A Parent gets some bad advice on Transgender Child

How can things go wrong?

I was browsing the web recently and came across this exchange on a forum for Catholic Families. (You can read the whole exchange here).  This is an example of bad advice readily available on the web by un-informed people regarding an adult transgender child.

A Parent wrote:

“Hello,  My daughter is 21 years old and today she announced to the family that she is transgender. She has always been athletic and not so feminine, but my wife and I had no idea that she was contemplating this. We just found out that she has already legally changed her name to a male name. She also said that she is taking testosterone injections and is planning to undergo a sex change procedure in July. We are a dedicated Catholic family and do not know how to handle this. She says that she believes in God, but at the same time how can she. My wife and I are very confused about what to do. Do we just blindly accept this, do we ask her to leave our household if she refuses to come to terms with this. We have 2 younger sons and I don’t know how to maintain a God centered life in our household with a blind acceptance of this. On the other hand I do not just want to kick her out of the house. We are planning on making her go to counseling, but what does a parent do if she refuses to accept that she is a woman. I am a very confused parent right now. I don’t want to rush into anything for fear of possibly doing something wrong. Anyhow, I would appreciate any feedback that anyone may have. Take care and God Bless “ April 2012.

While some of the responses did suggest finding a support group, prayer (I have nothing against prayer), and finding resources, most responses were negative and alarming and were along the lines of “this is horrible, fix her, banish her, take control”  These are some of the responses that were listed: (I’ve edited them down)

R1: “She announced this to her younger siblings too??? That should not have happened, and she should be chastised for doing that if in fact, she did announce in front of her younger siblings.  Who is going to pay for these hormone shots and her operations?…[]…She should go no further into this unless she has counseling to help her figure out what is driving this desire to become a … well…a mess!“

R2: “[]…I would definitely say that you should have her leave your home if you have younger children at home. []… What a horrible situation!”

R3: “Dr. Nicolosi…he is the only “long ball hitter” that I know of…he is on CA Radio nearly every month…practices in SOCAL area…he covers all aspects and all forms of sexual orientation issues…SSA primarily but I have heard him speak on Transgender orientation also.”

[fyi Nicolosi does ‘reparative’ therapy on gay men – which 1. Doesn’t work  2. Is harmful  3. Is now illegal in California and 4. Has nothing to do with being Transgender]

R4:  “Your daughter, clearly, is being advised and is receiving support from outside sources if she is already this far. But having had some contact with kids with gender issues, she is NOT in control nor is she feeling OK. She most likely is confused and freaked out, even if she is being defiant. “

R5: “[].. If I were in your situation’ I’d try my hardest to convince my child to stop the hormone treatments right away and move heaven and earth to find a way for her to be able to live as a woman…”

The responses (which are from April 2012!) point to a serious lack of information about what Transgenderism is.  The forum thread is now closed so this is my response to the parent – I hope it gets to him somehow.

Dear Parent,

I understand that your child just came out to you as Transgender.  This can be a confusing and scary time.  I think first off you are to be commended for reaching out for support and for information.  You realized you don’t know enough about this topic and so you are asking for information and advice – good for you.  You clearly love your “daughter” (I’ll refer to her as your daughter for now for clarity sake) and your sons and your family, again good.  You have a faith community – I think that’s great.  However, the responders seem to have responded out of fear and lack of information about Transgenderism.

Your question of “Do we just blindly accept this” is a good one.  It implies a certain lack of information at the present time.  I think you already know the solution here – and that is to inform yourself as much as possible about what Transgenderism is.  Learn about it.  It is not a lifestyle choice; it is not something that anyone can influence another person to become.  It is a condition that one is born with, which causes great anxiety and turmoil and at some point – hopefully, that person is strong enough to grapple with it and make certain decisions.  No one could ever influence you to become the other gender – because you know yourself to be your gender – that’s how it is with your child – they know what their gender is – it’s just not the same as the biological sex they were born into – this is Transgenderism – and it’s a real condition.

Another question: “do we ask her to leave our household if she refuses to come to terms with this.”  I think she has come to terms with it – alone, and has progressed to make some decisions about her life- in other words she has decided to transition.  For someone who is Transgendered – and living in the wrong gender – this is a reasonable and healthy solution.  In fact it is the only good solution for someone who is transgendered.  This is the consensus belief that the World Professional Association of Transgender Health WPATH has come to over many decades. (these are Doctors, Researchers, Therapists and other specialists working in the field today).

