A Letter To My Beloved Child

A letter to my beloved child,

I came late to the experience of parenting. I was afraid of the responsibility, I didn’t feel I was ready. I wasn’t sure if it was right for me or if I was right for it. 

When I decided it was time, I cannot describe to you how overjoyed I felt the moment I realised I was pregnant. At this same time, I felt unprepared and afraid about not being a good enough mother, the ones I had read about, who could be there for their child no matter what. 

Becoming your mother filled my heart with love I had never known before. You were beautiful and fascinating both then as now. 

I wanted to do everything right, I read the books and probably tried too hard. I can see now I didn’t understand the importance of letting you find your own limits with food and nourishment. At the same time, I was clear that I was not going to lead you off course, I didn’t swear, I dressed you in mixed colours, I was conscious not to reduce your value to a body image by dressing you in age inappropriate clothes or buying magazines or watching programmes that reinforced this.

 I did not want to encourage a path towards anorexia, which had been one of the parenting worries in my time. I worried about how I would teach you about alcohol and drugs, which never go away. I hoped I could encourage you find your passions and your path in life.

I avoided gender heavy toys, I bought you trains and cars, no dolls; and then I found you didn’t want them anyway. As you grew older I could see that you weren’t overly feminine in the girly sense, the sense that overvalued physical appearance (high heels and short dresses) and “perfect”, chauvinistic, patriarchal female presentation over real human values and qualities like integrity and self-worth. 

As you reached teenage years you confessed some attraction to boys. I was even-handed about heterosexuality and homosexuality. I wanted you to grow up to appreciate people for who they were and to understand that we love who we love. 

After the first boyfriend went by the wayside I wondered what would follow. I was so aware that 98.5% or more of your fellow female students seemed to be concerned with having long hair and presenting in very feminine ways. The male students, many of them were sexist. What, I wondered, was influencing this?

I am sorry to say that in 2021 the experience of being female does not seem to have moved far enough since my childhood. There are so many pressures on girls to be, well, ‘girly’. Girls and women are still running risks to keep ourselves safe, and there aren’t enough men that appreciate that we have a right to go where we want, do what we want and to feel safe. There are too many men whose actions have led to the “metoo” and “time’sup” campaigns and too many men who mistakenly think it’s okay to prey on females and too many systems that are failing to support our rights and freedom. There are times when I wonder, given the choice, how many women would come back as a man. As a society we have a lot of work to do to right these wrongs.

I worried how the world would be as you edged closer to entering into it. I was not ready to be plunged into this nightmare. 

Since you moved from “straight” to “gay” and then to “trans” I feel as if I have been dragged into a fast moving car, driven by you at speed in the dark with no driving lessons about safety and no lights on. And I am terrified. I thought I had managed to keep you safe, safe from anorexia, safe from early pregnancy, safe from drugs and alcohol. I have not kept you safe from wanting to make irreversible body and life changes. How long have I got to persuade you to slow down, that there is no rush? We don’t have to reach the destination in this way. Maybe there are alternatives to this one.

While you have been online, learning about becoming another gender and finding ways to negate your own, I have also been learning about this. I have joined several parents’ groups, searching and searching until I found one with parents who are not affirming their children’s decisions to transition but who, like me, are asking questions while standing at the boundary saying “I love you and this is dangerous”. I’ve met two people who transitioned, I watch videos, read articles and books and listen to podcasts. I have attended a meeting with a detransitioner and watched others speak of what happens when you set foot on the path to the cliff while others cheer you along the way telling you that you are making the right choice. Never before have parents found their love, wisdom and knowledge of their children and their needs ignored or scorned, or found themselves condemned for asking them to wait and wonder. 

I understand that it must be so uplifting, encouraging, being told by others online: “You feel miserable, here’s why… and we’re here for you”. It must be so much better than your school experience where the vast majority of students treated you as “other” and not “one of us”, as these people in the trans community are saying to you, “welcome, we want you here”. Where will they be, those cheerleaders, when you wake from an anesthetic or weeks and months down the line going for injections or in pain as an outcome of the surgery you chose? 

I love you so much. I want to tell you that I am learning that taking testosterone sends you on a high and that it lasts for a considerable time. And then the “high” begins to dwindle and your body begins to suffer the consequences of this hormone experiment. I want to tell you that I am frightened you will start taking it when you are away from home and not tell me. I am frightened that you don’t want to talk this over with me. You know that I have listened and supported you through everything you have shared with me and I worry that even though I have actively encouraged you to talk to a therapist that maybe you have not done this. We both know that the first one was affirming and not really present and listening. I understand that you have a hatred towards your body and that I have no clue how to support you to begin to relate to it. I, who have a background in psychology, I feel helpless and clueless.

I want you to hear both sides, I want you to listen to detransitioners, I want you to understand the consequences of the life changing decisions you want to make. Do you understand that you cannot undo those transition decisions and return to the starting point? Do you understand that taking testosterone and choosing major surgery risks pain and it might not go away? Do you understand that taking a path to medically transitioning is choosing to become a long-term patient in the medical system, dealing with doctors and specialists who have little or no experience in helping you and who offer no support for the psychological pain you might feel as a result of making such decisions which you cannot fully reverse? I watched a series of documentary videos from Sweden in which a few young people were brave enough to share their experiences of transitioning and discovering how hard it was to live with their choices. 

I keep thinking that, if you came to me and said you were going to have sex, we would talk about the consequences of becoming pregnant. If you began to rely on drugs or alcohol, I would ask you where you thought it was going to lead. It’s my job, I signed up for it. 

I will not leave you, I will not do less than have your back. I will always be there for you. Please don’t exclude me when you are making frightening life changing decisions without understanding the consequences. There are things we can do, ways to find support and help to learn to value who you are. If you feel you are the kind of female who does not fit into the categories being shoved into our faces each day, there are many of us and we are big, expansive, beautiful souls just like you. 

Please don’t follow the crowd that is jumping off a cliff called transgender without knowing what happens if you do. 

Please take the time to find out the beautiful soul that is you, only you and no one else. 

Please give yourself that gift now before committing you and your soul to a life of suffering with the consequences of a decision that will limit rather than free you. 

Please let me in long enough to hear me out. 

- Your mother who loves you