“Love, not hate. Please read this article and educate yourself.”
Someone sent this comment to me – someone who doesn’t know my heart, my education level about transgender activism, or how it’s affected my life. To him, it’s simple: everyone needs respect, validation, acceptance, and love. No one should be bullied or discriminated against.
In his view, the way to a peaceful, harmonious world is for all those hateful, judgmental people to get out of the way, so people can have the courage to be their true selves. I’m sure he believes he has the high moral ground here.
He even feels justified in calling me names, shaming me, and physically threatening me unless I agree with him. But I’ve come to my convictions honestly. I’ve come to understand it’s never kind to lie or to affirm a delusion. Love tells the truth, striving to protect those who need it most.
Let me tell you about my daughter. She is smart, funny, creative, artistic, amazing. I would give my life for her. But now she won’t talk to me, and I’m powerless to change that.
She has a new name, one I’ve never called her. I’m no longer allowed to call her by the name we gave her on the day she was born, the name I sang to her in the night and taught her to print in big childish letters. It’s a beautiful name. But now it’s considered an act of hatred and bullying to use it.
She has a new voice, which I’ve only heard once. It was a stranger’s voice, deep yet familiar. When I heard it I knew she must be on testosterone. I realized then I will never hear my daughter’s voice again.
Even if she stops taking testosterone, many of the effects will be permanent, including the deepening of her voice. I recall the sound of her voice every day, but I worry someday I will forget what it sounds like. I can’t find any recordings of it.
Most painfully, we have a new type of relationship. I’ve been invested in this issue for quite some time, and even more so since this insidious mania took my daughter. I’ve been deeply concerned by the explosive cultural shift on gender, and made that concern known. My daughter knows this, so perhaps I should have expected her letter.
At first I didn’t even realize it was from her. I thought it was a thank you note or a note from a friend. I opened it up and slowly digested its words:
This is difficult to write, but I feel the time is right to do it. I don’t believe it is good or healthy for me to maintain our relationship. I will not be initiating further contact with you, and ask that you respect my wish for no further contact. Please avoid attempting to contact me through phone, email, social media, in-person contact, or friends and family. I wish you well and hope you find peace and happiness in your future.
She signed with her new name, typed.
That’s our new relationship, or lack of one. I’m supposed to forget she exists while, every day, memories flood my thoughts. Her drawings, pictures, and the places I drive by remind me of her. I remember the foods she loved and the ones she hated.
I wonder, where is she? Is she OK? One of the hardest to wonder is, what does she look like? I try to imagine her as a man with a beard, then sometimes wonder if it’s a good thing I can’t see her. But it’s so much worse to be locked out. I can’t imagine a complete life without her.
In the first weeks after losing her, I genuinely wanted to die, because I didn’t think I could face my reality. For days I was unable to get out of bed. I cried until my body ached, and the spaces behind my eyes throbbed. I don’t think I ate for several days.
Eventually, I made it to counseling. I nearly ended up in the hospital. I got on antidepressants. Friends came, and sat on my bed while I ugly-cried. They coaxed me out of bed, took me for walks and lunch and motorcycle rides. They were concerned, and still are.
I don’t plan on killing myself, but I often wish I could stop living. A year ago I was traveling, strong, facing the world with a brave and adventurous spirit. I was full of joy and my faith was vibrant and strong.
I know what it means to face adversity and come through stronger. But nothing prepared me for this. Being a mom was the most important, challenging, and deeply meaningful thing in my life.
As crippling as it is, my grief at the loss of our relationship isn’t the hardest pain to bear. Far beyond that, I’m terrified for her.
Is she planning surgery? Will she regret it? Many do. I’ve seen reports of phalloplasty, a surgical procedure in which tissue is harvested from the arm or leg to fashion something resembling a penis. It’s a gruesome procedure with a high complication rate. The mere thought of a surgeon cutting my healthy daughter’s body this way is beyond excruciating.
I’m concerned about the side effects of the medications she might be taking. The statistics tell me people who use transgender treatments have a shorter life expectancy, a higher rate of mental health issues, and a host of other problems.
Women on high doses of testosterone have a much higher risk for heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots. They suffer from vaginal and uterine atrophy, painful conditions that normally precipitate a hysterectomy at a young age, putting them into menopause before they are out of their twenties.
A high rate of serious sexual dysfunction threatens young women who undergo transition. Many are unable to orgasm. There’s a high probability my daughter will suffer from sterility, so if she ever desires to bear a child, that may not be possible.
Beyond her physical health, I know being transgender will not solve the aches of her heart. The suicide rate for transgender people is much higher after transition than before.
My daughter, like a lot of bright girls, experienced challenges socially. She was often left out and rejected by other kids. She was sensitive and it hurt.
I’m sure she believes her new identity will heal those wounds. I’m also sure it will not. When it doesn’t, what will she be left with? I want to believe that she will be alright. I’m here, waiting for her. I pray she knows I’m still here, waiting, for as long as it takes.
I’ve talked to other moms and dads who are going through this. They come from all walks of life. They feel helpless. They can’t find help from counselors, teachers, friends, family, or their faith communities.
They are judged as unsupportive and unaffirming. Their daughters and sons were bright, often happy, and now are angry, defiant, and distant. I wish I had answers for them. I wish I had some for myself.