Thursday, July 10, 2014

Advice for Parents of Teen Girls and Girl-children who Think they are Trans

If you are reading this, you're a parent who is dangling by a thread and not sure how to reach your child/teen who is considering transition.  I'm going to open this up with  a bit of bad news, but you might also have some success if you follow my steps/advice.

So, pretty much, children and teens aren't going to listen to anything their parents say due to age, circumstance, etc.  This is especially true if the parents are abusive, and if you are worried you might hurt your children or you have hurt them in the past, be a role model for your child/teen and get help.  They will be more likely to get help and grow too if they see you doing it.

If you're a supportive and loving parent who has already worked through your own issues, read on.

The difficulty here is getting your child/teen to listen to you.  The first thing I recommend in dealing with a child/teen considering transition is to act like a parent.  I know that sounds more than a little bit condescending, seeing as I'm not a parent myself, but I can assure you that my childhood abuse was also peppered with moments where my mom and dad would let me get away with a lot of perks like staying up late or using the computer whenever I wanted just so I would keep quiet about the abuse.  So, when I say it's time for you to be a parent it means to stop acting like a friend.  I know that you want your kids to like you, and they should, absolutely.  But they also need guidance and structured, but fair, discipline.

For me, I first really discovered F2T transition on the internet.  I made lots of trans friends through the internet.  I learned about F2T "passing guides" on the internet. I bought my first chest binder on the internet. I got lots of positive feedback loops from other transitioning adolescents on the internet (including them saying things like "your parents just don't understand/don't support you, you can sue them if they don't give in" etc).  I saw my first dose of F2T pornography on the internet.  I found a doctor that I could go see to give me hormone treatment on the internet.

Are you seeing a pattern here?  I spent a lot of time on the internet, and the internet was paramount for delving me further into transition knowledge, in fact, that's the first thing that transitioners will tell you (on the internet) is to do as much research about transitioning and transgenderism on the internet.

So, do your kid a favor. Unplug them.

I realize they "need" the internet for school, as schools have pretty much made not using the internet freaking impossible.  But you are a parent.  Remember that.  You have a responsibility for the health and wellness of your child.  Prolonged social media usage has a negative impact on myself and many countless others.  It can lead to feelings of isolation/alienation, while at the same time encouraging self destructive habits.

So, what do you do?

1.  Go to a website which specializes in blocking certain websites from your computers.  Use one that requires you to type in a password if you want to access certain sites. And then block the following sites: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, reddit,,,,, (EDIT: 7/11/14, also include YOUTUBE in your list of blocked sites because that website is filled with a bunch of pro-trans videos). I would list mtf sites, however, doing a simple google search of "ftm" brings up a BUNCH of results for actual F2T people, whereas searching for "mtf" yields a bunch of results that have nothing to do with actual M2Ts.  But do some digging around the internet and add those sites to your parental block filter too.  Anything related to "ftm hormones," "ftm binders," "ftm packers," "ftm passing" etc, and you get the general idea.  A google search for "parental controls internet" yielded some helpful sites you can check out for technical help with this crucial step.  Parental Control Sites

2.  Also, you need to be able to support your daughter, but if your child confronts you about your hesitations, simply tell her this: "if anything medically bad happened to you as a result of my consenting to hormone treatment for you, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself."  Don't offer any further explanations. Hold firm on this.  Repeat as necessary.

3.  So, what do I mean by be supportive?  Go ahead and get the "male clothes".  If they want to use a new "male" name, be sure to say "that's a cool name for you, I think it encapsulates my brilliant and strong daughter!"

4.  Break down gender roles and stereotypes as much as you possibly can.  Ask your daughter what she thinks it means to be a man and what she thinks it means to be a woman.  Remind her that in cultures around the world, these definitions change.

5.  Make sure your daughter is safe at school.  If there are any concerns of bullying, get that taken care of immediately. Report to authorities as necessary.  Cyber-bullying is also a huge issue with today's youth. This is even yet another reason to get her unplugged.

6.  Oh, and her cell phone? Get her a go-phone instead and hide her cell phone somewhere else (like at a friend's house, at your office, or anywhere else she can't go looking for it).  If she doesn't have a smart phone, she won't be able to fiddle around on Facebook and all the other websites you blocked.

7.  Delay the hormones as much as possible.

8.  Meanwhile, encourage them to look at both sides of this issues, especially encourage girls considering transitioning to look at people who have been there who have legitimate complaints about health issues from hormones.

9.  If possible and feasible, get them some counseling from an actual psychologist as opposed to a school counselor or a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is only interested in pushing more drugs onto your child, so get them some real therapy.  If they do need psychiatric pills, MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALSO IN THERAPY WITH A PSYCHOLOGIST SIMULTANEOUSLY.  The pills are not the ultimate fix-it solution.  You're not getting to the root of the problem if you're relying on drugs, even if they are prescription drugs for mental wellness issues!

10. Get her involved in something outside of school like painting/drawing, photography, sculpting, martial arts, kickboxing, archery, basically any sport or any external creative outlet that is separate from school and separate from her pro-trans peers.

11.  Help her to develop her own real identity, not the "identity" of the boy she thinks she might be inside.  Often the boy inside is just a coping mechanism, but that's all that it is.

In closing, this trend is going to have a devastating impact on today's youth about 10 years down the road.  These things are not very well studied, and we are/were their guinea pigs.  Be a role model, be a mentor, but most of all, don't be afraid to be a parent.  Don't allow yourself to be bullied into this.  This is your child's health that is being played with, and your child's health is not a game - it is life or death.

EDIT (7/26/14): Portuguese translation:


Anonymous said...

I can't say I've been there but this sounds thorough to me, with one aspect. How can anyone know that the counselor you find or someone recommends is going to have a radical feminist/lesbian perspective? Because some of them can be downright destructive and pomo pandering, I have seen one who writes on a women health site who would totally shovel you into transition saying things like "choice", "empowerment", "bottom and/or top" surgery, euphenisms so handy for hiding the truth. I don't know the solution Heath because those who do understand, such as yourself, cannot know a contact in every town or city. But most psychologists and "sex counselors" are very useless people for women, and have no understanding of this issue, or political understanding of it, even above they usual "do what feels right" horseshit. River.

Heath Russell said...

You have a good point. It's very difficult to find doctors who not only are knowledgeable about the issues and pressures surrounding female transition, but on top of that finding doctors who actually care and who aren't simply trying to push drugs and surgeries on insecure people. It honestly angers me to know the extent to how much I was taken advantage. I think the best thing for anybody to do is to know how to properly interview any mental health expert they wish to see. Ask if it is possible to work through any potential prior abuse, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, etc before moving onto the gender stuff. A lot of professionals treat gender dysphoria as just another issue that is separate from other mental health issues, but they are very much intertwined because only mentally unhappy people seek "treatment" for gender dysphoria in the first place, so it's important to find a doctor, possibly an older woman, who is familiar with second wave feminism, and true body acceptance. Part of that has to be on the patient to take the initiative, though. And people seeking transition in the first place are more likely to pick a doctor who already agrees with their biased self-diagnosis.

It's a sticky situation.

Anonymous said...

Very. Psychology, sex-education and medical are women-hating and predatory. It would be a miracle to get someone who understood, but they will all say they do, and I'm sure, shame the confused person for disagreeing. They don't give informed consent about anything medical. When I called a sex educator on using terms like "bottom:" instead of vulva, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes etc. I got silence. When I called out using euphemism as part of silencing the truth, ditto. And yet, this was a health/sex educator who was cautioning against labiaplasty for fashion/trend reasons. People coming to her and asking for advice are going to get it's ok to make your body "homologous" (yup) with their true gender. This would be frustrating, if it wasn't so horribly destructive and potentially irreparable. I hope it will also be litigious. River

Mary Sunshine said...

On your list of sites to block, you forgot youtube.

Heath Russell said...

Thank you for pointing that out, Mary! I will edit the list to include that one. Youtube can be a cesspool of "1 year on T" stuff. Good point entirely.

Anonymous said...

Just put girls and women in burkas and lock them away from the world. Why is your form of feminism sound so much like Evangelical Christianity and Islam? If you want to lock up the female sex like prisoners, why are you on the internet because you say you are a female but you are saying females cannot handle being on the internet.

Heath Russell said...

Your Islamphobia and racism have been duly noted.

Also, you missed the point of my post completely. Like, I'm not sure how it's possible to have something so completely fly over someone's head like this.

This is about parents being parents. This isn't about females not being able to handle being on the internet. Give me a break, anon.

Anonymous said...

I notice the blogger only says that girls should be monitored and controlled. I find that sexist. Boys should be free and girls should be isolated that is a very old sexist idea, it is saying girls do not have the mind power to be able to make right choices but boys do. I thought this was a feminist blog, I am with the other commenter it sounds like a religious right blog (you can find this in all the major patriarchal religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), not a feminist's blog. I would like the blogger to show scientific proof that a girl is somehow more dumb on judgement than a boy. Surely, she has proof of this, I hope or she is falling in with the men's rights movement on the idea that women have less mental ability than men. That is a freaking myth there is very little difference between a female and male brain and most have to do with small areas of the brain that deal with sexuality and gender identity and have nothing to do with smarts, logic or reasoning.

Heath Russell said...

To the anon at 9:21...

This blog mainly deals with females considering transition. Males considering transition is not my focus area, hence I offer advice aimed at girls, because I am a feminist, not a men's rights activist.

Sappho Winchester said...

You may be the feminist you say you are but you sound like a men's rights activist. Women are stupid men are smart, is their whole propaganda too. And a very small percentage of transgender girls or boys ever transition. Also not everyone that is under the transgender umbrella wants to transition at all (hormonally or surgically). So this just sounds like more crazy MRA talk to control the female gender. Its all about control your women and feed them how to be real women 24 hours a day. Next it will be beauty school or house wife school for the young ladies because being a lawyer or police officer is just not woman's work, it might be too hard and expose them to dangerous thoughts. The original mission of feminism was to give girls and women the freedom to do anything in life they wanted, house wives to presidents (you do have to study to get to be president, being kept prisoner away from the world may make this very difficult). For some reason this has been replaced with control girls and women again under feminism. Anonymous was right monitoring only the female gender smells of sexism, which should NEVER be a part of feminism. You need to read up on the history of feminism.

Heath Russell said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA! By all means, keep wasting your time commenting on my blog. It's hilarious how badly you are missing my points.

Geoffrey McGrath said...

I think your point here is that transgender identity is largely socially constructed, and if the social milieu is constrained away from supportive feedback, then the child's identity will likely develop along bio-normative lines. That good firm and loving parenting can make the difference.

Thomas Braylen said...

transsexual advice that includes comments similar to “I could make anyone popular with men/women in case you are generally extra fat as well as ugly”. Does one enter a new clothing shop as well as recognize advice from your shop associate that referred to as anyone extra fat as well as unpleasant?

Heath Russell said...

Thomas Braylen: Why did you link to a transgender dating site?

Autumn Sandeen said...

In light of the Leelah Alcorn suicide -- where the parents followed much of your advice, albiet the other direction -- do have any updates to your advice? They did pretty much as you suggested about the internet and non-affirmating psychological and psychiatric treatment.

I look at the guidence by the American Psychiatric Association regarding transgender adolescents who see themselves as being the gender opposite of the one assigned at birth, and your advice is the polar opposite of their advice.

Autumn Sandeen said...

As a non-psychological/psychiatric woman, I find it alarming that your countering the advice of psychiatric professionals -- perhaps even dangerous.

It appears to me that you're attempting to universalize your experience with gender. Detransitioning worked for you, but because it worked for you doesn't mean your experience should be applied to everyone else - and the APA disagrees with your apparent position that transition is bad for everyone

Heath Russell said...

Of course, because the medical industry is completely unbiased and never ever harms people.

Transitioners are medical guinea pigs.

Heath Russell said...

The APA actively pushes children into transitioning as opposed to letting them be children.

Also, Leelah Alcorn was a gay male. Perhaps his parents (and society) shouldn't be so homophobic.

Heath Russell said...

Also, I'm not a one-shot anomaly: all people who transition need to be aware they can always detransition and be accepted as the sex they were born as. I am here to help those people. Sorry if you find that harmful or dangerous. That sounds terrible!

