Why I Can't Tell You My Son's Therapist's Name
My son has a great therapist. That sets us apart from, I think, the great majority of parents. Mental health care for children is difficult to get, and it's even more difficult to get mental health care that doesn't just check the box or blunder about, but actually helps a child. My son's therapist, who he's been seeing regularly for years, to help him work through a long list of problems including anxiety, depression, and being autistic, is a great therapist. But I can't tell you his name.
He's asked us not to tell anybody his name. He's asked us not to tell anybody where he works. He's done this because he could lose his job, even his career, for providing great and helpful therapy for our son.
You see, the problem is that when we brought our son to this therapist (fleeing another therapist who we felt had behaved inappropriately with my son), our son was suffering from gender dysphoria. He had told us he felt like he was really a girl inside. The other therapist berated us for not taking him immediately to the clinic where they specialize in transgender medicalization of children. She told him that he should sneak out of the house (where she had told us he was to be kept on close watch for suicide) and go to meetings with trans people.
We didn't think our son was really a woman inside. We knew he was a boy, which he now also knows he is (yes, it was a long and difficult road, but the road can go back to reality). And we asked the new therapist if he could treat our son – who was upset, and obsessed by transgenderism – for his other problems and leave the gender stuff alone for the time being.
That's all we asked – we didn't say "please talk him out of this." We just said please treat him for his anxiety, his depression, his hallucinations, his breakdowns. And put the gender stuff off for later. And this kind, good man did.
In time, as my son's mental crisis subsided, the belief that he was really a woman subsided with it. That belief wasn't a solution, it was an escape, and it was a false escape at that. How could discomfort with his body, his growing, pubertal, hairy man's body, be made better by the sort of eternal fixation on one's body that medical transition entails? He might have traded one set of problems for an even larger set, if we - and his therapist - weren't able to help him work through them.
And that, in our state, may be illegal. It may be illegal in your state too. If I told you my son's therapist's name, after telling you this, it's possible he could face legal charges under our state's law against "conversion therapy."
How did this happen? "Conversion therapy" for homosexuals was a thing back in the bad old fifties, but nobody reputable has really been doing it for a generation, just a scattering of religious fanatics. Yet, somehow, despite this being a horror story from the days of lobotomies and insane asylums, it has seemed urgent enough to have legislation or executive orders passed outlawing it in half of the country in the past nine years. Why right now, when the last citation of gay conversion therapy in psychological literature is decades old? We had already gotten to the point of legalizing gay marriage before these bills started popping up all over.
It's not really about homosexuality, that's why. The people pushing for these bans aren't gay, they're trans-identified men, and their supporters, and they aren't doing this to help boys grow up gay. Instead, the legislation may prevent boys from growing up gay.
The language in these bills is almost identical. After California's S.B. 1172 got passed in 2012, the trans lobby caught on and got busy. California's bill says this:
“Sexual orientation change efforts” means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex.
Almost every bill after that, starting with New Jersey the year after, changed that to include "gender identity" alongside "sexual orientation." A.B. 3371 says the following:
As used in this section, "sexual orientation change efforts" means the practice of seeking to change a person's sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions,
And there it is: "gender identity" is legally in the same category as "sexual orientation." The fact that the great majority of children who feel like they're the other sex will change their minds after puberty is papered over, and tied up with red tape. The fact that transitioning a child changes his gender expression earns its own exception:
except that sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another...
It's spelled out there clearly: it is permitted to tell a kid he is the other sex, and transition him. It is not allowed to tell him he isn't. Only one type of intervention is legal, another type is prohibited, and anything in between is iffy.
Starting with New Jersey, in 2013 (nine years after gay marriage became legal there), it became illegal to give therapy to a child who believes they should be the other sex, unless that therapy confirms that belief.
After New Jersey, similar bills or executive orders, with almost identical language, were passed in the following states: Oregon (2015); Illinois (2016); Vermont (2016); Connecticut (2017); Nevada (2017); New Mexico (2017); Rhode Island (2018); Delaware (2018); New Hampshire (2018); Maryland (2018); Washington (2018); Hawaii (2018, revised 2019); Colorado (2019); Maine (2019); New York (2019); Massachusetts (2019); North Carolina (2019); Utah (2020); Virginia (2020); North Dakota (2021); Michigan (2021); Minnesota (2021); and Wisconsin (2021). Only in Illinois is the bill limited to sexual orientation.
The practice of therapy for kids with gender issues became a legal minefield at that point, as a therapist who followed what had been the standard of "watchful waiting" could be accused of "sexual orientation change efforts" if the child went into therapy believing he was a girl and came out no longer believing that... as most do, even without therapy.
In all of these states, it is hazardous to the therapist to accept a child with gender issues. I live in one of these states. My son is still a child, yet all these laws were passed in his lifetime, and they compromised his ability, and the ability of other children, to get adequate mental health care.
My son's therapist says that working with kids with gender issues is a legal minefield. His personal policy is to never bring up gender, but to work on kids' other issues (which are always there). If a kid brings up gender, his therapist will not argue or question, just nod and move on to something else. If a kid doesn't want to work on any issues, but only wants to talk about gender, he will pass that kid on to someone else. Most therapists are even more hands-off: they won't even take kids with gender issues.
My son's therapist says there are three types of kids therapists always try to get off their hands:
1. Kids who are harming themselves or others in concrete ways;
2. A kid with plans for suicide;
3. Kids with gender issues.
Any one of these kids can cause no end of legal complications for the therapist. And you see the company our boys are forced to keep. We are lucky that this therapist agreed to work with our son, and if I must keep his name secret forever I will.
In states with such laws, kids with gender issues may be shut out from one therapist after another until they end up at a "gender therapist." There is no real qualification for a "gender therapist:" it's just a therapist who is enthusiastic about trans ideology and transitioning children.
This means there's a population of children who need help and can't get it, or can only get one type of help – a type that causes harm.
Most boys who believe they are girls will grow out of that belief after puberty. This has been demonstrated in study after study. Most of these boys will also, after puberty, come to recognize that they are homosexual or bisexual. Boys can learn to cope with gender dysphoria as they can with other sources of discomfort. But if these boys are passed down the line like hot potatoes until they get to the gender clinic, they might not just never learn to cope, they may never be able to express their sexuality. The first line of medical treatment for these boys at the gender clinic is the same medication used to castrate Alan Turing for the then crime of homosexuality.
This is the horrible contradiction this sly legislation has wrought. Inserted into bills that purport to end mistreatment of homosexuals is language that mandates the mistreatment of homosexuals.
Telling confused boys who will most likely end up gay that their discomfort with gender roles means they are trans is itself a form of conversion therapy. It's used as such in Iran – where gay men are given the option of death or trans surgery – and it's being used as such in the West as well. If a boy goes into therapy believing he's a girl, and comes out knowing he's a boy, the therapist could lose his career. But if a gay boy goes into therapy and comes out believing he's a straight girl, the therapist has done what the law says he should. Remember: "sexual orientation change efforts shall not include counseling for a person seeking to transition from one gender to another..." Per the law, there's one way out. The Mullahs would approve.
How much of the next generation of gay boys will be castrated because of these laws? How many children will never develop functional sexual organs because of this ideology? How many good therapists will refuse your son because he says he has gender issues?
My son's therapist has told us not to say his name to anybody because of this legal minefield. Although what he's done is merely helping a boy through the most difficult years of his life, he could get crucified for it. I will respect his wishes and privacy, but what a shame and what a loss. How many others could he help? How many other children, families, could benefit from open minded, ethical therapists like him?