Learning from the Detransitioners
Recently our parent group had the chance to speak with and listen to a small number of very impressive men who once identified as transgender, but no longer do—aka detransitioners. We were eager to hear from them, as each of the attending parents has a son swept up in the gender cult. These men present a possible path out of the ideology that we hoped to learn from.
Parents and children affected by gender ideology are told that detransition is incredibly rare. If you say you are trans, you are trans—it’s something that you can just know, with certainty. This “understanding” of the innate nature of trans is what allows self-identification as trans (the only possibility as it cannot be medically defined or tested) to be viewed as appropriate and valid.
Detransitioners, however, call all this into question. These men were quite sure they were trans, took steps to transition, and then realized, for various reasons, that they were not trans. Speaking with them brought us hope that one day our boys might detransition, and emerge with a renewed sense of wholeness, rather than sadness and desperation over the choices they have made.
Here were some of our takeaways:
Why did they become trans identified in the first place?
The men we spoke with discussed their low emotional maturity at the time of transition, and their feelings of anxiety and fear with themselves. In some of the cases, these men are gay, and experienced bullying for feminine behaviors as they were growing up, which pushed them further and reinforced the trans pathway for them. They all spoke of OCD tendencies and being on the autism spectrum as contributing to a pattern of black and white thinking that made trans identification appealing. Once “transitioned”, they felt better, for a time, since all those feelings of anxiety and fear, and problems they had with themselves, could be reframed as external problems instead of internal ones —as in, people don’t validate me because they are bigoted transphobes, the issue is with them, not with me. They all experienced the sense of belonging, love, and community with their trans identification, and spoke of how this is a cult that welcomes you with open arms, but it is very much a one way street.
So, if things felt better after “transition”, why did they detransition?
“Pointless”, “waste of time and money”, “delusional”, “acting” is how they described why they ultimately became disillusioned with trans as the solution for their problems. Most felt that their trans identity was a character that took tremendous effort to maintain…the voice, the clothes, the mannerisms…it was all playing a part that began to feel inauthentic (ironic given that trans is promoted as an acceptance of one’s authentic self!). It became a chore to put on the character day after day, even for those that “passed” as female.
The men we spoke with discussed that the mental illusion was also difficult to maintain, particularly when it came up against hard facts. Increasingly peer groups were fully living in their own delusions, and the detransitioners were seeing the constructed universe that other trans identified men were living in. Discussions of periods in men, and breast-feeding were some of the topics that they believed had gone too far, and they came to believe that they had no basis for understanding the physical realities that actual women faced, like endometriosis and heavy menstrual bleeding. They also came to feel that transition didn’t even serve its original purpose. As one man stated, “It was, in a way, pointless. It was spending a lot of time and money without necessarily making me happy.” They also found that any questioning of the narrative led to negative repercussions—further evidence of cult-like behavior that was off-putting. All these clues together began to break the illusion for them. For most, the emergence of detransitioner videos available online helped them to understand that detransition was an option, which is interesting considering that, for all, their trans identities were forged online, not through real world connections.
What can parents like us do to help our kids find their way out?
It was hard for us to hear, but all of the men agreed there is no silver bullet that will rescue our children from the gender cult. They all spoke of being dead-set on their path, and that no one could dissuade them once they were deep into the ideology—they had to find their own way out. Based on their experiences, they felt that parents in our situation have two choices— 1. either try to stay and stop things from going too far, or 2. say, “you know, I just can’t watch this, I can’t be a part of this anymore.”
What were some of the after effects of detransitioning?
There were some common themes they discussed about life after detransition. First and foremost, although they knew to expect trans community rejection, they were surprised by the vitriol. As they said, empathy gets dropped immediately when you detransition, your membership in the community is revoked and you are exiled. The gay men we spoke with talked about their memberships in the LGBT community as being “downgraded”. Interestingly, the gay men spoke of changes to their sexuality—prior to trans they were only same-sex attracted. However, while medically transitioned (ie on testosterone blockers and estrogen) they experienced some attraction to women. After detransition, they reverted to their original sexual orientation. For some that had had surgery, there were other things to contend with—ie being a male with breasts and without male genitalia.
