Just a Phase: We should never "transition" kids, teens, or young people
When my son was 13, he announced he was trans. He told me, he told his friends. He had sought advice online and reached his conclusion. He was sure, he said sadly. He wanted new pronouns, a new name, new clothes.
I cried, I hugged him. I told him that of course I would love and support him no matter what, that he was my precious child and I would do anything for him. I said all this because it was true. And also because I thought I had to “help” him be his authentic self and if he said he was “trans”, then of course he was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Difficult for him, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I believed what I had heard from my usual liberal media sources and peer groups. Why wouldn’t I?
But then I thought about my son castrating himself and messing with his endocrine system and it just felt…off. It didn’t seem like something to jump right into without really understanding what this was all about. Also, he was just a kid that I was still reminding to brush his teeth everyday!
So, after I picked myself off the floor. I decided to try something other than immediately “transitioning” my teen, socially or medically. I said, hey, you’re a kid and your focus should be on school, and being healthy. And, you’re going through puberty, which is a confusing time for everyone. Let’s not label you right now. That’s too constraining. Let’s just keep with the status quo and see how you feel when you’re an adult. These are adult matters and adult ideas that you really don’t need to concern yourself with at this moment, at your age. He agreed to give it a try, because he respected me and trusted my judgment, but also told me that he would never change his mind. This was just how he is and I would have to get used to it eventually. We ended the conversation with an awkward hug and an understanding that, for now, we would agree to disagree.
During the following year, I discovered and removed his secret access to porn, and his access to online “friends” that were helping him find his true self, his video games with girl avatars, and dropped the “affirming” therapist that told me I could have a living daughter or a dead son. With the time this freed up, my son got involved in school activities, spent time outdoors, and developed some new skills. He made some new friends. We didn’t talk about trans. He didn’t push, neither did I.
I gradually, very gradually, noticed a change in him. More confidence, standing taller, taking pride in his appearance and academic prowess. I kept a vigilant eye on his online activities, preserving the appearance of freedom for him, while safeguarding him from real harm. And during this time he became more mature in his interests and viewpoints, as he progressed naturally through puberty, that age-old real transition from childhood to adulthood. I held my breath but never brought up trans. Neither did he.
One day, at 15, he told me that he no longer felt like he was trans, almost as an aside.
He just simply didn’t feel that way anymore. That was it. No fanfare, no crying, no drama. It was so anticlimactic. This trans thing was such a huge deal to me that it had dominated every waking moment of my life since the day he made his trans announcement. I was so worried about him and his health and future. For him though, it was no big deal, and he was willing to just forget about it and leave it behind like a pair of old socks.
The whole process from “I’m a girl - deal with it”, to “yeah I don’t care about that any more” took about a year and a half . I’ve since met others with the same story. Their kids, so sure of their trans identities, so sure they would die if not affirmed and transitioned, simply grew out of it when left alone. If anyone tells you that kids don’t ever change their minds, they just “know” when they’re trans, that’s a willfully ignorant lie. It happens all the time. There is no evidence that trans is an innate state, and I have now personally seen kids change their minds on this topic. Honestly this should be absolutely unsurprising to any and all people who have kids or have been a kid (aka everyone). We are all in a state of flux, evolving, growing. It’s the nature of humanity and especially the nature of young humans whose brains are still forming and maturing.
My son grew out of trans, but he’s still a vulnerable teen susceptible to fads and contagions. He still needs to be reminded to brush his teeth. He may change his mind again or latch onto a new harmful fad like drugs, or eating disorders, or gambling, or…who knows? That’s why kids need their parents, to guide and protect them while they figure themselves out.
And all this is why we should never enable the social or medical transition of kids, teens or young people.
Parents in this mess often hear, affirm your child’s trans identity or her or she will commit suicide—it’s a matter of life or death—it’s really just that simple! It’s time to realize that, if activist teachers, LGBTQ+ clubs and support groups, affirming doctors and therapists, celebrating journalists, and gender clinics leave the kids alone and stop interfering with their identity formation process, everything will work out fine—it’s really just that simple.