Living in a War Zone: My Daughter's Tragedy in Slow Motion
I am speaking as the parent of a young woman who declared a transgender identity aged 17, (a month prior to turning 18) completely out of the blue. So many parents feel that they cannot speak out for fear of harming their relationship with their child. I am speaking because, as I have sadly discovered over the last 3 years, this phenomenon is much, much bigger than my family, and we most certainly do need to talk about it and raise awareness of what is being done to our children. Our daughter has just turned 21 and has been in the transgender bubble for just over 3 years. She had been estranged from us for the past year, however she miraculously reached out to us exactly one week ago. For that reason, the last week has been a very emotional one for our family. There has been so much damage done and the healing process will be a long and rocky road, yet right now I have a glimmer of hope that I certainly did not have when I started writing this several weeks ago.
Our daughter was raised in a loving, supportive family. She has three older half-brothers who are now 31, 33 and 36, and a younger brother who is now 16. They were all raised by us in the same loving way we raised our daughter. We have a fabulous relationship with all of her brothers. Growing up she was not particularly “girly” and did not like dolls for example, but I thought nothing of that because I hated dolls as a kid and I was a bit of a tomboy myself. She loved soccer and handball and she was a brown belt in taekwondo. She tried so many extra-curricular activities – dance, singing, gymnastics, swimming and tennis – to name a few. She used to walk with me every morning when I walked our dogs and went to the gym with me as well. She enjoyed shopping with me and choosing her own clothes. We would go and have our nails painted together. We would go to plays and concerts together. We had such a close and loving relationship. She was very smart and did really well at school.
She was bullied at school and as a result of the bullying and the lack of support from the school, we moved her to a new school when she was 13 years old. That went well for the first 2 years and she had a stable friendship group of really lovely girls. Around the time she turned 15 she switched friendship groups. The new group had a girl who “did not identify as a girl” and that was my first introduction to gender ideology. I felt the new friends had a very negative influence on our daughter.
Our daughter started experiencing mental health problems in early 2016, shortly after turning 15 and around the same time she changed friendship groups. For three years, while she was aged 15, 16 and 17, these mental health problems continued. We moved through both the public system (called CAMHS) and private mental health systems in our efforts to find help for our daughter. We collected diagnoses of Anxiety, Depression, Bi-Polar and possible Borderline Personality Disorder in that 3 year period. We took our daughter to over 70 medical appointments related to her mental health in that 3 year period. At all times we were treated well by the medical professionals who were treating our daughter. We were described as loving and supportive parents. Our daughter did not respond well to medication for anxiety and depression, it actually made her feel worse. When we declined to continue with medication both in the public (CAMHS) and private clinical settings, at no time were we criticised or treated badly by the medical professionals who were treating our daughter. CAMHS said they would not see her any more if she was not medicalised, but by then we had found a private psychiatrist and he did not insist on medicalisation. CAMHS most certainly did not try to report us to child protection services or bad mouth us because we did not want to medicalise our daughter for her mental health problems. We were focusing on diet, exercise, love, support and psychotherapy.
Over 2018 our daughter’s mental health became much worse. We found out that she was cutting herself and binge eating as well. She had always been very conscious of what she ate - in a healthy way - as she had been a vegetarian for several years. In hindsight I believe that this time period was when she started focusing on transgender. She ended up having a 4 week admission to the mental health ward of a local private hospital in June 2018, as it reached the point that she was refusing to get out of bed and refusing to go to school. When she came out of the hospital after those 4 weeks she cut her hair short.
The next few months were extremely traumatic for our family. She barely attended school, became aggressive and verbally abusive towards us and her younger brother. She was lying, stealing, binge eating and would not do anything that we asked of her. I found out she was smoking marijuana. If we wanted to go out as a family with her younger brother to say a soccer match, she would declare she was anxious and suicidal, so that I could not go. She became extremely manipulative. The stress we were under was enormous. Our son was 13 at that point in time and the distress of her abusive behaviour caused him to become anorexic. I remember him curling up in a foetal position on the floor and sobbing, begging her to stop her out of control behaviour. I guess our son saw that his intake of food was the one thing he could control. We were pretty much shattered as a family. I remember sitting in her GPs office sobbing and begging for help. It really was a nightmare. I believe it was over this time period she started to become engrossed with on line Trans sites. I later found a history in her web browser full of trans searches and sites.
