The mother who cries in silence: the story of one of us
Translated from an Italian piece, originally posted here.
The Experience of a Mother
I am a 43-year-old mother, raised free, almost anarchic, anti-political and with the strong conviction of having to challenge any sexist stereotype imposed by society. I also raised my two children in this way, in the freedom of expression, style and personality.
My youngest daughter, who is now almost 16, is my miracle. When she was born, at 27 weeks of gestation, she weighed only 810 grams; she remained in intensive care for months and the hopes the doctors gave us were low. But she was fighting, she wanted to live, and I didn't leave her alone one day. In the hospital they called me "the mother who cries in silence".
From the day I took her home and up to her 14 and a half years we have always been united. Given her history and the fear I had had of losing her, I admit I was a little apprehensive about her, but I watched her go from one sport to another, run, play with dogs or cousins (by chance, all male) and I never imposed anything, nor did I think anything could be wrong. My daughter was free, as I had been, and she was loved and supported, I was always there for her.
Never, in her childhood, had she shown signs of discomfort in being a female: she was the classic little girl who likes Disney princesses, jewels, nail polish, her mom's or aunt's make-up ... not to mention heels! She always had long hair, she was so jealous of it that she didn't even want to trim it after the summer season.
While she was growing up, she had various passions, going from dance to artistic gymnastics, from figure skating to swimming, then returning to dance and finally dedicating herself to women's soccer, the sport that made her happiest.
At a certain point, however, the pandemic arrived. Like all the other guys, she too has begun to spend much more time attached to the cell phone, the PC, the playstation and watching videos on Youtube and TikTok; she tended to withdraw from all of us. Despite this, at least for a while, she remained the girl all the time.
With the beginning of high school, a new era begins. At the new school, she soon befriends a girl who was already attending the fourth year (3 years older than she was). She stops going to soccer games anymore, although there she found a nice group of friends, she doesn't want to go there anymore, and instead decides to return to hip hop dance, and becomes obsessed with the idea of enrolling in a k-pop course she attends also her new friend. A few months after starting school, in December, she asks to be able to cut her hair short, a request to which I agree, without giving you much weight. Later, she noticed that she began to dress more masculine, plus choosing a size three times larger than hers.
Then she starts losing weight and I get seriously worried. I realize that in my absence she throws food away secretly to make me believe that she has eaten, so I decide to take her to a specialist.
After a few sessions, her father and I, who are divorced, participate in a restitution meeting with the psychotherapist, who advises me to google what gender dysphoria is. From that moment the nightmare began that still today sees our family destroyed by something we never imagined.
For nights and nights I stay awake crying and trying to understand: when did this happen? How is it possible? How did I not notice such a strong discomfort before?
At the same time I begin to investigate my daughter, who in such a short time, in addition to giving signs of great malaise, she has distanced herself not only from me and the other members of the family, but also from all her old friendships. I play the card of the naive mother and I get an increasingly clear idea of that friend that she had never convinced me.
After uncovering several lies, I decide to remove her iphone and, unlocking it, opens up a world that I never wanted to see: the abyss into which my daughter fell. Not only is she being substantially subjugated by her older "friend", whom I discover identifying as a transgender FtoM, but she is transforming into her clone.
With all the calm I can keep, I face my daughter and I have the painful feeling of having a stranger with dull eyes in front of me. Liar, arrogant, conceited. In bad language I had never heard of her use, she informs me that she has changed her name and wants to be appealed with masculine pronouns. Her new name is already used on social media profiles, at school by classmates, at the dance class, and obviously by her new "super friends" met online - and never in person - thanks to her new identity. Apparently a large number of people, including many complete strangers, are more worthy of her trust than me: her Mother.
I wonder, in tears, what happened to the polite, sweet, kind, introverted girl, yes, but also sunny and with bright and bright eyes that I raised.
Although that day the confrontation was very painful, I never raised my voice, I tried to use a welcoming language, avoiding too uncomfortable words, and finally I too was able to learn directly from his mouth his new conviction: suddenly, suddenly, she realized that she was a boy and had been one throughout her young life.
My answer - sure and sincere - was the same that any loving parent would give in this situation: I love you and I will always love you, whatever happens I will always be by your side.
At the same time no, I didn't believe her idea. I remember her childhood much better than her; who she was in her first days, months and years of her life, maybe in the world only I know. I believe in my daughter: I believe in the discomfort she feels for her body and I believe that her discomfort is real. However, I am convinced that no one is born in the wrong body.
In the end, I too fell into an abyss. For whole nights I looked for scientific information that would support my reasons, my common sense, my feelings and I always found the same unacceptable answer: the only solution was to accept my daughter's trans identification, otherwise I would have risked losing her, forever, and my fault.
Day by day, my despair increased and my hopes faded, until at some point I discovered a site in English, Genspect, where these topics were dealt with in a different and more scientific way. From there, although there were still no resources or support groups in Italian, I was able to realize the existence of many parents in the same situation as me, thanks to the stories of PITT (Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans), to know the mothers of Spanish association Amanda - very active on Twitter - and get in touch with the Italian Radfems that have been fighting against gender ideology for years.
Finally there was hope, I was no longer alone.
Regained my strength, I had the certainty of having to fight for my daughter and at that point I took risks: to keep her away from toxic friendships, I changed her school by opting for a private one, I unsubscribed from the hip hop course, I had given her a new phone, and I changed the number, and on which I blocked Youtube, TikTok and any other social network.
At first she was very tough, but slowly she recovered from her depression, and she started interacting with the whole family again. Our relationship, even if it is not what it used to be, is evolving and improving every day: we spend a lot of time together, between walks, films, TV series and various activities.
She also came back to tell me "I love you".
I know this is just the beginning of a long journey, which has been going on for a year and a half now, but I love my daughter infinitely and I don't want her to get hurt. I will continue to fight to see reality again, and I will continue to be honest with her: no one can change sex.
I hope to see those eyes shine again one day, and then maybe even smile again.
Even if it is difficult, I prefer to be hated today and loved tomorrow - when she understands - rather than being loved today for having "affirmed" her, and perhaps being hated for the rest of her life for not preventing her from being harmed.
Today, as then, I don't leave her alone one day.
I'm still the mum who cries silently.