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A Message for Parents - Part II
When they come home
Last year, I wrote part 1 of A Message For Parents. This year I’d like to continue that with a little more insight.
I have little evidence to suggest that transition is nothing but fundamentally destructive, not just to the individual, but those around them too.
Parents have approached me in absolute desperation, weeks, or even the day of a major surgery for one of their kids. It doesn’t matter how old they are, parents who contact me feel it all same. It hurts watching your child hurt themselves, regardless of their chosen method of destruction.
It may be a difficult to agree, but not everyone lives a better life after detransition. Some of us are scarred, wounded and forever changed. Some of our parents pleaded not to go through with it, but we still did. Some of our parents said nothing, some agreed and trusted that we were making an autonomous adult decision.
They lost. It’s Over
I’ve noticed a huge shift, a change that’s omnipresent. Perhaps you’ve felt it too? What changed? Public perception.
The issue was launched into the mainstream with women’s rights taking a centrefold, what followed was the revelation of harm that has shown everyone it’s true colours. It’s not a rainbow, it’s dark, gritty and made with blood.
You can see it in the failed PR Campaigns of gender affirmation, and how certain activists only a few years ago wielded power that has long slipped through their fingers. This is not the same battlefield as it was in 2019. Yet some factions, fight with the same tactics, and because they are not adapting, they are losing terribly. Cancel culture has failed, in fact its turned in on itself completely.
It’s game over. We’re wrapping up right now. It won’t be quick, but it will come before you know it. The driver of all treatments, is not underpinned in law, but in profit. If treatments are profitable, their availability will increase. This is why the US fell into the opioid crisis, why SSRI’s and anti-depressants have been over prescribed en masse. There’s a tremendous amount of money to be made, and there still is.
This battle doesn’t end at Gender Affirmation, it ends when predatorial pharmaceutical giants are taken to task, we can then say it’s over, because just like the opioid crisis, it won’t end at this horror alone.
And it’s not the legal setting that’s changing this, it’s insurers. Already insurance brokers are refusing indemnity insurance for doctors practising surgeries and gender affirmation treatment.
What changed? Well, people like me fucked up their business model by taking legal action, suddenly theirs a cost, a risk that previously wasn’t present. It’s this risk that drives their business models, and with a community that self managed up until now, it was a dream come true. No one speaks out against it? Just make shit tonnes of money? Perfect!
They’ve not had a single risk until now, and as the cost’s for litigation are going to be exponential, you’re going to see a universal shift. It will never go away, but it won’t be anything like it has been. India, Spain, Thailand, Brazil and a few other places will remain as hotspots for medical tourism, that is unlikely to change.
Too many people are speaking out for this type of profit model to continue. It’s no longer a ‘safe’ issue for a political party to propel, and has already tanked public confidence as well as lose voters. This is why they’ve lost.
The Hormone Hangover
Over the last year and a half, I’ve spoken to hundreds of detransitioners and parents alike, and I’ve noticed one common theme.
I’m sorry to say this, but it often comes too late. The hope I know, is that they will return unscathed, but there is every likelihood that it’s the hurt that awakened them to begin with. Sometimes, it’s from witnessing that pain first hand from a friend or a partner, but most the time, it’s because that person has been hurt.
Have you ever tried to convince someone whose really drunk, that maybe they should stop drinking and go home? Thats probably the closest example I can get to someone lost in transition. Why would you go home if you’re having a good time, even if your hurting yourself from the intoxication. You can’t argue with it. It’s not until they begin to throw up or hurt themselves, that they realise it’s too late. The next day, they awaken sober, but with a cracking headache, a body sore from the self-destruction.
For those in transition, that hangover might take years, some months. It really depends on how much you drank. It’s far easier to return to normality when the body remains unscathed. However, the physical anchors are powerful reminders, and can keep people in transition.
Try as they might, returning back to their original state might not even be possible. You can’t grow back what was lost, whatever that is. And that pain may never dissipate. Not everyone wants to return to their name and former identity, some will remain as they are for the rest of their lives.
Yet, none of this matters, because the contagion has lost its magic. The momentum is nothing what it used to be..
The process of unravelling can take years, and is often accelerated by a physical factor. The most common reason for detransition is due to health complications. It takes tremendous mental gymnastics to pretend that having no sensation, constant urinary and pain issues is nothing short of devastating.
When I woke up from surgery, I knew it was a massive mistake. It would take me nearly four years to work through the grief, the betrayal of self and took every inch of my soul to continue living. It’s a gamble that didn’t pay off, and the debt will be with me forever.
