Our daughter started to suffer from mental health problems at the start of 2016, aged 15. In the 3 years 2016 – 2018, she attended over 70 medical appointments associated with her mental health problems and received diagnoses of anxiety, depression and bi-polar.
She had told us she was a lesbian in 2015. In late 2018 she declared a transgender identity, completely out of the blue. In that same week she told her psychiatrist that she was suicidal, so she was admitted to the adolescent mental health ward of our local hospital. She was 17. When I came to see her the next day, after an all-night admission, the sign above her bed depicted a male name. When we protested to staff we were bullied and scorned by them, and told she would kill herself if we didn’t call her a boy and use her new name and pronouns.
They wanted to refer her immediately to the hospital paediatric endocrinologist for hormones. We said – no – that was not happening. We said that she had a long and complex mental health history that needed investigating. I said we had a 13-year-old son at home and his sister was not taking testosterone in front of him. I was told I should teach my son “to be inclusive.” She was discharged a few days later and shaved her head the day after she was discharged.
We found a browser history on her computer of transgender websites. She started speaking as though someone else had taken over her body, as though a script had been put in her head. The transgender lecture we were subjected to every day was unbearable. She became so violent and abusive towards us that we all pretty much had a break down. Our son became anorexic with the stress and his weight dropped to 34 kg (aged 13). Our daughter verbally abused us day in, day out. We were called disgusting, bigoted, white privileged, boring heterosexual, pathetic parents. She kept stealing things and was binge eating as well. Her behaviour was out of control. She spent a lot of 2018 in bed and missed months of school (what should have been her second last year). Eventually, after a particularly nasty altercation, we had to move her out of our home.
We moved her into a university student accommodation house nearby. We subsidised her rent for nearly 18 months, in which time she pretty much did nothing at all. She dropped out of school, dropped out of several courses she started and could not get a job. She started on testosterone in March 2019. The hospital staff had made an appointment, against our wishes, then she turned 18, so there was nothing we could do. As parents the hospital staff made us out to be the enemy because we would not affirm our daughter’s transgender identity. Our relationship with our daughter just went downhill after that hospital admission.
In June 2019 she was diagnosed with Complex PTSD from childhood bullying. In late 2020 she was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum as well as ADHD.
She had a 6-week mental health hospital admission in Feb-March 2020, which we initiated as we gathered that she had spent most of the previous year in bed, and knew that she really needed mental health support. After her discharge we started seeing more of her, asking her around for meals on a weekly basis and letting her take our dogs walking. At this point her younger brother still refused to see her as he was still very traumatised. We would eat with her in a lounge room out the back of our house and let our son stay inside. We just didn’t want to push things with him.
She started weekly dialectal behavioural therapy classes (as a result of the hospital admission) and it was after the first of those classes that she told us she was going back to using her own name. About a month later she stopped using testosterone (so she had been on testosterone for about 16 months we think). We really thought we were making progress to mend our relationship in 2020.
One of her grandmothers died suddenly in August 2020 and the impending funeral was the catalyst for reconciling with her brother, who she had not spoken to in over 18 months. I took her shopping to buy her clothes for the funeral. It really seemed like she wanted to have a relationship with us again. Then shortly after the funeral we noticed she started binding her breasts again. We found out that she had used our health insurance (we still had her covered in our family policy) to obtain a quote for removal of her breasts. We told her we could not support that and removed her from our health fund. She gave us permission to speak to the surgeon, and we told him about her long and complex mental health history, of which he seemed to know nothing about. She had been to see a new psychiatrist, who in a single 1-hour consultation gave her a letter approving her to go ahead with a double mastectomy. I asked the surgeon “Were you cutting the breasts off young women 10 years ago?” and he sheepishly answered, “No.” She decided that she wanted nothing more to do with us. She really seemed to fall back down the trans rabbit hole.
She refused to see us last Christmas and when I called her in January 2021, she told me she did not acknowledge us as her parents and that she never wanted to see us again in her life. She moved recently from the student accommodation. One of my stepsons, who is 30, has contact with her. He lets me know how she is going. She has blocked my phone number and Facebook. We only ever tried to help her, but we would not affirm a delusion.
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