A reader contacted me under a pseudonym a few months ago. She turned out to be a prominent Southern lawyer with a problem she hoped I’d write about. Her college-age daughter had always been a “girly girl” and intellectually precocious, but had struggled with anxiety and depression. She liked boys and had boyfriends in high school, but also faced social challenges and often found herself on the outs with cliques.
The young woman went off to college—which began, as it often does these days, with an invitation to state her name, sexual orientation and “pronouns.” When her anxiety flared during her first semester, she and several of her friends decided their angst had a fashionable cause: “gender dysphoria.” Within a year, the lawyer’s daughter had begun a course of testosterone. Her real drug—the one that hooked her—was the promise of a new identity. A shaved head, boys’ clothes and a new name formed the baptismal waters of a female-to-male rebirth.
What makes ROGD different from traditional gender dysphoria? Traditional gender dysphoria has been present in the patient for years. ROGD, writes Shrier, “is a social contagion that comes on suddenly in adolescence, afflicting teens who’d never exhibited any confusion about their sex.” More:
Like other social contagions, such as cutting and bulimia, ROGD overwhelmingly afflicts girls. But unlike other conditions, this one—though not necessarily its sufferers—gets full support from the medical community. The standard for dealing with teens who assert they are transgender is “affirmative care”—immediately granting the patient’s stated identity. There are, to be sure, a few dissenters. “This idea that what we’re supposed to do as therapists is to ‘affirm’? That’s not my job,” said psychotherapist Lisa Marchiano. “If I work with someone who’s really suicidal because his wife left him, I don’t call his wife up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to come back.’ . . . We don’t treat suicide by giving people exactly what they want.”
Actually, says Shrier, that is exactly what most doctors and therapists do when faced with ROGD. “Mrs DK,” a frequent commenter on this blog (and someone I’ve met personally), has said to us in this space many times how frustrating it is that the student health center at her daughter’s college gives testosterone to her daughter. There has been no medical diagnosis. The daughter is self-diagnosed.
Abigail Shrier confirms what Mrs DK has said in this space:
Nearly every force in society is aligned against these parents: Churches scramble to rewrite their liturgies for greater “inclusiveness.” Therapists and psychiatrists undermine parental authority with immediate affirmation of teens’ self-diagnoses. Campus counselors happily refer students to clinics that dispense hormones on the first visit. Laws against “conversion therapy,” which purports to cure homosexuality, are on the books in 14 states and the District of Columbia. These statutes also prohibit “efforts to change a patient’s . . . gender identity,” in the words of the New Jersey law—effectively threatening counselors who might otherwise dissuade teens from proceeding with hormone treatment or surgery.
If you have a WSJ subscription, read the whole thing. Follow this issue more closely on the 4th Wave Now website, which is also a support network.
These families are going through a nightmare, and as Shrier points out, nearly all the institutions of woke society — academia, media, law, even many churches — are demonizing the parents.
Don’t think for a second it can’t happen to you. Shrier reports that YouTube and social media are full of people advising teens and adolescents that gender transition is the solution to all their problems. It’s not just random teens on YouTube, either. Last year, a pastor here in Baton Rouge told me one of his congregants, a mother, came to him saying that when her 7th grade daughter started claiming to be a boy, the mom went to the middle school guidance counselor to seek more information about what was going on in the daughter’s social group. The guidance counselor told the mom that her best course of action was to “accept your son as he is.”
In her piece, Shrier says she interviewed 18 parents (14 moms), but only a couple allowed her to use their names. She reports that they’re all terrified of being cut off from their daughters completely. In my own experience talking with parents of kids going through this, many of them are also afraid of being smeared as bigots and suffering professionally and personally.
This surely must be why there is so little open resistance to this mania. What is it going to take to turn things around? I ask parents of ROGD sufferers who are going through this hell: what can the rest of us do to help? What do you need from us?
