Born in the right body: Introducing 4thWaveNow’s new spokesperson, mom of a teen desister

Brie Jontry is a part-time academic, and a politically liberal mom to an adventurous, wilderness-, insect-, and art-loving teen. She currently lives in the American southwest with her partner and daughter, a huge dog, three cats, and various insects who come and go.

Brie has been a member of the 4thWaveNow community for two years, since her daughter first temporarily identified as transgender. After exploring all kinds of ideas, thoughts, and feelings related to gender identity with her daughter, Brie has decided to speak publicly about her family’s experience.  In particular, Brie agreed to be our public spokesperson to counter the untruth that only religious, anti-LGB conservatives are skeptical about medical transition of gender-atypical young people.

Note: Anyone who has spent time on our site knows we are not a monolith, but a diverse group of parents with varying (though generally congruent) views.  Brie’s experiences and analysis are her own, but are on the whole in line with those of the other gender-skeptical parents in our community.

In a future article, Brie’s daughter, along with a few other teen desisters will discuss their own thoughts about identity, gender nonconformity, desistance, and more. Stay tuned.

As her time permits, Brie is available to interact in the comments section of this interview.

You are the parent of a teenage girl who temporarily believed she was trans, but changed her mind. Can you tell us something about her journey—and yours?

A few months before my then 11-year-old said she might be transgender, she told me she didn’t want to grow up. She had just met her new pediatric endocrinologist (she has type 1 diabetes) and he told us she was in the early stages of puberty. In the car on the way home from the appointment, crying, my daughter asked me how much longer until she’d start bleeding, until her breasts would grow.

A few weeks after that appointment, Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen in Ohio, committed suicide by walking onto a highway into the path of a tractor trailer. My daughter was gripped by Leelah’s story, by the horrific choice of death over a seemingly endless painful existence, and she agonized (for weeks) over the details in Leelah’s suicide letter. “What is transgender? Was Leelah a girl trapped in a boy’s body?” “How could her parents not see they were killing her?”

A few months later, my daughter told me she thought she might not be a girl. I asked if that meant she was really a boy and she said she thought so. I said something like, “this is a lot to think about” and asked her permission to speak to her grandfather, a psychologist, and another friend, a genetic biologist and a lesbian. She agreed and sheepishly let me know she’d already told her poppa.

I called my dad that night after she’d gone to bed. He reminded me that she’d always “been her own person” and that imagination and sensitivity could have been heightened by almost obsessively reading/thinking about Leelah Alcorn. He explained body and gender dysphoria, and drew a connection to eating disorders. “You wouldn’t help her starve herself if she thought she was too fat,” he said. “Help her just be her, in her own body, whatever that means.”

Next, I spoke to Audrey, our gay geneticist friend who reminded me of her own teen years and cautioned that she certainly would have considered transition had it been readily available. Together, we looked at the few studies we could find about hormonal suppression in adolescents and testosterone use in healthy female bodies. My friend was horrified by the lack of long-term data available for medical interventions being performed on healthy adolescent bodies. Audrey spoke to my daughter about the hormonal responses which occur in puberty, how besides development of secondary sex characteristics, pubertal hormones are needed for brain development, neural pathways, grey matter. If you “pause” that process, she told us, you’ll be stunting the very growth that will make you into the adult you. “You don’t know who you are yet,” Audrey said, “how can you know that’s not who you want to be?”

My daughter agreed to put medical transition, a process she’d been watching with envy in numerous transmasculine teen videos, on hold while we explored these ideas together.

What followed were two years of emotional upheaval and deep exploration. Family and friends agreed to stop using “girl” and worked hard to remember her requested “kid” in its place.

salt-in-the-soup.pngI pestered anyone who was willing, to talk to me about gender, adolescent development, and hormonal modulation. I talked to someone I knew in the midst of her own gender transition and to her partner. I talked to trans people, gay people, other parents of trans and GNC kids, endocrinologists, a Zohar scholar, educators, radical feminists, postmodern theorists, and child and teen psychologists, including those who designated themselves “gender specialists.” I joined large Facebook groups for parents of trans and gender non-conforming kids (and was subsequently thrown out for posting data about Lupron).

I asked my daughter to show me some of the things she was reading and watching online which led to her realization. Together, we explored all kinds of “you might be trans if…” quizzes and “Am I trans?” posts on Reddit’s “Ask a Transgender” subreddit, various Tumblr blogs, and elsewhere. We talked a lot about stereotypes and gender roles.

At my daughter’s request, we went to the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, where we met Jazz Jennings and ate pizza with hundreds of transgender kids and their parents. Dinner conversations between parents were clearly divided between stories of natal boys who’d “always been this way,” who “always liked pink” or sparkly princess dresses; who liked to play with dolls and wanted to wear nail polish, and born-girls who, on the cusp of puberty, often friendless, suddenly came out as “trans.” My daughter made a lot of new friends that night, some of whom now, two years later, have been on testosterone for a number of years; some have had mastectomies. Of the teens she met that evening, I’m aware of one other who has also desisted.brie pull 2Ultimately, what brought her to the realization that she is not “in the wrong body” (about two years later), were endless, ongoing conversations about sex-based norms, gender roles and expectations, and homophobia, between her and lots of other people, mostly women. NO ONE fits neatly into any stereotype associated with their “identity.” She came to understand that her suffering wasn’t because her body was wrong; she was suffering because growing up is hard! To her, “being trans” explained a lot of her discomfort and anxiety, but she came to realize that it wasn’t actually “being trans” that caused any of it.

She came to see medical transition as physician-assisted self-harm. In a twisted way, it helped that she is already dependent on synthetic hormones for her life. She has zero choice about injecting insulin every time she eats, or when her blood glucose is too high, up to ten times a day, for the rest of her life. When her friends who’d started HRT complained about needing injections, something snapped in her. She saw the stark difference between needing pharmaceutical treatment to live (no choice) and desiring it as treatment for a feeling. Her body IS, actually, wrong. It’s verifiably broken and without synthetic hormonal supplementation numerous times a day, every day, she will die. Quickly and painfully.

She realized that her friends had healthy bodies but that their therapists, their friends online and in real life, and sometimes even their parents, were supporting them in the belief it was their bodies that were wrong because they didn’t match their personalities, their preferences, who they were supposed to love. When she realized this, she got angry. She felt tricked into believing there was something wrong with her because she didn’t want to be ogled by teen boys, or wear dresses, or because one of her favorite things was to talk about the difference between aquatic and terrestrial isopods.

So it sounds like she experienced a “rapid onset” gender dysphoria in adolescence, a phenomenon which is now only starting to be recognized.

Yes. And…no. She told me that prior to Alcorn’s suicide, that she wasn’t aware that being transgender was possible, that it even existed. Once she came into contact with the idea, it captivated her and she quickly identified her “transness” as the reason she didn’t want to go through female puberty. She wasn’t alone. Numerous girls in her various peer groups would come out as trans in the coming year.

I think it is critical to this discussion, though, to talk about all the ways she’d been “gender non-conforming” up to identifying as trans.

As liberal, progressive, feminist parents, we never put energy into making sure our daughter adhered to gender norms. As a baby, she wore all the colors and never had a head-squeezing headband to denote “girl.” I never bothered correcting strangers who thought she was a boy. I insisted she wear a dress once, to a wedding, when she was eight. She cried.

When people asked her if she was a boy or a girl, she’d bark, or meow, or roar.

brie pull 4When she was younger, her favorite toys were stuffed animals, scraps of fabric, cardboard boxes, and small plastic insect, dinosaur, and dragon figures. Then, as she got older LEGO, but never the pink sets. She played lots of imaginative games with her stuffed animals and little figurines and dump trucks; she never wanted a doll and cried once when she was four and someone gifted her one. She couldn’t understand how someone who knew her might think a Mermaid Barbie would be a welcomed present.

Her favorite stuffed animal was a crab named “Crabby” who went almost everywhere with her. When people asked if Crabby was a boy or a girl, she’d answer: “she’s a boy” or “he’s a girl” and laugh. Outside, she liked to pee standing up, like her dad, and somehow figured out how to pee farther than her best friend, a boy.

She mostly preferred “boy’s” clothing: sweatpants and shirts with insects, dragons, monsters, and dinosaurs. We let her choose her own clothing as soon as she wanted to and had no problem with her heading over to the boy’s section of stores.

These are important details because once I turned to trans-affirming websites and books (which were all I could find until I learned the phrase “gender critical”), the gender nonconforming choices she made, her preferences, some of her behaviors, could easily be read as proof that she really was a boy, that she had a “boy brain,” and perhaps, that she was exposed to too much testosterone in utero as evidenced by her relative finger length.

The acute stress she felt over her body (dysphoria) was indeed rapid-onset. However, looking back, there were many incidents which could have been interpreted as signs of an “innate gender identity” that didn’t match her sex.

Trans activists have tried to convince the public that “desistance is a myth”. Yet your daughter did indeed desist. Why do you think activists want to deny the experiences of young people like your daughter?

Because desistance justifies cautious, rational, skepticism. Desistance proves that some people think of themselves as transgender and then come to think of themselves as not trans. Desistance creates doubt.

When I say “desisters,” I’m talking about those who once thought of themselves as trans but do not currently see themselves that way. Desisters like my daughter and the other young people we know, never took steps to medically transition although they considered themselves transgender and in most cases, looked forward to medical intervention of some kind.

Desistance stories are often criticized as being about kids who were never “really trans” to begin with. Brynn Tannehill, a board member of the Trans United Fund, argues that the 84% desistance rate is inflated because it caught up a lot of gender nonconforming kids in place of “true trans” kids–so of course they desisted; they were never trans!

Here’s the thing, neither was my kid. Chances are, most of the kids of parents reading here aren’t trans.

Let’s assume for the moment that there is such a thing as “true trans.” What does that mean? Let’s say there is at least minimal proof that gender identity is innate and biological (there isn’t). Let’s pretend that we have long-term data showing that medical intervention in adolescent development is beneficial to those who don’t fit easily into gendered expectations and norms and to those who suffer from dysphoria.

Now, let’s say that all the previous gender-atypical behavior my daughter exhibited growing up was resultant from a biological abnormality.

So what?

So what if she sits on the far end of the bell-curve’s tail of female behaviors and preferences? How does that make her “other?” Why does that mean she’s in need of medical intervention to “correct” something deeply amiss?

Why can’t she and all other outliers be supported as they are without needing to be fixed? Have we learned nothing from the historical horror show of medical interventions enacted on children with differences in sexual development (“intersex”)? Why does being an outlier mean that she’s “really a boy?” instead of simply, that she’s different than the female norm?

Desistance as a likely possibility gives rise to the “wait-and-see” approach, which according to some “affirmative” gender professionals, is just as dangerous to kids as insisting they’re not trans. This horrifies me, that cautious “wait and see” approaches are discouraged when there is zero evidence that socially and medically transitioning children and teens is beneficial, apart from (parent reported) immediate gratification and short-term validation.

The affirmation model used widely in the US is actually highly controversial. In the UK, a doctor is under investigation for providing cross-sex hormones to children as young as 12—a situation being normalized at pediatric gender clinics in the US.  Under-18 surgeries take place in the US, while they are prohibited in the UK—and even Thailand, once known as a go-to place for underage procedures.  US “affirmative” clinicians behave as if the debate on child transition is over, even though leading researchers at 17 worldwide locations cautioned in a 2015 journal article that “in actual practice, no consensus exists whether to use these early medical interventions.”

brie pull 3And still, WPATH argues in favor of lowering age limits for medical and hormonal treatment and easing access to transgender medicine. In the US, some pediatric gender practitioners and their advocates act as if this course of treatment is settled science. It isn’t. Even the gender specialists in the Netherlands who pioneered the use of puberty blockers in “trans kids”  caution against socially transitioning younger children, because kids who don’t socially transition seem to mostly work it all out by themselves, and some socially transitioned youth who changed their minds found it very difficult to desist later.