Another surprise after detransition was the reaction of the radical feminists. Although the feminists are in a way natural allies against gender ideology, our detrans friends expressed their difficulties in interacting with them post detransition because they “bathe in their own trauma and project their own experiences with the men in their lives on us.” This really resonated with us moms of boys. We know our sons to be good, not violent fetishists who are seeking to invade women’s spaces. They are victims here too, like the detrans men on our call.
Parents are told that, if they do not affirm their children’s trans identities, their children will kills themselves. We were interested to learn that this was the mantra told to the detransitioners as well as they pursued transition—if they did not transition, they were likely to kill themselves. This led them to believe they had no choice. Knowing that this is the trans activists’ emotional blackmail strategy, through which they hold our whole culture captive, is part of what give our detransitioner friends, after detransition, the resolve to accept the changes in their bodies and try to move forward in a positive manner—because they know that, if they commit suicide rather than accept the consequences of the choices they made during transition, they will just be adding fuel to the suicide narrative. As one man stated: “I’m not going to be one of their fucking martyrs.”
These men believe that the wave of detransition is just starting, and by the Fall the numbers will be overwhelming. People are awakening to what has happened, and once the wave begins to crest, it will be an unstoppable force. They are stepping up in online communities, and through outreach to groups like our parents’ group to bring an end to transgender ideology. In the words of one of our new friends, “It’s a cult, a religious cult, and I’m going to bring the whole fucking temple down on their head.”
When they do, parents will be right by their side.
After the call, we reached out to the men on our call and other detrans men to see if they would be willing to answer some specific questions for us. Here is the wisdom that they shared (pseudonyms used):
What would you have wanted your parents to say to you?
“Rick”: I barely understood what I was doing—my parents had no chance of understanding. Both reacted in their own way; my dad distanced himself and my mother became even more anxious. I was too ashamed to face my dad and I felt like anything I said would have upset my mother so i just kept it to myself.
“Alex”: Honestly, I don't know, I was so deep down the trans rabbit hole I don't think there was much my parents could have said to get me out of it, although they tried. Maybe it would have made a difference if they had questioned me more about why I wasn't simply a gay man and why I hadn’t even tried gay dating before I wanted to transition.
“Tyler”: I don't think there was anything my parents could have said to stop me. I want to say knowing about the long-term health effects would have made a difference, but honestly I was so delusional I might have just dismissed them. I was a teenager, which means I was an idiot who thought I knew better than everyone because I'd learned a few things about the world, and I was especially unwilling to listen to my parents. If I'd had friends who were sane I might have listened to them. The problem was that an ideology had hold of me, and that ideology told me: being male is wrong, any discomfort with restrictive gender roles or your developing body is a symptom of gender dysphoria, the appropriate response to gender dysphoria is to transition, you need to transition ASAP or you'll never "pass", and anyone who restricts your access to hormones is a bigot who wants to hurt you which means you can lie to them with impunity (including claiming to have had gender dysphoria for a long time, exaggerating symptoms, hiding or underplaying parts of your experience which might be red flags, and making suicide threats you'd never actually go through with). I don't think that's something parents have control over, but they should be aware that their kid is getting this stuff either from the internet or friend groups at school.
“Nate”: I would've wanted them to understand that I was going through something profound and quite different from their childhoods. I'm not sure what they could've said that would've changed my mind, but I really needed to spend some time with them that they weren't willing (or able) to spare. Fighting about it only strengthened my resolve and proved they didn't understand. Forcing me to drop all my social circles didn't help either. I'm not sure what they could've said, but I needed attention they couldn't spare.
“Andy”: I wish that they had questioned me more and asked why I felt like this instead of just accepting what I said at face value.
“Max”: I wish my parents would have encouraged me more to accept my effeminacy and gender non-conformity because I was very ashamed and disgusted of it due to internalized homophobia. They were way too supportive of my transition even though I was already 19 years old when I first IDed as trans. My parents never questioned any decision I made in my life.
