This is a concern we have had and we have observed this in teens and young people with alarming and increasing frequency.
We understand and celebrate the rights of all people to follow their bliss and to create as much integrity between their inner and external worlds as possible.
We also have a longer and more expansive perspective than average as concerns childhood development and the impact and influence of societal issues on children. Baba being the eldest of 250+ children and a former foster parent, while I am the eldest of 4 and a former child care professional and doula. In addition we have 8 biological children and hundreds of spiritual children.
In short this is not theory and mere opinion.
We have observed many confused youths and teens who are seeking a place believe they may be transgender, and we have noticed that parents who take a more reserved yet curious position often find that the core under the declaration is a Search for Self, and A desire to find a place where they are whole heartedly accepted…not a true belief that they are not the sex of the body they were born into.
We have also noticed that parents who are afraid to take this more conservative (in its true sense not it’s political sense) approach. who feel that they should simply accept and celebrate, often find that the issues facing those children persist in other ways.
Adding complexity to this is the fact that with both parents being devoted to career and academia in the average household; it means that often neither parent really “knows” the child. While loving them deeply…the parents often are managing the children and not training, raising, or guiding them…which leaves them open to receive those things from peers, media, schools etc;
This not knowing then makes the parent unsure in their ability to lead the child to navigate difficult and complex issues that arise as they come of age. The parent then takes a more hands off approach relying on the child to lead THEM which offers even less security and stability to the youth which heightens the issue. There isn’t a deep relationship that the parent can use as the container to explore and offer illumination. This issue of gender then BECOMES the basis of the creation of a relationship at all.
From middle school through the end of high school (and sometimes into university) is a time of exploration, education and, more often than not- a great deal of confusion as you attempt to figure out “where do I fit” and “what is this all about”. Changing ones gender is not the answer to these complexities and will often compound problems instead of solving them.
Being a parent means LEADING, it means your responsibility is to support them in going the direction they are meant to go…even when they forget. This leadership is often uncomfortable. Sometimes it means saying “No” to those under your authority. Sometimes it means yes…you know better.
For some their path is towards LBGTQIA and for others it is not. If people can misidentify as Heterosexual then it must also be possible for the reverse to occur. In a world of very confused times…it is not wise to presume that something as vital as gender is not prone to be an area of confusion as well.
In the enthusiasm to support diversity and acceptance we must not allow our children to become pawns or casualties to our “progress”
Consider your child…not what is broken in you. Not your need for validation.
and here’s the article that inspired that writing….
My daughter thinks she’s transgender. Her public school undermined my efforts to help her.
Jay Keck, Opinion contributor Published 6:00 a.m. ET Aug. 12, 2019 | Updated 2:22 p.m. ET Aug. 13, 2019
I pleaded that my daughter’s school call her by her legal name, use female pronouns. By refusing, they prevented her from getting the help she needs.
In April 2016, my then 14-year-old daughter became convinced that she was my son. In my attempt to help her, her public school undermined me every step of the way.Throughout my daughter’s childhood, there were no signs that she wanted to be a boy. She loved stuffed animals, Pocahontas and wearing colorful bathing suits. I can’t recall a single interest that seemed unusually masculine, or any evidence that she was uncomfortable as a girl.The only difficulty she had was forming and maintaining friendships. We later learned why: She was on the autism spectrum. She was very functional and did well in school, helped by her Individualized Education Program (IEP), a common practice for public school students who need special education.At her high school, my daughter was approached by a girl who had recently come out at school as transgender. Shortly after meeting her, my daughter declared that she, too, was a boy trapped in a girl’s body and picked out a new masculine name.
Our school kept parents in the dark
She first came out as transgender to her school, and when she announced that she was a boy, the faculty and staff — who had full knowledge of her mental health challenges — affirmed her. Without telling me or my wife, they referred to her by her new name. They treated my daughter as if she were a boy, using male pronouns and giving her access to a gender neutral restroom. By HPE The Benefits of Leveraging Hybrid Cloud for Small Business See more →
When her mother and I first found out, our feelings of helplessness and astonishment made it difficult to get through each day. But I feel my daughter is a victim more than anything else.In an IEP meeting just after she told us about being a boy, I told the school that our wishes are to call her by her legal name at all times. The social worker present at the meeting stated that we have that right to make that request, so I assumed school staff would follow our directive. I followed up that meeting with an email, but later learned that my request was ignored and school staff continued to refer to her by the male name.
