now this childhood home, with all those memories, all that love, is not “safe” anymore, according to our daughter. Because she has decided that she is literally a man.
The announcement that she was now a man came to us out of the blue during the pandemic, at age nineteen. We had never seen a hint of her having an issue with her body and she had no great reasoning for this when we questioned. Gender ideology is totally based on a “feeling” and, more worryingly, a whole belief system, very much like a fundamentalist religion or even a cult, that is absolute in what can even be asked. We don't know who influenced her on the internet or at college. But we know her deep anxiety and depression affected her her whole life. We know it was almost crippling at times, including having obsessive thoughts that would not end. She had told me one time when she was having anxiety attacks that it was so just so hard having her brain.
Now she considers me an enemy, and my crime is believing in reality, in biology and knowing she is female and will always be female. I continue to assert what I believe and know—that she can take testosterone to mimic what a man looks like but she will still be a female pretending she is a man. She can have her healthy breasts removed but she will just be a female who had her breasts removed. Changing sex is an impossibility.
She thinks my position means that I am denying her very existence, because she has been told by gender ideology that the only thing in her existence that matters, that has ever mattered, is her new identity of being trans.
We think she is on the autism spectrum but it mostly never interfered with her succeeding. She didn't fit in with the other girls a lot of the time and had trouble making friends. But, and there are so many buts, she never exhibited any unhappiness during puberty or about her body. She thrived in high school and became valedictorian and got admitted to an elite college. There were dresses and jewelry and prom and parties and all of the usual stuff that girls do. There were boyfriends and friends she loved.
Then the pandemic came right during her first year at college, her first year of separation from home. She was forced back home and it created more anxiety since there was no seeing of friends, and no boyfriends. When she went back to college there were new friends that called themselves trans or non binary. She came out as trans to everyone at college months before telling us anything and, of course every friend and every professor accepted this and started calling her by her new name and pronouns.
The only people who have told her the truth are her parents. We asked that she wait until graduation, because this was too much to add on to the pressures of completing college. She told us she wanted hormones and surgery including the very cutely named “bottom surgery” which is more like frankenstein surgery, and we were horrified. There was no waiting or talking, it was all an absolute. We were shocked, and we didn't say all the right things. But we believed we were fighting for her very life. And for this, we may never be forgiven.
Ever the dutiful daughter, she did as we asked. She waited on transition. She also lied when we asked about her identity at college, lied over and over to us, but still graduated early. Dumbly and sadly, I had believed she might be desisting because our bond was so strong, her love for her father and I thought, even me, the mother she now despises. Unlike the happy celebration after high school, there was no college graduation celebration. She cut us out of her life with no way to reach her.
She has cut off contact because we won't lie. Because we won't tell her that she can attempt to change sex without consequences that will affect her life for years and years to come. She doesn't believe that I, her mother, am telling her these things because I take my first and really only job as a mother seriously: To protect her from harm. That is supposed to be the motto of medical professionals, “first do no harm”. But that isn't what is happening today in the realm of “gender affirming care”. Our daughter is someone that needs therapy and that needs to find out ways of navigating the world as an adult, she doesn't need wrong sex hormones to pretend to be a man. But of course this is what I am told is the one and only answer by institutions like the American Medical Association.
If they knew my daughter, had seen her through every trauma and fear of almost twenty years, they would know that messing with her hormones could destroy her mind. It could destroy her already shaky sense of self, because she is someone that folds easily at criticism and strives for perfectionism. She will not find it easy to convince the world that she is something that she is not. But that is the path of trans medicine, the search for an impossible reality.
There is (at last) some debate about sex hormones and surgeries for minors. There are, horrifyingly, loads of young adults out there that are being harmed by this belief system. And that is all this is, because it is certainly not medicine.
So the live and let live attitude that is often parlayed because someone is over the age of eighteen and thus it's just a “choice” is infuriating to the parents of young adults. Young adults in distress, no matter other issues like trauma, anxiety, depression, autism, anorexia, and the vulnerability of being gay, are offered cross sex hormones on the first visit to a gender clinic.
Where will these young adults be at 30? At 40? No one remains 20 forever. Will their options to have children be forgone? Will they regret surgeries and permanent changes to their bodies that cannot be undone after often just a few MONTHS on cross sex hormones? Where is the evidence that long term medical procedures bring long term happiness?
Besides medical horrors, the other fear I have for her future is just as large.
Who will she find to be her partner? She knows we would be fine if she was a lesbian but she has only wanted to date boys and now men. She thinks of herself as a gay man now. The absurdity of this and the naivete, that she doesn't understand that gay men want to be with other gay men.
She believes that somehow I, her mother, never knew her at all. There are so many guides on the internet, and therapists that undercut parents at every turn. The past never happened. She was never happy. If you even think for a moment that you are trans, you are! If you don't fit in and have doubts about your looks, you are trans. What young woman in this age of Instagram perfection has never thought they weren't beautiful enough?
If we go to a therapist, they will tell me that my daughter, who decided in all of six months during a pandemic, who had suffered from mental anguish her whole life, that the answer to every pain of her life is to somehow magically change sex and I must believe it, or I am hateful and I am wrong.
I know she is in pain and that thinking of herself as a man brings relief and comfort, I know that she has distress. I don't want her to be harmed by drugs or by thinking that because of not believing in her reality that I hate her true self. But I don't believe the answer is a lie.
I know that the entirety of society is now expected to lie and accept the unseen inner feelings of everyone we meet. I know this is not sustainable, anymore that taking wrong sex hormones for 20 years will have no consequences.
It seems everyone knows that somehow, prior to the internet, prior to internet porn and social media, trans identified girls were a tiny tiny minority. And now I and everyone I know, have some girl in their family at age 12 or 15 or 20 deciding that they are really a man or some combination of “non-binary”. And somehow, the non-binary also means that the breasts must go, be bound and hid, and that the female part is the part that is wrong. Something has radically changed in a short time. And how in any sane world is the only answer to this massive societal shift a needle full of testosterone?
Parents like me are in a living nightmare. The doctors, the schools, the governments, are all lying, seeming to imply it's as easy as turning a switch to change sex. That there are no long term consequences. That detransition is rare and everyone is happy forever after transition. That an inner feeling had for a few months trumps all biology, all her history and everything she has ever known and everyone that has ever loved her. All of that is the reality of trans ideology.
The emptiness is enormous for parents like us. We maintain our silence to relatives and friends because we don't want to be thought of as bigots. We speak in private groups only because we are so alone. But there are many, many of us, and so tragically, more every day. Something has to change. We are liberal and would like to tell all the institutions and politicians that “gender affirming care” just sounds nice and accepting until your child walks in the door and tells you that they aren’t your daughter anymore. Then you are forced to discover the reality of drugs and surgeries and it isn't so simple.
Most of these people telling us what to do have zero skin in the game. This is our lives, every second of every day, and many good parents are trying to navigate the right thing to do for their precious child, whether they affirm completely or not. We are all trying to love our children and we need help and we need answers, not hollow slogans and endless culture wars. We need left and right and middle coming together to help our children out of a new nightmare that didn't exist twenty years ago. I have no doubt if my daughter was born 20 years earlier none of this would have happened.
When I hear her “deadname”, I know she is not dead but that, rather, she somehow killed off her childhood and all her memories and connection to me and her family, I am sliced to the heart. The missing is endless and forever.
I pray (though I am not much of a believer) that she comes home soon and someday comes to forgive the crimes of her mother and understand that a mother only lies to save her child and not the other way around.