Desistance stories also add weight to recommendations for cautious approaches that focus on first treating underlying mental health issues. That’s problematic in a climate where trans activists want to completely depathologize transgenderism. I know a lot of families whose children currently think they’re trans. In almost every instance, there are prior mental health diagnoses or family experiences of trauma.

Parents like you—many of whom are contributors on 4thWaveNow—are castigated as “transphobes” or (at best) “unsupportive.” What do you say to these charges?

Supporting children in desiring and procuring plastic surgery, synthetic hormonal suppression and supplementation is not healthy, supportive, enlightened, or progressive.

Authentic selves do not require surgical and hormonal treatment unless there is underlying pathology, like for my daughter’s autoimmune condition which requires daily hormonal supplementation.  Medical transition should be a last resort for those whose suffering cannot be ameliorated otherwise.

Becoming a life-long medical patient is not liberating; it is enslaving. Being critical and cautious is not hatred, it’s being a good parent.

Gender dysphoria is real and it causes real suffering. My daughter was in deep, profound, pain.

After initial hesitation, I knew my child was not “born into the wrong body” and that as her parent, I would be doing more long-term good (and also less long-term harm) by offering her the time and tools she needed to see herself as whole, capable, and “authentic” as she was instead of affirming that there was something wrong with her.

I think that the most supportive thing we can offer our children is to take apart all our preconceived ideas about gender and identity alongside them. I was told by parents of trans kids and gender therapists that the only expert on my child’s gender identity was my child and that asking “why?” “what does that mean?” “How did you arrive at that conclusion?” “Who are your sources?” and a thousand other questions which would lead down a thousand other rabbit holes, was transphobic, unsupportive, and harmful to her well being.

They weren’t. Those are exactly the questions that helped her make sense of herself, helped her feel whole instead of in need of corrective treatment, helped her be resilient in the face of disappointment and learn to manage both real and perceived limitations.

The stories we’ve been telling aren’t enough. They don’t go far enough. Deep enough. They’re too easy. The answer isn’t a pill or plastic surgery. How many children were prescribed Ritalin simply because their bodies couldn’t stay still? I mean, come on. An entire industry has risen up around trans kids. Careers are being made, not just in the medical field but in education, policy, fashion, the media, all because normal, developmentally appropriate childhood behaviors have been repackaged as (often homophobic) pathologies. We’ve seen this before.

Being “trans” is too easy. It’s an identity picked off a shelf and inside the packaging, there’s a list of other necessary components one must procure before reaching authentic selfhood. “Being trans” to girls like my daughter is like a quest in a video game with each “affirming’ “medical procedure acquired is an “epic win” bringing you one step closer to having all your problems solved. Except no video game exists that suppresses development or leads to the removal of healthy body parts. Being trans isn’t a video game, it’s real life. Real, painful, confusing, life and being trans was the defining aspect not only of identity but also the root of all her suffering.

I supported my child in her journey. What I didn’t do was accept the first and easiest answer. I helped my daughter know that disagreement or unacceptance of any gendered norm was more than okay. I fully supported what my generation quaintly called ‘gender bending” in all ways, but I didn’t agree to let her subject herself to significant bodily harm in an attempt to treat her dysphoria. From the very first announcement, I let her know that she could cut her hair however she wanted, wear whatever clothing she wanted, and use whatever name she chose.

I supported her in her discomfort, to the best of my ability, and I also let her know that discomfort and confusion are legitimate aspects of a meaningful, deeply explored life.

 There are two rationales given for the urgent need to medically transition young people: the risk of suicide, and “passing” better as the opposite sex if puberty is blocked. Do you think these reasons are valid, and if not, why?

Major life moves made from a place of fear and lack of choice are rarely successful. Kids don’t kill themselves because they’re trans. Suicidality needs to be treated as a dysfunctional response to unhappiness, not as a symptom of being trans. Anxiety needs to be treated as anxiety and not as a symptom of being trans. Depression needs to be treated as depression and not as a symptom of being trans. And suicide should not be used as a strategy to manipulate vulnerable parents desperate for “expert” advice or to prime kids to take their own lives. Stop already. That stuff’s contagious.

Most of the parents who’ve agreed to support medical transition for their children and the various gender “experts” I’ve talked to over the past few years argue that children who transition young will pass easier. That’s a problem, because prioritizing “passing,” like much of the surrounding ideology, actually reinforces binary perceptions of gender by suggesting there is only one way to be/to look like a man or a woman. I know gorgeous women with broad shoulders. I know handsome men who can’t grow a beard. So what? The effects of testosterone on a natal female are rapid, and some, like the growth of facial hair, male pattern balding, and changes to one’s voice are irreversible. Besides, it’s recommended that natal females taking testosterone for more than a few years have a full hysterectomy to minimize increased risks of some cancers. Therefore, early transition does not limit later medicalization. Sometimes, it even increases the need for more intensive and painful procedures later.  I think it would be far healthier for those who are gender-atypical and for society to get rid of the idea of “passing” completely.

Until recently, the only critics of pediatric transition seemed to be people primarily from the conservative right.  They tend to conflate transgenderism with gay rights, and are opposed to both. What is your own political affiliation and viewpoint?

Oh, I’m left-of-left. Another reason I want to speak out is because most opposition to trans advocacy comes from the conservative right and IS deeply entrenched in sexist and homophobic beliefs.

Most on the left are too afraid to speak out for fear they’ll be labeled as transphobes, bigots, TERFs, bio essentialists, and just plain old shitty, hateful, shallow-minded people.


Look, if an adult decides after careful and hopefully well researched, in-depth exploration into why they want to undertake surgery and/or HRT, and they fully understand–to the extent it is possible to understand given the lack of long-term data—what their medical choices could mean 5, 10, 40 years down the line, I believe they should be free to make whatever medical choices they and their support team believe to be best. I think insurance policies or better yet, a national health insurance policy (I can dream), should pay for all services related to transgender care.

I believe trans people should be protected against discrimination in education, healthcare, employment, and housing. I want trans people to feel safe walking down the street. I want them to be safe walking down the street.

What do you hope to achieve as public spokesperson for parents of trans-identified young people?

I want to make the conversation larger; I want it to go deeper; I want the medical community to keep their ‘corrective treatments’ away from our children’s bodies. It’s not okay to offer them life-long patienthood without first giving them tools and support to explore the “why?” the “what next?” and a myriad of other possibilities and conclusions.

Currently, the only voices in the discussion are those involved with the industry that’s risen up surrounding transgender medicine. I want to take the discussion beyond the self-declared “experts” who are making entire careers off of the notion that it’s possible to be born into the wrong body.

Many advocates of medical transition for youth claim that there are “true trans” kids who are very different from merely “gender nonconforming” youth. Do you agree?

No. I think almost every human on earth is gender non-conforming in some ways. I was listening to Georgia Warnke recently. She’s largely responsible for getting the medical community to stop performing surgeries on young intersex children, and she helped people learn to be more comfortable with ambiguity in sex and gender presentation. She cautions that we don’t want identities to “go imperial,” a phrase she borrows from Kwame Anthony Appiah who writes that some identities “risk becoming the obsessive focus, the be-all and end-all, of the lives of those who identify with them,” and they “lead people to forget that their individual identities are complex and multifarious.” I’m concerned that’s what’s happening with many of our youth.

Their lives are boring, they’re isolated, the earth is dying, the economy is dying, their families are disintegrating, they’re carrying so much. I can’t imagine a more difficult age to come into ‘ideological’ adulthood than this one. I think a great many young people identifying as trans are doing so because it’s the only life-shaking, meaning-bringing area of their lives they have any control over. Being trans is an answer, a solution, and a meaningful marginal identity during a time in history when being a member of an “oppressed class” also begets greater social currency in some circles.

We’ve given them surfaces. Reflections of reflections of copies. The Mirror Stage mirrored and misidentified. A rose wet with Photoshop dew on a handheld screen that’s the first thing they touch when they wake up and the last thing they touch before they go to sleep. We parents didn’t realize what was happening. We couldn’t predict how digital lives would bleed into reality, that we’d need to clarify what we mean when we say the word “cloud.” Another mom going through this says, “online worlds seep into life like too much salt in a soup.” Curated personas, best friends you’ve never smelled or touched, avatars brought to life.  The Junior Oxford Dictionary removed the words “acorn, ash, buttercup, dandelion, fern, ivy, nectar, pasture and willow” to make room for: “blog, broadband, celebrity, chat-room, mp3 player and voicemail.”

Huge, meaningful and exciting swaths of our kids’ lives have played out in digital worlds while their material worlds have become smaller, more isolated, and disconnected. In many cases, our kids were already disassociated from their bodies, even before they became aware of trans identities. Running, jumping, dancing, wrestling, all these things happen primarily in controlled spaces now. The only remaining place for many young people to gather away from adult-controlled, contrived, and protected spaces, are digital worlds. It follows, in this climate, that “authentic selves” might also be technologically-mediated products to consume. My god, talk about planned obsolescence. This is planned obsolescence of the body from the moment of its birth and our kids are early test subjects in transhumanism. For real. No tinfoil hat needed. Google “postgender.”

No. I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as “true trans.” I believe we’re all mosaics of hormonal, skeletal, emotional, personal, etc. traits and that identity is being commodified in dangerous ways.

Your daughter is only 14. The “affirmative” clinicians will say, see? She just wasn’t really trans. No one can be “made” to be trans, so your daughter just figured out she wasn’t. No harm done.

The only reason my daughter figured out she isn’t trans is because I gave her space, time, and access to diverse people to talk to. I did not, as was advised, immediately affirm her new trans identity. Had I done so, had I said, “oh, yeah, that makes sense” she would most likely, she says, be taking testosterone now. She thanks me regularly for not believing she was a boy trapped in a girl’s body.

Related to the previous question, how do you know your daughter won’t change her mind again and realize she actually is trans? Again, the activists/affirmative clinicians will say maybe she’s just staying “in the closet” about being trans to please you.

I don’t know that my daughter won’t change her mind. How could I? What I know is that she spent the past two years interrogating her dysphoria: where it came from, what purpose it served/didn’t serve in her life; what triggered/increased/decreased its intensity. For the most part, she faced her dysphoria, anxiety, and past trauma head-on and learned ways to live in her body more comfortably.

Is she just waiting until she leaves home to come out again? Best to ask her [Note to readers: We will!] but I don’t think so. She’s angry that she wasted two years of her childhood worrying about her gender identity. She sees her non-conformity with gender roles and her non-compliance with “femininity” as aspects of her individual personality, not as pathology in need of corrective medical care. To her, and she can explain this better than I can, being “trans” means accepting that males/females can only be one way, that some aspects of identity/personality/self-essence beyond biological functions belong to only males or females. She doesn’t believe that’s true.

Do you oppose medical transition for all youth? Why or why not?

No. I believe that for some youth, pharmaceutical treatment might bring the most relief. I do not believe that surgery to remove healthy body parts should ever happen on children or adolescents.

