We are told that being trans is something you are and not something you do. Well, in our experience that just is not true.
Originally Published by Pitt through Substack
How many teens fall into the current internet rabbit hole that is the transgender glitter universe, claim a trans ID and then later decide it is not for them? We are told that being trans is something you are and not something you do. Well, in our experience that just is not true.
Our child told us one day that he felt like he was born in the wrong body and that he had a female brain. He spoke of feeling this way for the last three years and knowing the next steps to take. His plan included a change in wardrobe, consulting with medical professionals and adopting a new name and pronouns. What followed was an obsession with himself, his feelings and all things “trans”. A hoodie became his armor and sitting at lunch one day, I was heartbroken to see small cuts running up and down his arm. We were confused, hurting for our child and determined to find him the help that he needed and had asked for. We quickly circled the wagons and as a family we started our search.
At first I found parent support groups where I was told to hurry up and get him onto puberty blockers before he got too tall. This was my first experience with the affirmation model.
Next I made phone calls to find a counselor and after a 5 min conversation I was asked about preferred names and pronouns. It was then suggested that we go ahead and use them right away in order to prevent suicide. This was after 5 minutes, and no contact with our son.
It was all so overwhelming and confusing. None of the advice felt right. It was like stepping into a foreign country that used a different language and we certainly were not natives.
As we continued to look for support, our son regressed before our eyes. He was disorganized, could not complete simple tasks and began failing classes. He was spiraling out of control and began hurting himself. We were beside ourselves—we simply did not know how to help or what to do. Finally, after a serious self-harm event, he fell apart and, sobbing, told us he felt, “the gender stuff” was coming from the hell that he was experiencing at school. He begged not to return. We also discovered that he had secretly been communicating online with a self identified trans woman that was “coaching him” and had offered to pick him up if we did not support his plans to transition. We spent a very heart wrenching and sleepless time searching for help. I considered a career change, homeschooling and alternative schools. We were hoping and praying our child could make it without failing classes, hurting himself or running away.
Sheer luck led us to a small, “classical” school. It had a homey feel, no computers and we felt it had the potential to support his unique intellect without the toxic culture of his previous school setting. Simultaneously, we found a therapist who agreed to help our child navigate his feelings about the why and how of why he felt the way he felt without jumping on the gender affirmative band wagon. We enrolled him in private music lessons and found ways to support his mental health, physical health and critical thinking skills. He poured himself into music and would initially play for hours each day. Together, we listened to books such as Freakonomics, Coddling of The American Mind and The Madness of Crowds. Getting out of the house, spending time away from screens and being together as a family became our priority.
Gradually, our child became less withdrawn and shed his surly and caustic demeanor. He began interacting with us and smiling again. He immersed himself in playing music and I remember being shocked when I heard him singing in the shower. We had not heard singing for months. He began making connections at the new school and teachers seemed to value his intelligence and encouraged his love of learning. Later, we found nail polish and female clothing in the trash. On his own, he drifted away from the cheerleaders that had given him that nail polish and enjoyed drawing him as a female furry.
We never directly challenged the trans identification. We pointedly did not argue with his reasoning. But, we also did not rush to praise him as stunning and brave. We applied the concept of “watchful waiting” while disconnecting him from the dark online world that included groomers who sent him explicit dysphoria hypnosis tracks. We did not know exactly what we should do but we knew he needed time, love and support. Time to sort through complex feelings. Time to reflect on the plans he was making without the influence of social media.
Our son now says that he always felt out of step with other kids and never felt like he fit in. He went on to say that in trying to find his place in the world he was shoving himself into a more confining box, the transgender box and that now it just did not seem to fit. This was 10 months ago. We continue to wait, watch and love our son. All signs point to positive mental health and growth. He is making plans and enjoying life. How many other teens out there are just like him?