This is the realisation many of us harmed have come to. The loss cannot be reasoned with, nor can it be brushed away with a clever quote.
Signs they’re probably Desisting
The leading reason for people desisting or detransitioning is ‘realising dysphoria was related to other issues’, next to ‘unhappiness with the social changes’ and health consequences.
But what does that realisation look like in reality.
I used to spend all my time playing games, laughing with others. In transition, that stopped. I was silent, all my communication was through typing, i didn’t want a single whisper to be heard by anyone, even if I was home alone.
Laughter is freeing, it’s allowing your body to feel joy, and such feeling more connected. Despite everything, all the pain and loss, the hurt and heartache, i laugh now like I never did before.
They’ve started to hang out with old friends
I had zero reason to, but i abandoned my friends with transition, yet they never abandoned me. A few months ago, I went to check a blank social media account, only to find a requested message from my best friend growing up.
“You’re a hard man to find.” It read, and that was all it took. I was right back in his kitchen, chatting like no time had passed at all, even though it had been nine years. Friends like that are rare, and worth hanging on to. I don’t think its accidental that getting back in touch with them coincided with my own detransition. And many others have a similar experience.
They’ve grown up a bit
Most people who transition have a rotten case of arrested development, even I did the whole ‘I need to make up for lost time’, believing that the life i lived before wasn’t even real, and the lessons worthless.
By the time I reached my early thirties, I finally matured in a way that should have occurred during my twenties. I think Autism plays a huge part in this, even high functioning people like myself fall behind. I was a late bloomer, certainly missed out and certainly wanted to make up for it.
Transition speeds this up. We’ve done things we probably wouldn’t otherwise have done during that time. Drugs, hook ups, selling yourself, taking crazy risks. Not for all, but for me, transition some years was absolutely wild. Can’t say I hated it all though.
They’re reaching out to family members
If you felt as if you’ve burnt all your bridges, you’re not going to feel empowered to try and make ways yourself. You’re going to call on family.
It could be a sibling, or a cousin, even an uncle, but when this happens, take it as a good sign. They are surveying the landscape from a safe distance.
Are you annoyed? Are you angry? You might have told them a million times that you’re not, or you might have left the last contact you had in a bitter argument. It may even be as difficult for you as it is for them to even start repairing the relationship.
They Want To Come Home
Living with parents, whilst your trans is very difficult. Theres a lot of tiptoeing, secrets too much to hide at home anyway. Theres a reason why at the start, they went quiet, defensive and only talked to people online. Some may have even moved out drastically, putting themselves in a shelter due to an ‘unsafe home environment’.
It’s amazing the shit we’ve said to ourselves to believe our own victim fantasy.
“Where Did I Go Wrong? Am I bad Parent?”
You’re not a bad person, nor a bad parent. How can I be so sure? I’ve spoken to too many of you to think otherwise.
You love your children, and it doesn’t matter if they’re 21 or 40, you want the best for them.
You’ve punished yourself relentlessly, studied your past.
You’ve painstakingly analysed every interaction and wondered what you could have done different.
This is why I know you’re not a bad parent. Bad parents don’t give a shit what impact they’ve have or if their kids are even hurting.
There is a but. And I can only speak for the male experience, but I’ve noticed several familiar variables, that are common amongst detransioners, especially in respect to their parents.
What do male Detransitioners Parents, each have in common?
I like to imagine this entire thing like a recipe, it just takes the right ingredients. This is not a defined or exhaustive list. ‘Take what you like, and leave the rest’ as our Stella says.
Again, I can only speak for the male side.
One or more parents are high functioning, it’s normally the father. Autism in women presents differently due to social dynamics, but most the time it’s generally a father who has a highly analytical or practical mind.
Both parents are of a generation where admitting this would be seen as a weakness, along with a lot of other mental health challenges.
I don’t know why people view this as a weakness, people are made differently. Not everyone is gifted with perfect mental health or the best start in life. Yet, the impact of living with someone with a mental health issue can be profound. It could be as mild as a very anxious parent seeking reassurance from their kid, or it could be something far more severe, like psychotic breaks and meltdowns
Highly Defined Gender Roles
My Dad is a proper bloke. Ex-engineer and miner, loves sports, beer, women, he’s your man’s man. He doesn’t put up with any shit, but doesn’t push his weight around either. He’s witty, clever, stern, and he loves his family, though, he’d never say it to our faces.
