Right-wing shite-peddler The Federalist has printed a piece urging parents of trans and gender non-conforming kids to cut them off from the internet and their peers and beat them daily until they renounce transgenderism and its Satanic ways.
I’m exaggerating, but only slightly. The latest in a string of similar pieces misrepresents research, makes unsubstantiated claims and advocates a course of action that we know to be incredibly damaging to children: conversion therapy.
As author and commentator Brynn Tannehill points out, it won’t have the consequences the parents want. But it will have consequences.
If you do this, and it doesn’t end up driving your kid to suicide, you kid will hate you for the rest of your fucking life.
Tannehill has interviewed many trans people whose parents did exactly what The Federalist is advocating.
Universally, they have zero desire to ever see their parents again after they were treated in exactly the manner described above. Turning 18 was like getting out of jail, and they have no intent of going back. They ghost their parents and disappear.
That’s the best case scenario. Not all kids with unaccepting parents make it to 18.
Conversion therapy causes lifelong harm, and transgender adults who were exposed to it are 4X more likely to have attempted suicide than those who weren’t, whether the therapy was professional or religious.
There are Internet forums haunted by angry, bitter, lonely parents whose children severed contact with them as soon as they legally could. The parents rage and the parents mourn, and the parents tell each other that their children hate them because of social contagion, because of peer pressure, because of invented pseudoscientific bullshit such as “rapid onset gender dysphoria”.
Occam’s razor offers a better explanation, an explanation that they are unwilling or unable to accept: they lost their children because they made it clear to them that they’d rather have a dead child than a trans one.
I’ve written before that I have some sympathy for unaccepting parents of LGBT+ people:
…to the point where I can understand the fury and denial that leads some of them to excommunicate their family members and even become anti-trans activists.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that no, I don’t have sympathy for them after all. It’s one thing to find it difficult to understand or accept your child’s sexuality or their gender, or to worry that their lives will be harder because of it. It’s another thing altogether to be the one to make their life harder, to embark on a course of action that will traumatise them or perhaps even put them in an early grave.
I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a lot recently, probably because I’ve spent a lot of the last fortnight in hospital rooms looking at my son with tubes going into various parts of him, the only soundtrack a mix of his breathing, the beeps of the monitors and the thoughts in my head.
There’s a particular agony to seeing your child so vulnerable, to seeing your child in pain. All parents know that primal urge to protect, the urge to do absolutely anything to take that pain away, that unshakeable desire to make everything okay – so I understand why parents stay loyal to children who have done terrible, unspeakable things.
What I don’t understand is parents who do terrible, unspeakable things to their children. And conversion therapy is one of those things.
Let’s get down to the brass tacks: if you think its better to have a child who never sees you again than to have a transgender child, do what The Federalist says.
If you would rather bury your kid in the clothes you pick out for them than accept their gender identity, by all fucking means do what The Federalist says.