Nevertheless, she persisted… as a role model for girls in STEM

Yesterday, the Washington Post published the account of a girl who heretofore—since the age of 8–had been a role model for other girls interested in science and math. She was a popular YouTube star, garnering up to a million views for her robotics videos. She was even invited to the White House in 2013.

But at 16, Super Awesome Sylvia, after (by her own report) spending some time on the Internet considering trans stuff, announced she’s now a boy.

wapo sylviaAs is typical for journalists covering trans-kids at the once-venerable Post, not even the mildest skeptical question was asked about why a strong, somewhat gender-atypical girl would morph from a positive example for other girls, into a “trans boy.”

And not only are there no questions: The author of the puff-piece even used male pronouns to refer to the little girl before she “identified” as a boy, thereby neatly erasing her past as a spunky 8-year-old girl with a penchant for invention.

We used this story as a springboard to create an alternate story: about a different girl named Spectacular Sarah who resists the gender-saturated, society-wide encouragement to proclaim she’s a boy because she likes short hair and geeky pursuits (in Sarah’s case, renewable energy).

For full effect, we recommend you read the entire Washington Post story prior to ours.

Note: This piece is a work of fiction and a fair-use parody. Characters and details in this story should not be construed to represent any actual person or situation.

Anywhere, USA. — This is the story of Spectacular Sarah, an ingenious little girl who made portable backyard windmills.

At age 8, Sarah Smith put on a lab coat and started a web show. A gap-toothed little kid with a pony tail and soldering iron, a rare sight in the boy’s club of amateur inventors.

Before long, Sarah had tens of thousands of viewers. And tons of windmills, of course.

The most famous was the windmill that powered her family’s kitchen appliances. On days it turned, it generated enough power to keep a small fridge running and to cook three meals a day on the electric range.

But that windmill did other things, too.

It got Sarah invited to her state’s Science Fair in 2015, when the governor tried it out to run the microwave in the governor’s mansion. He told its shaky-legged, 10-year-old inventor that it was great to see girls in tech who could serve as inspiration to other girls.

By middle school, Sarah was giving speeches all over the world, from the United Nations to elite girls’ schools in South America. This was a big deal for a kid from a small, windy town in Anywhere, USA, whose parents often worried about paying the next bill.

That’s how — year after year, show after show, speech after speech — Spectacular Sarah’s windmills turned a little kid into a role model for girls everywhere.

And that’s how “they”—some adult activists and confused kids on Tumblr– tried to trap her.

Because these days, when a girl breaks the stereotypical mold, people start asking if she’s “really” a boy. Especially people who’ve spent a lot of time on the Internet, or reporters who didn’t take the time to get the backstory. Sarah didn’t feel like a genius, or a celebrity—but she knew darn well she was a girl—though she had her doubts for a while.Wapo SarahThis is the story of Sarah Smith, a 16-year-old girl who actually prefers art to science, and knows a lot more about herself than her Tumblr pals and clueless reporters seem to think.  Now when people ask about her pronouns and assume she is a boy, she tells them, “Just because I’m a girl who got famous for doing geeky stuff, that doesn’t mean I’m going to take the easy way out and tell everyone I’m going to ‘transition.’”

Instead, Sarah broke free.

  1. My name is Sarah

In the beginning there was simply Sarah. No one asking if she was a boy (this was before that sort of nonsense got started), no spectacular anything. Just Sarah and her mom and dad (and later a sister and two brothers) growing up in windy Anywhere, USA. A regular little girl, by all appearances.

“When I was a kid, I was just a kid,” Sarah said. “Making cool stuff.”

Sarah had always wanted to know how things worked.

She liked to pull apart old TV sets and put together miniature solar panel kits with her dad, Bill, an industrial engineer.

One day in 2011, Sarah decided to make a Vimeo show about making things. Her mom, Jane, sewed a lab coat fit for a 7-year-old. Dad helped write the scripts and held the camera. (Mom and Dad were pretty “gender conforming”). Then Sarah just did her thing—and her thing was renewable energy projects on a kid-sized scale.

“Hi! My name is Sarah and this is our spectacular science show!” Sarah said in the first episode, pumping her arms in the air. “Let’s get out there and show the world we can do better than fossil fuels!”

Spectacular Sarah showed kids how to make a miniature solar panel that could power a table lamp, a small radio fueled by the energy from a super-hot compost pile, and a boom box wired to the mini windmill that would serve as prototype for the bigger windmills she engineered later on.

And kids watched. And Sarah watched, amazed, as hundreds of viewers became thousands. “Renewable Energy for All” magazine started hosting the show on its Vimeo channel, and altogether more than a million people clicked on Sarah’s videos.

Sarah got into the character. She wore the lab coat to alternative energy fairs, selling Sarah bling at her booths, or posing with cardboard-cutout idols like “Hermione Granger” from Harry Potter.

In time, Sarah would get emails from parents who told her she was an idol herself especially to their daughters, but also their sons.

One day last summer, when it was all over and Spectacular Sarah was just Sarah, dad Bill sat on a patio eating chips and salsa, watching his daughter splash in a pool, wondering if the fun had been worth all the trouble it caused.

“Before any of this happened I used to tell Sarah, ‘Fame happens to the unlucky; it’s not a healthy thing.”’ Bill said. “As a kid, it’s a trap.”

Bill was thinking about something else, too: He’d seen “I am Jazz,” and he knew that a new fad was starting to take hold: A fascination with kids who were “gender nonconforming” who are now being promoted as “born in the wrong body.” He knew Sarah had already been asked more than once about her “preferred pronouns”–including by some adults who ought to know better.

 2.  Sarah meets the governor

When she was 10, with a few years of making miniature renewable energy devices behind her, Sarah decided to enter the international “Alternatives to Fossil Fuel” games. The competition was fierce: teams from around the world competed to see whose toy-sized windmills and solar panels could keep a test radio running the longest.

wapo windmill 2Sarah dreamed up something more in her artistic style:  windmill arms that painted abstract designs as they rotated around. Her windmill had a paintbrush on two of the spinning arms, with a bright wood frame and five little trays of paint. As the arms spun, paint spewed onto a canvas. A local tech company partnered with the Smiths to build it, Sarah’s fans helped crowdfund it, and Sarah’s dad made a computer app to send windmill artwork through a Galaxy Note.