Then, in October 2018 she announced, all over social media, that she was in fact a male named Josh. She claimed that she had told people at school months before and had been going by that name at school for some time. She told us that everyone at school, including the teachers, were supportive. Considering I had been in contact with the school regularly because of her mental health problems and the fact that she had many absences from school, I was stunned to find out no one from the school had contacted us about her transgender announcement.
She had a scheduled visit to her psychiatrist that week she announced she was trans, and she told her psychiatrist that she was suicidal, so he insisted that we take her to our local public hospital for admission to the adolescent mental health ward. The psychiatric registrar who admitted our daughter to hospital said he thought that she had Borderline Personality Disorder. After an all-night admission which my husband accompanied her with, I went to the hospital to visit her the following day. When I asked to see our daughter, I was told that I had a son. Already above her bed was the male name.
I was aware that two other girls who attended her drama group were saying that they were boys, so I was very skeptical of her announcement of trans. She had never displayed any signs of gender dysphoria. My skepticism was dismissed by the staff of the mental health ward. As parents who did not immediately affirm our child’s declaration of transgender, we were shamed and bullied by the medical professionals in that hospital ward. All of our voiced concerns were swept aside, and we were put down by hospital staff in front of our daughter, accused of being bigoted, not inclusive and transphobic. We were also told that we must accept that we now had a son or she would kill herself. They said “Would you rather have a live son or a dead daughter?” They said they wanted to introduce her to a transgender staff member. The very next day was a Saturday, and I was called by the hospital to come and take our daughter out on day leave. I remember thinking at the time that they could not be too concerned about her being suicidal if they sent her home on day leave 24 hours after being admitted.
At a family meeting at the hospital we were ridiculed for “dressing her like a girl” when she was little. They were not one bit interested in her complex, 3 year, mental health history. We were told that she needed an immediate referral to an endocrinologist for hormones. She was 17 and we said no, that we did not agree to the referral and that we were returning to her GP and private psychiatrist. They needed our agreement for that referral. The hospital went ahead with the referral and wrote up her discharge summary saying that we did agree to the referral for hormones. Our GP recommended we take her to a private psychiatrist in our home town who specialised in gender. The only trouble was it was six months waiting list before we could get in to see him.
From that point in time (being the hospital admission) our relationship with our daughter deteriorated significantly. She came out of the hospital after 5 nights and immediately shaved her head. The abuse she directed towards us escalated and she was pretty much out of control. Her lying, binge eating and manipulative behaviour continued. She had another scheduled 3 week hospital admission in November-December 2018 in the same mental health ward of the same private hospital as she had been in 5 months earlier, except this time they pretended she was a boy. There was no improvement in her behaviour. She left the hospital on day leave against the wishes of her treating psychiatrist to attend the endocrinologist appointment that had been made as a result of her October public hospital admission – the appointment we did not agree to. By this time she had turned 18.
When I went searching I was absolutely stunned about what I found in the browser history of our daughter’s computer. It was almost unbelievable. You tube videos of young girls singing the praises of testosterone, showcasing the changes to their bodies and cheering each other on. Bragging about surgeries and showing off the scars of double mastectomies. It was macabre. I felt like I had landed in the middle of some sort of alien world, some parallel universe. How could anyone be cheering all these young people on to do such harm to themselves? I can honestly say I have never been as disturbed by anything in my entire life. I found messages from transgender adults, cheering our daughter on and telling her to get rid of her unsupportive family. “Snip snip the mother f…ers” was one phrase I will never forget. That was from an Australian trans adult who is portrayed in our media as some sort of hero. All I could see was red flags and grooming.
As a family we were on the verge of breaking down, the stress was just unbearable. We were subject to daily torrents of verbal abuse and we were called the most despicable things. I was told I was a disgusting & pathetic parent, a white privileged bigot, a boring heterosexual, a transphobe – the abuse just went on and on. It was like someone had put a script in her head because it did not sound like our daughter at all. The things she was saying were just bizarre. She would stand with her face so close to mine and unleash her fury. I remember going out with friends one night and coming home to find my husband hiding in the garden, just to escape her rages. We limped through Christmas and the New Year and went on our annual family holiday in January 2019. She did everything in her power to spoil the holiday. It wasn’t a good time for the rest of us.