It takes a lot of courage to share who she is with you and to have started on this road without your support and the support of your family. I mean no disrespect, but the “coming to terms with” is going to be more about your thinking and acceptance than your child’s.  Transgender youth have the highest suicide rates of any group – 49% have reported having thoughts about killing themselves.

As to the issue of kicking her out of the house – why would you want to do that?  I imagine she was a pretty good child/sibling all these 21 years – yes?  She was also Transgendered all those years – you just didn’t know about it.  Why create a homeless young person and add to the issues she is facing at this point?  You write “We have 2 younger sons and I don’t know how to maintain a God centered life in our household with a blind acceptance of this”.  There are other Catholic Families that are dealing with this issue – they have support groups and information here:  Fortunate Families.

You write “What does a parent do if she refuses to accept that she is a woman”?  She’s not.  He has told you that he’s a man.  This is the nature of Transgenderism.  One is born into one sex but is really the other sex.  I know it’s a lot to wrap your head around at first – but given your concern and questions – I think you will come to understand more about this and be able in time to accept your child for who he is.

So my advice to you is – keep gaining knowledge and information, find some books, join a support group, take your time and go slow (as you have said).  Your child has had a long time to think about this and sort things out – you have only just learned about it and you can take your time too.  Your child has not done anything wrong or bad – he is just dealing with a little understood condition the best he can.  In the meantime – don’t try and force anything on your child – he is an adult and knows who he is, and it will only upset him and you.  Your younger sons are in no more danger than if they had a diabetic older sibling in need of appropriate treatment.   Good luck to you all.

adult transgender child

22 Responses to A Parent gets some bad advice on Transgender Child

  1. I am sadly, a mother of a transgender daughter who is now 20 years old. When she is not with me I still call her the name she was born with and I call her male. Because she is a male living as a girl. That is how I feel about all transgenders. I am very supportive of my transgender child, and expect and love her very much. And she is doing great! My advise to you is to ask who the psychologist is she goes to and ask to make an appointment with that doctor. They can help you to understand. Your daughter my not agree to let the doctor tell you her personal information, but the doctor will still be able to help you through this. And go by yourself, not with your child. If you cannot go to your child’s doctor, then find a transgender psychologist to go talk to. I am still struggling with it. But my daughter does not live at home, she goes to college and lives near college. But we still talk and see each other a lot. Please do not cut her out of your life, to many transgender children commit suicide because the family will not love them any more. I hope this has helped you or someone who has read this.

  2. I have a daughter who is transgender…. It has been hell for me and my husband and younger son… She who is now he after going away to college came back every year with what seemed to be a bombshell every time did not let us know about her surgeries and almost died of kidney failure this time ….. She is very disrespectful and full of hate to me and her dad and is always trying to pull her younger brother in her direction even to the point of banning his fiancé from her apt. Everyone has the right to live the way they choose but just because its modern times all of a sudden everyone it seems is a transgender or gay .. I don’t think all these people are born like this I think some are very few in my option it’s a mental illness and it has not helped my daughter at all … She is a law grad who works at a yogurt shop …. Who still is unhappy and trying to torture especially me …. Her mom if anyone can stop thier child frm a sex change I would and have them mentally evaluated this Is a big business and people are making a lot of money off young people .. Beware of the east coast especially mass.. They are betworking doctors psyclogists etc..

  3. I have lurked on that form for quite some time now. Every other post by the forums members have something to do with LGBT people. I would advise any parent, Catholic or not, to steer clear from these people. They claim to be “loving”, and seem to believe that only their way of thinking is the right one because they are speaking for God. In fact, they are some of the most ignorant, bigoted, hateful people you’ll ever meet on the Internet. I know a couple of people who left Catholicism because of this forum alone. These people are not real Christians. If you have a child who is transgender, gay, or otherwise fits into the LGBT community, please stay away from this group. Seek a local support group or even find one online. But don’t go to the Catholic answers message board. I have joined this community on three separate occasions, and each time was banned for disagreeing with them. They do not like being confronted with the fact that they are, in fact, wrong on so many levels about so many things. They refuse to live in the modern world and will not consider any opposing views, despite scientific and medical backing, unless it is something that comes from the Catholic Church. I don’t think they’re all terrible people…but they’re certainly not open to exploring the idea that they’re incorrect on certain things. Again, to anyone who has a loved one who is LGBT, stay away from this forum. They have nothing to offer you but bad advice, religious rhetoric, and justifications for your doubts.