My mother knows me better than I know myself, it’s really annoying sometimes, in an endearing way. She was always destined to be a mother, loves caring for young kids and taking care of others. She’s quite soft, doesn’t like the sight of blood, isn’t a fan of violence, bit anxious. Quite a fashionable lady and always keeps her house spotless. She loves her family, says it to them often.
Fundamentally, having defined gender roles isn’t a problem, but for an autistic and absolutist mind, like many of us, it can lead to irrational conclusions. For instance, I’m soft, I cry easy, I hate blood, but I’m also quite witty, stern and extremely anxious at times.
I don’t think its a bad thing I relate more to my mother than my father, or that it should be the other way around. It’s just the way it is. I love my Dad, but I’m a mamma’s boy through and through.
Passive/Active Opposition to Same Sex Attraction
My mother knew from about age 4 I would probably end up gay, and she didn’t care in the slightest. She even tried to hint at me a few times in my teens and very early twenties that it was okay ‘whoever i loved’, as i battled through acceptance of my same sex attraction. She knew it way before I did, in fact, when I came out as Trans she said exactly what my brother did “Are you sure you’re not just gay?”
It’s important I paint that picture for what I’m about to say next. I was raised in the North East of England, in an isolated ex mining village in the nineties. There was no PRIDE, no mention of gay people unless it was derogatory.
As I said, my Dad’s a man’s man, and not really knowing how to deal with my soft nature, I was given nick names like “Soft boy” or “Big puff”. Now that sounds horrible, but it wasn’t, he said it in his own joking/asking sort of way. I think he knew himself when I was adamant I wanted to be ballerina at 8 years old. I’ve heard a lot of anti-gay remarks growing up, some from family, some not. But to say that didn’t leave a mark would be foolish.
Some detransitioners received homophobia from their own parents, sometimes mothers. Some would rather a straight daughter than a gay son. Perhaps it’s not you, but it does happens frequently.
Role Reversal - Divorce, separation or a family dispute in childhood.
So many parents divorce and separate, it’s not unusual at all. In fact, in the UK the divorce rate is at 42%. Though, this dynamic creates a fertile ground for distrust and conflict if the separation is poorly handled.
When my parents split, it was a bit dramatic. There were no big talks and though I saw it coming for a few years, it still didn’t soften the blow. My Dad disappeared, my mother was left heart broken, and with my elder siblings all moved out, it was up to fifteen year old me to pick up the pieces.
This is a very difficult one to accept, but many of us have been looking after the emotions of a parent. It almost always stems from a wound inflicted, and those with strong attachments, want to be there, and want to say the right thing. But very quickly that can be draining, and we can find ourselves with a self-esteem deficit.
It didn’t need to be fire and brimstone to have an impact, but many of us have religious routes. I went to church, Sunday school, sang hymns and we all did the nativity play, all these seemingly casual events that are significant to Christianity especially.
It’s not a fear of sin that drives us to transition, but rather sets us up to believe in an ethereal soul that we can speak too, much like the Christian soul, a gender identity cannot be found physically. It’s a determination of faith, a learnt belief.
The mechanisms need to be in place, which is why some who detransition, return to their religion.
Final Word: When They Come Home
I’ve always been the most dysfunctional out of my siblings, the most worried about. When I told my mother I was detransitioning, she said “It’s such a shame.”
The answer flawed me. Part of me expected her to sigh and say “Oh thank god for that”, but I had gambled a lot, and I didn’t pay the price alone.
Why would anyone be thrilled that their loved one made such a catastrophic error of judgement? There are no celebrations to be had, it is a shame.
Now I have nothing to defend anymore, nothing to lose. The guards I built up in transition have all left, and it’s just me and the truth. But these topics, are ones I’ve broached up, and that’s key. When the come home, don’t force a conversation, they’ll say what needs to be said, when they can.
When they come home, continue with your life, your routine. Update them if you see a familiar face or something interesting, but don’t drop everything and fawn over their return. Feel free to punch the air in private, especially if they escaped unharmed.
When they come home, they’ll still be hurting. And it’ll take time. Listen out for it, and sit with them as they work through it. It maybe tempting to placate their grief, but ask yourself if you’re seeking to rescue them or are you seeking to rescue yourself from the pain of witnessing your own flesh and blood experience grief?
When they come home, give yourself and them plenty of time. There is no rush, except for the one you place on yourself
When they come home, you’ll know what to do.