She was meant to be in her final year of school in 2019, however due to missing most of the previous school year she could not continue with school. We suggested she do a one year University course that would give her the equivalent of her School Leaving Certificate. She enrolled in that course and on the day she was due to start she wouldn’t get out of bed, telling me she had taken pills. I called an ambulance and she was taken to the hospital. I think I was just skin and bone myself at that time. I’d lost so much weight with the constant stress. I really don’t know how we managed to keep going. When I say it was like living in a war zone I am not exaggerating.
A few weeks later after the usual daily torrent of her abuse from her, I told her I wasn’t going to be treated like that anymore and her brother lunged at her, and we had to restrain him. She left the house and went up the road to her glitter family, a girl she went to school with whose mother would pretend she was boy. She told the mother her father had threatened her, so the mother took her to the police station and later that evening the Police knocked on our door and a DVO was served on my husband. The Police did not even bother to come and talk to us or to find out our side of what had happened or how she had been behaving towards us.
We realised at that point in time we could no longer have her living with us. A friend of ours owned a house that had rooms he rented out to University students for accommodation and luckily one room was vacant, so we moved her in there and paid 50% of the rent. It was only a few blocks from our house. She immediately started on testosterone and dropped out of University. I still had some contact with her over the course of that year, which was 2019.
We tried to challenge the DVO in court, however after the hearing was adjourned 3 times and by then having several thousand dollars of legal bills already incurred, we just gave up. It was just too distressing and a ridiculous waste of money.
At her request, I went to an appointment with her to the endocrinologist in May 2019. At that point I had not seen her since March when she moved out and was not aware she had started testosterone. I later found out she had been started on testosterone at the second appointment with the endocrinologist. She’d seen the endocrinologist in the December 2018 and then was given a script for testosterone in March 2019. No psychiatry, no psychology, no examination of her three year mental health history. A seriously mentally unwell teenager given hormones that would make irreversible changes to her body.
My sister, who is a medical practitioner, came to the endocrinologist appointment with me. There was a “multi-disciplinary team of 3 people” at the meeting, the paediatric endocrinologist, a nurse and a social worker. I explained to them that we were waiting to see a private psychiatrist who specialised in gender. We had made the appointment to see him in December of the previous year – he had a waiting time of over 6 months before we could get in to see him, and the appointment was not until June 2019, which was the following month. The multi-disciplinary team said “Oh we are so pleased to meet you” yet sat there at the meeting and did not bother to mention that they had already started our daughter on testosterone in March. I was suspicious. Her voice had gone gravelly. When I asked them were they aware of her extensive mental health history they said no they were not. This was despite her being referred to them by the adolescent mental health ward of the very same hospital in which the endocrinologist had her clinic. The endocrinologist said “Don’t you just want your daughter to be happy”. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing. Then they said they were referring her to an adult endocrinologist as she was now 18.
We accompanied her to the gender psychiatrist appointment the following month, and he diagnosed her with Complex PTSD which he said was caused by childhood bullying. He was shocked she had been started on testosterone, and said that he would not have recommended it. He then told us he was closing his books to anyone under 25 so could not see her again.
By now I had nearly a year of research under my belt. I remember finding Lisa Littman’s research and rejoicing. I remember finding Abigail Shrier’s first article “When your Daughter Defies Biology”. I remember finding Fourth Wave Now and Parents of ROGD kids. I remember being put in contact (via the USA) with an Australian Mum, who I ended up speaking to for hours. My goodness, I was actually not alone in my skepticism. The more I researched, the more gender critical articles I found, and the more I realised how shocking and wide spread this medical scandal actually was.
In September of that year, 2019, I accompanied our daughter to an appointment with the adult endocrinologist. I took a stack of those articles I had read to the adult endocrinologist and tried to engage her in a discussion about how concerned we were about our daughter’s mental health and how many people were starting to speak out about this social contagion. I was dismissed by the adult endocrinologist, who told me the “Your daughter is over 18, she can do what she likes”. I remember being in total disbelief. How could a medical practitioner have so little regard for their seriously mentally unwell patient?