    • Reinhard says:

      Thank you Brandon.
      Our son (38) likes to become a girl and he is a heavy alcoholic too. I also lurked several web sites and
      I have never found any person who also does not like this modern attitude.I think I am the only person who
      has problems with this mainstream of LGBT. Our son feels that all the people of the LGBT groups are his new
      friends and we, the parents, live in an old world. I can not help myself, but all the people I ask try to
      explain me, that I am wrong. All these people are born LGBT and it is nothing to change. I do not understand
      this world anymore.

      • I feel the exact same way. I feel like people are glorifying transgeder people instead of doing more research and find a better solution than just allow them to become something they are not. Some parents are so terrified about the suicide “threat” that they allow 3 or 5-year-old children to live as someone from the opposite sex. To me, this is pure madness! :-(

      • I feel the same way, my daughter NEVER showed any signs of being transgender until she started hanging out with a certain group of people in high school, and now she has declared she is not a lesbian, but is now living as a male in her female dorm her freshman year of college…and seeing a counselor, who I feel should have contacted me for at minimum her background as a child and low self esteemed teen age…
        I am so lost and have no idea who this person now is…
        And so sad that there is a doctor that can eventually change her body with hormones without an adult perspective on who she has been all her beautiful life..

  4. It is not a surprise to me that my son wants to be (or is, actually) a woman. I am beyond the religious and psychological debate. What about the practicality? Finding a good job, etc. I love my child no matter what and I just want him/her to be happy, productive, and a person who share his/her gifts with the world. Can anyone speak to my concerns? Thank you.

    • Luciana C. says:

      “I love my child no matter what and I just want him/her to be happy, productive, and a person who share his/her gifts with the world.” That’s how it should be, your comment brought tears to my eyes. You’re a great mother. I am 17 and just starting my transition.(MtF)A lot of people don’t know how hard it is for us. Everyday is a super hard struggle. I am glad that I finally started my transition. My life has been so sad and negative, I’m hoping to change everything about it and finally be happy, be ME

      • Thank you for saying that! I often wonder if I have been a good enough mother. I would love to provide my child with supportive friends, as that is one area he/she seems to have trouble. He/she is shy but can be off-putting with his/her strong opinions and ideas, etc. I know I cannot make friends for him/her.

        I hope things get better for you! If it helps to have an “internet mother figure,” I’d be happy to listen.

    • My concern is that this view of herself only started when she started highschool and her mentor was lesbian. She connected to her because she was her first contact in a new highschool. Then she got to know them and they were also self proclaimed rape victims…then she claimed her father raped her. I took her to the police and she refused to press charges, and did not give me any specifics only that she was 8 yes old. I also had her checked by a GYN who confirmed there was no evidence of rape. This put me in the position that I held my tonque to save our relationship as I couldn’t tell her I didn’t believe her. She had boyfriends thru middle school and never showed any signs of being afraid of men or intimacy issues.
      She has always had low body self esteem, but was a happy thriving healthy child.
      My biggest concern about her stubbornness about this being her life choice at such a young age, what if she changes her mind and wants to have a baby later in life and how she will make it as an adult with these mental confusions…
      Any helpful advice?

    • I also am beyond the religious and psychological debate. I look at this logically. My just turned16 yr old daughter has decided that she is a male. She is online talking to gay friends, and transsexual friends on the internet. I am not supposed to be judgmental or find this abnormal. Her psychologist states that I am to merely accept her decision. I am the one that needs to be changing my way of thinking. SURE MR COUNSELOR!!! ITS OK THAT MY DAUGHTER IS GOING TO MUTILATE HERSELF SO SHE CAN FEEL BETTER ABOUT HERSELF OR SHOULD I SAY HIMSELF. WTF!!! Young people get “turned” or influenced by LBGT constantly and sorry for the generalization but I think it is part of their lifestyle. Not everyone but it cannot be denied.They probably feel better about their own situation if they can turn someone to their way. Teens are at a vulnerable age questioning their sexuality, confused and scared. I do not think I am supposed to merely except this condition. I would not merely except it if my daughter came down with cancer. To me LBGT is glamorized now in this society and that it gives you an “exotic identity” when you are searching for a somewhere to belong. My daughter may be transgender and if so I will embrace it when the time comes because I love for who she is not what sex she is. I will not merely accept the fact there is nothing that can be done to correct this. To find out for sure. She will someday mutilate her body to resemble the opposite sex. Doesn’t anyone care anymore? To me there is a cancer and it is in our society’s values. You may think I am a closed minded fool but my heart aches for every LBGT out there who has fallen in despair through discrimination, guilt, harassment and just huge amounts of personal pain. I have seen and dealt with these people. I don’t want my daughter to feel this pain. She is too young to know what the future holds for her. If there is a way to “turn her back” send me suggestions.