It won the gold medal in the Most Creative Renewable category — and caught the eye of people in the Anywhere State legislature and the governor’s mansion.

“They were just freaking out that there’s a girl making stuff,” Sarah said.

Right then and there, Sarah knew she wanted to be a role model for other girls. She was starting to learn, even at 10, that some of the other techy girls in her school—some of whom liked short hair and rough play—were wondering if all that meant they weren’t “really” girls.

Sarah remembers shaking nervously as she walked through the governor’s mansion that spring. The other kids’ projects all seemed so elaborate. A huge solar panel; an artificial waterfall to demonstrate the power of rushing water; even a ski parka heated by a small solar panel on the back, invented by three 9-year-old boys.

“Why am I here?” Sarah thought. “I have this weird windmill that I made.”

“It’s really neat!” Spectacular Sarah told a solar engineer who’d come to see the show.

And she smiled in her lab-coat with the governor, and held up a model of a windmill that might someday power the state legislature building.

She came back to Anywhere, USA with photos that still get passed around her family — the highlight of her career as a girl genius.

At the end of that school year she got an F in math.

The truth was, Sarah says, she’s never been a natural at science. She liked the fairs, and she liked messing around with her family on the show, and she knew how to say the right things.

The last big trip was to South America, where Sarah would make speeches at elite private girls’ schools — and finally begin to confront those who claimed a girl like her just had to be a boy.

3.  Just the beginning for Spectacular Sarah

Even before South America, there had been signs that all was not as it seemed with the person called Sarah Smith.  Sarah remembers asking a friend in seventh grade, “Is it weird that people keep wondering if I’m a boy? It’s starting to make me wonder, too!?” In her private sketchbook, she started to draw herself with shorter hair and hairy legs. Her friend, who’d just gotten a Tumblr account said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed lots of girls who hate long hair and never want to shave their legs ‘coming out’ as boys. What do you think?”

Sarah spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff. But they were still passing thoughts. In South America, in 2014, girls in uniform skirts crowded around the windmill and listened to Spectacular Sarah’s tips on invention.

The tour went so well that after Sarah returned home, the Smiths said, she got an offer to come back and study free at one of the schools — “a place where girls make their visions come true.”

“It’s an amazing school,” Sarah said. “An entire wing is dedicated to women inventors.”

But as she waited for the start of the South American school year, those questions she’d discussed with her friend began to pass through her mind more and more often.

The character Spectacular Sarah began to fade from her life—and for a brief time, so did the person called Sarah.

Sarah became reluctant to make new Vimeo shows, and eventually stopped altogether. Her parents weren’t sure why at first. They didn’t know that Sarah could no longer stand to look at her long curls, or listen to “how squeaky my voice was.”

And the thought of that school in South America, with its laboratories and uniforms, loomed in Sarah’s mind like a deadline.

Finally, she decided, “I can’t live with myself wearing a skirt every day.”

She wrote a letter to the school, asking why a girl couldn’t wear pants instead of a skirt to school. To her surprise, the school principal wrote back right away. She said, “You know, you’re right. We support girls being and becoming who they are, no matter what they wear, how they cut their hair, or what they like to do. If you want to wear pants, you’re still very welcome. In fact, you can be the first to challenge our outdated dress code. Hope to see you soon!”

4.  Shape-shifting goddess of the sea and prophecy

Sarah was spending more and more time alone in her pink-painted bedroom, not making things anymore, not talking much, sometimes crying for unexplained reasons. The Vimeo show was all but abandoned.

Sarah’s mom, Jane, went into the room one day to talk it out, mother and daughter.

“Mom,” said Sarah. “Why is everything pink in this room? You know, I’ve never liked that color. And you know what else? I hate dresses, and I want to cut my hair—I hate the curls and they just get in my way!”

Jane looked surprised for a moment, then answered,” Of course, we can change that. It’s just a color, after all. And you can do what you like with your hair. I’ll make an appointment for the haircut this afternoon.”

Sarah hesitated. “Mom? You don’t think I’m really a boy because I want to have short hair and I hate pink—do you?”

“Of course not!” Jane answered. “I know there’s a lot of those kind of messages on TV and the Internet now. It’s pretty much everywhere, wherever you look. But you just be the best person you can be.”

In secret, Sarah was already working on that. She was drawing herself in her sketchbook all the time, prototyping new haircuts. She was looking up words on the Internet: Lesbian; gay; gender fluid; pansexual; asexual; bisexual; tri-gender; demi-girl.

“So many labels,” Sarah thought. None seemed to fit.

She sat down at the dinner table one evening, and told her parents and siblings: “I have something to say. Everyone on social media, and even some of my friends keep saying a girl like me must be transgender. But the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m fine the way I am. But sometimes I do get confused by the stuff I see online, and what my friends are saying.”

Luckily, Sarah’s parents weren’t born yesterday. They said, “You know, Sarah, trends come and go. We know it’s tempting to believe you might be “born in the wrong body” because you’ve done stuff more typical of boys your age. But you shouldn’t feel any pressure at all to agree with what other teenagers are saying or doing.  No matter what, just think for yourself!”

It took some time for Sarah to get used to the idea that the older teens on Instagram and Tumblr might be wrong.  She started reading and watching worrisome accounts and videos by young people who’d been injecting themselves with testosterone and having their breasts removed. A lot of them seemed happy for awhile, but the obsession with “passing,” and the side effects from the drugs and surgeries, weighed on her.  With her parents’ support, she came to realize she’d been swayed, as teenagers always have been, by the opinions of her peers. She’d always been a tough, independent thinker, and it didn’t take long for her to realize she was fine just as she was—especially since her parents fully supported her getting a super-short haircut and taking all her “girl clothes” to the thrift store, swapping them for the more comfortable pants and T-shirts in the boys’ section.