Students walk in a school hallway in September 2012. (Photo: Hans Pennink, AP)We met with the school district’s assistant superintendent, who told us the hands of school personnel are tied and that they had to follow the law. But there was no law, only the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleagues” letter of May 2016 that said schools need to officially affirm transgender students. Just three months later, in August 2016, a federal judge in Texas blocked the guidelines from being enforced. And in February 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era guidelines, leaving it to the states to set their own policies.I also learned that the ACLU has sent threatening letters to schools stating that it is against the law to disclose a student’s gender identity, even to their parents. But this letter appears to misunderstand federal law. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires that schools allow parents to “inspect and review” their child’s education records as long as the child is under 18.Listen to our kids: HMy daughter told me that the school social worker was advising her about halfway houses because he thought we did not support her. The social worker confirmed this when I scheduled a meeting with him to discuss it. This felt like a horrifying attempt to encourage our daughter to run away from home.We had our daughter evaluated by a psychologist approved by the school district. He told us that it was very clear that our daughter’s sudden transgender identity was driven by her underlying mental health conditions, but would only share his thoughts off the record because he feared the potential backlash he would receive. In the report he submitted to us and the school, he did not include these concerns that he would only share in person.
A national policy epidemic
In my attempts over the past several years to get help for my daughter, what I have learned has shocked me.The National Education Association has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign and other groups to produce materials advocating automatic affirmation of identities, name changes and pronouns, regardless of parents’ concerns. In 18 states and the District of Columbia, including in my home state of Illinois, there are “conversion therapy” bans, which prevent therapists from questioning a child’s gender identity. No wonder my daughter’s therapist would only speak to me off the record.LGBT youth need state protections: Trump’s anti-transgender memo would hurt teens like me. I’m hoping my state protects me.Some agencies, like the New Jersey Department of Education, warn school districts to “be mindful of disputes” between children and their parents over gender identity. The department’s “Transgender Student Guidance” document refers educators to the state’s “Child Abuse, Neglect, and Missing Children” webpage, suggesting that school staff might be encouraged to report parents if they disagree with their child transitioning. When parents are willing to go along with their child’s transitioning, the process can move at a frightening pace. Doctors with the Endocrine Society rewrote the guidelines for treating young patients who say they are transgender in order to give hormone treatments to children younger than 16 years old. Even more concerning, surgeries such as mastectomies and orchiectomies (the removal of testicles) are performed on teenagers.
Parents are afraid to speak out
Through all this, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. Many parents just like my wife and me are often afraid to speak out because we are told we are transphobic bigots, simply because we do not believe our children were born into the wrong bodies.Don’t force girls to sacrifice safety: My high school’s transgender bathroom policies violate the privacy of the rest of usWhen our daughter returned to high school to finish her senior year, I contacted the principal to let him know I expected her legal name to be used at graduation. Once again, the school refused to honor my request.Now, thanks in large part to my daughter’s school, my daughter is more convinced than ever that she is a boy, and that testosterone may be necessary for her to become her authentic self.She turned 18 in late June and life-altering, dangerous testosterone injections are just one “informed consent form” away. She can turn to any one of Illinois’s 17 Planned Parenthood clinics for cheap and easy access. No extensive mental health assessment will be required, and there will be nothing I can do to stop her.Jay Keck lives in a suburb outside of Chicago, and his child, with whom he discussed this column, attended school in Hinsdale District #86. He is a member of the Kelsey Coalition, which promotes policies to protect young people from what the organization considers the medical and psychological harms of transgender medicine. He is also the Chicago leader of ParentsofROGDKids, a support group for parents who have children suddenly identifying as transgender.You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.