Our daughter’s life continued to spiral. She refused to spend Christmas with us that year. I actually found out that she was going to get on a plane and fly to another state in Australia to meet a Trans person she met on line. A complete stranger. We managed to stop her doing that.
2020 rolled around and she was still doing nothing with her life. I encouraged her to seek mental health help, and arranged an admission to a different private hospital with a mental health ward. This hospital had been recommended by a friend. She went in voluntarily in February 2020 for 6 weeks. The psychiatrist she was under refused to discuss her Trans identification with us or acknowledge our concerns about the global spike in young women presenting as transgender. It was a total waste of time. She was discharged as COVID was closing in on Australia, and I suggested she go and stay with my two sisters who were providing palliative care to our elderly father, who had just been discharged from the hospital after a fall and we thought he was going to die. My sisters saw first-hand the extent of her mental health problems. She did not get out of bed before 4pm every day. No matter what they did, she refused to try to help herself. After 3 weeks staying with them she went back to the student accommodation and stayed locked in her room, doing nothing.
In June of that year I had not been able to contact her for several days, so went to her room and finally she answered the door. I can honestly say I have never seen someone living in such squalor. No sheets on the bed, a sea of clothes and towels and take away food remnants. My heart just broke. It took me 2 days and countless loads of washing to clean the place up.
We eventually had her accepted into a program through the private hospital she had been in earlier in the year that was a weekly Dialectal Behavioural Therapy (DBT) class. It was a 45 minute drive and my husband would pick her up, drive her out there, then come back for her 3 hours later when the class finished. After the first week of attending the therapy class she went back to using her own name. Within a few weeks she stopped taking testosterone. We could see this huge improvement in her. She was coming over once a week for dinner. Our son refused to see her so he would stay inside and we would eat out in our back room and watch a movie. She had befriended a lovely French girl who was living in the student accommodation, and she would come around with her and take our dogs for a walk. Then her paternal grandmother died in late August 2020 and the French girl returned to France, and we noticed that she had started binding her breasts again.
Then she told us she had seen a local plastic surgeon to have her breasts cut off. We suddenly had an uneasy feeling, and wondered if she could use our private health cover to do this. We rang our health fund and found out they had issued a quote to a local private hospital the week before for the surgery. We immediately removed our daughter from our private health fund. We wrote to the plastic surgeon, a long letter detailing our daughter’s mental health history and our grave concerns not only for her and her welfare, but for the growing number of young people caught up in what we saw as a social contagion. Our daughter actually gave us permission to speak to the surgeon about her. I asked him was he cutting the breasts off young women ten years ago. He sheepishly replied “No”. We made it very clear that we did not support our daughter doing this. He made the comment that we were the first parents to object. I know that the 2 young women our daughter went to drama group with both had their breasts cut off, cheered on by their parents.
After speaking to him we wrote a second letter to him and I delivered it with a copy of Abigail, Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage. We also wrote to the private hospital where he operates. We pretty much put them on notice that our daughter was seriously mentally unwell and that we hoped they had procedures in place to ensure patients were able to give consent. We found out that the surgeon called our daughter after that and told her he would not do the surgery. He still advertises for top surgery on his website. I just find it so abhorrent that surgeons are profiteering from the distress of mentally unwell adolescents and young adults.
I briefly managed to get our daughter to see another psychiatrist around this time and knowing that he was gender critical I hoped for a miracle. After several sessions with him she refused to see him again. He did diagnose her with ADHD and being on the Autism Spectrum as well. The Autism spectrum diagnosis really made sense. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Looking back I can see that she was always on periphery of her friendship groups and that she never really felt like she fitted in or that she was like other girls. This clearly became more obvious as she went through her teenage years. Yet of all the health professionals I had taken her to over those 3 years, no one had ever considered Autism Spectrum.
Sadly our daughter became more and more alienated from us. We really saw that she fell back down the trans rabbit hole, just as we had hopes that she was coming out of it. She refused to see us for Christmas 2020, and In January 2021 told us she never wanted to see or speak to us again. She moved from the student accommodation & blocked all our numbers.
It is now three years since she declared she was transgender, and she has spent that three years on a disability support pension for mental health, not working and not studying. She has attempted study but withdrawn from every course she has attempted.