As fall turned to winter, Sarah fell silent less often, and her confidence grew. She painted her room blue over the pink, covering one wall with a “women in tech” mural, and another with Post-it notes to herself. “Wow, that was a close call. Girl, you are loved.”

The family came to realize that Sarah Smith’s greatest project had been to figure out that she had always been Sarah Smith, after all.

But she still wanted a change, something to honor the journey she’d been on—from wondering if she was a boy to returning home to herself again. So, the family sat down and brainstormed a new name. They settled on Thetis, a Greek goddess known for shape-shifting and prophecy. Sarah liked that Thetis was a sea goddess, given her own strong interest in protecting the planet by working with renewable energy.

Sarah’s journey home to herself may seem pretty simple, in hindsight. It was anything but at the time.

“About the best thing we can do when we’re young is give ourselves time to grow and mature into the unique adults we all become someday,” her mom told Sarah one day.

“There’s no need for a strong girl to say she’s trans, just because she’s different,” her dad remarked. “Strong, independent girl” probably covers 90 percent of what you are. The rest is something else that’s uniquely you.”

5. Spectacular STEM girls

“Do you want to just shut it down?” her dad asked Sarah one day, when she was still in the throes of trying to figure out if she was “really” a boy or not. He meant the show, and Spectacular Sarah. To erase and move past that whole chunk of a life.

But Sarah didn’t want that.

“I’ve thought about it, and I’m still that girl role model I’ve always been,” she said. “I don’t want it to end. Yeah, I’m not crazy about my squeaky voice, but I’ve noticed most women’s voices change and get a richer tone as they get older. Besides, I also did research on the testosterone that some girls are taking to lower their voices. That’s a permanent change. What if I regret it later? I can’t go back—my Adam’s apple will stay the same. And that’s not even considering the hair I’d grow on my face and chest, and maybe later going bald!”

So, she decided to keep Spectacular Sarah on Vimeo–but also added a drawing of the Greek goddess Thetis whose name she’d chosen: a powerful woman who could shape-shift when she wanted to. Thetis/Sarah could wear what she wanted, cut her hair or grow it long, choose a career as a social worker some day or as an industrial engineer. That brainy girl character was here to stay.

Sarah drew a comic strip, explaining how shape-shifter Thetis represented the wide-open choices every girl had, if she had supportive parents and teachers who believed in her potential.  And because Thetis was also a goddess of prophecy, Sarah added a caption predicting that one day soon, girls who didn’t fit the typical “feminine” mold would  no longer be asked “preferred pronouns.” They’d just be left alone to become  shining examples of the many unique ways girls can live their lives.

6. Mini windmills

Life now . . . well, it’s never perfect. Sarah met another girl who had also considered whether she was trans for a while last year. They bonded over a shared hatred of gym and started dating. Sarah is coming to terms with the idea that she might be a lesbian, and feeling glad that she didn’t start down the road to hormones and surgery like some of the girls she’s seen on Tumblr. She’s learning to do sculpture and working on her drawings of Thetis.

She gets a few glares in the hallways of high school, people insisting on misgendering her as male, others asking her if she’s sure she doesn’t want to be referred to as he/him. But all in all, she’s glad not to be worried about which locker room to use; glad to be done with the chest binder a friend let her borrow to try out a couple of times. That binder hurt, and made it nearly impossible to run faster than a walk,  without having to take a time out to catch her breath. And while wearing it, she sometimes thought that the only way to get away from that constricting device would be to get rid of her breasts entirely. What was the point of all this, really? Who wanted a life spent in doctors’ offices and hospitals?

A few months ago, Sarah went with her family on her first science trip since fully resolving her feelings about being a girl—and a lesbian.

Sarah and her girlfriend and Sarah’s dad sat at the next table, trying to sell mini windmill models to pass the time.

To advertise, they put up the same photo of Spectacular Sarah and the governor, which had always drawn customers. That day, it drew a huge crowd.

“Oh, who’s this person?” someone would ask, looking at the ponytailed kid in the photo.

“Well . . . it’s this person, right here,” Bill would say, and point to his daughter.

“But that’s a guy.”

Bill tried the direct explanation: “That’s no boy—it’s my daughter. She just likes her hair short now and wears more comfortable clothes.”

To Sarah’s surprise that day, a lot of girls her age walked up to talk to her. So many had the same story: They preferred the hobbies, clothes, and hairstyles more typical of boys, had briefly considered they might be trans—then realized they could do everything they wanted as the awesome, strong girls they’d always been

The next time someone looked at the photo and asked for the girl — “Oh, is she here today?” Sarah was the one who answered. Pointing to herself, she said:

“She hasn’t gone anywhere. She’s right here.”

wapo windmill 4

59 thoughts on “Nevertheless, she persisted… as a role model for girls in STEM

  1. Shocking….another trans girl in my neck of the woods. Sometimes I really hate California. Can’t believe I actually made it to my 40’s as an atypical female with an engineering degree.

    I thought I could be enough of an example for my daughter about bucking gender “norms”, but I wasn’t enough to go against the tidal wave of anti-woman propaganda.

    I know of at least 4 sudden onset trans kids at my son’s school and, apparently, it is taking hold in the rest of the upper middle class high schools. My husband doesn’t see it in his inner city high school, but his students tell him about it being at the other “richer” schools they visit. At my daughter’s new independent study charter school, we know one other family that joined for the same reason we did, because their daughter suddenly decided she was trans when puberty hit.

