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The day I'd had enough of media bullshit

LETTER TO JANICE TURNER (and some of the horrific commentators)

Today is the day that I hit an all-time low in terms of your distorted and dangerous comments about transgender people. How we can be in 2017 and be publishing toxic bullshit that defines an entire group of humanity solely by the contents of their pants leaves me both breathless with astonishment and incandescent with rage. 

I am the mother of an 11- year old trans child and we have known since she was 4. We let her find her own way, explore her identity and didn't get third party specialists involved until it became a major source of fear and anxiety for her around 8 years old. Many people in society accuse us of child abuse, or "persuasion", or for hurting our child emotionally and setting her up for a lifetime of genital mutilation and hormone pumping. Let me tell you some of the realities Janice. This is a DANGEROUS AND PERNICIOUS LIE WITH FATAL CONSEQUENCES and you are perpetuating it.


Until you are the parent of a trans child you have no idea what is like. How hard it is. How you live in fear every day for your child's safety at school, on the street, in adulthood. You think we choose or encourage this? You think there is a “mindless rush” to be PC and “right-on”? What planet are you on?? Would you choose to see your child deteriorate into a panicked and confused state because "God made me all wrong". Would you choose to watch your child cry themselves to sleep threatening to cut off their genitals because they hated their body so much? Would you encourage them to "jump on a trend" that made them ostracised, ridiculed, lonely and self-loathing. Would YOU? It that TRENDY enough for you? 


Because it's all so "new" isn't it? Where have all these trans people suddenly come from?! Let me tell you something. THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE. Since time began!  They just hid themselves away because of ridicule, violence, ignorance and the fear that if they 'came out' they would lose their families, their homes, their jobs.  Which they very often do. Be exposed in the media (bless you) as deviants, predators, a danger to others. Hidden in the dark like dirty secrets. Invisible. BUT, when brave progressive souls expose themselves, others follow. And then more. And more. And more. See? Always there. Never seen. Until the walls come down.  My child knows nothing of political agenda, she knows nothing of media frenzy, she knows nothing of utter nonsense such as the horrific headline of being ‘sacrificed to appease a trans lobby’. She just knows that she is a girl, wants to live a life free of hate, and is loved and supported by her family.


You imply that we are bad parents for getting support and help for our children - children are being pushed towards drastic treatment before they can possibly understand how it will affect their future relationships and lives”! Really Janice? If this emerged from your “research”, where is the research that spoke to parents like myself and the hundreds of others who actually live through this? If you had spoken to us (and we are not hard to find) we would have informed you that no child is ever “pushed into drastic treatment” - far from it. Parents who take their children to GIC clinics do so to get support, information and advice. I am there with my child to explore her feelings, support her convictions and tell her that her struggles will be heard.  It is a long, long, slow journey that takes MANY, MANY, YEARS and it's one that is done with love and support at its heart. We have been attending the Tavistock for 2 years, on top of a 2- year waiting list, and will continue to be seen for another 6 years until my child reaches adulthood.


You talk of “This craze to expedite gender transition in children (that) goes against all clinical advice for “watchful waiting”. You are completely out of touch with the reality of attending a GIC. My child is not on hormones and is not coerced into anything -  she is there to hold my hand, talk to a gender specialist, talk about her feelings and fears and then leave. One day she MAY have hormone blockers -  which are for the record Janice COMPLETELY REVERSIBLE AND JUST ACT AS A PAUSE BUTTON while the child has time to develop physically, mentally and emotionally and make more informed conclusions about who they are and how they want to live their adult life. Like a reversible vaccine against potential future harm. Would you vaccinate your child against danger Janice? Or leave it to ‘luck’?Only THEN and post-16 will the conversation of cross-sex hormones even be discussed and all under the criteria of strict NHS policy. However, you don’t focus on this do you, because that wouldn’t be inflammatory enough would it? 

You focus on the supposed “private cash cow clinics” and imply that you can just “get your 13-year old girl on testosterone” on a whim. Why is your “research” so horribly warped? Have you any idea how complex the reality of this is? Cross-sex hormones are very, very rarely prescribed, but HORMONE BLOCKERS sometimes are, which I have already pointed out are reversible. The only time cross-sex hormones would be administered to a younger person would be if the risk of harm (i.e acute suicide ideation) is deemed greater than the risk of treatment. On the rare occasion this happens, they are life-saving interventions that prevent excruciating emotional and psychological harm. Not much point having a conversation about how ‘immoral’ the hormone treatment was if the child is dead is there?

Over 50% of trans children attempt suicide because of the ignorance and faux-protective ‘concern’ of others. To use a somewhat hackneyed but nonetheless crucial phrase, I'd rather have a happy daughter than a dead son, so please spare me the misplaced concern about children who know who they are and who they are not. But kids don't know who they are I hear them cry! They're just kids! If they said they were a unicorn would you believe them? To patronise a child and deny them the authenticity of their feelings is both dangerous and incredibly stupid. If your child told you they were in terrible pain but you couldn't identify that pain, would you believe them? Would you help them?