Physically altering (and sterilizing) bodies as a “corrective measure” is nothing new. The history of medicine overflows with horrors enacted on dark skinned and disabled bodies, the bodies of women, and of homosexuals. Doctors in the Netherlands, where homosexual males used to be surgically castrated, were the first to suppress natal puberty in trans identifying children. I think that history, of medically-supported and induced harm on noncompliant bodies, is important to keep in mind when thinking about transgender medical treatment. I mentioned Ritalin earlier. But let’s remember lobotomies, cures for hysterical women, female genital mutilation. Let’s remember that puberty suppressants followed by cross-sex hormones will sterilize a body for life. Gender specialists are sterilizing and greatly increasing the risks of cancer and other debilitating medical conditions in children, many of whom would simply have grown up to be gay in earlier times.

Caution. We have to be more cautious, not open the gates wider. Puberty suppressants, cross-sex hormones, and surgery, all have life-long consequences. Shouldn’t the focus be on helping people learn to accept themselves, in all their messy, unmatched, contradicting, and possibly limiting, glory? We contain multitudes, right? Let’s contain them in the healthiest of possible bodies, with the least amount of dependency on chemical and specialized medicine.

We all want to thank you for stepping forward as public spokesperson for 4thWaveNow. As you are well aware, many parents feel they cannot go public because of the current political climate.

I want those of us who live with and care for young people investigating their gender identities to think more critically and carefully about the idea that humans can be born into “wrong bodies,” and that “authentic selves” are dependent on medical consumption. I want to push the conversation beyond “because I am trans” answers. That’s not good enough. There’s more here and we owe it to our kids and future societies to ask harder questions and to wait, patiently, for more meaningful answers.

I want to speak out because I know others can’t. The risk to one’s livelihood and to the peace of their families and communities is immense. Nothing I am saying is hateful or bigoted but questioning the dominant narratives of innate gender identity and affirmative models of treatment are dangerous moves when even philosophical questions are considered “epistemic violence” against trans people.

This is unacceptable. We cannot think rationally or make well-informed choices if half the conversation is muted. The voices of desisters are important contributions to any discussion focused on dysmorphic adolescents and kids who don’t easily conform to gender norms. I want parents to know that it’s okay to say, “hang on, lets think all this through together.”

You know, if “being trans” simply meant I am who I am who I am and it didn’t often come with a side of medical necessity, I wouldn’t be here insisting we need to talk about this stuff more thoughtfully, more thoroughly.

If sex is socially constructed, like trans advocates argue, why does anyone need to alter their sexed bodies to match their gender identities? It doesn’t make sense. Transgender medicine is being marketed to our young people under the guise that their gender-atypical behavior and/or their developmentally normal bodily discomfort is a sign of incongruity, of imbalance. Normal, healthy teen angst, the challenges of independent identity formation in adolescence, these processes have been pathologized. Instead of helping kids be resilient, many aspects that fall under “gender identity exploration” enable self-perceived and socially-inflicted oppression, hardship, isolation, and malaise.

But, too, in many ways, what’s happening with awareness about gender identities is meaningful and I’m thankful to young people for pushing the rest of us to think about what being “masculine” and “feminine” means in this day and age. Thanks to young people, many are noticing how toys are more gendered now than they were thirty years ago and lots of parents are questioning why boys can’t wear sparkles and why we tell girls to smile. This is all good stuff! But all the good stuff is coming at the cost of our children’s long-term physical and emotional health.

I’m adding our story to the mix because it offers an alternative trajectory to the one that currently dominates the press. In addition to the “courageous trans kid” who lets everyone know that she is a he, I want to highlight young people who’ve come to terms with their sexed bodies and courageously move forward in life without feeling there is something wrong with them, that they’re disabled in some way, that their bodies or other’s perceptions of them are in need of correction.

Both my daughter and I want other parents and young people to know it is possible to work through some/most/all aspects of dysphoria without removing healthy body parts or injecting off-label cancer drugs and cross-sex hormones.

I want parents to know it’s okay to ask questions, to dig deep, to be skeptical. To push your children and those who oversee their care to go beyond “just because” answers like “because that’s how I feel” or, “that’s who I am,” to deeper levels. Push through to “why?” and “what does that mean?” to “where does that feeling come from?” and bravely explore what’s uncovered. What does it mean to “feel” like a woman or a man? Why do those feelings mean healthy bodies are in need of medical intervention? I mean, really, how can it be that so many have suddenly been born “wrong?”

105 thoughts on “Born in the right body: Introducing 4thWaveNow’s new spokesperson, mom of a teen desister

  1. I have so many thoughts running through my head right now.. Mostly, thank you for giving me, for giving us, hope. It’s easy to start feeling hopeless, to feel like this will never end. Thank you for the hope you give in your words.

    What if my daughter won’t talk? I ask the hard questions, I try to initiate conversation about gender identity, about dysphoria, about anything, hoping she will talk. She doesn’t. Like you said, her answers are “I just do” or other responses along those lines. She also doesn’t want to go to counseling. We’ve tried. She hates it and refuses to go. (She is 16 and she is really digging her heels in).

    And lastly – what would your advice be on dealing with binding? My daughter wears a binder and we have had many many conversations (well, one-sided conversations anyway) about the myriad ways that wearing a binder is unsafe and can be downright dangerous. I have not outright forbidden her to wear one, because I’m not naive – if she wants to wear one, she’ll find a way. She’ll just be sneaky about it. And I don’t want that either. But I hate it and I ever if it’s my job as her mother to take it from her. To tell her she can’t wear it.

    I’m so lost and sad and confused. I just want her to find her way back to herself. Unlike your daughter, mine had always been the GIRLIEST of girly-girls all her life, right up until about a year or so ago.

    It’s so hard.

    Liked by 10 people

    • ThisIsNotMyRealName, my heart goes out to you and your child. I know that we were lucky because my child was still young enough to listen to me, to care what I had to say. It is harder with older teens who’ve already started moving their emotional connections to their peers and away from their parents.

      I think, no matter what, it is important that we speak truthfully to our kids. She will never, regardless of medical interventions, be male. However, her desire to identify out of “femininity” is completely understandable! I suggest focusing there – on common ground – let her know you understand why she might not want to be seen as female. Talk about all that stuff, all the messy, ugly, “truths” of being perceived as female. Let her hear you talk to lots of other women about their experiences growing up and entering ‘womanhood;’ help her know that what she’s feeling is common. My daughter was surprised to find out that nearly every female we know experienced some form of dysphoria at some point in their lives. Until those conversations, she thought that only trans kids feel that way.

      Binders. Ugh. My deepest regret is buying a binder for my daughter. Now, after a year + of not wearing it, her ribs still hurt (and I bought one that was THREE times larger than it was supposed to be). I showed my daughter your comment and she said, “tell her not to let her daughter wear it.” But, I don’t know how realistic that is, sadly. You’re right – she might hide or sneak – and that’s the last thing you want. You want to do everything in your power NOT to make gender identity a power struggle.

      Do you think your daughter might read this? Maybe print it out and leave it somewhere for her to find?

      Sending you love and strength, mama

      Liked by 5 people

      • Thank you so much for your response! And your daughter’s as well. Your daughter gives me hope.

        Like you, I am a liberal, progressive LGBT-supporting feminist mom who has always talked about these things and have raised both my kids (I have a son who is almost 19) to believe that anyone can do anything! Girls, boys, everybody! The irony here is that my daughter seems to playing right into gender stereotypes in the way that she is presenting herself after declaring she is “transgender”. All the girls clothes got taken out of the closet and replaced with what society would call boy clothes, etc. (She has never wanted to wear anything that wasn’t explicitly feminine. Never wanted to go to the boy’s section. Even proclaimed a few times that she is so glad to be a girl, because “boy’s clothes are so boring.” I digress.

        The binder – I didn’t buy it. I don’t know where she got the first one, but I don’t think it was a good one. She ended up in the ER after being found “unresponsive” down by the river. She swears up ad down that it wasn’t the binder, but she is a healthy 16 year old girl. Which is more likely? That she passed out for some unknown reason even though she never has before? Or that she was wearing a binder in 85+ degree weather, and walked 4 miles under a hot sun in a “not-very-good” binder? The whole thing was crazy. She had “come out” as transgender the night before this incident (I was kind, but did not “affirm”), so of course I thought she had tried to kill herself when I was told she was found unresponsive. At the hospital, when the nurse asked if she felt unsafe at home, she said YES. I don’t know if I will ever be able to move on from that. I can’t imagine anything more hurtful that she could say to someone. Devastating. (So yes, there is truth to the matter of saying that some people think if we don’t affirm, we are abusive! I know my daughter is definitely drinking that Kool-Aid!)

        She wanted to get a “safer” binder. Asked me if I would let her use my card to order one if she gave me the money. I could tell she was a bit uncomfortable asking, but I had to say no. And I told her it’s about safety. I don’t like this new trans identity, no, but if binding were 100% safe, it would be a different story, how I feel about it. But I said no. Because of her health, wellbeing, safety. That is what I have ALWAYS focused on when I bring it up.

        She did end up getting a binder. She had a friend (another “trans” boy, biologically girl) that she met at an LGBT Youth Leadership camp (that I sent her to, thinking it would help her confidence and her identity as a gay girl. And she came back “trans”, and I have come to acknowledge that the LGBT community is NOT what it used to be when I was involved in it!. She was dating this friend (who was 15 and whose mother is a FIERCE transgender activist and tells everyone within earshot how proud she is of her son, brings “him” to transgender events, etc. Maybe this child is trans. But can at least try to make sure first? Geez.) Anyway, I think it was the friend’s mother, of course, that ordered it for her. Who else would? Who else would she even want to ask?

        I tried again tonight to talk to her. I thought it was going well, but it quickly deteriorated into her crying and twisting my words around and not really listening to me – talking to her about how dysphoria isn’t always about gender. Eating disorders stem from it, Michael Jackson (we are both big fans) endured so much pain because of his own form of dysphoria about his face.. The solution for them is not plastic surgery, is not purging. The solution is to figure out where it is stemming from so that instead of hating yourself and doing unsafe things, you can feel comfortable with the body you have, even if it’s not exactly what you want. I told her that these last few months, “allowing” her to wear the binder – I feel like a mom holding her bulimic daughter’s hair back while she pukes. Graphic and unsettling, I know. But it’s true. I am enabling an unsafe choice that my child is making. She just couldn’t see how any of it related to each other or how similar these things are and how the “solutions” these people choose are usually things that make them more unwell. I try to be respectful. I have used her new name since February, when talking both to her and about her. I don’t use male pronouns around her, but neither do I use female ones. I am accomodating in ways that I feel I can be. But the whole thing really has me so exhausted and on the verge of some breaking point of my own, because it’s just too much. At least if she didn’t wear a binder, I wouldn’t be worried 24/7! I told her that the scary thing is that she could already have a blood clot (she’s been wearing it over a year, but I only found out at the end of July) and even if she DOES stop wearing it, she could have an aneurysm 5 years down the road because of it! Nerve damage is irreversible, tissue damage is as well.. I’m sure you know all the risks. I’m babbling now. Maybe because it’s been an emotional night on this front and it FEELS SO GOOD to know that there are people who get it. Thank you.

        Please give your daughter a huge hug (but not from me, because that’s just weird.. some stranger on the internet.. lol). I am so so glad that you guys made it through to the other side of this and I really really hope we will too.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Reading that post about binders that mostly talked about life with boobs….one thing I HATE is fashion for teen girls. Try to find a top that is modest and not low cut. Who designs these clothes? I’m gonna guess it is men. I have never worn low cut tops, and my daughter (now transman) was never interested in wearing them either. But what message does it send when all Junior girls clothing stores sell only low cut tops. So if you’re dysphoric about guys staring at your boobs, you can’t even shop in the Juniors dept. What to do? well, shop in the Dude’s dept of course.