    I honestly don’t know how the public is *so* *freaking* *blind* to this.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. This is so sad. As a female scientist, age 60, I had to resist family pressure and compete against the prejudices of the overwhelmingly male science establishment. I think I did pretty well and try to be a role model for young women, but this seems like the path these young women are pressured into taking in order to be popular and for their intelligence and drive to be respected. It breaks my heart.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. When traveling for business recently, I sat next to a school counselor on the plane, and as we chatted about this and that, I gently raised this topic. She said something very interesting. She said that at her school, it has been nothing less than something straight out of the pages of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” — and eerily so. Much like the mass hysteria in the 1600s of Salem girls overcome with fits and trances as they thought themselves possessed and plagued by “witchcraft,” so the sudden-onset trans phenomenon has swept through her high school. She said that you can see the patterns ripple across friend groups, and teens who never experienced “symptoms” before, are suddenly at 15 and 16, making trans declarations and then reconstructing stories of their lives that assert that the “wrong body” trouble was present in them all along, lurking but unrecognized. She expressed deep concern about finding some way to mitigate or dampen what she called this “emotional contagion” because the only option the school is given is affirmation without question. And all the books the parents are reading are saying “affirm or die,” so if you raise a peep about any other kind of possibility of exploring alternatives to medical transition, you are threatened with the potential liability of having caused a suicide. She actually welled up in tears at one point as she spoke about her sense of helplessness at watching this spin out of control. Is this a return to the dynamics of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Salem witch trials? Or, has this kind of suggestibility been with us all along and teens are especially susceptible? The outbreak of fits related to “witchcraft” was a case of what some have called “social terror as communal contagion.” How might the forces of suggestibility be at work now? And is there any way to diffuse them? What kind of “Crucible” are we now going through and what will be the lasting impacts on these teens’ lives as they grow up? What play would Arthur Miller be composing today about the teen trans trend?
    — One quick postscript, as I saw in one reference to 4thWave this blog referred to by critics as a “trans hate” site. Wow. I felt that as a kick in the gut. Nearly all the posts I have read on this site are from those who deeply deeply love and adore the trans-identified person in their lives and who feel enormous compassion and love especially for children and teens caught up in all of this. I see profound and pronounced expressions of love here, and I hope even those who disagree with what is said can still be open enough to sense how much the parents and family members on this site unconditionally love and care for their loved ones. It is because of our deep love and care that we are here and discussing. Upshot: Love everyone. Always.

    Liked by 16 people

    • Oops! I guess that means I get my trans-card revoked for participating in this “hate-mongering” website.

      Fascinating point! Makes you wonder if the young gender non-conforming girls and women getting swept up in the trans-storm are perhaps responding to the privileges of being read as male? They notice the positive attention they receive as “boys” and “men” and thus decide to shuck the burden of being female?

      I’m probably not the first person who’s thought that, though.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Possibly, but this is a tricky case to judge that from. For Zeph, Science wasn’t really her thing, and she got the amount of positive attention she did specifically because she was perceived as a role model for girls in tech. Identifying as male has allowed her to escape that pressure and reinvent herself, moreso than to gain more positive attention. I think it’s been another mistake of Liberal Feminism – of course we want to encourage girls to feel they can do tech, and give them positive examples, but we need to be more selective and not overpraise, or we create a different kind of pressure. It can also be discouraging for girls who really are into those fields, to see a girl who is average/below average* in it being treated as exceptional and an exemplar for them, especially when they will likely realise that more superficial factors such as presentation skills count over ability.

        There is this issue with videogames, too, where women who’re involved in creating simplistic games or apps are acknowledged, even treated as notably changing things, and those who’d been doing more serious, in-depth work years earlier are ignored. I think it’s actually a way to marginalise women by acknowledging only relatively trivial work done by them.

        * I don’t intend to be harsh, different people have different skills and interests.

        Liked by 6 people

      • Responding to Leo:

        “For Zeph, Science wasn’t really her thing, and she got the amount of positive attention she did specifically because she was perceived as a role model for girls in tech. Identifying as male has allowed her to escape that pressure and reinvent herself, moreso than to gain more positive attention. I think it’s been another mistake of Liberal Feminism – of course we want to encourage girls to feel they can do tech, and give them positive examples, but we need to be more selective and not overpraise, or we create a different kind of pressure.”

        I just want to say that you are so right about this. I graduated from an all-female high school in the mid-2000s, and it was very clear that the teachers praised and valued the abilities of anyone who liked science or sports above anyone who was good at anything more “traditionally female.” If you were good at English or history – well, of course you were, this was a school for smart young women. If you were good at science, that was treated as extra-special. Being a mediocre ice hockey player for one year got more positive comments from the teachers than being a very talented ballet dancer who’d spent years en pointe. (I hated ballet and was bad at it, so no, that’s not me griping over a personal example.) There was this sense that if you weren’t good at science, you were sort of letting everyone else down – “because some people think girls are bad at science, and we know that’s not true, don’t we?”

        I am bad at science and math. I had a lot of extra tutoring for both, but except for biology and geometry, the concepts never clicked in my brain. No one’s good at everything, and girls and women whose interests and abilities lie in more “traditionally female” areas shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re just a bunch of walking, talking stereotypes who are holding back female progress just by being themselves.

        Liked by 7 people

      • @Leo

        Women demand representation and acknowledgment of their accomplishments, but rather than give them higher, more dignified positions within male-dominated infrastructures, it seems that the media will heap insane amounts of praise on those working in the lower tiers, so as to give the illusion of progress, when really there is still a problem with sex equality in the fields of science and politics.

        I find it a tad insulting to turn the appearance of any minority in a white male-dominated space into a headline, since it makes it all about the person’s background, and not their abilities. It makes it appear as if that person is only as good as their minority status, and downplays any real contributions that they have to make. Their gender/skin color/ethnicity/etc. is really just a footnote to the skills and ideas that brought them there to begin with.

        We’re not trading cards to be collected and shown off. We’re people and we need to be seen as such. Forget where we’ve come from and look at what we have to offer, that’s all we ask.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your friend’s perspective, Helen. How I wish more professionals would speak out publicly and loudly about what they are seeing. The general public is unaware, while parents like me are vilified and must remain anonymous to protect our kids. It is so important for teachers and school counselors to speak the truth. Maybe then someone will listen…

      Liked by 5 people

  4. I worry for all those girls who don’t have a role model in Sylvia anymore… surely some of them must feel a sense of betrayal. Like, “Oh wow, there’s a girl working in science! This is so exciting! I could be a scientist if I wanted to– oops, no, no, she’s a BOY. I guess girls can’t be scientists after all. Or if they do, they have to become boys first.”

