On the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria thread, reader Jared writes:
We are in the camp of not sending our children to public school at basically any cost. Over 10% of our income goes to their (very, very good Christian) private school (we don’t make all that much). As we live in IL, and hearing what our teacher friends say is coming down the pipes and already there with gender ideology, there is no way we could send them to public.
Rod, I would be very, *very* interested in a piece that explores and tracks ROGD in children based on internet, social media, and YouTube usage. I know it has been kicked around at the edges, but I have not seen anything that really delves into it. I have a very strong feeling that even more than schools, immediate friends and mainstream media, that the strongest driving factors are Reddit, YouTube, and social media sites where peers from all walks of life and all around the world relentlessly and continuously push and encourage it. Remembering how you talked about peers being the strongest influencing factor in a young person’s life, how much more so when those “friends” are at the very top of the pyramid and “universally” recognized by their own age group as ethical, moral, trendsetting thought-leaders by their peers? That is what truly frightens me the most (and why our kids (6 & 10) have very little internet usage).
I’m interested in advice from two kinds of people:
- Parents who are suffering through this nightmare, and
- Teachers and educational personnel who are observing it happen in their schools, and are alarmed by it.
Here’s what I want to know.
- For parents: how did it happen to your kid? What would you do different if you knew then what you know now? Who, and what, are the enemies here?
- For teachers and educational personnel: what trends do you see in terms of gender ideology? What’s coming? If you were advising parents on how to save their kids from this stuff, what would you tell them?
If you are a teacher, parent, etc., who is in favor of kids and teenagers transitioning, withhold your comments. I’m not interested in an argument with you. I’m looking for practical help for families.
I agree with Jared that you should get your kid out of a school environment (public or private) where this stuff is tolerated and encouraged. One parent told me a few years back that she was really worried about her daughter, because the culture at her daughter’s school was very pro-trans, as was the administration. Within a year, her daughter was identifying as trans. Now she’s in college, and transitioning.
It’s necessary, but not sufficient simply to put your kid in a school where this is not celebrated or tolerated. As long as your children’s peer culture is wrapped up in YouTube and social media, there is a vector for contamination with this virus. I watched one of the standard self-made YouTube videos posted by a female-to-male transperson — I took the still that illustrates this post from it — and it is both simple and powerful. You should watch it (almost 1.4 million others have since it was posted in 2017). Notice how manipulative the photos and the music are. For the person who made it, testosterone and surgery solved all her problems — that’s its message. Imagine watching that as a troubled teenage girl. Imagine that your friends are watching that kind of thing too.
UPDATE: First post out the door. Note well: this is from a homeschooling Christian father who was vigilant about his daughter’s online habits. And still!:
Yes, this happened to us.
My daughter was 14 when it all blew up, but had been growing for some years.
She’s exceptionally intelligent, with all the alienation and introspection that entails, but had always been very feminine.
Internet access and friend groups definitely had a major impact on her belief that she needed to be a boy to be happy. We’re a homeschooling family and I have our computers heavily locked down to avoid the worst things online, but I was not anticipating what could come through the “good sites”.
At age 11 or so, she got involved in a kids’ site that teaches coding and is heavily moderated to keep adults off of it. Nevertheless, another girl began role-playing with her in a way that became aggressively sexual – she was terrified, uncomfortable, and yet afraid to quit or ask us for help. She started to become very uncomfortable with the idea of sex or ever being a mom.
Through other discussion boards about comics she liked, she found warm, supportive friends who helped her understand that her discomfort might be because she was really “supposed to be” a boy. As you noted, there are also a wealth of YouTube voices reinforcing this. Also, unbeknownst to us, a friend of hers at church, whose parents were in our small group, had also discovered her transgender identity about a year earlier, and they reinforced each other.
When we realized what was happening, we had to make major changes about what she did online, who she spent time with, and got her into counseling. The counseling was not to convince her that she was really a girl, but to help her deal with the hurts and fears that she was seeking to solve by transitioning. We also reached out to the elders at our church, and our youth leaders made a concerted effort to pour love and acceptance into her and to show her a better place to find her value.
It’s been over a year now, and things are better, but not perfect. I’d love your prayers, if you’re reading this, because she ultimately needs Christ more than anything else.
Kids (like adults) base a the vast majority of their beliefs on what their peer group believes, and that is (from our experience) what parents have to change to break kids out of this – change both their physical and virtual worlds – even if they hate you for it.
UPDATE.2: Brie Jontry from Fourth Wave Now has a daughter who is a “desister” (transgender who returned to her birth gender). She comments:
You asked: -=-=-For parents: how did it happen to your kid? What would you do different if you knew then what you know now? Who, and what, are the enemies here? -=-=-
My advice to parents:
With young children, allow them to make all kinds of minor decisions as appropriate for their age. Being allowed to make small choices gives young people experience for making larger, more important choices and you want your children to feel comfortable with this ability.
My daughter believes that for many of her peers, being trans comes down to wanting control. Let your kids have control over things that are safe for them to control! Let them choose their hairstyle, clothing, toys….don’t let any of these things become a power struggle or a hard line in the sand where your child comes to believe that if they like X it means they’re the opposite gender
Monitor all online activity. Do not be sneaky if you can avoid it. Be honest and let your children know that your job is to keep them safe and Online can be a dangerous place. Be especially cognizant of online personas and avatars. Talk about fantasy and real-life. Don’t belittle your child’s interests or ideas and instead, use them as places to start a conversation
Practice the scientific method! I believe that my daughter’s experience with and love of science helped her navigate through these very anti-science ideas. Even very young children can practice the scientific method. Go on lots of nature walks, lay down on the earth, spend time watching animals and insects, clouds, wind moving through leaves.
Make sure your children know that even adults change their minds! If your child ever gets drawn into these ideas, it is critical that they know they can change their mind. It is critical that they know that changing one’s mind is one of the most powerful things a person can do.
Find ways to spend time in same-sex spaces where there is a wide range of representation. Make sure your kids know that there are feminine men and masculine women and that being gender nonconforming does not mean they were “born in the wrong body”!
If you homeschool, make sure that your children are able to socialize in real life as much as they want to. Real life friendships are very, very important. You do not want your child to seek friendships and a place to belong online.
Travel and make it a point to serve others. As much as possible, ensure that your child knows that there are worlds beyond their small little community and that a great many people face a great many hardships.
Even though I did all the above, my child still struggled, but much of her indoctrination came from a real-life friend group. Make sure homeschool coops, conferences, etc. are not ground zero
The one thing I would definitely do differently is to ensure a lot of intense physical activity. Being comfortable in one’s body, feeling the power and grace of one’s body, and being able to be in your body mindfully, are foundational aspects of avoiding/managing dysphoria.
1. Strained, antagonistic relationships between you and your child. You need for your child to trust you, to trust that you have their back and are not their enemy. Do not create space for “being trans” to be the defining moment of their individuation.
2. Online: Tumblr, DeviantArt, Instagram, and probably a bunch of other sites I’m unaware of.
Some young people tell me that fan fiction and anime spaces are dangerous. More on this here: https://medium.com/@socjuswiz/masculinity-anime-and-gender-dysphoria-8d682abcec54
I wish you all the best!