        Liked by 3 people

    • It’s a waiting game. Talk about other things to maintain open dialog. The veneer of trans identity sinks in slowly and deeply. Your words and ideas are just as powerful. The key to keeping them that way is to keep the dialog going, to have a voice that she listens to, even if for now, it’s not this.

      Watch movies together, do things together. Do things bigger than self. Don’t be critical towards her. Build her up in all her other aspects of life. I’d let the binder issue go. Make life more comfortable in all other ways so that the discomfort is starkly different and self created.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Many, many thanks to you, Brie, for your adding courage to your catalog of talents. This is the sort of news that awakens hope in me and makes me wonder if the tide might just be turning. I’m confident that your example and your eloquence will bring gender critical parents (and their kids) out of the woodwork, all over the world. Change happens one person at a time, and you’re the perfect person to take the first steps. Thank you.

    Liked by 11 people

  3. Brie, thank you so much for being so brave and coming out publicly and representing all of us parents who are trying to do the right thing for them by not jumping onto the affirmative bandwagon. We are not supported in our community, but one by one we will be able to convince others that we need to dig deeper into this trend to uncover the reality of it.
    Unfortunately, my daughter is out of the house now and away from my sphere of influence, but I hope your words will help other parents who are dealing with this and this will save their child from a lifetime of medicalization. I look forward to hearing what your daughter has to say.

    Liked by 10 people

  4. Thank you so much!! This is the little bit of hope I needed!! My daughter identifies as agender and wants her breasts removed as soon as she turns 18 which is in 8 months. I’m at a loss as to how to handle the idea of her mutilating her body and removing healthy parts! I don’t even know how to talk to her because it causes me so much stress and pain.

    Liked by 9 people

    • I’m pretty horrified at how easy it is to get mastectomies. Have you looked at after pictures and after care with her? Not everyone has tidy little scars on perfectly sculpted bodies. It’s surgery. Surgery always has risks. Scarring is just a small one and even that small one can be big and painful. I have some giant surgery scars. When the weather changes, like now from summer to fall, they sting and ache and are painful to touch. This is forever.

      That’s what I would address. Scars are forever. Pain, numbness, loss of nerve endings, all forever. Some people don’t scar well. I do. My body makes neat and tidy scars. Some are deep and tight and some are narrow slivers barely seen, but they all hurt.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Brie, thank you for stepping out into the light to become the face of and spokesperson for this wonderful site. This community is fortunate to have 4thwavenow, which has brought us all together and given voice to our very real concerns, and now you as our spokesperson. Your daughter is fortunate as well, to have such a caring and wise mother.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Thank you so much Brie for speaking out and I am so happy that your daughter is able to be herself. You seem so strong and resourceful. Everything you say has gone through my head a million times. I have been so bewildered and frightened of saying or doing the wrong thing while just wanting to do and say what you have done.
    My daughter waited until she was 19 before telling me. She had already attempted suicide so I have been terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing. Now she has left home to study, socially as a man, her large breasts crushed by a binder and is taking testosterone prescribed by Helen Webberley, who has never even met her!
    I don’t know how to go about opening a dialogue and helping her to come to be happy in her own skin. All her new social contacts know her with a man’s name and she really believes this is the way to go. Her mental health is poor and she is easily upset and I’m afraid of tipping her over the edge by rocking her life-raft, which is what I feel the transgender identity is. I feel I am letting her down as a mother by not helping her to find her true self and am so stressed that I am having a breakdown. What I really need to do is find a way to have a discourse (by necessity mainly from a distance) without alienating her from me. She lives alone and has no actual friends to talk to, only online friends.
    She plans to have surgery very soon.
    You talk a lot about protecting children and I wholeheartedly agree. I think the same goes for adults, at least up to the age of 25 when the brain has properly developed and especially when they are mentally unwell. Emotional and psychological support should come first. Medical intervention should be a last resort. How can even an adult decide they must have all these medical procedures when they haven’t finished working out who they are and how they fit in?
    I see I’m not the only one whose child has left home and who feels powerless. Has anyone managed to have a successful dialogue with their child after leaving home?

    Liked by 7 people

    • CMM – I know that by talking about children and adolescents there is an entire generation of young adults being left out. I take your comment to heart! I hope there are others here who have experience with young adult children.

      How can a young person who has never had major surgery understand what a chest covered in scar tissue will feel like? There is so much even a 20yr doesn’t know about themselves, about longterm side effects.

      I hope you’re able to find a way to talk to your child, and that she may hear you.

      Much love

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Brie, this is a wonderful article. So many good points and so beautifully put. I am eagerly anticipating the installment in which your daughter speaks as well.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Brie, thank you so much for this. I’ve seen a lot of your posts for many years on the Always Learning list, so I know you come from a place of love and caring for your daughter. I have to admit I actually began to feel ashamed of not sending my kids to school, thinking that maybe my liberal ways of raising my two girls and not insisting on all those “normal” rules, etc., could have been part of the problem with my daughter stating she’s trans. I thought others in our family would think so too. “Look at how emotionally stunted and messed up those homeschoolers are. See what happens when you keep your kids at home?!” I felt I’d done it all incorrectly to have arrived here. I know our lives aren’t perfect and we don’t have the ideal home or marriage, but I’d become so ashamed of the choices I’d made raising them and I was feeling at fault for all this.
    It’s somewhat comforting to know that a parent that’s probably done a way better job at unschooling and raising their child, is not immune to these issues. Maybe I’m not so guilty after all for letting my kids take more control over their lives. Maybe it’s not all my fault. Maybe it’s deeper than that.
    It’s a new starting point for me, and I thank you for making me see this. I need to come out of the dark shadows where I’ve been hiding, and begin to explore this in the light. For my daughter’s sake.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, Jennifer – Hi 🙂

      I too wondered for a time if how we’d chosen to educate and parent was to blame for my child’s distress. It’s important to look around you, though. This is endemic in schools, too.

      If anything, I think the relationship I’d spent my daughter’s childhood cultivating with her is one of the things that allowed her to hear me. As you well know, unschoolers get a bad rap for being “permissive parents!” But, I think because I’d worked so diligently to “find the yes” all those years, my daughter was more open to my initial “no” regarding puberty suppression.

      Unschooling helped in other tremendous ways – after years of learning to see behavior as communication, I knew that there was more underneath. And too, after years of learning to look at the things that my child found interesting, exciting, enjoyable through her eyes, and not belittle it, I was better able to take the nebulous concept of “gender identity” and explore it more thoroughly *with* her.

      — Maybe I’m not so guilty after all for letting my kids take more control over their lives.— No, mama. You’re not guilty! None of us saw this coming! How could we? I think many of us fully supported transgender advocacy until we started thinking more critically. Who would have ever expected that our (likely, but not always) gay kids would believe there was something innately mismatched about themselves because of the things they like?

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Congratulations bree for using rational arguments and patience to allow your daughter to come to her own conclusions. This should be the norm rather than rushing towards invasive surgery. This industry needs to be stopped in its tracks so our youth can extricate themselves and find their true selves.

    Liked by 7 people

      • The trans trend is just a division of what I’ve started to call the gender industrial complex. Reinforcing gender roles is profitable, not only in the form of trans medical “treatment” but in the marketing of so-called beauty products to women, the extreme gendering of children’s clothes and toys, etc.

        Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the idea of being trans has taken off among a cohort who’ve grown up with more rigid ideas of what girls and boys are supposed to wear or do than the previous generation. I suspect the explosion of identities is a sign of reduced as opposed to greater latitude in gender roles.

        Brie, it’s great to hear both thought and sanity on this topic. Wishing you the best in your role of spokesperson!

        Liked by 8 people

      • It is an industry. I believe this is what is driving much of this trans-mania. There’s the drug companies and the marketing of trans-education and on and on. It’s gross. After reading about the interference in the Election, Russian bots on Twitter and planted trolls on facebook stirring things up I have no doubt that other activists with other causes or companies peddling their products do the same.

        If your child is just run of the mill gay, where’s the profit in that? If a child learns self acceptance that’s a family not spending their money on drugs and treatments. If a school doesn’t teach the trans agenda that’s a school spending tax dollars on education, literature and programs for some other agenda. I believe in capitalism but this is the ugly, dirty side of it.


  10. What a fantastic spokesperson you have found in Brie! And I’m sure a great support for those experiencing this in their own families.
    It is quite horrific what is happening in the UK, and so quickly, around trans issues and I’d love to see all such well thought through, clever, warm and knowledegeable views such as Brie’s disseminated much more widely.
    I’ll do my bit and retweet and put onto Facebook.
    I’m a 63 year old lesbian, actively feminist all my life, and I shudder to think how many of my lesbian and gay friends and lovers would have been sucked into the trans cult had we had the pressures this generation are under.
    I am a great aunt to 5 children – from 2 to 12 years old, and acutely aware how vulnerable they are in the current climate. They already hear the vocabulary of transitioning, and there’s starting to be the socially transitioning kids in their schools…
    Best of luck to you all at 4th Wave Now
    X Stacey

    Liked by 7 people

  11. What a relief to hear some sanity in a world gone stark, raving mad.

    My 18-year-old emotionally-vulnerable daughter also decided two years ago she identified as male. Her school, her therapists, her doctor, and her extended family all fell over themselves to “affirm” her without ever questioning why.

    I would not. Nor would any of her immediate family. Compared to her two brothers, she was so obviously a girl, in her size (5’2″, 93 lbs), her interests, her voice, her movement, her choice of friends, EVERYTHING.

    For this, we were accused of being “dangerous” and “abusive”. Our daughter moved in with my sister, who restricted our contact with her, and would not tell us anything about her.

    And her mental health suffered enormously. Her anxiety and depression exploded. She became a recluse, obsessed with the Internet. She was admitted to the psych ward three times, once forcibly. She became a danger to herself and to others. She flunked out of school. She is addicted to cannabis to help her through the day.

    …And the “gender-specialists” insist we must “affirm” her?

    Make no mistake, these self-appointed “thought leaders” DO NOT GAF ABOUT YOUR CHILD.

    They are self-serving, negligent quacks who are propped up by the trans-activist movement, and who would otherwise be nobodies in their field.

    Thank you, Brie, for speaking out!

    Liked by 14 people

    • That’s what I see in a lot of cases, trans kids becoming consumed. Nothing else matters but being trans. There’s a boy at my kids’ school, who would be described as flamboyant, good grades, involved in theater, chorus, head colorguard – chosen for a leadership camp on a national level for HS colorguards, very nice kid. Now ‘she’ is trans and has dropped out of school, dropped all activites because transitioning is at a ‘difficult stage’. It breaks my heart. It’s like once you’re trans that’s all you ever are; it’s the only important thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Brie and 4thwave — thank you so, so much for making this happen. It is going to be tough on you, Brie, because … as we get louder the efforts to shut us down will get more powerful. There are a lot of people with a lot invested in the current narrative/treatment scenario. To be “out” as your own self removes a big threat (the terror of being doxxed and losing your employment). I admire your guts and the clarity of your writing.

    What are we asking for that is SO awful, anyway?