    My heart broke while reading this.

    Not to mention that it’s startling how the language for trans people has changed since like… five years ago… The video said that Sylvia found out “she wasn’t really a girl” and was “actually a boy.” They make it sound like she discovered secret male sex organs hiding somewhere in her body. No more of this “I’m transgender/transsexual” or “I was born a boy/girl but want to be a girl/boy”, now they just say it’s like the doctor called it wrong.

    I hope there is never a day when the terms “male” and “female” are banned from use even within the scientific/medical community. Imagine, a biology course where the teacher tells you that a penis can be female and a vagina can be male, and that males and females can be pregnant and…

    Yeah. The trans activists have steered themselves right off a cliff.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hi Alex-
      I enjoy your comments. Thanks for noticing that there is a big difference in the girls attracted to the trans identity vs. the boys attracted to this identity.
      And strangely, not all of the girls were gender non-conforming.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hardly a day goes by when I thought i saw a butch lesbian and then it becomes obvious they are using testosterone or binding. I’m in the PNW. Every kind of gender non conforming female is being sucked in, and these trans activists have the NERVE to at they are doing what they do on behalf of gender non conforming people. There aren’t any role models anymore. I hope this is over soon.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Alison Bechdel said in an interview once that if she had grown up today she might’ve identified as trans… thank goodness she didn’t.


    • I hope there is never a day when the terms “male” and “female” are banned from use even within the scientific/medical community. Imagine, a biology course where the teacher tells you that a penis can be female and a vagina can be male, and that males and females can be pregnant and…

      As Ophelia Benson has pointed out recently, Planned Parenthood are already half-way down that rabbit hole.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Horrifying. I see the Post closed comments. What a tragic end for Sylvia. I hope she knows that it is possible to come back.

    Since when are there no role models for girls interested in math, science, or anything? Geez. Look at the program enrollment for many of the graduate science programs and you will find over 50% of the students are women.

    Go Sarah! Perhaps Sarah is willing to be the spokesperson (spokesgirl) for an urgently needed public health campaign on Contagious Trans.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Of course there are plenty of women in science that can be looked up to. I was just saying that for those watching Sylvia and for whom Sylvia was their #1 role model, it could feel like a tremendous loss.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My initial response was the same as Alex’s unfortunately. That’s what the media doesn’t seem to understand. Girls this age are vulnerable, they are experiencing body changes that are uncomfortable and scary and are looking for a way out. This is how it started with our daughter.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. So heartbreaking. In a rare conversation with my daughter recently (she won’t speak to me except in the presence of her therapist unless/until I fully accept her new “identity” and her eagerness to start T), I tried in vain to remind her that when I was in high school in the early ’70s, I was hardly a gender-conforming girl: all my friends were guys, my social life was almost exclusively tied up with going to chess tournaments–and I turned out just fine without feeling the need to become something that I clearly wasn’t!

    But what I’m learning about my poor, brilliant, troubled child is that her “logic brain” has deserted her for the moment. She is single-mindedly focused on how exciting it will be when her exterior starts to match how she “feels” inside. As for me, I can hardly function in everyday tasks lately–everywhere I go (church, stores, grocery shopping), I see someone or something that reminds me of her as a young girl, and terror and panic threaten to utterly overwhelm me.

    Liked by 9 people

  7. My heart aches for her, for how much crap she must have gotten from boys and men for being a girl who is into STEM. The kinds of comments any female gets from YouTube are horribly misogynistic. She’s going to be crushed when she finds out that no one is ever really going to consider her a man. No one cares about ftms, in the upside down world of transactivism teenage girls have “male privilege” over transwomen, most of them seem to be over 30…

    Liked by 3 people

  8. In this day and age it boggles the mind that so many of our daughters see this as a viable option. I don’t think we will come out of this unscathed, I hope we don’t lose many more to this trend

    Liked by 4 people

  9. That was such a wonderful story of a brilliant girl who excelled in tech and science. Alas, the trans cult got its filthy claws into her and the story has been warped into a throwback narrative about the stereotypical inclinations of boys and girls.

    This disheartening WP article appears around the time that Hugh Hefner dies, the one who debuted centerfolds accompanied by shallow, brainless blurbs about the model’s turn-ons and pet peeves. That’s a weird synchronicity.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: The cross-dressing lunatics are running the asylum. – Adam Piggott

  11. Another aspect of this story that needs attention is the role of the parents. Does it strike anyone else as notable that the parents seemed to be really quite appreciative of the attention paid to Sylvia (and themselves by proxy, of course), and the goodies her “girl science hero” persona led to? I mean of course anybody would be flattered, but don’t ever think that an “internet phenomenon” and home industry like Super Awesome Sylvia happens organically and without somebody paying giant amounts of attention, and pushing the thing like the devil. No, it’s clear that the parents, and perhaps especially the father, were in the SAS thing up their eyeballs.

    Okay so time passes and it turns out, the kid isn’t really invested in SAS, or maybe even STEM. I get that, the kid became less and less comfortable over the years, as it turned out maybe she wasn’t even all that talented in the area, and that maybe the whole thing had more than a whiff of a charade to it. Heck, maybe it always did – we can’t know that from here.

    What’s a great exit strategy for everybody concerned? And one that permits these parents to stay in the spotlight with an extraordinary kid? Maybe even monetize it, who knows?

    This whole thing smacks of parents who never cared about their child’s well-being to begin with, and certainly aren’t starting now.


    • This is exactly what I was thinking, worriedmom.

      Imagine the stress on this poor girl and the prospect of going to study halfway around the world away from everything and everyone she knows. Becoming a boy is the best solution for not attending a girl’s school. I’m not saying that she chose that identity consciously, but it did get her out of studying in this foreign environment.

