Gaslighting the Concerned Parents of Trans Children—A Psychotherapist’s View

May 5, 2021 by

by Stella O’Malley, Quillette:

I first met Jo and Carol in Manchester two years ago, when I spoke as a clinician on a panel at what is believed to be the first conference dedicated to the issue of detransitioners (people who once presented themselves as transgender, but then decided to live in accordance with their biological sex). At this event, seven young women spoke publicly about why they transitioned, why it wasn’t successful, and how they came to the decision to detransition. All of these women had undergone mastectomies, and some had hysterectomies and even oophorectomies (the removal of both ovaries). They had all taken testosterone, which permanently deepened their voices, and gave rise to new forms of body and facial hair. Although they had experienced much in their lives, none was over the age of 25. As you might imagine, these testimonials were shocking and harrowing.

Jo and Carol both have daughters embroiled in the trans-activist cause. (As at all points in this piece, I am using terms such as “girl,” “boy,” “son,” and “daughter” in reference to a person’s biological identity.) After hearing the detransitioners’ stories, they approached me to ask whether any help could be provided for parents whose lives had been ripped apart by a child’s gender-related distress. As a psychotherapist who has worked with many such families, and as a woman who had my own challenging experiences with gender confusion as a young girl, I agreed that these people needed more help. This meeting led me to become involved in setting up two groups—the Gender Dysphoria Support Network (GDSN) and the International Association of Therapists for Detransitioners and Desisters (IATDD).

The therapeutic work of the latter group is trauma-oriented, as most of the clients we serve are young adults who’ve gone through a medical transition that they regret, and so require a deep healing process. As with the panel members in Manchester, their bodies and their voices have changed, often irrevocably, and it can take time to come to terms with this.

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