Updated: May 2
This letter was sent to a school counselor by a parent whose child adopted a transgender identity, and then desisted. Names have been changed to protect identities. UPDATE (May 2, 2022): The author of this letter reports that the school counselor has never responded, but has since cut off the author on social media accounts where they were previously connected.
I hope all is well with you and that you’re getting through these strange days of the pandemic without too much difficulty, both personally and at school. I really can’t imagine trying to cope with everything in the classroom right now.
I’m writing to fill you in on what’s happened with Jada over the last few years.
You were such a wonderful counselor and help to us, with all of our kids, while we were at the elementary school. You helped us navigate a number of difficult issues, such as when Thomas decided he wanted to go live with his grandparents—you asked good questions when I came to you, scared that my son was trying to defect. You asked what life was like when he went to my parents’ house (we always went to their lake house for vacations such as Christmas and summer), and you helped me realize that Thomas needed some reality therapy: “You know you’ll still have to go to school there, right? And that Grandpa and Grandma will give you chores to do if you live with them, right?” He quickly revised his life plan and stayed with us. And when Kyra struggled with being bullied in fourth grade, you supported me in moving schools with her, and I’m very grateful for your gentle nudge.
You always did everything a good counselor should. You asked questions like, “When did this start? Is there anything else going on at home? What’s going on with that child’s friendships? What do you think some of your options might be?” You never told me what to do, but you helped me think through all of the different aspects of the problem. I remember numerous times I came to your office to talk to you, not about my children, but about one of my own issues. I respected your ability to think through things, and I so appreciated your wisdom and open-handed way of approaching problems.
When Jada announced at the end of seventh grade that she was transgender, you were one of the first people I called. I thought, “Marilyn knows Jada really well, after supporting her through elementary school and her autism diagnosis. Marilyn will be able to help us navigate this.”
But when I told you about Jada's announcement, the first words out of your mouth were, “You have to affirm this.”
Marilyn, I was stunned. You had never before made a declaration about what we should do in a difficult situation.
You didn’t ask any questions about what had gone on with Jada over the last two years since she left elementary school. You didn’t say, “Let’s think about this. Did we ever see any evidence of gender-discomfort in her before?” You didn’t ask what led up to this announcement, or how the rest of our family felt about it. You simply told me we had to accept and affirm it.
We did not.
We did not accept that Jada isn’t a girl. We did not call her by her preferred name or pronouns. We set boundaries. We began asking her questions that targeted the faulty logic in this narrative. We worked on improving our relationship with her while we tried to cut off unhealthy influences and surround her with healthy ones.
It became clear that she was being pressured at school to adopt and maintain this transgender identity. She was also going into the boys’ restroom alone. Her dad and I told the principal, “We do not want our autistic thirteen-year-old daughter alone in the bathroom with boys,” but the principal blew us and our concerns off with, “That’s our policy.” So we pulled Jada from school and began to homeschool. If we made any mistakes, the biggest was leaving her in public school for another year after her announcement.
She desisted from believing she’s transgender in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years. She recently told me that about a week after accepting that she is female, the gender dysphoria she’d developed in seventh grade completely disappeared.
Jada has also described the very strategic way that the kids at school pressured her to say that she was transgender.
Early in seventh grade she posted on social media what she believed about sex and gender, based on her Christian faith. (Letting Jada have a social media account was our second biggest mistake.) Proud as I was of her articulate statement, I feared what might happen to her after that social media post.
But she didn’t get bullied, as I expected; instead, she got invited to the GSA (Gender & Sexuality Allies) club, where I later learned that 6th-12th graders meet for an hour every week to discuss sex and gender, with no adult in the room. Jada came home with a vocabulary that included things like “zoosexuality.” When I asked her what that meant, hoping that my understanding of the root words “zoo” and “sexuality” were in error, she said, “Well, do you know what bestiality is?” I did, but she certainly shouldn’t have, at the age of twelve.
From the time Jada made her statement of faith about sex being binary, she said that the other kids at school would talk to her about nothing but sex and gender. She said that every time she moved a little toward their position on sex and gender, they applauded and praised her. These are the very tactics used by cults, Marilyn.
Jada told me that she remembers specifically making the decision, “I’m going to be transgender. I’m going to be a boy.” She says that when she did, everyone in school congratulated her and told her how amazing she was. She went from being an awkward spectrum kid with few friends, to a popular trans celebrity. She said she could talk to anyone, anytime, as long as the subject was sex and gender.
I don’t talk about Jada's story publicly, out of respect for her privacy and safety. Desisters and detransitioners are vilified by transgender-rights activists. I've seen what it's like to be targeted by transgender-rights activists, and I don’t want that for her.
I’m telling you all this because I want you to know what happened to her. I want you to know that your response when I called you about this situation was not helpful to us. Your response wasn’t that of a trained counselor. It was the response of someone who’s been fed the party line and told never to say anything different. I know you’ve been taught that you have to tell parents to affirm. I know you’ve been told that studies and research bear out that affirmation-only is the only right path. But they don’t and it isn't.
The two years we struggled to navigate Jada's transgender identification were the worst two years of my life, bar none. This is a nightmare for families, and it’s tearing them apart. Affirmation-only medicalizes children and destroys their bodies.
I’m including a copy of the book, Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult. I hope you’ll take the time to read it.
Please don’t tell families they have to affirm a transgender identification, Marilyn. Please take a different path. I could refuse the advice of the “experts” because I have a strong enough background in psychology that I knew something was terribly wrong with this narrative. But most families don’t have that background; they just trust the experts and do what they say.
They trust you. Please don’t fail them. Please don’t fail these kids.
My best to you and your family.
As of this publication, the parent has not yet received a response from the school counselor. Have you had a similar experience with a mental health care professional? Advocates Protecting Children wants to hear your story. Contact us via email@example.com. Related Topics: It's Okay to Feel Not-Okay
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