      This article makes my stomach churn. If only these stories could end up like this parody.

      Liked by 2 people

      • This story reminded me a lot of Karen Carpenter. She started out doing something she loved but then it became an unbearable burden with puberty making it so much worse. Only instead of starving herself this child transitioned. Instead of escaping in death like Karen, Sylvia metaphorically kills her female self and becomes just an ordinary boy doin’ what boys do. Nothing special to see here so stop looking at me! And no one is allowed to question or suggest that maybe she was just exhausted and needed a break from Super Awesome and just be Sylvia for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is exactly what I thought – the only way she could get out of going to the high-achieving girls’ school was…not to be a girl. She felt an imposter as a *STEM* girl and not because she WAS a girl. The article doesn’t make me think AT ALL that she ever considered herself a ‘he’ when growing up and only questioned her ‘identity’ when she was about to be exposed as someone who couldn’t compete against actually gifted kids. She even said herself that she really didn’t know about techy stuff.

        I’m reading this article almost a year after it’s publication – this young person started taking Testosterone in March 2018, and is now worried about a receding hairline – her father’s flat cap probably hides the genetic pathway her hairline will will probably take if she continues with the T.

        Ironically she is actually now on the road to becoming physically like her father after trying to break away from the techy dreams he was living through his daughter:

        I wish there was something which could be done to help this young person see that they don’t NEED to continue on the current path if they are not happy with the effects of (untested) medication – it will only mean a lifetime of medication and unnecessary surgery and they can never actually BE male, just a faint reflection.
        Narcissus pined away for something that was just an illusion.


    • I don’t think the parents did this. I think this was her–because being a trans boy was the one thing she could control. Can’t be a role model for girls in STEM if you’re not a girl anymore. I do think the parents were rather exploitative, though, and there’s definitely a lot going on there.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe the parents built the robot and she failed math so that maybe another adult might notice that you shouldn’t be failing math if you were smart enough to build a robot? And dear old dad lost his job, so in desperation – sacrifice the daughter? These people are really sickos.


  12. Hi everyone,

    I am a young woman in STEM field who identified as male when I read about transgenderism in college. If you want, we could chat. Maybe that could help you communicate with your children.


    • I don’t understand “transcriticalgirl”‘s post. Was this person born male and now has the identity of a “girl” despite being out of college? Or was this person born female and identified as male while in college and now is out of college and back to being a female?

      In view of recent efforts by trans-activists to “infiltrate and destroy from within” gender-skeptical sites and communities, I’d advise anyone reading this to be extremely cautious about connecting with this person.


      • I am female, as in the true sense of this word: XX, primary and secondary sex characteristics. When I was in college and I learned about transgenderism and insisted that I was boy in a girl’s body. Over the years I see the fallacy of the trans ideology and the cult-like behavior.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’d say … tell us your story, transcriticalgirl.

        Worriedmom, I understand your caution. I don’t DM with anybody here, for the very reasons you raise.

        But there is not harm in hearing the comments. Lots of other people who’ve had shifting ideas about their gender identities, both natal males and natal females, have had good dialogues with us here.


  13. The big point of the women’s movement was for women (and men) to move beyond restrictive socially-assigned,stereotypical gender roles. I’m middle aged and I grew up with that knowledge.

    I can’t figure out what happened, that it all got dropped, that it’s all gone so retro. Maybe trans were the impetus for it, who knows. I *have* noticed that marketing slipped back to portraying women practically all the time as sex objects. Almost 50 years later and it’s as if the movement (in this regard) never happened. Women have to like make-up and want to be a nurse, otherwise they’re a boy. Oy.

    It blows my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. When I was a child I knew already that my brain was more masculine than feminine, but I didn’t have a problem with it and I was happy being a girl and liked pretty things. My mom also knew that I was like this, and she was fine with it too. As puberty came, I dreaded being a woman. I was horrified by the idea of marriage and kids. I surely didn’t see me becoming an adult woman. I began to feel romantic love but I could only see myself being a man in a relationship.

    When I was in college I read an article about a gay trans man. And I had an epiphany! I went on to search for more information, and I read in online resources that the brain also has a sex and there could be a mismatch between the brain and the body. That made sense to me: apart from what I’ve already mentioned, I was logical, competitive, my idols were super heroes, I didn’t understand why girls wear high heel and makeup and want big boobs, I understood the world much better from a male point of view. Me being a man trapped in a woman’s body would explain all that! So I told my parents and close friends that I am in fact a boy and asked them to address me accordingly.

    However I’ve never considered hormones or surgery. Because I knew that sex cannot be changed. I have the bone structure and height of a female and taking T would only make me look like a weirdo. And the surgery would not give me a real penis. All this is just common sense. I don’t understand how someone older than 10 years old could fail to see it.

    Wanting to be sure that I am really a male inside, I looked for online brain sex tests and the results were as expected. However I believed the gender identity should have a deeper meaning than that. Because I read in online trans resource that gender identity was not to be confusing with biological sex, sexual orientation and gender expression. That implies that you could be a heterosexual biological masculine biological male but still have a female brain/gender identity. So what is gender identity really? Is my gender identity really male or am I just a girl with some masculine traits? I went to trans support group. We watched some documentary about trans people, which made me have more doubts. There was a trans person who says that she was a tomboy and was happy with it, until she moved to a new environment was scolded for being a tomboy. And I thought, it was the others’ fault for being intolerant, she should not change her body for it! Another trans person insisted that she was really a man. And I thought, if you are already a man, then your body is a man’s body, so why do you want to change it?

    What made me discard the trans ideology completely was the fact that they couldn’t even give a definition of a man or a woman. They just say that a man is anyone who identifies as a man. My logical brain just cannot stand such bad recursive definition. Imagine that you’re learning a foreign language and in the dictionary, you see that the definition of “newword1” is “someone who identifies as newword1”, and the definition of “newword2” is “someone who identifies as newword2”. How are you supposed to know what these two word mean and how they relate to each other? Wittgenstein contended that philosophical problems arise from misunderstandings of the logic of language. In my opinion the problem with trans activists is that they don’t even have properly defined language for the most central notion. They just play with words to get false conclusion.