UPDATE: Mrs DK comments:
My 20-year-old has been on testosterone for a year and has made an appointment for a consult for a double mastectomy. She is paying for the consult and is aware that she will have to fund all co-pays related to transition. Apparently some college girls are able to get loans to do this. I plan to go along on the consult and would be interested in any thoughts from your commenters. It is impossible to express my level of anguish about this.
I think it’s important to remember that we need hands across the aisle on this one. I’m Eastern Orthodox and a crunchy con (no, I will not give it up!) — but my assessment of gender ideology would be the same if I was a far left atheist. The radical feminists, liberal parents, and lesbian moms in my ROGD support group are of one mind with conservatives when it comes to this issue. We may disagree when it comes to the ultimate meaning and purpose of human sexuality and marriage — but when it comes to human biology and to the social contagion of an ideology which is now driving laws and medical protocols — we are united. And we need to be, because this is sinister on a whole new level.
UPDATE.2: Joy in IL writes:
I am amazed at how prevalent this has rapidly become — the word “contagion” is apt. In the past few months, 2 teen girls of my immediate acquaintance have begun transitioning to living life as a male. A friend of mine who is a mental health counselor to adolescents in our upper middle class community in Chicagoland used to treat just your run of the mill anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc. Now she estimates ROGD accounts for half her patient load. It’s the new answer to the age-old teenage question of “why is my life so hard?”
Another reader comments:
How can you help?
Well, you could pray for us and our kids; that’d be a great start.
And some of you could maybe dial back the assumption that this is the deserved result of bad “progressive” parenting skills. Not all of us with kids caught up in it fit the mold depicted in the WSJ story. My kid went to a parochial grade school and a Catholic high school and we went to church regularly … there were nighttime prayers, Bible stories, Narnia books. You know?
And yet — for the past nearly 5 years, starting at age 15, my girl has been thinking it’d be a lot better to be a boy. We have managed to keep her from physical transition (other than, unfortunately, she binds), and she still is socially female as well (barely). Nevertheless, we are still in gender limbo and it could go either way.
This is a kid with some pretty significant pre-existing mental health stuff (adoptee with attachment disorder, ADD, anxiety) for which we have not been able to get treatment any time recently. When you live in a “conversion therapy law” state the choice is — take your kid to a psych who is obligated to view them through the gender lens first and foremost, and quickly usher them to physical transition — or stay away and see stuff that ought to be addressed, remain un-addressed. Even pediatricians are now counseled by their professional association to try to dig into it if their patients don’t seem to be properly conforming, and to possibly get child services involved if parents refuse to get aboard the transition express.
I’d just say, if your family’s not affected by this, be grateful to your God and don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. There are plenty of “good” families with prodigal kids. I’m not saying our family did it all correctly, but this kid, from the day she came into our family, has been struggling to let anyone (including God) get through the hard shell she’s made around her heart. I can only pray that I live long enough to see that change.
You can’t imagine what it’s like to have the entire educational/med/psych/media world fighting against your parental values and common sense. Again, if you’re not having to deal with such a thing, thank your God for that blessing. Be aware of what’s being taught in your schools. And say a prayer for the rest of us.
UPDATE.3: Katherine Cave:
This has been a 4+ year old nightmare for me since my daughter was 13. She has spent her entire teenage years believing and acting as if she is a teen boy. I have done everything to help her, from going to a gender clinic, consulting with countless therapists all over the world, and networking with other parents. We are truly on our own. I have been pushed to put my daughter lockers. I have been lied to by my child’s school. I have lost friends over this issue. I have absolutely no support, and have little hope for my daughter who plans to medically transition when she is legally able.
I have written to countless journalists, begging investigative reporters to look into this medical and psychological scandal. I have spent time and money to meet with some of them, only to never hear from them again.
The refusal of the media to cover this issue depresses and angers me more than I already am. The downright abusive of the transgender medical industry, with full endorsement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is unconscionable. I could go on and on…
This is a lonely, scary, and horrible nightmare. And I have no idea when or how it will end. I appreciate the few journalists like you, Rod, who continue to write about this scandal.