Forged in the Fire, Together
These are the things I want to say to you. The things I want you to truly hear. When I decided to conceive you, I changed my life. I studied. I gave up alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, etc. I exercised, drank lots of water, attended to getting good sleep. You see, I wanted to give you the healthiest foundation possible. And you were born this perfect, achingly beautiful little being. A girl. My girl. I’ve tried to think of ways to refer to my children that don't use possessive language, but now I realize that’s not helpful. You are my child. And Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, aka ROGD, doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
For the first two years of your life, we co-slept and you nursed. We cuddled through the night in a mother/baby dance that bonded us forever. I rejected all the advice to put you in a crib, to let you “cry it out”, to give you formula. Instead, when you were upset and needed comfort, I put you to my breast. I always came to you when you cried. I knew through instinct that I was your lifeline and you wouldn’t learn to trust if I didn’t respond to your cries. Child development experts would say we became “attached.”
It was hard. I convinced myself I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. It was easier to think about a career and live the typical lifestyle that those around me had embraced. Dad got laid off, and I went back to work. In my tendency to get absorbed by my career, I became distracted from our bond. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the influences in your life. I saw you spending time on the internet teaching yourself artistic skills, to play instruments, to develop imaginative characters. I saw you and your friends bonding over shared interests like Anime, and...well, Anime. And your preteen angst seemed normal. When you told me you were anxious and depressed, I offered alternative framing and solutions instead of truly listening.
And now here we are. It guts me to know you’re binding the once healthy breasts needed to nurture your own future babies. My heart aches to think you want to have them removed and to take medicine that will sterilize you. I feel deep rage when I think of a culture that has groomed you to believe that your perfect, female form is somehow wrong, and that the self-harm you’re engaged in is somehow manifesting your “authentic self.” I am stunned by how our government, schools, media, and other institutions are fully captured by these misogynistic lies.
But, I have to also say that I am so very grateful. I had no idea our culture was being transformed by these poisonous ideas. That the safeguarding of women and children would be so easily sacrificed for the whims of a few powerful men. You brought this insidious movement into my awareness and now I feel compelled to be a soldier in the fight to stop it.
I also have to say that I understand. Since you opened up this world to me, I see the misogyny I truly didn’t realize existed. I see how scary it must be to imagine inhabiting womanhood. It makes perfect sense that, when given the opportunity, you would choose to opt out of the perceived horrors of being an adult human female in the fucked up world the internet has shown you. I also appreciate the allure of having full control over how you present yourself to the world, to be able to recreate yourself as a less vulnerable being, an avatar to shield your heart. I get it. I still see you. You can’t hide from me, but if you need to keep hiding from everyone else, I understand.
I also think you recognize and are intimidated by, even terrified of, the incredible power of the blossoming woman inside you. These entitled men see that power too. They recognize an elusive and beautiful state of being that their insatiable greed demands they conquer for themselves. It must be intolerable to know that a weak impersonation of womanhood is all they can ever accomplish. And so they've convinced themselves and others that they are victims and appeal to the generous nature of the hearts of women. They paint themselves as the "oppressed" because it gets them just a little closer to the experience they covet. These billionaires who throw their might around. They aggressively threaten to rape and kill us because they want us to shut up and stop reminding them they will never be women. Their testosterone shows. We see it. Some of us. Others are trying so hard to be virtuous. To be inclusive. To be good. And they’re so deep in it now, they can’t allow themselves to see what’s really happening. They’ll have to double-down because it will be too painful to realize the devastation that has spread because they allowed themselves to be groomed. Too painful to realize that they’ve participated in the grooming. She/her/hers. He/him/his. Beep/boop/bop.
I will be a soldier in this army. This is what I want to model for you. That womanhood is SO precious that I will fight for it. I will fight for your birthright to it even as you reject it. I will stand against this movement that is calling for the mutilation and sterilization of our children for the lie of “transgender.” I will not be shut up. I will not surrender women’s sports or safe places. I will not rest until the surgeons profiting from cutting healthy breasts off of teenage girls are held accountable. I will call for the dismantling of professional organizations that have shut down scientific inquiry that would illuminate their complicity in this monstrous movement.
I am also grateful for the call back to intentional motherhood. Your pain and your rejection of your female form has reflected back to me the work I still need to do. Nurturing our connection and being an example of a powerful woman who flows through Life's exhilarating highs and tragic lows with as much grace as possible while also finding pleasure in the mundane. These are my priorities now. It's a tall order, one that I know I fall far short of. But that's it too, isn't it? Modeling being an imperfect human with her own feelings and needs. You inspire me to continue to learn, and practice, and make mistakes, and ask for feedback and get defensive, and then come to believe that I failed you again, and feel the feelings that go with all of that because that’s what life is. It’s ALL OF THAT and so much joy and so much pain, and it’s the most amazing experience when you embrace the richness of it all instead of avoiding life's intensity. I found ways to hide when I was your age too. Adolescence is precarious for the divergent thinkers; disintegration is inevitable.
Yet, I believe in the foundation I gave you. My therapist reminded me once, "She's your daughter." We are enmeshed whether you like it or not. When you harm your otherwise healthy body, it strikes me at such a deep level, it cannot be explained to someone who has not known what it’s like to nurture another human in her womb. I know you need to individuate. I also know our connection is deeper and stronger than the messages coming at you from a broken civilization. I know the intensity of your determination. I recognize strength and courage in you and I trust in your intellect. Will you break free of the cognitive dissonance that's exhausting you before you “consent” to further harm your body? God, I hope so, but I don’t know. I know you will one day look back and see through all the bullshit and I hope you will not be too hard on yourself. You were a vulnerable teenage girl trying to shield your heart. I’m sorry I didn’t see it coming. I’m sorry I didn’t know you’d need me to teach you and keep reminding you what was always just obvious, basic knowledge throughout time. The difference between a boy and a girl. I’m sorry I didn’t know to protect you from the lies. There’s part of me that is sorry I can’t lie now.
We will both be forged in this fire.