    Finally my advice for you:
    You can just ask your trans child what is a man and he/she won’t be able to give you a sensible answer.
    Jung’s theory was that a healthy, balanced person should have both masculine and feminine personality. Tell your child that it is a good thing and there is no need to change pronoun/body.
    Send your child to study math, logic and hard science instead of gender studies. This will help them think clearly and recognize the logical fallacy in other people’s words. This will also teach them that one has the right to doubt and disagree (unless cults and trans ideology). Warn them about manipulative behavior in general.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh how I wish my daughter had a friend like you in college. I appreciate these tips on how to deal with her and this person so close to her manipulating her into thinking this is her path. Thank you for being brave enough to post your story. It gives me hope and speaks volumes!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, TCG. My kid’s majoring in a STEM field and I have some serious concern that the culture there will simply reinforce her idea that STEM is a guy thing and that to excel in STEM, she should … turn herself into a guy.

      I do think that she is a fairly logical thinker so I hold out some hope that her emotional side will come into harmony with her logical side, if we can only manage to keep her concentrating on academics and productive extracurricular work and not on gender identity.

      thanks for your story/comments. wishing you all the best.


    • Thanks for your story TCG. The sexual stereotypes that are forced on our kids today really mess with their perceptions of themselves. I totally agree that the transactivists have muddled society’s understanding of basic vocabulary and biology to a point that they can claim anything is true.

      I have tried, in front of a therapist, to ask my daughter how it is to feel like a man and what exactly that means. All that she could respond was that I didn’t understand because I’m not transgender and the conversation ended there. You cannot question anything or even have a rational discussion about the subject. If I continue to ask questions, then she labels me transphobic and homophobic (because she’s a gay man, of course!). I can’t discuss anything with her because it goes no where and just ends in verbal and sometimes physical violence on her part. For the most part she is extremely logical, except when it comes to her so called gender. For her, she was born male and case closed.

      Is there any other way you can think of that I can approach her, TCG? She’s 19 now attending university and living in an apartment with other biological girls and fully accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dorothy, do you think your daughter experienced any symptoms of BPD?
        I believe my daughter checked many of those boxes and it can be very difficult to have a discussion with someone who becomes “unhinged”. She may have selective “unhingement” and the mom may find that she pushes that button.


      • It’s not all about sexual stereotypes. Even though trans activists do use them in their favor when it is convenient for them.
        The most central claim of the trans ideology is that, there is a gender identity that is independent of biological sex, sexual orientation and gender expression. And this “gender identity” is intrinsic, a person can feel it directly internally, but inexplicable to others. That’s the reason for the push for affirmation only approach and transing kids, because the transgender person, adult or child, “knows better” than the therapist. In my opinion your daughter did not come up with it on her own, she’s probably just parroting what she read on the Internet. Anyway that makes conversation difficult. If you ask trans activists to back up this theory, they would probably cite a study that found that the brains of trans people are kind of in between male and female. However, another study showed that the brains of gay men (resp. lesbian women) resemble more the brain of heterosexual women (resp. heterosexual men). Does that mean that gay men are in fact women?

        If she refuses conversation, there are still things that you could do.

        First, since she is a “gay man”, she should know how important looks and genital size are in the gay dating scene. Height and a triangle shape are the standard of male beauty, does she think that she’ll have any advantage if she transitions? Not to mention that testosterone could make her go bald. Is that really what she wants? I recommend this video and read her replies to comments under it.

        Second, you could play along her narrative and push it even further. She says that she’s born male? Ok then tell her that her boobs are also male so she doesn’t need to cut them off. (That’s what some “transwomen” insist, that their penis is a “girl penis”). Remember to call her transphobic if she disagrees with you. Show her this video and ask her what she thinks. If she dismisses this “transager”, then tell her that she’s transphobic.
        Ask her what she thinks about this
        Also, read the comment of almaratalarabia:
        A normal person would wake up at this point.


      • Missingdaughter, I just looked over the symptoms of BPD and it doesn’t really sound like her. She only has these reactions when it comes to transgender talk. Previous to all this she seemed to be a very well balanced kid. Everything turned upside down upon meeting her transboyfriend. That being said, I do now recognize that she could have many symptoms of ASD. She was always a quirky, but likable kid.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TCG, thanks for your reply. I understand that the trans activists try to use brain science to validate themselves, but there are other studies that don’t support them (not at the tip of my fingers to post, maybe someone else has that study?).

        Thank you for sending all of those links. The problem with that is that I’ve tried to send her links and she just gets angry and the last time I sent something she told me never to send anything like that again. She digs in her heels the more I push, so I’m staying away from the subject. I will take a look at them, though.

        Good point that if she was born a man, then her body is a man’s body. I’m aware that many transwomen use that excuse for still having a penis.

        Anyway, if I start to explain to her what gay men want in each other, I don’t think she would really care because in her mind, her transboyfriend will be her only relationship for the rest of her life. So, in other words, she’s in a lesbian relationship. I think that, as you said, my daughter doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of being an adult woman.

        TCG, if you don’t mind me asking you (and I totally understand if you don’t want to), did you discover afterwards that you are a lesbian or heterosexual or bi? Did you question your identity in the beginning because of who you were attracted to along with your preference for stereotypical boy activities? You said you could only see yourself as a man in a relationship, has that changed?

        Good luck to you!


      • Dorothy, the first video in my last reply is from peachyoghurt, if you don’t don’t know her already: she is a compassionate woman who makes great videos about transgenderism. She makes a good point in another video about “passing” as a FTM: if trans people claim to just want to be their true selves, then how come they need to speak in an unnatural voice and mimic the stereotypical behavior of the opposite sex instead of just being themselves?