But your article shows no empathy for the children that are supposedly at the heart of this at all. Your abhorrent comment that PE teachers must tolerate girls using binders to strap down their hated breasts “which can lead to shortness of breath and can be painful during physical exertion” because they have “a positive impact on a young person’s mental health” is a case in point. The PE teachers must “tolerate” the poor girls breast binding!!?  Oh, poor PE teacher! How on earth do you think this compares to what the girl herself is “tolerating” discrimination, misunderstanding, insensitive comments, emotional pain, physical pain, staggering cruelty. However, they are doing it because all of that is less agonising than having to force yourself into a body you do not want to be in. Maybe the poor tolerant PE teacher can go get a nice cup of tea and read some Janice Turner articles while the trans boy sobs helplessly into his crushed chest.


You also talk about how parents should have the right to know if their daughter is sharing a room with a trans girl. One brilliant commentator on your thread says “Think, for one minute, about the consequences of such a rule for a genuine trans girl. The angry phone call to the school from her roommate's parents. The teachers whispering in the corner, trying to work out what to do. Being told that there's been a change of plan, and having a sinking feeling in your stomach, because you know exactly why there's been a change of plan. Because an adult, who you don't even know, doesn't trust you, because of what you are”.


This is spot on. There is no easy solution here, but there is a way forward that does not shame the trans child into self-loathing. I had this exact experience on a PGL trip and made contact with the other mums (who all by the way totally had my daughter’s back on this) so that they were all comfortable about everyone sharing. We talked it through. It was not imperative that they knew (as I do not go around asking them what is in their child’s pants) but I did it to save my child suffering the humiliation that is regularly heaped upon them for no reason. My child is discreet (she hates her body, what wouldn’t she be?), she changed separately to the other girls, but still tried to enjoy the normal happy dynamic of a school trip with fun days and giggly nights in a dorm with her friends. She is not a sexual predator, a weirdo, someone to be ‘protected from’. Nor is she a ‘boy dressed as a girl’ (you try asking any 11-year old cisgender boy to wear a dress to school and live as female for 3 years - see how you get on with that!). She wants to listen to music, do her friend’s hair and chuckle about funny snapchat pictures, just like any other pre-teen girl. By over simplifying the issue (and the preposterous ‘dangers’ therein) your implication that a trans child is somehow a threat to others is not only cruel but utterly fallacious. 


Being a transgender person and the parent of a trans child is a unique and complex struggle and unless you're in it you have no right to try and cover up unimaginable anxiety with laughably sensationalist comments such as The apparatus of medical transition, a hormone regime causing sterility, plus surgical removal of healthy tissue, is seen as wholly positive”. Hormone blockers (I’ll say it again) are reversible. Cross-ex hormones affect sterility but this is a choice made as an adult, not as a child. And you imply that all trans people want surgery! You are deluded. This is certainly not for everyone and would only be performed on a consenting post-18yr old ADULT. But all that physical change! It's not right to tamper with nature right?! So how come cisgender adults can routinely have breast implants, penis enlargements, nose jobs, face lifts, vaginal surgery to "neaten the labia", butt lifts, whatever! Who's up in arms about that??! Why can't a trans adult choose to change their body too? ALL aesthetically-driven cosmetic surgery is the removal of healthy tissue – but this is routine, endemic and perfectly socially acceptable. So, if it’s in the name of aesthetic vanity it’s OK, but if it’s life-changing for somebody with gender dysphoria it is suddenly some kind of shocking butchery!


The contents of someone's pants is nobody's business but theirs. But then surely if a trans person goes into a gender specific changing room they will show everyone their genitals, right!? Of  course they will! They'll flash the parts of themselves they hate! Logical assumption! Or, terrifyingly, a cisgender man will use a "trans" disguise (cue spooky soundtrack) to go into women's cubicles and changing spaces to prey on girls!! Of course they will! Because there is no recorded evidence of a genuine trans person ever actually doing this! And of  course cisgender men haven't been stalking, raping, abusing and sexually exploiting women and girls since time began have they! Oh I see, they just need an excuse to put on a dress and then they have a reason to do it!  Silly me!!!  


You say that “the current trans movement is doctrinaire, uncompromising. Led by mainly older trans-women — ie born men — it won’t acknowledge women’s rights or feelings”It is also led increasingly by parents like myself, parents who are sick of the media lies that are peddled our way on a daily basis. Parents who love their children and support them through this hard and painful road to discovery. Parents who would rather a trans child than a dead one, parents who are crying inside daily because they fear that the world just refuses to accept that there is a gender spectrum rather than 2 neat little draconian boxes to shove their children into. Parents who despair at the disgusting and hurtful implication that our children are a threat to others purely because of the genitals they were born with and not because of who they are.  We are normal families trying to raise happy children, not your so called ‘trans lobby’ who are “prepared to sacrifice the wellbeing of children”. We are the largely voiceless parents in the midst of this debate who desperately want to tell people the truth about our lives before another few hundred dead trans kids fill the headlines of our shameful press. 