    We are asking for time, for our kids, that is all. We are asking for a thoughtful process instead of a testosterone prescription after a 30 minute visit. We are asking that our kids be treated as complex individuals rather than tools in a sociopolitical movement. (A movement, might I add, that uses the specter of suicide to drive its goals, and convinces kids that normal puberty is “toxic” and that they must derail it, urgently, or forever be harmed.)

    It is maddening that we, as parents, are being asked to do the work that a responsible psychologist ought to be doing with our kids. Only, in places where gender ID has been conflated with sexual orientation in conversion therapy laws, responsible therapists can no longer do their jobs properly. So now it’s on us — people our kids may or may not be willing to listen to, you know? There is no “neutral expert” in this scenario. There’s only us “transphobic” parents trying to buy time for our kids. Really buy time for thinking — not like the so-called “safe and reversible” blockers are purported to do.

    In the vast majority of cases this has zero to do with inhibiting adult choices or saying that we want trans people to die or that they do not “exist.” People with undeveloped frontal lobes are not fully adult and should not be encouraged to jump to irreversible methods without an exploration, you know? (Lord knows, until the recent innovation of the “dutch protocol” and the informed consent for gender issues, that was the norm. The “real life experience,” the therapy, the gatekeeping, if you will. That was the norm for everybody who was seeking a sex change. Maybe it was too much, but zeroing it all out, as WPATH has done, regardless of the age of the patient?

    This is madness. It’s like these people don’t know anything about child development.

    Thanks for stepping up. I hope for the day when more of us can speak in a non-anonymous way.

    Liked by 13 people

    • Me too, Puzzled. We’ll get there. We have to! How can it be that a 15 yo child in Oregon can’t get a tattoo or go to a tanning salon but they’re allowed to sign off on HRT and surgery without parental consent?

      This will not last. Too many have already been harmed.

      Liked by 8 people

      • Do you know of a website or place where those who desisted from the transgender path have come together to tell their stories? After so much research about transgender, I’m ready and interested to hear from those that have been through it and can share their insight. I’m eager to hear about what they’ve been through, as I feel I’ll never really be able wrap my brain around it all until I can feel what it’s like to be in their shoes.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. This post is a breath of fresh air & it’s clear Brie has looked at multiple sides of this issue and has the experience to be taken seriously by all who read this post.

    One question I have for her and other parents is this: Why are you allowing your kids so much time spent away from family and life itself to be in front of their screens? It seems this craze we’re seeing is in part due to a breakdown in family togetherness and the interruption of tangible living. A common thread from parents of trans-identifying kids/teens is “my kid is in their room looking this stuff up on the computer all day.” Wouldn’t part of the prevention be parents disallowing excessive screen time or at least monitoring better what they’re looking up and for how long? I get that teens and kids are now normalized to digital communication but perhaps it’s time to reconsider the *amount* we all engage in and how obsession with the screen is inadvertently usurping parental responsibility.

    Another point I wish to add is how necessary it is to contemplate how homophobic the trans movement can be. My wife was recently called a “f*cking dyke” by a FtM passing by her & was told “you’re not cool you f*cking dyke.” This was said three times as my wife merely stood outside a Whole Foods eating a power bar. My wife is indeed a gender non-confirming lesbian who literally hasn’t been disparaged for being such since the 90’s.

    We’ve been asked many times if she was going to transition and one person suggested she’s really trans and is too afraid to do it. It doesn’t help that her parents gave my wife a typical boys name so folks really get confused. She has fought to be comfortable in her body and still feels awkward in women’s locker rooms. Yet she knows she wouldn’t truly be herself if she tried by medical/scientism means to be something other than her born-as self.

    And for me as a woman who is particularly attracted to “butch” lesbians, I know I wouldn’t have been interested in her if she had changed her body in such a dramatic fashion. I’m a naturalist and even minor plastic facial surgery or colored contacts sends me to cognitive dissonance land where I can’t rectify falseness as natural. Having my beautiful handsome wife be anything other than what she is today would have been the ultimate turn off. Her broad shoulders, strong jaw, and short hair, combined with her feminine legs and delicate freckles make her more complete, not less. I won’t let any one tell me, including trans folks, that she is a man and I want a man. No. I married my wife for who and how she is and nothing about her ever needs to change.

    Finally one thing I’m a bit tired of from liberals and conservatives is the idea that there’s a unified LGBT movement and that automatically makes us all understand each other and agree. Early in the gay rights movement there was opposition to including transgenderism because they are two totally different things. Since that history has been swept under the rug we now see conservatives blame gays for the trans craze when the LGBT movement has been corporatized by certain elites for years. It’s important to *follow the money* to see just who is funding what and attempt to deduce what these elites will gain. Also liberals who assume all gays are liberal and discount those who may have a conservative bent are also practicing prejudice by immediately discounting those who speak about the importance of morality and family. Just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they automatically support socialistic paradigms. Conservative gays should have a welcome place in this conversation too.

    Thanks Brie for your bravery! You may be helping to save lives.

    Liked by 10 people

    • Mrs. Q,
      I think most people reading this will agree with you: Spending endless hours on the Internet is warping our kids’ minds and destroying the fabric of our families. Unfortunately, keeping teens off the Internet is next to impossible these days, where free wifi is everywhere, and every kid is walking around with a smart phone in their back pocket.

      If we are lucky, and our children are well-adjusted, we can set limits and they will respect them. But most of the kids that fall under the transgender spell have mental health issues that draw them in to the Internet and the multitude of mind-warping, gender-bending sites on offer.

      It’s pretty near impossible to control a rebellious teen. I know. I’ve tried.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Not without uprooting the entire family and going off grid somewhere, I think. Which I actually heard about one mom/kid who did that, with a good result. But most of us cannot manage it.

        If all there were to do was shepherd one troubled kid, constantly monitor/police their in-home and away-from-home activities, it’d be somewhat simpler. But you’ve got heavy work responsibilities, other kid(s) with issues, and/or health issues yourself, and or spouse health issues (or other types of relationship stressors) — everyone’s needs have to be weighed. Sometimes the parental bandwidth just gives out. You can do some things to limit your kid’s internet time but short of the move to a farm and go off grid plan, a complete fix for this problem is nearly impossible. That sounds like a cop-out, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…..

        I read a disturbing article last week, in fact, about how some of the people who crafted the interactive portions of social media software of various types have completely unhooked themselves and their children, realizing that they’ve created a monster and that our brains are all being rewired as we seek the constant hits of dopamine that meaningless quick interactions on-line provide.

        What a world, what a world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for responding. Do you think part of the problem is parents being too busy to keep up w/ what their kids are doing? And what about installing ethics and moral structure into childrearing? For example I notice kids raised in 2 parent homes where one parent is home more and there is a faith based moral consciousness – have fewer of these kinds of problems. I have no study to refer to, just what I’ve noticed in my very large extended family.


      • Not true for us – 2 parent home, loving marriage, very active in our faith, do activities together as a family, daughter is a great student, very involved with lots of extracurricular activities and leadership roles, currently 16 years old and it still happened to her around 14 y.o.! I gave her this original post to read and hopefully it will have an impact on her! We will be discussing it tomorrow!
        Thanks everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mis qI had those things. Intech two parent family, long marriage, strong moral values, in fact my kids went to a parochial school, regular churchgoers, liberal denomination for anybody who gets freaked out by that. Kid went on service trips. That was all good stuff. But this kid has mental health issues, this kid is an adoptee, this kid has so much bad baggage about herself that she has not been willing to work through in therapy or any other way.

        I wish there was someway to make a kid magically come out right. Make the kid be OK. I don’t think any parent has yet discovered this. Kids have free will just like everybody, and they’re free to make destructive choices. I still have hope for mine.


      • I honestly don’t think parents can do that much to ensure their child doesn’t come out as trans, other than getting them into therapy for ADHD/autism/depression/anorexia as soon as the parents notice it, and maybe not even then. I don’t think banning them from the computer will do much, because there’s internet at school, and the library, and their friend’s houses, and other places you can’t control. And for that matter, real life friends are often as much, if not more of an influence than the internet.

        Liked by 4 people

    • Mrs. Q: You just have no idea how fast this happens if you don’t live through it. We have an amazingly close and wonderful family. Yes, we instill quite a bit of ‘ethics and moral structure’ and have hard-working, kind, and loving children. We also set internet rules, limits, block certain sites, have passwords, monitor usage and etc. We have lots of large and small talks with our kids and they open up to us often, but we can’t know everything going through their heads every minute. Middle school and teen years are difficult for many kids as they’ve always been – the difference is that in a matter of weeks (or a couple months), a kid who feels different or is going through some social challenges (or thinks they might be gay and who even tell their parents who say – ‘thank you for telling us! we’re absolutely fine with that and we love you so much’) can spend just a few minutes a day watching super funny Miles McKenna on youtube and think they’ve found the answer to their problems. A young teen dealing with intense emotions of self-hatred sees this as a life preserver and can very quickly become fully convinced that they are trans and even start re-writing their own history to make the trans story fit them. This is how it happened for us. So yes, it can and does happen to good and moral families with internet rules.
      (She has desisted and we are forever grateful to 4thwavenow and this community.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks ThinkandBlink for responding and I agree with you, that sometimes it just takes a few viewings of something to convince a vulnerable teen/kid that they have found some answer to their “problem.” It’s good some kids have parents like you to help them develop beyond the this current trend.


  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really hope that this is a watershed moment in turning the tide against peak trans. I wish that I could push my daughter harder to interrogate her conclusion that her angst about puberty and growing up means that she is a boy but her self-loathing is so intense that anything that has a hint of criticism sends her into a suicidal spiral (she knows I am skeptical and we have conversations around the edges — e.g. should insurance cover transition – like you I agree that it should if it is of clear benefit, but I am wondering whether a model of passing makes sense when the number of trans identifying people is growing and thus the frame should be expanding ideas of gender rather than having more than one percent of the population be lifetime medical patients for appearance reasons). I am definitely not open to medical interventions without that exploration and so in my heart I know that if I can’t get there sooner, I will pursue that road when she is getting closer to 18 and wanting help pursuing medical interventions (she is 14 now). But having a face that is loving and supportive and inclusive of all gender non-conforming children is a tremendous asset — I just can’t thank you enough Brie and I am so glad that you were able to help your own daughter more successfully than I have been able to do!

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Pingback: Reading today: A mother of a teenage trans desister goes public – The Sparrows and the Nightingales

  16. Thank you, Brie, for this beautifully-written account on how your daughter found herself attracted to this identity and how she wisely turned away.

    You were fortunate that she was young and that you were still influential.

    One cannot over-estimate the power of the online world in forming this identity. It can be absolutely brain-warping, the sites that teens are on. Most parents haven’t a clue. These online sites can completely infiltrate and overwhelm a young person. Extreme hostility might be a parent’s first clue that something is terribly wrong.

    And then there are the peers at school, they can be highly influential. Some of them are SJW allies. What do they get from the affirmation they provide your child? I do not know.

    Parents on this site have something in common, they are trying to keep their kids from falling over the trans cliff. Those of us with older teens or young adults will find the going difficult.

    There are many different types of kids that get caught in the trans stream. Brie mentions that her daughter sits at the end of a bell-curve’s tail of female behavior. I think one aspect of this that does not get mentioned are the ideals and models we supply our children. I will confess to being the type of mom who didn’t have Barbie dolls in the house. We explored science and nature with our children and they adopted those interests. We also had typical girl toys in the house and my daughter loved her dolls, playing house, and having tea parties.
    I guess what I am saying is that we have an innate temperament but much of our personality develops in response to environment.

