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.
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.