You finish your piece by saying “But in a decade, when our adult children turn to ask, “Why did you let me do this? Why didn’t you stop me?”. Let me tell you something Janice. If I manage to get my daughter to the age of 22 unscathed by bullying and misunderstanding, walking freely and happily in a body she doesn’t hate, growing up in a world that accepts her for who she is I’ll be lining the cat litter tray with your article and popping open the Moet. 


And while I’m drinking it I'll be celebrating being a parent who refused to be silenced by the backlash brigade. A parent who loves their kid and has their back. A parent who has a beautiful, bolshy, sassy kid who won't take shit from anyone. A kid who I've raised to grow one set of balls to replace another. A kid with hope that one day she can just be treated like everybody else. That should be a right and not a privilege. 

Comments

  1. Wow!!! I hope this goes viral! You go my dear. Very well written and Janice Turner should be ashamed of herself AND her ignorance. I wish you and your daughter all the love and light this world has to offer. Be well and stay strong! - Tanya

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  3. Thank you. Please keep speaking truth! I am a trans woman, now fifteen years post-op...that grew up forced to hide in shame what I was...forced to go through an unwanted male puberty...forced to try the best I could to pretend to be what I knew I was not.

    I am SOOO jealous of your little girl, and wish it could be me!

    Let me tell you what happens to those like me...who wait until adulthood, with NO PAUSE BUTTON...if we make it there at all (I survived two suicide attempts)

    We have IRREVERSIBLE and horribly unwanted secondary sex characteristics we don't want and make us uncomfortable, and the target of ridicule and discrimination...I have done a lot of work on my voice, but it still sounds way too deep to my ear, and is a source of distress for me.

    Every time I apply for a job, even though I have not used it in twenty years...I am forced to reveal my dead name, because I have worked under that name (Job appllications always ask you to list all former names under which you have worked)

    If I fail to fill that out, and they find out later...I can be fired FOR CAUSE (lying on an application) and try getting unemployment if you are fired for cause!

    If I DO fill out the line...here in NC and 30 other states, I have just given them a legal reason to deny me the job for which I just applied...and I have many times been discriminated against this way! Furthermore, I have been forced to reveal my very personal and private health information (the fact of my gender reassignment...let's face it, it does NOT take a rocket scientist to figure it out when Diane goes to apply for a job and has to write on that line that she was once known as Jack!!)

    Please keep fighting...and I shall continue to do the best I can to fight for children like your daughter,...that they may have the life that should have been mine...but which I will forever be denied...because the damage done by the unwanted puberty is just too much to completely overcome. Finances are not good already for trans...and finances are what you need to reverse the unwanted seconndary sex characteristics.

    (Original post deleted for typographical errors, no way to edit once posted...this is now what was meant to be posted)

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words of support and for sharing your story. I do wish you the very best, you sound like you've been through enough already and we are all
      Rooting for you here for a good life that can bring you happiness in spite of your struggles. Much love to you xx

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  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! You have laid out the evidence clearly and correctly. Being trans is *not* a choice. I have been trans my entire life, despite my epic fight to *not be*.

    I know parents of trans children, and I am in awe of them. It's hard enough to stand up for myself as a trans person, when I can make sense of my feelings (even if I can't make sense why I feel that way). For a cisgender parent of a trans child, you are asked to believe something about your child which is completely foreign to everything you've ever known or felt. There just aren't enough words in any language to express what it feels like to have your gender not match the one you were assigned at birth, and your child is still learning how to use language in the first place - how can they explain this?

    You (and other supportive parents of trans kids) are true heroes. You are what is right with this world. Thank you for standing up for your child (and others) by embodying radical acceptance and believing what your child tells you.

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    1. Thank you Amy for your lovely kind words, I will never ever give up on trans children, they are the new generations who will change the gender landscape and stamp out the hatred. It's a long fight but worth every ounce of energy and commitment. Sending you love x

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  5. What a lot of ‘journalists’ (sic) gloss over, if they mention it at all is the main reason why so many people transition later in life. It is simply because to do so when they were young would have meant placement in a mental health facility and more than likely they would have been given electro-shock treatment as well. I told my mom I was a girl in the summer of 1959. I was not allowed to be the girl I was. Like all children I wanted my mother and father to be proud of me, and so I did what was expected of me, and spent nearly half a century hating myself, feeling ugly, and wanting to die. I advocate now, mostly through teaching medical staff i.e. Nurses and doctors, and university students; the road we pave is never finished and its people like you, family and friends who love unconditionally that build alongside us, take my hand and we will climb tis mountain together.

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