    So, we had a daughter who was not gender-atypical, and she got caught up with this later in her teen years.
    Many of these kids have significant mental health problems. Did any of these mental health problems develop because of exposure to some mind-bending internet sites? A possibility?
    Some of these kids are exceptionally bright, highly-sensitive, some kids sucked in are on the autism spectrum. Perhaps they are just kids seeking a strong identity?

    Sexuality? Many of the teen girls considering the trans world are first declaring lesbian, then genderqueer, then trans. This fluidity can all happen very quickly–downstream they go.

    Dysphoria. Some of us have the experience of seeing no gender dysphoria in our child. It is more like Sudden-Onset-New-Identity.

    Again, thank you to 4thWave and Brave Brie for sharing your story and being our spokesperson.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Excellent. I agree with many of your points. It seems that are many complex reasons for these kids taking on a trans-identity. And that it is the REASONS that need to be explored in order to figure out how to accept their biological realities. Why or why can’t therapists see that the ask-no-questions-affirmative-care model is unsound, ridiculous, and dangerous? Have they no critical thinking skills? Are they blind to the obvious?


      • Right? Any other mental health disorder there’s questions any professional would be negligent if they didn’t ask.

        I think I’m depressed – if you think so then it must be true. Here’s a prescription for prozac, have a nice day. I think I have severe anxiety – well I’m not going to disagree! Your family thinks you should find the root of your anxiety? What a bunch of unsupportive jerks! Here, have some Xanax. But this is the recommended course of action for self diagnosing Children. It’s crazy!


      • — “Your family thinks you should find the root of your anxiety? What a bunch of unsupportive jerks! Here, have some Xanax. ”
        EXACTLY. Though it does happen this way too when it comes to just about any Rx these days. I went in asking for a thyroid test as research indicated I could be hypo. My tests came back “normal” (he never said I was .1 away from the magic “hypo” number) and he offered me Prozac instead. He said I could quit anytime and there would be no withdrawal. Right. I said no thanks… So he shrugged and offered me a Rx Multi-Vitamin instead. WOW. Anything to make a dollar.


  17. Really interesting angle on your daughter having Type 1 diabetes and her reaction to peers voluntarily becoming life-long medical patients. I have often wondered what people with physical disabilities think of the trans movement, what those individuals think about voluntarily removing functional body parts. None of our bodies will ever be perfect, medically or aesthetically. I’m sure your daughter had to make peace with some of the limitations of her body due to diabetes, and for her there is no other option. However, we do not encourage trans kids to try to make peace with their bodies, simply because there is an option to change.

    Liked by 5 people

    • To add to that, it seems the “cure” here has created the disease. That is, would people identifying as trans exist if cross-sex hormones and surgery did not exist? Maybe a very few, but not to the extent we see today. The existence of Ritalin vastly increased diagnoses of ADHD. Likewise, the existence of treatments for trans helps to create the surge in appearance.

      Liked by 6 people

      • I don’t think we can compare the advent of Ritalin to hormone blockers or transitioning. Ritalin is a short acting drug that is one of the most researched medications around, and ADHD is also the most well researched and well documented disorders in the world. Transgender research that questions the legitimacy of gender is deemed transphobic, and there is a big push in academia, the medical community and research facilities to stop all such research. What little we do know about hormone blockers and hormonal supplements is through research done on adults with various hormonal disorders. We have very limited research on hormone blockers and cross sex hormones, and almost all of the research indicates long term side effects. This doesn’t stop parents from allowing or even placing their children on blockers or hormones.

        The irony here is that people tend to view ADHD as a made up disorder despite extensive research, but are more than willing to believe in boy/girl brains. Parents are hesitant to get their kids tested for ADHD and even more hesitant to put kids on meds even though medication for ADHD is well tested and is considerably safe. Many parents now though will put their child on hormones or blockers that essentially castrate their child. I think that it’s unfair for those of us with ADHD, a well researched, diagnosable disorder, to compare the treatment with Ritalin to treatment with blockers and hormones. One is safe and well researched world wide, the other has almost no research.

        However, I do think we can draw comparisons in diagnostic processes. Like ADHD, transgender-ism, can be diagnosed and treated by a GP, despite the fact that a patient should be referred to a specialist for diagnostics. Also similar is the fact that ADHD is the first diagnosis given to a child displaying ADHD traits and Transgender is the first diagnosis given to someone displaying gender non-conforming or gender dysphoric traits. When in reality these traits may be symptoms of other problems like autism, bipolar, depression, body disphoria, or any number of mental health issues. Responsible GPs need to refer to specialists rather try and diagnose and treat complex developmental or psychiatric based problems.

        Specialists need to be more astute in their diagnostic practices and do more to really make sure they are getting the full picture. Having been diagnosed as an adult, I was required to go through extensive therapy and testing before I could get medication for ADHD. It’s insane to me that it would have been easier for me to get cross sex hormones than Ritalin. I get that Ritalin is higher risk for misuse than estrogen or testosterone, but it is also well researched and has far less significant side effects than hormones. My Ritalin won’t make me infertile or make me dependent on medication for my entire life. It won’t cause irreversible changes to my body, and it isn’t something I HAVE to take for the rest of my life (even though I may choose to). We have a serious issue when an extensively researched, diagnosable, and treatable disorder is viewed as a “hallmark” disorder that doesn’t need medical intervention, while an under researched, and over diagnosed “condition” is unnecessarily treated with life altering medications and procedures.


    • There is a very good TED talk by a man born with a severe facial deformity. It’s called ‘Own Your Face’ by Robert Hodge. He’d had multiple surgeries to improve function, and as a young man he decided, this what I am. I’m never going to be what society deems attractive no matter how many surgeries I have, I need to take control of how I feel instead of trying to make other people feel comfortable about my disfigurement. This is a person who could make a very strong case for being ‘born wrong’ and chose not to. I always think about it when I hear kids say they’re born wrong and parents fervently agreeing.


      • I don’t think anybody should feel they are “born wrong.” I was born with a genetic disorder; it’s not “wrong,” it’s just who I am. People who are born with or acquire disabilities are not “wrong,” they just have a particular situation and limitations they must deal with. In the same way immigration advocates say “no person can be illegal,” I would say, “no body can be wrong.” It is the world’s extremely narrow views of gender stereotyping that are wrong, not the bodies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Kristina, it’s gross to think that encouraging a kid to think they were born wrong or that their body is wrong and in need of medical correction is the ‘right’ course of action. No other mental disorders are recommended similar treatment. Can you imagine? Yyou have bipolar disorder, or autism, or down’s syndrome or any number of issues children may be unfortunate enough to have. Mommy, I was born wrong. If you think so, then yes you were. Ugh!


  18. Thank you so much for writing this, Brie. I am hoping that my 16 year old daughter will be receptive to reading it and will think about it. My husband and I see it all so clearly, but she does not and there aren’t many people I can talk to about it.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. Thank you for reaffirming everything that I have been doing in the three years, since my daughter presented us with the idea that she is trans.

    My unschooled daughter is now 16, emotionally sturdy, grounded, and independent, socially engaged, and has no known medical issues. Before puberty, she showed few — if any — signs of “non-conforming” behaviors. But she did grow up with an older brother, and spent a lot of time as a child with him and his male friends, and made it a point of honor not to be outdone by them in anything. And she’s witnessed our family going through loss of business, tremendous financial hardship, and possible loss of our home, all factors which I believe test her emotional fortitude.

    I have done everything you have: questioned, reasoned, challenged, endlessly discussed. Fortunately, my daughter is open to conversation. About a year ago, on the verge of asking her various instructors (dance, theater, etc) to refer to her as “he”, I rebelled. I told her that since I will not refer to her as “he”, I cannot ask others to do so. Most of her friends, and some instructors, refer to her as “he” at her own request, and that makes for some awkward conversations between me and them, but oh well…

    Like you, I believe that everything I am doing is supporting my daughter. I have taken her to what I believed were thoughtful professionals, but they would not ask her questions I wanted to ask, and they told me I should not either. Well, I will keep questioning, challenging and reasoning. My daughter is older than yours, and I feel a little like my time is running out, but I hope that our conversations will stay with her, and seep into her mind like “salt into soup”, so that when she arrives at the portal of 18, I will not have to fear for the decisions she might make.
    I hope.

    Liked by 7 people

  20. Brie, thank you for going public. I think that by going public we remove one of the key components of the trans activists lobbying cry that parents are all homophobic and abusive. I myself have been threatened by the girls that my daughter hangs with online. Then when we look for help we are told that the only course of action is affirmation. I’m still at times filled with rage that the child I raised to be a critical thinking human has been convinced that all this is normal and I am the one with the problem

    Liked by 8 people

    • I could have written this, Kellogmom. It is crazy to me that I am the ONLY person in this WHOLE world who only has her best interests in mind, who loves her the most and am most invested in both her happiness and her health, and I am the one person that she pushes against and won’t listen to and think that I am her enemy and that I just don’t get it. It is SO hard, isn’t it?

      And like you said, everyone that I have spoken with so far (nurses, doctors, ER doctors, crisis workers, therapists, teachers.. they have all immediately affirmed this and have encouraged me – with veiled contempt- to do so as well.

      Yep, rage. Every time I see my daughter and I can see she’s wearing her binder, I feel rage. Rage that I couldn’t protect her against hating herself. Rage against the industry supporting this, rage at the websites they binge on, the people who mail free binders to children who may “live in unsupportive houseolds”.. Just rage. Hot, white, blinding rage. (I do not act ragefully towards my child, but it’s always there, simmering under the surface.) I hear you, loud and clear.

      Liked by 7 people

      • I am also filled with rage toward all of the institutions that have failed us, and in many cases, actively promoted this dangerous crap. You’re not alone.

        Liked by 4 people

  21. Big thanks to you and your daughter for sharing your story. It’s great to hear the hope it’s given other parents in your position. It’s also an inspiration to therapists like myself afraid that we will be drummed out of our profession for practicing conversion therapy if we explore why our patients want to transition.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I imagine that it’s very hard for people in your profession to go against the grain right now. Any thoughts on where and how we can find therapists who are gender skeptical and open to exploring other factors that may be influencing our kids’ choices?

      Liked by 2 people

  22. It seems to me, after reading comments about daughters who have swallowed the trans kool aid, that these daughters need to have social outlets that are gender critical, ie, a new set of social media sources.

    One mother explained that their daughters are focusing more on peers than parents and this leads me to think that these young daughters need to be pointed away from transactivist social media and onto radical feminist gender critical social media.

    We radfems have been out on social media writing and making videos for years and this is exactly where these daughters have to be. This, in my view, is the prime purpose of the gender critical blogs, youtube channels, reddit, tumblr, etc.

    Point your daughters to our sites. Let them do the rest.

    Liked by 3 people

    • House Mouse (that’s a great name!), thanks for your comment. I do agree with you that our daughters, especially the lesbians, definitely need other influences, and sources, of inspiration and thought. I have found the “radfem” community to have produced a great deal of interesting and provocative content on the transgender issue, and have learned a lot.

      But… as a Christian (and not even a conservative one) I am entirely unwelcome in the radfem online space. The prevailing idea in that community seems to be that “patriarchal” religions such as Christianity are not consistent with radfem thought, and the amount of derision and ill-will directed towards Christians, specifically, really turns me off. Why Christians aren’t allowed in that space, I haven’t really investigated, but I do know that it is something that keeps me from participating or urging my daughter to participate.

