When You Fear Communicating with Your Child's Educators
My daughter has an IEP and has a new case manager this school year. I responded to an email from the case manager to check in and provide some info. Knowing they had recently met, I also asked what name and pronouns my daughter used when introducing herself. The case manager responded and said my daughter used a different name (I know what it is but am not going to use it here) and he/him pronouns, and then said she would be using that name and pronouns in her communications with me "if that was ok."
In trying to decide how to respond, I was struck by how fearful and completely devoid of confidence I felt in responding. I am very knowledgeable of my daughter and her needs and have never before felt this way in communicating with her educators.
If in my response I say "No, please use her legal name and pronouns" it feels like a pretty safe assumption that I will be negatively judged, which could impact how we work together on the things my daughter actually needs support for, related to her "other health disability" (ADHD), and in her level of trust in my input and feedback. Could the non-mental-health-professional case manager also use my statement to lead into conversations about her gender and "lack of affirmation" by her parents?
If I respond more thoroughly, attempting to explain that I detest and reject the way gender theory has infiltrated my daughter’s life and sense of herself, that she has found a celebrated, trendy way to avoid dealing with her lack of self esteem, self-consciousness and social difficulties, and that "affirming" her different name and pronouns is not helping her in any way, but actually harming her, what would this non-mental-health-professional case manager do then? Is she so deeply entrenched that she would equate this to abuse or neglect of some kind, and report me to Child Protective Services? If I respond in this most honest way, I am actually, literally terrified of that happening.
If I respond with a lie, saying it's okay for the case manager to use a name that isn't my daughter’s and pronouns that are wrong, will all of my future communications with this case worker just remind me of how angry I am that we are in such a hopeless battle?
Regardless of my response, her polite yet cursory question is actually meaningless—as is my response, however carefully strategized and considered. No matter what path I choose, after hours of agonizing, the case manager will continue to use the name that isn't my daughter’s when seeing or meeting with her—as will the rest of her school. The schools have overstepped, by a mile, and pretending to seek my input is patronizing and infantilizing.
It doesn't matter that I haven't approved their involvement in a psychosocial intervention like social transition. They don’t want or need my input or my approval. I’ve been completely pushed aside and marginalized and they are in a position of power. I have no choice but to fear, and no way to fight back that doesn’t drive a wedge between me and my daughter.