        So your daughter shuts down conversation and gets angry… That’s another thing that I don’t like about trans activists. They behave with such a sense of entitlement and think that the world should revolve around them and their “precious feelings”, they just shout, insult and attack until they get what they want (an example: And they teach these to their adherents. That’s why parents often notice a change in personality of their sudden trans child. If she is already brainwashed, maybe you should look up strategies for saving people from a cult because that’s what trans ideology is.

        I am curious as to if she accepts all claims of trans people or if she draws a line somewhere, and if so, why. For example this “transwoman” ( who looks completely like a man. Or the middle aged man who identifies as a 6 yo girl.

        For me, I knew quite early that I had romantic feeling exclusively for men. Yes I still need to imagine being a man in order to fall in love with another man. It’s complicated. I just gave up finding help in the trans community.

        You could also use her belief in your favor instead of fighting it. For example, when people try to convert me to a religion, I don’t try to argue with them if God exists, I just say that I’m not interested because another religion promises me better things in paradise.


      • Thanks TransCriticalGirl, I’m familiar with Peachyogurt and think she’s awesome. The problem is that we don’t talk at all about any of this anymore.The little time I have with her, maybe an hour every 2-3 weeks, I try to keep things calm and talk about other subjects that we can both connect on. All of your suggestions make sense and would convince any rational person, but unfortunately, this subject is verboten with us. She’s been brainwashed by the transactivists, as you said.

        I’m glad you’ve had enough sense to get out before it was too late. I hope you can convince other young adults!


  15. I’m sorry, but no one “suddenly” decides to be trans, that’s just ridiculous. No one is forcing these kids into anything either way (or they shouldn’t be at least), and there’s a difference between encouraging someone and supporting them. Maybe these kids are trans, maybe they’re not. It’s not something you come to overnight, but something that takes time to realise and think through and make sense of. I spent my childhood lonely and afraid because I had no one I felt I could talk to. I did have suicidal thoughts but teenagers do because you’re highly emotional a lot of the time. I may have still transitioned at the age I did (24), it may have earlier/later/not at all, but I would have had someone to help me figure things out if I’d had someone to confide in. These things need taking about without judgement, without agendas, and then you’re more likely for the individuals to come to the right decisions for them, whatever that may be.


    • I’m not certain I understand your comment here. You say that no one comes to think they are trans overnight, and that may be so. But, it is common that someone gets this idea and then goes on social media where everyone assures them that they are really trans and urges them to transition right away, and they get pulled further and further into this community until a question becomes a certainty that they are trans. In many states, it is already illegal for a therapist to do anything but affirm and move a young person toward medical transition. So, I agree that the whole thing does not happen overnight, but by the time the new trans identity is announced to parents, it is so firmly entrenched that there is no dislodging the idea with any kind of material facts in the real world. Denouncing family and friends who do not support them is also something they learn is necessary from online communities. They confide in people who do not know them or remotely have their best interests at heart. It surely would be wonderful if a young person questioning whether they were trans could confide in an actual adult who would listen sympathetically and get real instead of canned information from these young people. It would be great if they would learn about actual biology and what that means, the difficulties everyone has growing into sexual adulthood, the actual dangers, psychological, social, and physical. It would be great if they could hear from and meet desisters and detransitioners and hear their stories before making a decision from which retreat is never fully possible.


      • The problem is, you have people on one side (as you believe) saying “go for it” which is irresponsible, but you’re suggesting the almost exact opposite should be the case, when I’m suggesting that it would be better to speak to a trained counsellor who will listen to the person and ask the right questions, never guiding them in one direction or another. A good counsellor will ask the person what they think and whether that’s a good idea or not without judgement, without influencing a direction to go in.


      • Oopster74: You are right that this would be ideal, but I do not know of any cases where this has happened. If you know of any therapists like this, it would be wonderful to know who they are.


      • Sorry I didn’t get a notification of this reply. I’m sorry but I can’t answer your question as I don’t know the answer. I’m guessing you’re in the USA, whereas I’m in the U.K., and the treatment regime /timetable is very different as far as I understand it.


  16. Oopster74, teenagers are VERY impulsive. Drops off a bit at 16, and then a lot more at 25. Teenagers are VERY gullible and impressionable. The frontal lobes of the brain, which are involved in decision making, logical thought, planning etc etc are only fully developed by age 25. Many teenagers, for a range of reasons, would like to re-invent themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Certainly there is merit in your comment, Oopster, that “it would be better to speak to a trained counsellor who will listen to the person and ask the right questions, never guiding them in one direction or another.” If that is so, however, can you address for us why it is that trans-activists have mounted a (largely successful) drive to make sure that never happens?

    Legislatures across the United States have uncritically accepted the notion of banning “conversion therapy” that at least arguably includes any effort to reconcile a minor with his/her birth sex – or to take anything other than the “gender affirmative” approach with clients. It’s a problem with the legislation; the bills are all modeled after one put forward by the National Center for “Lesbian” Rights, and the language is so unclear that no therapist can know exactly what is or what is not prohibited. It seems pretty clear from the face of it that at the least there’s a serious question as to whether anything besides gender affirmation is permitted. Certainly a cautious therapist could assume that discussions of a full and fair review of the decision, in light of all the facts, would be prohibited under the law.

    So what about that? Why exactly is it that the trans-activist community is so threatened by the idea that people should explore all possible causes, and options, for reconciling gender dysphoria, in addition to those presented by medical transition? Certainly pretty much everyone can agree that medical transition will entail some fairly serious and potentially detrimental physical consequences. Why is it that those consequences are to be embraced and promoted to the exclusion of all other less intrusive means?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I was reminded of the recent video game “The Lion’s Song”. One of the main characters is a woman who disguises herself as a man to get into a secret society of mathematicians at a European university in the early 1900s. It’s heavily implied that the experience leads her to discover that she’s non-binary or trans. (The player can actually assert either of these things as a dialogue choice. Even if you don’t, though, the implication is still there.)

    Overall it’s a good game, but I dislike the fact that when a woman is faced with society saying “Women can’t do math”, the answer in this game is not “Yes they can” but “Well, *I’m* not a woman!”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s