What would have stopped you?
“Rick”: Actual therapy to deal with my crippling OCD. I tried to get help and as I was going through the system for OCD I became fixated with gender dysphoria, which should have been a red flag in itself. Also maybe an autism assessment, because that naturally does act as a safeguard in some scenarios and most of us are on the scale somewhere.
“Alex”: A good therapist who would have questioned more and confronted me with my actual reasons to transition rather than ignoring the red flags for the sake of not offending me.
“Tyler”: I needed a different perspective. I needed to believe that there were good things about being male, that I had value, and that I didn't need to change myself to be worthy of love and affection.
“Nate”: What would've stopped me was a change in behavior, an interest in my interests. Their attempts to relate to me with their interests made me feel even more alienated from them. Not sure they could've stopped me by brute-forcing the hormone discussion because they tried that, and they didn't really care what I was experiencing, as a guy. Feminist platitudes made it worse.
“Andy”: I don't know for certain if anything would have stopped me because I was really hellbent on being trans.
What did you need to hear from your parents or anyone?
“Rick”: My dad told me by text that "We all live and die by our choices and we must accept the consequences" which is true, and I do take responsibility, but it kinda felt like "Whatever, you’re an adult I don’t care." And I kinda wanted him to care.
“Alex”: That my loneliness would disappear once I got to know people like me, I just needed to look for them. That things from my past weren't my fault, I had not deserved them and that what happened to me was unfair. That there was nothing wrong with me, I just needed to learn to accept myself and stop blaming me for things that happened to me as a child/teenager.
“Tyler”: While totally changing your kid's mindset might be hard, keeping them off hormones until they turn 18 is probably possible, and during that time it's worthwhile to try to broaden their perspectives and teach them self-love (which is very different from the "self-care" peddled online).
“Nate”: I needed proof that I was valued, that I wasn't just a prop in their lives. I needed proof that my body was me, not my self-ascribed identity. I needed to not be told I was the problem.
“Andy”: I needed to hear that being trans is sinful and that also I was not less of a person for not fitting in with male gender roles and having an issue with how men are treated. I needed to hear that I would not really be more living a more authentic life by transitioning.. and that things would actually be harder than easier.
Any other advice?
“Rick”: The person who probably could have helped me the most was my brother, but he didn't take it well. I never cut anyone out, but they did cut me and becoming estranged really made it easy for me to ruin myself, even though i had a few family members sticking by. There is no magic phrase that will wake someone up people, there is however something to be said for active listening.
“Alex” : Don't push things, don't forbid things, it will work the opposite way. Ask questions and try to challenge them to change their views. Be critical, don't stop questioning until all is clear, but do so in an open and friendly way, don't be hostile or attacking. This is mostly what happened in my case because my parents did challenge and question me but they were very hostile and I felt attacked all the time so I shut it down and refused to listen. I felt like if they were more open it would have had more of an effect.
“Tyler”: If you can help connect them with a positive community which hasn't been taken over by the trans ideology, that might be the best thing for them.
“Nate”: Try to take an interest in their online life, even if you don't like where they're going. Try to get in touch with the lingo and try to relate to them on that level. Prevention is the best medicine, but if trans is already part of your life, don't expect for it to resolve because of your efforts. They have to figure it out on their own at that point, and you just need to be ready for when the shoe drops. Stand firm on against body modification, but reiterate you'll always be there for them no matter what. My family was very wrapped up in themselves. They didn't notice my interests had shifted, and not for lack of me trying to show them. They were pushing stuff we used to have in common, but I had started to leave it behind, and they kept pushing it, which pushed me away.
“Andy”: Literally just touch grass. Being on the internet all day obsessing about gender and sexuality and stuff is horrible for you and even if it doesn't lead you to alter your body it will still do a number on your spiritual and mental well being.
For more on the experiences of detransitioned men, read their first hand accounts on the following links. Let’s take the time to listen to and learn from these brave trailblazers: