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School Personnel are not Qualified to Diagnose or Treat my Child for Gender Dysphoria - Especially

This article republished with kind courtesy of

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Our story of trans-identification in our child doesn’t start with loneliness stemming from the pandemic as many others’ stories do. It started about a year prior to the pandemic. I was taking time to deal with some childhood trauma of my own, with the help of a therapist. I dove into my healing, was fully engaged in it, and consequently my daughter may have felt abandoned by me, for a time, in the process. She had just finished an animation camp and made some friends there who told her about an online drawing group. She was very excited and convinced us to let her have one of our old iPads and join the group. I was nervous about her being online at all at 10 years old, and we watched closely by becoming one of her online “friends” in this drawing forum. It seemed to be mostly young girls and seemed harmless, but looking back I realize we didn’t watch closely enough. This was where the ideas about sexuality and transgender identities started. At the time I didn’t realize what kind of actual physical and mental harm these ideas could lead to.

Over the next year, our daughter went through a plethora of identities. She started with aromantic (this apparently means not being attracted to anyone which made sense since she was only 10) and moved on to gay, non-binary and then ended up at transgender when she was in 5th grade. At first I thought these were all harmless and part of exploring who she was, which seemed developmentally appropriate. Interestingly it was only happening at school where she had a group of girlfriends who were identifying as one of the many possible gender identities. With girls these identifications often occur in friend groups pointing to the possibility that there is a social contagion at hand (young teen girls are particularly susceptible to social contagions). It becomes a means of finding their place of belonging among peers. This has a very strong pull for girls who struggle with fitting into their peer groups. Our daughter who had been surrounded by mostly boys her whole life (her brothers and neighbor boys she played with) consequently had a hard time navigating female relationships. She also struggled with her place among male peers and in our family, being the youngest of three with two older brothers. I believe she struggled with feelings of not being valued as much as her brothers or boys in general. She never mentioned her new identity at home or to any of her extended family with whom she is close and spent much of her time. Her older brothers to this day don’t even know it happened.

What we didn’t know at the time was that the school she went to, an elementary school, was actively supporting her trans-identity without consulting or even informing us. In the classroom, her teacher and consequently the students, were all using male pronouns. Nobody asked us what we thought about this or if we had any concerns. We didn’t know that adults were reinforcing this identity at school. We weren’t consulted or asked for any background information on our child or asked what we thought of our daughter taking on this new identity. It was as if we had no insight into what may be going on with our daughter. The school made the decision to socially transition our daughter completely independent of us, her parents. I never would have imagined they would do this. It was as if we didn’t exist! They may have considered this harmless but it was not.

Schools are always talking about partnerships between parents and teachers. This was the opposite of that. They also were clearly not asked to act in loco parentis, and should not have been because I, the actual parent, was available and asking to be involved the whole time. They were willfully and intentionally keeping information from us because they deemed themselves more qualified and more responsible for our daughter’s upbringing than us, her parents. They had to make all kinds of assumptions about us in order to draw this conclusion. They would have to assume that we are not deserving of the information, not capable of treating our child with love if we had the information, maybe that we have no interest, maybe that we would be abusive or that we would “interfere” in their social development of our child.

I got a call from the school counselor a few months after the school year started informing me that our daughter had confided in a friend that she was suicidal and was cutting. (I later found out children learn to use these words, suicide, self-harm on the internet when they stumble into trans-narratives online). This took me by surprise as I had seen no evidence of it but I was concerned, nonetheless. The counselor then convinced me to let my daughter see a “special” therapist from a local hospital that was contracted by the school district and specialized in “these kinds of issues.” I met this therapist, and we discussed how my daughter was exploring her sexuality. I expressed that as a parent I thought she was too young to explore and understand the meanings of these words (aromantic, gay, non-binary, transgender) but that my husband and I would love her no matter where she landed. Looking back, I realize this therapist didn’t agree or disagree with me. She merely nodded. Looking back I’m not sure she listened to a word I said.

Our daughter saw this therapist weekly for two and a half months. I asked how things were going in therapy, and she would usually respond by asking me how things were going at home. I said things seemed fine at home. Looking back I realize that she avoided answering my question. I thought they must not have talked about anything noteworthy or this therapist would have told me when I asked. I trusted the therapist would involve me in the decision-making for my young child, since I was her parent and responsible for her.

A couple months later, I got a call from this therapist about our daughter…only she didn’t refer to her as our daughter. She was using male pronouns and a name that our daughter had chosen and she informed me that “he” wanted to be with the boys for an overnight school trip. She also told me that “he” wanted to reveal to us that “he” was a “he” and she was going to help “him” present this to us because “he” was very “nervous” to do this on “his” own. She called me on a Tuesday to give us time to “process” this information so our daughter could present it to us on a Friday. She gave us three days to process the idea that our daughter wasn’t actually a girl. We heard nothing of this very important detail until this point even though I had very pointedly asked the therapist what they were talking about in their sessions several times throughout my daughter’s time with this therapist, which was my legal right as a parent of an 11 year old child. How could she have failed to mention this very important development? It seems to me that she was purposefully withholding that information from me. She was making assumptions based on very limited information, which was not only unethical but psychologically damaging to trust between my daughter and our family. Technically, legally, I had the right to know this information since my daughter was still under the age of 13 and she broke the law by not disclosing that information to me.

My first response was “Wait a minute. This doesn’t make any sense. She just hosted a sleepover with six girlfriends and loved it. Why does she need to sleep in the same room with boys at an overnight function? This is starting to feel like a cry for attention to me. I think there’s something else going on.” I got no response to this observation. I didn’t get any response to any of my observations sent to this therapist. It was as if we had no insight into our child’s personality, and this person knew something so deep and meaningful from her ten-half hour sessions with our daughter that we had somehow completely missed in all our experiences with her from the moment she was born. Putting our daughter in an overnight school event with boys instead of girls is not something we were ever going to consider. There are so many reasons this would not be a good idea. I wasn’t as concerned for her safety (this was 5th grade) as I was of putting her AND the boys in a very awkward situation. It didn’t seem like a good idea socially at all, especially for a child who was having some social issues. I had a right to make that decision, and I felt like I was being coerced to agree with something that I didn’t think was healthy or safe for my daughter or her classmates.

We never had the meeting where our daughter presented herself as a boy to us with the help of the school therapist. We felt the whole idea was highly inappropriate and that our reactions might cause strife between us and our child. This therapist was not helping our daughter by k