      • I agree completely that this is an epidemic sucking our children in…if you get any answers, please post. My daughter is 18, believes she is completely an adult, knows everything about everything as she is in a college community FULL of LGBT INFLUENCE and so she only feels good about herself now because she has so many other teens telling her they are now her family…more like a cult!

  5. I am transgender. I am not messed up nor am I confused. I am supposed to be a boy just as your son is. But more importantly, do consider this: what is the price to you in the long run? If you push for counselling for your son, if you express disapproval, if you kick him out now, the cost will be high. You will miss the rest of your life with him and his family. You will miss out on grandchildren if he wants any. When you’re old and sick, he will not be by your side. Imagine having him out there but having to rely on paid help when you’re frail and old. Now… is it worth maintaining your narrow-minded and uneducated views of transgenderism and losing your child altogether or simply “losing” a daughter and getting a great, new son in place of her? I hope you really think long and hard about this because most of us are more than willing to ditch a narrow-minded family in favour of a large support group in big communities that do see transgenderism for what it is in reality – fully natural and protected as a sexuality. Mind you, YOU should definitely get counselling to help you accept this reality. Your son would appreciate that. Those that don’t ditch their families often end up on the streets, using drugs, depressed and committing suicide or attempting to do so; don’t think that there’s another way in which you “win”.

    Yes, as for the concerns that it is hard to find a job, that life is harder… well, life is always hard. Male or female, black or white, gay or straight – life is hard. Money doesn’t grow on trees. The job market is competitive. It is not your job as a parent to worry about how we’ll make it as a person of the opposite gender in which we were born. Basically you either go in as a cross-dresser or as a person legally of the sex of your “choosing” so no big deal – seriously. Unless you’re an illegal alien or a space alien… (humour, people) your sex or what you present your sex to be, will not hinder you from getting a job that you’re qualified to get. It can’t – legally. The best advice EVERY parent on here can give their child is to work hard in school, work a job as soon as you can to build work experience and persevere. Life is NEVER easy but if you’re prepared to work for what you want, you’ll get it.

    • Amen!!! I am totally with you.

    • I am a mother of a transgender …….. The whole thing is a nightmare ! This can’t be taken lightly & they need to do research this more before a judge decides to change the sex of a person this is a serious matter …. As far as I’m concerned GOD doesn’t make mistakes …………..

      • If you applied that logic to those born blind, armless or with hemophilia, etc., would you ignore surgery if that were to help individuals with said conditions? I agree with you: God does not make mistakes. God loves all of us. Why is it so hard to accept the true possibly of one being born of a gender that doesn’t match his/her/their physical body? Think of all the variables involved with development as a fetus. It’s a wonder any of us are born “normal.” LOVE your child. Even if you don’t understand it. Trust me, that is exactly what God would want you to do!

        • I would probably understand and accept it easier if my daughter had shown ANY SIGNS of being different in any way growing up. She never thought or expressed herself as being different until she started hanging out with other members of LGTB community and now after 16 yes she just all of a sudden wants to be male…I just don’t know how to accept this is true. I think she just is trying to fit into a role to fit into a group…peer pressure

        • I totally agree, GOD has plans for everyone… But his plan would never be to physically change the beautiful creation he made. Lifestyle choices are completely different from gender changes! Even the children born with physical challenges were made by God for a purpose, and yes surgery to help them heal could be part of his plan, but again God would not want a perfectly healthy person to change their gender because at 18 they are struggling still to figure that out…take 5 years to pray, research, and listen to the family that watched you grow all those years…if no signs were shown in all those years, the peer pressure and acceptability by this generation to make STATEMENTS and LABELS and FIGHT TO CHANGE THE WORLD all at the age of 18 is just too young to be allowed to undergo such a life altering surgery. You aren’t allowed to drink until 21, but you can take hormones and start to alter your entire body at 18…laws need to CHANGE to protect our children whose brains are not even fully formed to understand consequences until the age of 25…

      • I totally agree, GOD has plans for everyone… But his plan would never be to physically change the beautiful creation he made. Lifestyle choices are completely different from gender changes!