      I know that this issue isn’t the main point of this comment thread, but your post gave me the chance to comment on something I’ve been observing for a long time. I guess there must be some reason it “has” to be that way, but it’s just really too bad from my perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Worriedmom, my wife has joined Hands Across the Aisle, an organization which includes radfems, lesbians, traditional Catholic and Eastern Orthodox women, etc — women from across the entire religious and political spectrum who share concerns about gender identity ideology and its accompanying legislation. Some folks are indeed putting aside their differences to fight against the current gender narrative. We need more of that.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Thank you worriedmom and davek699 for this. Although I realize it’s tangential to the original post, you’ve brought up a struggle I’ve had for some time. I read 4th Wave Now (blog and Twitter) faithfully, and also the gender critical sites on Reddit. I too am a Christian, and perhaps lean more to the conservative side. Although civility is the rule here, that’s not always the case on other sites where I fear to participate because of the sometimes rabid anti-Christian bias of many of the contributors. This frustrates me no end, because there is much we have in common and could fight for TOGETHER. Instead I often feel like part of a circular firing squad.

        For this reason, I’m thrilled to hear of the existence of Hands Across the Aisle, and frankly shocked that I’ve never heard of it before. This organization is so needed, and exactly what I was hoping would exist “someday.” Dear 4th Wave Now, I realize you already have a growing Blogroll list, but is there any chance you could add Hands Across the Aisle to it?

        Now, back to the main post — Brie, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for having the strength and fortitude to put yourself out there publicly. We parents who have to remain in the shadows need your face and your voice so much.


  23. Just want to make a quick response to the idea that only rightwing Christians who hate gay people are anti-trans. I am a classic liberal atheist, and what I find the most troubling about the trans movement is the ignoring of so much science: that bodies can be subject to a successful “sex change” (cells go on containing XX or XY chromosomes), the studies showing MTTs having “woman brains” were done on natal men who’d been taking estrogen for years, the kids that are currently claiming to be T – especially the girls – tend to be of an age/sex where social contagion is most likely to strike (relative to other demographics), they ignore or vilify de-transitioners,that 80+ percent of children who flirt with gender flipping grow up to not be trans (and we currently can’t predict which small percent will persist in a trans identity). Another thing is the use of extremely rare intersex people as a shield for trans activists. “Intersex” is an umbrella term for people with deformities of the genitals that make identifying the sex by sight alone difficult (these days, DNA tests sort that out) or other medical conditions that mess with the secondary sex characteristics. Gynecomastia could easily have made the ancients believe in “hermaphrodites”. In truth, no humans exist that have both male and female organs producing viable eggs and sperm in one body. In addition, most people with genital birth defects also have other birth defects and usually mental handicaps as well. I haven’t heard of any trans activist who actually has an intersex condition.

    Also, this isn’t exactly about science, but I am really peeved about adults changing birth certificates which creates false history that a person grew up as a girl who did not (or a boy). The procedure for name change is a viable alternative for making someone’s legal identity connect from John Doe baby boy to Jane Roe adult transwoman without replacing accurate historic documents with fictitious historic documents. (maybe not so quick…)

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Thank you so much, Brie, for sharing your important insights. I can’t begin to tell tell you how incredibly grateful I am that we parents have a fierce, intelligent, and brave woman to speak out publicly on our behalf. You could have easily put those awful two years of your life behind you, but instead you chose to help parents like me. I can’t tell you how much I respect and appreciate what you have done.

    As far as your writing…wow! This is an amazing piece — so eloquent and insightful. I had to read it twice to absorb it all properly. You are to be congratulated on what you have done with your daughter and all that you have shared with us. I can’t wait to hear your daughter’s perspective. So appreciative she is willing to speak out as well. Thank you both!

    To add another point to the conversation..

    It seems that in many cases, such as your daughter’s, she mistook her gender nonconformity for a sign that she is transgender. But in other cases, such as my daughter’s, there were NO signs of gender nonconformity, She had no interests that were typically male, never appeared masculine in any way, and her childhood was filled with her choosing to appear in a very traditionally feminine way.

    So I view the causes of her mistaken trans identity very differently. For one, she is intellectually very gifted, but also on the autism spectrum. She always knew she was different. And with adolescence, the social challenges of being a girl became more pronounced. So while adolescence brought no signs of body dysmorphia (no hiding of breasts, no crying about periods), it did bring more social challenges. And that is when her trans identity began at the age of 13.

    It has been three years now, and I see that not only does she cling very tightly to her title as a trans man, but has seemed to internalize the trans “talking points” and has completely rewritten her childhood in a way that conforms with her trans identity. She is begging us for testosterone and has plans to leave home when she is legally able so she can begin her medical transition without us, She is convinced that being a man will solve all of her problems.

    I want to do anything and everything I can to help her see the truth. But I don’t know what that is…Any attempts to engage in conversation about the dangers of hormones or detransition stories are met with skepticism. And of course it doesn’t help that anything I say can easily be rebutted by deference to reputable medical and psychological associations.

    Because I feel that her trans identity comes from a very different place than girls like your daughter, I puzzle over the best approach to help her accept the biological reality of her female body. To me, it is not because she doesn’t fit society’s stereotype of a woman, but because of her extreme discomfort with herself as a person. I feel that her trans identity is a way of protecting herself from being who she really is…that now she has a reason for being different….that now she belongs somewhere in the world. So to confront this — something core to her being — seems nearly impossible. Her autistic way of thinking and interpreting makes this even more challenging.

    I fear that only time will allow her to see the truth…and then it will be too late. Any insights of advice you might offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you again, Brie. Please know that I am profoundly grateful to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I could have written your post. Our daughter’s lives seem to have run parallel and it feels impossible to figure this out, or to figure out any way to help them get through (and beyond) this process. (Without causing them to hate us in the meantime.) Even your username.. I often think of this as my wanting her to find her way back to herself. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Are you on Twitter? I’m on with the same name (FightingToGetHerBack). You could send me a private message and maybe we can figure this out together…or at least cry about it together!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi FightingToGetHerBack, I don’t understand why experts in the autism community are not providing guidance to parents on ways to help their children with ASD to understand and better cope with their gender identity feelings. It could be “insistent, consistent, and persistent” in these youth, but that does not mean it will last a lifetime. Even I know that children and adults on the spectrum will take a special interest for a period of time, they want to almost be that special interest….but then after a while they’ll move on to something else. I’m sure you’ve tried all kinds of things to help her zero in on other interests, but if the ASD community could help these youth with alternative explanations for their feelings, it could save a lot of regret later.

      It has been extremely frustrating to learn the hard way how a young person’s idea gets affirmed and never questioned. Based on my experience with my own daughter, she fully expected counseling, to have to spend time with a therapist sorting through the pros/cons. I know that she wasn’t sure, just that “it made sense” to her brain. Well, she was cheerleaded by the college counselor and staff of the diversity center, and impulsively went to the informed consent gender clinic at age 18, successfully receiving a prescription for testosterone on only her second trip to that clinic. After trying to recover from my shock that this is now the way “trans” is treated and trying to connect the dots, I think she may have ADD.

      Turns out, comparing notes with many other parents, quite a few of these “trans” youth have or probably have ADD/ADHD. Like ASD, they can have a hard time with friendships and become absolutely desperate to find a way to fit in. That clinics are not properly staffed with experts who can require enough time to spot mental health red flags has become a true medical negligence and medical ethics catastrophe. There will be regrets. I do not think informed consent gender clinics should be allowed to be the start for anyone, they should restrict themselves to those who have already gone through some amount of “gatekeeping” to avoid the huge backlash that is building up due to “affirmative” care and informed consent regrets.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Wow. I am so sorry to hear this – about her getting testosterone on her second visit there. So, I know they say that at 18, you’re a legal adult, you make your own medical decisions, etc.

        BUT.. I am a 40 year old woman. I am hoping that if I went to my doctor and told her I wanted to be put on hormones that would cause irreversible damage to my body, that she would have the common sense and decency to want to help me to figure out if that is what I really want. And I’m 40! At 18… oh man, you think you know. You do. You think you know that you will always feel this way. How many of us are living the lives we thought we would be when we were 18? How many of us are THE SAME PEOPLE we were when we were 18?!

        A doctor’s oath is first, do no harm. I don’t know how they can sleep at night. Do they really think they are doing right by these kids? I am hoping that all of us here are on the road to something better, that our daughters will find their way back to themselves. It’s excruciating to watch.

        Liked by 6 people

      • Nervous Wreck, you said: “If the ASD community could help these youth with alternative explanations for their feelings, it could save a lot of regret later.” That is it in a nutshell. Yet from my non-scientific sampling of the ASD community, most just want to affirm and not deny these kids becoming their authentic selves just because of their autism.


      • I suspect that autism not being screened for or discussed is another part of trans being treated as ‘super gay’. Would you suggest that a gay autistic person is gay because of their autism? Well, no, and if you did, people would be offended. So you wouldn’t suggest that to a trans autistic person either, since it’s basically the same thing, right? But it’s not the same thing and I don’t think a lot of these clinicians fully realize that.


    • The most effective argument I’ve made so far was one she couldn’t win with logic. My daughter is also on the spectrum and none of my emotional pleas work. I explained the laws behind informed consent and malpractice. I told her that I wouldn’t sign for experimental treatment and then had the endocrinologist back me up that treatment in children is indeed experimental at this time. That got through to her when nothing else did. Then the show Jazz with the surgery problem aired and my position was solidified.


  25. Pingback: Man! I Feel Like a Something |

  26. Brie, you sound a lot like my mother in terms of how you raised your daughter. Had I grown up now and not in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, I may well have fallen into the trap of identifying as male. I was well into my teens by the time I learned the meaning of the term transgender and I still contemplated what that might mean for me. I have never been ‘girly’ and would refuse to wear dresses as a child. In my early 20s my dysphoria transformed into an eating disorder, but after going through treatment (about 4 years), I no longer question my gender or self. I am glad that your daughter has found that self acceptance with your love and support and I hope that more parents can learn to approach these situations as you have done: with openness, curiosity, and without medicalizing the process of growing up. It’s hard to grow up, especially when you do not fit neatly into a stereotyped societal role. Your daughter is very lucky to have a mom like you!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Wow…what a read! We are going through a deeply troubled time here in the UK, and your story is so similar!! I read it last night, and it dawned on me that I was not 100% clued up on who exactly my daughter follows on Instagram. I looked and asked to follow the same people…and I was shocked! To think she has been fed this rubbish / brainwashed by this nonsense for months scares me silly! Even I, as an adult found it disturbing! I have demanded it all be removed – she is aged just 13. She refuses to use her birth name, has starved herself to prevent puberty, is totally adamant that she is male and is just waiting till she is 18…over my dead body! I just don’t know what I can do next, I don’t sleep at night for total worry and it has a massive affect on a marriage! It is evil, it worms its way in and takes such a grip I don’t know how to remove it from our lives…I need to keep reading 4th wave now, its the only place that anyone understands me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • caring mom…..” it worms its way in and takes such a grip” is so true. I’m glad for you that you have time since your daughter is still young. See the post that mentions a forum group, in case you haven’t seen that yet.


