No More Mister Nice Mom
ROGD Moms: Steal this letter.
Hello Principal ——, Mr. —— and Teachers,
I'm writing to follow up on the letter I sent opposing Administrative Regulation 259 on August 15. I've only heard back from Sonia Robertson, who implied that my position was unjustified based on the overwhelming support and applause the policy received. Her response resolved nothing and instead confirmed my unease with the school's current approach to kids like Jamie*.
Our case is not unusual. Cash/Ash (legally Jamie) showed zero signs of gender dysphoria as a child; in the past year or so, after coming out as pansexual in sixth grade and a lesbian in eighth grade, she has now come to believe she is not a woman but a gay man, i.e, "transmasc." Partly responsible is the culture at large which has heavily influenced our daughter, plus thousands of girls around the world. Based on this phenomenon, along with the sixteen years we've spent raising her, it is our conviction that Jamie is not transgender. Additionally she is neither and has never been suicidal, meaning, she is not at risk if she is not affirmed. If affirmed however, she is at risk of medicalizing her beliefs due to psychosocial treatment at school and at risk for mental distress.
To this end, in order to maintain our closeness and simultaneously protect her from potential harm, here is the approach we use with Jamie at home, that her therapist utilizes in treatment, and the one we formally request you use at school:
1) Avoid calling her by name. We neither affirm nor deny her gender identity and instead focus on other facets of her life, such as school, work, friends, hobbies, etc. You may call her Ash, sparingly if possible, and when speaking with us, please refer to her as Jamie.
2) Please refrain from using ANY third person pronouns. We understand that our daughter will be emotionally hurt by the use of she/her pronouns, so we are not asking for that, but we also are learning that affirming they/them or he/him pronouns carries a risk of iatrogenesis, which is an intervention that is itself the cause of an illness. In other words, social transition is part of a medical protocol that has medical implications. It bears emphasizing that affirming a child's transgender identity is not a task to be taken lightly. Social transition is a serious psychological and medical approach that necessitates cooperation, input and expertise by doctors, therapists and parents.
3) Please do not ask her for her pronouns. This furthers her confusion and puts far too much importance on her perceived identity. Refrain from the gender conversation whenever possible.
4) Do not keep secrets from us. Do not change her name or pronouns or affirm any emerging identities without first notifying us.
My husband and I thankfully have a close relationship with our daughter. She knows that we are not transphobic, but skeptical, and that we have her best interests at heart. She knows that we are on her side, even if we don't side with her.
Regardless of the policy and whether or not it gets amended to support kids like Jamie, it is our hope to work with the school instead of against it, in order to truly keep our daughter safe from harm, so that she can learn and thrive this year and in the future.
Thank you for reading. Please let us know in a timely fashion that you agree to our request, and we are available to meet to discuss the matter further if you wish.
Well done. This can serve as a loose template for many parents struggling to make school a truly "safe place" for their gender-confused children. I wish I had been as clued in as you are, back when my daughter was in middle school and high school. She is now 19 and on the verge of obtaining hormones under her college's mandatory medical coverage . . .
So good! Yes to speaking the truth, to reclaiming your voice as a parent, and to advocating for your daughter.
Some schools are starting to listen. The numbers of girls requesting alternate gender identities speak for themselves - anyone who works with teens can no longer claim it's "a tiny percentage". I have now had this conversation (I'm calling it "The Talk" now) with my daughter's school, a summer camp director, a teen safety program director, and a music school, with varied results. I wrote a letter - similar to your first one - to my daughter's high school. The principal replied that teachers would no longer be asking explicitly for pronoun identification. We have to keep this dialogue open, even when it's so hard.