When the Glitter Mom Replaced Me
We hit the 18th birthday of our youngest, non-binary child. For an earlier, more hopeful take, see this link: https://pitt.substack.com/p/mental-illness-equals-social-credit
Her big sister had invited her to move out and live with her. That’s okay. Short of going to court and winning the right to be her conservators once she turned 18, we knew we had no options anyway. It’s been tough the last couple years. She’s always mad at us, when she isn’t indifferent. The minute she was out of high school, she was sleeping as late as possible, then staying up all night in the basement, hiding out in her room unless she wanted something.
Her big sister has no idea what she’s in for, what with the various mental health issues little sis has. I wish I could be a fly on the wall for the first angry, borderline meltdown fit she throws. I know all about and understand her various diagnoses. I’ve been in counseling now for years and have read at least half a dozen books on all of it, besides all the trans books.
Little sis has also been in counseling for years, and while it made her less suicidal, and the counselor never recommended medical transition, I have no clue if it has helped in any other way. I was always excluded from any information on what was being discussed.
But big sis has never seen her sister in a manic or depressive episode. Big sis moved out about a year before the worst of it began. She has never seen the alternate personality emerge any time little sister didn’t get her way. Big sis probably thinks that we’re at fault there, too. But most of little sis’s mental health issues stem from an obsession with researching mental illness, as the ones she legitimately has been diagnosed with apparently aren’t enough.
When her 18th birthday hit, being still Mom (so I thought), I sent a text: “Hey, let me know what you’d like for your birthday. I understand from your sister that you’re busy this week, but we could get together Sunday, or another day if that doesn’t work. What would you like for dinner?”
So, I messaged in the family app we’ve always used.
Then, I sent an email. Here’s part of it:“I just wanted you to know how much I love you. With you moving out, I wanted to give you some space to adjust to the changes in your life, but that doesn’t mean I will ever stop loving you. I just want you to be happy, wherever you are.”
I message big sis. “Hey, would you let K know to check messages?”
Time to be a bit more blunt. “If K is cutting us off, can we at least be informed of that, instead of ghosted?”
And this was the response: “I'm really not okay with you and dad bringing me into the middle of your relationship with K, and I am respecting their own right to communicate with you how they choose. Please address this kind of stuff with them, and not me.”
“Well, that confirms it. Dad said he should have asked instead of me, because you wouldn't get mad at him like you would me. This was not an attempt to put you in the middle, just trying to figure the situation out. I won't ask again, I am sorry.”
And then the “boundary setting” began. This, we were informed, had nothing to do with big sis’s relationships with us. Uh huh. She’s Respecting K’s Privacy and therefore will not answer questions. She’s felt “taken advantage of” because she’s been asked to relay a message.
It’s hurt her to be “another parent”. Um, kiddo—when you take on an emotionally immature, mentally ill, ASD trans teenager, and enable her to cut her parents out of her life, what exactly do you think your position is? But that’s “emotionally draining.” How dare we imply that’s her role now. Actually, I don’t even think we’ve addressed that particular elephant in the room.
We are not to ask about our child, we are told they are “safe and happy”, and “they” will choose what to share with us.
Yep. I’m sure K is experiencing a bit of euphoria right now as she’s finally accomplishing step one of the trans cult – cut your toxic transphobic parents out of your life. She’s now on to Step Two—Find a new glitter mom.
Even though her older sister missed the trans boat by about five years, she’s serving as the glitter mom now. Instead of being “trans” older sis has been, at various times, ace, a-romantic, demi-romantic, bi, and any other new category that will qualify her for inclusion in the LGBTQ+ club. And has already, at the ripe old age of 23, found a surgeon who happily sterilized her permanently, removing her fallopian tubes and cauterizing the lining out of her uterus. The next week she was telling K all about it and how easy it was. K was 15 or 16 at the time.
Oh, and yes, older sis is ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) as well. She was married to a man for a few years. He was a poor choice and left her with some PTSD and an excuse to blame us for raising her to want marriage and a family. And our church is all to blame too, for teaching traditional morality and virtues. How horrible. She spent at least a month yelling at God until she decided He didn’t exist, or if He did, that He hated her and she wanted no part of Him. Let alone us.
So I dunno, is this now revenge? She’s been oh so supportive of little sis’s “identity” and orientation. Despite our concessions on pronouns and a new name and the fact that we’ve been taking K to every doctor and counselor appointment, we’re still deemed “toxic”. We’ve “rejected” little sis, by not agreeing, let alone celebrating the new “them”. We’ve required correction if we goofed on new name or used the wrong pronoun. I guess hugs, shared tears, late night talks, assurances we’d never stop loving her no matter what her choices are, don’t count for anything.
Meanwhile, big sis encouraged and enabled the literal insanity at every turn. She took K to a Pride parade at 16 behind our backs, as well as to angsty LGBTQ music performances. I made Dad go with them once—he was so heartsick at the atmosphere and the general vibe he couldn’t stay.
So, we’re done. No more fake pronouns, and we’re resurrecting the “dead” name. What’s the point, if she’ll never be here to hear us? Why even pretend to go along?
And we’re pretty sure we have no choice but to end her health insurance coverage. She’s living with big sis - her new glitter mom - let her put her on her policy. We will not contribute, even indirectly, to the cost of medical transition of any kind. For now, we’re just keeping an eye on claims. First time something comes through from an unknown provider, we’re researching them to see if they provide “affirming” care, and that will be an instant cut off.
We’ll have to bring an end to any other financial support as well. If we’re not her parents anymore, why would we continue to pay for her phone? Help her buy a car? When we’re not worth a text? We had already offered those things. What’s the point though? Are we just supposed to take it, and take it, while sobbing in private? And to be left imagining what I’d say at her funeral if she finally takes her own life after finding out that trans wasn’t the issue after all, and that she’s been lied to? To spiral into my own depressive episodes?
At least my husband and I support each other and have been each other’s rock. How sad to think that we had hoped they would find a mate to be their rock someday. How tragic that we recognize the path they are on is likely to lead to nothing but loneliness and heartbreak.
Big sis dates (including going to bed with) the occasional potential boy or girl friend but dumps them when the first flaw shows up. What a great example to set, particularly for a kid whose primary diagnosis leads her to “split”. For K everyone is either awesome or the worst person on the planet, depending on the day and whatever they said or did last. That could have even been a nice thing—but it wasn’t the exact thing she was expecting or wanting at that moment. You know, like asking what birthday present and dinner she’d like. While giving her all the space and time in the world and asking for nothing in return but a little acknowledgement.
We love them both. But we have boundaries too. A right to our beliefs. A right to common courtesy.
We have to let go, and let the stick of reality whomp them upside the head a few times, and hope they survive and learn the right lessons from it.