  28. I typed in the wrong email

    Thanks Brie,

    We need people like you! Give me three years and my kid will no longer be a minor and I’ll join you publicly. I have so much to say about this but I don’t want to go public yet. My daughter still thinks she’s going to transition, but she’s agreed with me that it’s safer to wait until she’s 18. I don’t want her to, but our agreement is working for now. She knows even though I don’t want her to change her body that it’s because I am concerned about her health, long term, and that when I have to sign an informed consent form then it’s ultimately my decision. Whether she transitions or not, I will stand by the decision to wait. I do accept that the choice becomes hers when she’s grown and I will have to take myself out of the choice then. Until then, I’ve chosen to homeschool and it’s going well. Our relationship has improved through this process but it’s been hard. There have been fights, hospital visits, counseling (general, I looked hard for treatment for depression and mental health vs. gender) I think it’s made us closer though, and while I don’t think she needs to transition she does know that she’s unconditionally loved. I don’t keep her from thinking about it, I can’t do that, but she knows that I’m not going to go for hormones or surgery. It’s a trade off, and hopefully she’ll become happy with her body as she gets older. I say I don’t think I’ll ever want you to do it, but I know it’s your choice once you are 18 and I’m still going to love you then too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder if some of these youth would be helped by seeing what real suffering is. Could they volunteer in the hospital, the children’s wards? I recall once hearing a little boy with cerebral palsy exclaiming “I love my body” and I know therapists work with them to that aspect. Youth struggling to live, with something so visceral and unchangeable. I was so surprised to see how positive they were, such little fighters.


  29. My daughter just turned 18, looking at colleges. She came out at 16 to us, 15 at school. Bright, few friends, and I suspect is somewhere on the ASD. Where we live, she can go to a womens health clinic and get hormones with simply informed consent. This shocks me. I was hoping she would have resisted by now, as her friend who declared she was a male,at the same time time did desist. Really fearing she will get on T as soon as she is in college

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: A teen desister tells her story | 4thWaveNow

  31. My son came out to me as a transgendered woman over the weekend. He says that he read an article about “atypical gender dysphoria” on Reddit and identified with it. I read the article which really simply describes depression and the attributes of a highly sensitve person. He began having gender dysphoria two months ago and in those 8 weeks he has self-diagnosed as trans and decided he wants to move forward with hormone therapy. He turned 18-yrs old today and because he is now an adult this can all get fast-tracked medically. He could start medically transitioning within a month.

    I spent the day looking for a therapist and fell down the rabbit hole that is gender identity counselors. I was informed that they practice a model of “informed consent.” I am really looking for an approach that is more holistic. Why throw everything out the window and create “new” for the sake of “new?” Why not look at all the bits and pieces and find out what is really authentic and not just another gender cultural contrivance? Why is counseling a rubber stamp for medical transition? Why are hormones/transitioning the only intervention for dysphoria? Why can’t we help him love the body he’s in and be the best fem-male he can be? Just for the record, the only really feminine thing about him is that he grew his hair long a few years ago which I fully supported. His interests and mannerisms are decidedly masculine, whatever that means. He never felt this dysphoria growing up. It is a recent phenomenon and has been fueled by transition videos promising him that he will feel so much better. It’s almost like these kids were given a year’s fre e hormone therapy if they made marketing videos depicting the joys of transitioning. He quotes these videos.

    Somebody help here. I’m lost and I don’t know what to do. I can’t find a therapist who will help him take a critical look at his feelings and their subsequent causes. I’m all about exploration and discovering who you are. I fully support that. My 18-yr old has never been in a relationship. Never kissed anyone. Never held hands. Yet, he’s willing to throw all of those experiences away in this body and create a whole new one. He’s about to make a huge life decision and he can’t even decide on a college major.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I am not a parent of a dysphoric child like all of you, but a lesbian who was recently accused of transphobia and barred from speaking at an event. Although I have naturally worked with transpeople before, this spurred me to take a deeper interest which interestingly enough brought me very close to my field, which is environmental chemicals that are endocrine disruptors. Glyphosate and other pesticides have been well demonstrated to lead to oestrogen imbalance, as do many PCB’s. I just thought I should mention it for the many of you who are blaming the internet that there may be other environmental causes for the wave of gender instability we are seeing currently, and that yes, seeking a scientific solution to a social problem is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. You can google “Berlaymont Declaration” if you want to find out more. I will be writing an in-depth article in the New Year, focusing in particular on the links between pharmaceutical companies and some transgender activists (the movement is not monolithic) which I can circulate then. But if you want to do something in the short term, feed your children as many organic foods as possible, avoiding in particular rbst hormones in meat and milk, and reduce your use of plastic to the minimum.


  33. By omission of critical information, you have misrepresented my position. Medical treatment is not indicated for children whose dysphoria is sub-clinical (i.e. do not experience distress sufficient to meet the definition thereof.) The goal of any affirming therapist should be the minimum level of intervention necessary to alleviate distress: it says so right there in the the SOC 7. But, for youth who are insistent, consistent, and persistent in their identity while meeting the criteria for distress, the “Dutch Protocol” has worked well, even according to Ken Zucker (who has stated he supports it).

    (P.S. If you had brought your daughter to Zucker, he’s have instructed you to make her wear dresses and play with dolls; he’s not particularly progressive with gender roles).

    You also mis-state the findings of sociological research: people who are visibly transgender (i.e. non-passing) experience greater levels of violence and discrimination, and their mental health suffers accordingly. Later transitions also mean greater levels of medical intervention down the line to relieve gender dysphoria (such as facial surgery).

    Which brings me to my second point regarding passing and medical intervention: even if you “fixed society”, it would do little to address individual gender dysphoria (e.g. it doesn’t matter if you’re accepted if you cannot bear to look in a mirror and you remain altogether uncomfortable with your body).

    To speak plainly, the goal is the best feasible outcome for the child. You admit that some need to transition. The potential of harm by delaying must be weighed against the potential harm of regret down the line. For the vast majority of transgender people studied, surgical regret (in part because of gatekeeping) remains between 1-4%. For people not undergoing surgery (i.e. more reversible) the rate runs closer to 5-6%. Of this 5-6% many of them regret it for reasons related to social alienation and familial rejection.


    • If “medical treatment is not indicated for children whose dysphoria is sub-clinical” why are medical options being offered to non-binary kids, some of whom experience zero dysphoria, by doctors such as Johanna Olson-Kennedy ( (Olson-Kennedy also recently published a study reporting on cross-sex hormones administered to kids as young as 12, some of whom identified as “gender queer” and “other”:

      The answer, I suppose, rests in the push to depathologize trans identities, which in turn paves the way for on-demand hormonal and surgical interventions regardless of dysphoria.

      The “gender affirmative” clinicians you publicly support in your writings (most notably in the US) advocate for people, teens included, to choose from a smorgasbord of surgical and hormonal interventions in the name of achieving their “authentic” presentation. That’s commodifying identity. It’s shallow and predatory, not to mention potentially harmful to an individual’s physical and mental health.

      Ms. Tannehill, you transitioned AFTER your body had sexually matured ( You were able to contribute living sperm to the creation of your own biological children. Your penis was allowed to grow to its full adult size. Your body, unaltered, was able to learn about its potential for sexual pleasure without having to work around atrophied and/or prepubescent parts.

      Don’t young people deserve to grow into their sexed bodies, their mature adult brains AND their sexuality before making irreversible changes to parts of their bodies they haven’t even fully come to know?

      I will not ignore the lack of any long-term data looking at outcomes for youth transition in general and those with rapid-onset dysphoria in particular. The recent rise in trans-identifying youth is especially concerning given that some of the young women I’ve spoken to, have eventually come to see themselves as lesbians, instead of as boys.

      It is already known that many lesbians are “late-bloomers,” fully recognizing and accepting their sexuality YEARS after their male and heterosexual peers (and years after medical transition has commenced for many same-sex attracted trans boys): “Women self-identified as nonheterosexual when they were almost 3 years older than the men (age 17.6 vs. 14.8) and reported their first same-sex relationship when they were 1.4 years older than men (19.1 vs.17.7)” (

      We agree that “the goal is the best feasible outcome for the child.” However, as the mother of a teen already dependent on specialized medicine and pharmaceutical support, I strongly disagree that treating a psychological distress so deep that even with a supportive environment, “it doesn’t matter if you’re accepted if you cannot bear to look in a mirror and you remain altogether uncomfortable with your body” with HRT and/or surgery as anything other than a last resort, is negligent.

      What youth need are qualified professionals who will take the time to help them learn to live as comfortably as possible in their unaltered, healthy bodies. As we know, EVERY study (12 total) that has looked at childhood and adolescent dysphoria has found that the majority of kids will desist:

      Finally, with respect Ms. Tannehill, I suggest that as someone who transitioned well into adulthood, your expertise and personal knowledge regarding the identity struggles of (in particular) teenage girls is necessarily quite limited.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Regarding the rate of “regret,” you’re again using data that comes from people who were able to reach adulthood before embarking on medicalized paths of identity affirmation. That data tells us nothing about what we should expect from this generation of adolescent, rapid-onset, transitioners

        Liked by 3 people

      • It is understood (and backed by research) that the experience of adolescence along with sexual awakening/experience are significant factors contributing to the resolution of “gender dysphoria” (desitance), yet the “standards of care” that Tannehill purports to advocate specifically denies children of that experience through the use of puberty blockers. The Dutch protocol suggests that these not be utilized until Tanner stage II, which, as Brie notes, occurs *before* typical gay & lesbian sexual identity forms. Not that the “Dutch protocol” is being followed by most clinics –because it isn’t –regardless of the claims of most trans advocates when challenged about the transition of children.

        Activists such as Tannehill would have us believe that gender (a social construct) is due to “factors internal to our own biology and sense of self,” yet one of the things that we do know, as indicated by the very recent exponential increase in the number of so-called “transkids,” is that “persistence” and especially “insistence” in these children has been turbocharged by the mainstreaming of unsupportable claims, shoddy “science,” and the resulting indoctrination aimed directly at them. Children themselves are being led to believe that their own likes and dislikes indicate that they need to permanently alter themselves to be themselves. Youth (especially gays & lesbians) who may already be experiencing “sub-clinicial” levels of “gender dysphoria” due to their failure to conform to increasingly rigid gender roles are “identifying” as trans, leading to a worsening degree of dysphoria, yet the so-called experts remain mute. The “professoinal” attitude, regardless of claims to the contrary, seems to be “transition them all & let God sort them out.”

        To leverage the poor outcomes of late-transitioning (overwhelmingly heterosexual male) adults as being solely due to the timing of their transitions &/or violence because of their looks is disingenuous. Males who transition due to their erotic attachment to themselves as female face issues dissimilar to the vast majority of childhood dysphorics. (One need only spend time reading r/asktransgender to get a sense of the unrealistic fantasies that these men hope to achieve by transition to have an idea of the disappointment that they’ll face.) The reality is that most of these men do not seek to transition prior to puberty, regardless of how much they might wish *after the fact* that they had.

        If the “best feasible outcome” is what we all desire, the best way to promote that is to restrict permanent, life altering decisions to adults who’ve been allowed to mature without interference.

        Liked by 3 people

  34. Pingback: What we need is education. | Lily Maynard

  35. Fascinating read. This is obviously a simplistic question, but you state that your daughter was wrestling with feelings for which she could not attach a cause, and being introduced to the concept of being trans triggered this two year odyssey. Do you think we are doing our children a disservice by exposing them to issues of identity at too early an age, and thereby contributing to the triggering of dysphoria? I ask because, for me, I believe that I was exposed to questions of identity at an age where I was FAR too young to be able to resolve those questions and, if I had been introduced to them at a later age, I would have avoided a LOT of pain and suffering because my maturity and life experience would have helped me understand myself far better. There would have been at least far fewer “question marks” to address in the absence of any real life experience. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  36. Pingback: Doğru bedende doğmak – feminist vesvese

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