Michelle Hackler said...

Are you the type of feminist who do not accept trans females as female, but insist that we have to be men, because we were born with male sexual characteristics? From your own experiences you should know how difficult it is for any person to transition from one gender to another. I grew up in a world as a child of the 1940s and 1950s where transitioning was nearly impossible for anyone except for a privileged few. Now today, you are suggesting that trans male youth are to again be prohibited from transitioning in the name of radical/feminism? When anybody for any reason makes physical changes to their bodies it is a serious decision, which might be regrettable latter in life. But since you are young you do not yet understand the consequences of putting of transitioning until latter in life. Everyday you live you are building a history of who you are as a person which will you will carry with you the rest of your life. This history will grow and grow until you will have to accept that you are a trans male or trams female and not a male or female because of your job, educational, and family obligations will get larger and larger. Also years and years of having the wrong hormones ruling your body will leave there marks. Yes, everyone has to be careful when you take hormones and have surgeries because it will affect your ability to have your own biological children, but you can wait to change physically until you have a supply of your sperm or eggs banked so this can be possible. Hiding things away from children is difficult even for the most protective parent. When you have five children the younger ones always find away to see the movies you don't want them too. The older children will expose the younger children to attitudes and values you may disagree with because of the friends they bring home or because of the children they play with in the neighborhood. When parents try and cut off children from social media then the children see it in situations the parents do not know about. We did not buy our kids cell phones, but the girl's boyfriends bought the girls cell phones. We couldn't afford unlimited talk and text for each one and the kids would have lived on them. But the oldest one is 25 we have no control over her usage of the internet because we have it in our home. So most of your advise is useless if the child is determined to get the information about being trans hard enough. Some things have to be accepted and guided especially when they have to do with a person's self image of whom they are. I share your point of view on professions just listening and agreeing with you or close minded to trans issues that their advise is harmful. Professionals can be enablers of our worst impulses or closed minded towards our needs. What you are telling us is that you did not get sound advise considering your transition from the professionals, and you wish they would have been less helpful and more skeptical of your transitioning. But if you are absolutely determined to carry out what is a stupid idea for you, you will be impossible to stop. You seem to regret your decision to transition. At the time transitioning was what you wanted, you can't blame others if you went farther than you wish you had, but that's life, and it makes you who you are. Following dumb ideas is a part of growing up. We have to thank God that we survive them without too much emotional or physical damage and sometimes the dumb idea kills us. Transitioning to another gender is one of the most difficult things to do because it goes to the inner core who we really are. To many roadblocks lead some people to committing suicide, becareful of your advice, it can have serious consequences.

Wendy Christensen said...

Wow - there are going to be a LOT of very unhappy, regretful, screwed-up people in a few years... this is the most dangerous fad I have EVER seen. I feel so sorry for these kids - they have NO idea of the permanent harm they're doing to themselves. And it must be absolute hell for the poor parents. Unfortunately, there WILL be a hard reckoning.

Unknown said...

You might want to check to see what the American association of pediatrics has to say about transgender kids and how parents should handle it. Which is 2 years more current than your post. They say parents should not enoutage transgender identification and equate it to child abuse... lying to your child. There is no "gender" part of the brain. There is no definition of what it "feels" like to be a male or female, only perception of what each gender is suppose to be. Like men are suppose to be attracted to women, like cars, beer and are more critical thinkers. Women are suppose to be attracted to men, like to shop and wear makeup, are emotional. Those are simply stereotypes. It does not mean that ALL men must like women, beer and cars and can't be emotional. That ALL women must like men, shopping, makeup and can't think critically. Each geneder, each individual, typically has some characteristics of the opposite gender to some degree. It would be best to get away from stereotypes and let people just like what they like and not insist somehting is for males/females. Men can like shopping without being feminine. Women can like cars without being masculine. If we stopped trying to make everything so black and white and teach kids it's ok to like things that their gender typically isn't equated with then we wouldn't have such a rise in transgender kids, IMO. Accept your gender for what it is and at the same time like whatever you like, including being attracted to the same gender if that's the case.