Waiting For Change
For the past few weeks, I’ve been holding my breath, in a different way than the way I’ve been holding my breath since my son announced he was trans, demanding that we refer to him with female pronouns and use only his new name, Erin. To never utter the name I love intensely — my beautiful Elliot, my daughter now, magically no longer my son. Holding my breath while waiting for him to see through the fantasy he has been sold, that drugs will take him from a place of deep and inexplicable self-hatred to a place of warm self-love. Or maybe self-tolerance is enough for him. And oftentimes holding my breath while waiting to see if the wrong pronoun or the wrong question or the wrong book or article would bring on the screaming raging monster waiting only millimeters below the surface of his flawless child-skin or whether the moment would pass unnoticed.
Now I’m holding my breath because change is in the air. I can sense it. Smell it. Feel it in my bones. Words are being spoken and truths told. Two and a half weeks ago, the unimaginable happened. Three top gender clinicians, Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, Dr. Marci Bowers, and Erica Anderson, began talking about the reality that parents like me have been living and breathing and screaming for years. And while in the US, the mainstream media (by which I mean the liberal media that I clung to and funded during the stressful Trump years) has purposefully ignored their deeply disturbing message, it was a breakthrough moment. It portends other changes — the upcoming release of the new WPATH guidelines, guidelines that the gender clinics have been using as a shield, giving them free license to ignore data and deflect questions and concerns. The new guidelines are more than likely going to reflect the messages these clinicians are sending: that medical transition for children and teens is neither guaranteed to be safe nor effective; that this population should be thoroughly assessed (only by clinicians like themselves, of course); and that they should engage in exploratory therapy (absurdly referred to as “conversion therapy” by trans activists and everyone who unquestioningly follows them) before starting any medical intervention.
The new guidelines are due to land in December, so another month and a half or two of breath-holding for that, but there are other shifts I see out of the corner of my eye. Shifts that suggest change is coming. Last week the BBC aired a 10-part investigative series on Stonewall, the UK LGBTQ rights organization which, until 2014, had worked for LGB rights but suddenly realigned to focus on trans rights — causes which, in some cases, bump up against those of the very people who formed it. I have become intensely aware of the political activities in the UK because, unlike here in the US, the fallout from trans activists’ demands is becoming more visible and the more that people on the outside take notice, the more they discover they don’t support what’s happening. The reporter asked the obvious questions that the rest of us cannot ask. The answers were muddled. They made no sense in the way that none of this makes any sense. Add to this the Dave Chapelle Netflix piece and the ridiculous, pointless protest that followed. What rights are you fighting for? The right to cancel comedy that offends you?
People are starting to speak up. Despite the news blackout, people are seeing and hearing about what’s been happening under their noses while the “be kind” terrorists bully those who don’t agree, all while shrieking about their vulnerability. This may seem beyond our child-centered world, but the more the world sees the emptiness behind this insidious plague of a movement, the closer they are to seeing what’s at the bottom of it — the children they are grooming and using, and the families they are destroying.
And not just “people,” are speaking up. We are speaking up — finding ways to enter conversations, voice concerns, spread information, challenge schools, protest in front of clinics. There is a momentum building. I can feel it. Even as I grieve, my skin tingles. I can sense it. Change is coming. Must come. But in what form? And how long will we have to wait? How many of our children will cross over, lost, maybe forever. Maybe just until they are wholly broken.
And when it comes, what about those out there who have already transitioned? What will it mean to them if they see that they were wronged? Some will have detransitioned through their own pace of self-discovery, but what about those who are on the edge of understanding themselves and their confused motivations? What will it mean to be just waking up only to be blinded by a searchlight? And the parents who thought they were doing right by their children, what about them? To learn that you’ve consented to treatment that sterilized your child based on misinformation and lies and your best intentions? That you prodded and supported your child down a sham pathway that places tremendous limits on his or her life instead of opening the doors to a brave new world? How could they ever embrace the change that is surely coming?
I need change to come. Viscerally need it. This hell has to end. But what if it slips away silently, the way it started? I can imagine things just sort of quietly ebbing, like some horrific carnival that came to town and set up shop, with its garish tents and promises of redemption, and then stealthily, in the middle of the night, just folded everything up, and loaded it onto the wagons, and rode away. And we were left, damaged, traumatized, our children still mesmerized by the fading glow of their tail lights, while most of the people never even knew they’d been here at all. To never have our grief or our suffering recognized and acknowledged as a final insult. I can imagine the medical groups and clinicians in their back-room boardroom discussions, weighing their risks, consulting their counsel, making their decisions, and with a short series of memos, shifting resources and staff away from gender clinics. Slowing, then stopping the flow of patients, referring them elsewhere until there is nowhere else to refer them to. This hell will end with a whisper, or a death rattle, not a bang.
Real change needs to happen. Clinics need to stop treating children and young teens with puberty blockers, and stop treating teens and young adults with hormones, and start seriously assessing them to figure out what in god’s name is really going on, and treating them all with meaningful therapy, not “how long have you been trans” therapy. For now, I’m still holding my breath, but change is coming. I can feel it.