In 2019 and 2020 I wrote countless letters – to the hospital who put her on hormones, to the Australian Medical Association, to our State and Federal Health Ministers, to our Premier and Prime Minister, the Australian Health Minsters Advisory Council, and was fobbed off every time. We complained to our Health Care Complaints Commission about our mentally unwell daughter being put on testosterone. They dismissed that complaint. We submitted another complaint about the falsification of our daughter’s discharge summary by the hospital – saying we agreed to the hormone referral when we did not. That complaint was also dismissed, saying they ascertained that there was “an apparent agreement”.
I have spent three years now reading and researching the enormous spike in young people around the world declaring a transgender identity. I devote sometimes hours a day to research, reading and activism. I have been able to recognise the evolution of gender ideology and its nebulous concept of gender identity, heavily promoted by mainstream media and social media as glamorous, brave, stunning and cool. I have come into contact with so many parents like myself, all gravely concerned about the social contagion that our children have been swept up in and the scale of the harm that is being done by irreversible interventions like hormones and surgeries. I have read far too many heartbreaking stories of regret, of young people with maimed and permanently disfigured bodies – bodies that they will never be able to return to how they were. The pattern is the same, over and over again. Children and young adults who are mentally unwell, perhaps traumatised with histories of bullying or sexual assault, children who are most likely same sex attracted, children who are on the Autism spectrum, neuro diverse children, kids who are misfits or socially awkward. Trans suddenly gives them status and credibility, and they become the centre of attention.
It is hard to imagine any other medical condition with a serious, life-altering treatment where the diagnosis is solely dependent on the reliability and accuracy of a child's or young person’s self-report. We were supposed to accept, unquestioning, the crazy notion that our female child became a boy overnight at age 17, and therefore needed to alter her body to match some invisible internal identity. It was, to us, an obvious mental health issue. Our daughter had serious mental health issues over a three year period prior to her self-diagnosis of transgender. There were serious red flags waving. These issues, these red flags, were all completely ignored by the medical profession. She has also had another three years of very poor mental health since, because in their rush to affirm transgender to the complete dismissal of all of her comorbidities, the medical profession has failed to treat her appropriately.
Parents understand social contagion amongst teens. We were teens once as well. Social contagions have always existed. What has changed is now the influence that comes from thousands upon thousands on social media and the misinformation on the internet. There was a cluster of girls in our daughter’s drama group who declared that they were transgender. Three young women, all in the same drama class, suddenly becoming transgender? Surely that alone should raise red flags with any credible medical practitioner. Yet instead of seeing this social contagion for what it really is, the medical profession have lost sight of the Hippocratic Oath, and have accepted the self-diagnosis of these young people. It beggars belief.
We all know that puberty is an uncomfortable physical and emotional time for adolescents. Yet in order to reach maturity, we have to go through it. Puberty is not a disease and nor is it optional. It is the only path to our adult selves. To stop this in children is inconceivable. To put a mentally unwell and traumatized teenager on opposite sex hormones is inconceivable.
What has upset me greatly is the role I have discovered that government funded organizations like ACON & Trans hub in Australia are playing in the grooming of young people. These are organisations similar to Mermaids & Stonewall in the UK. ACON have actively encouraged our daughter to undergo a double mastectomy and have given her advice that is, in my opinion, negligent. They told our daughter that “top surgery” is nothing like a double mastectomy (for cancer) and that she does not need her “unsupportive family” because they will not help support her. We know that they have actively encouraged her to stay alienated from us. The negative narratives and victimhood that these organisations promote are harmful to the mental health of our children. They have a spiel that you can make your own chosen family and discard your true family. The true family who actually love you unconditionally yet want to keep you from harm.
As a mother I read to my daughter every single night for many years, I took her to plays, concerts, musicals, overseas and interstate holidays, she played sports and took part in many cultural activities. Yet I have been labelled an abusive and unsupportive parent by Medical Practitioners who really don’t even know me.
Being a member of parent support groups, both Australian and internationally, has been crucial to help me get through the grief, shock and horror of the last 3 years. Sadly it has also opened my eyes to how wide spread the harm is and how many families have been devastated and broken by gender ideology. Once you know what is actually happening, you can’t un-know it. Yet mainstream media refuse to report on this scandal and most politicians refuse to engage with it. We are truly in a war to save our children from harm. We need to stop the harm now. We are in the midst of an enormous medical scandal.