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I thought I had a good, healthy, close relationship with my daughter until she announced a trans identity.

For whatever reason, I chose to handle it in the most gentle possible way, by asking questions and listening and very much not saying what I really wanted to say.

She's grown more fragile by the day. Everything is a problem. While she had obviously been nurturing this identity and these ideas on the internet for a long time, the change that followed "coming out" was very noticeable.

We used to be a team. She used to be excited about things. Now she sits around avoiding contributing to chores, doesn't want to spend time together, avoids talking to me and talks to internet strangers instead.

It's been a few months. I no longer recognize her. I want her back, but I don't know how.

A good portion of what does come out of her mouth is trans activist rhetoric.

I'm lost.

I thought I had a good, healthy, close relationship with my daughter until she announced a trans identity. For whatever reason, I chose to handle it in the most gentle possible way, by asking questions and listening and very much not saying what I really wanted to say. She's grown more fragile by the day. Everything is a problem. While she had obviously been nurturing this identity and these ideas on the internet for a long time, the change that followed "coming out" was very noticeable. We used to be a team. She used to be excited about things. Now she sits around avoiding contributing to chores, doesn't want to spend time together, avoids talking to me and talks to internet strangers instead. It's been a few months. I no longer recognize her. I want her back, but I don't know how. A good portion of what does come out of her mouth is trans activist rhetoric. I'm lost.

148 comments

As someone who had an internet addiction for about half of my childhood, intervene quickly. It permanently messes with your mind; we were not evolved for this.

[–] chemical 63 points Edited

Please don't listen to the people who are telling you to forcibly cut all contact to the Internet (limiting it is more reasonable, though don't frame it in a way where the thrust is transgender issues), or more drastically still, homeschool her. While this might accomplish in lessening some of her access to the online, I highly doubt it will sever her from her gender identity or the Internet in it's entirety. It might even wedge her deeper in it still, while fostering a sense of resentment towards you. It will establish you primarily as an adversarial figure who cannot be trusted. I really cannot stress how much homeschooling is not a good idea here, as I think it will instead set her on the path to cutting ties with you entirely the second she hits legal independence. If she cannot at least socialize with her offline peers, the isolation will be a trigger to burrow deeper into her identity.

Don't punish her for the ideology. You truly cannot discipline someone out of a set of beliefs, especially a set of beliefs that inculcates you into thinking any pushback is rooted in bigotry. It will only confirm her thoughts on the manner. Do converse with her about the avoidance of household chores, of course. Try to get her involved in local activities that will organically encourage her to spend less time online, especially ones that could expose her to an array of women with a diverse set of interests. Listen to her on why she has assumed a trans identity. This is different than wholeheartedly validating it-- obviously, do not do that-- but try to have an open discussion on what has led her to this conclusion. Is your daughter homosexual, by any chance?

Interrogate why she holds the beliefs she does, but not in an accusatory sense. Exploring these thoughts out loud can be key in exposing the absurdity of them. If she's not trying to seek medical intervention, don't try to rush her in abandoning the identity. For much of the younger generation, gender occupies the same role of subculture as goth and emo once did. It's normal for teens to take up these sort of labels in an effort to puzzle out their own personalities, and they might let go of the more silly aspects in due time with a sense of maturity. Remember how much of this might just be the average teenage quarreling and butting heads with parents.

Ultimately, I want to restate to not try to punish her for adopting a gender identity as it will do little more than widen the gap between you. Reprimanding her for a set of ideas is less likely to result in her abandoning them on the sake of intellectual merit than it is to result in more doubling down on the conviction. This is why I don't recommend wholesale banning the Internet, for it will do little to address the underlying factors that pushed her to identify as trans. There's a myriad of reasons young girls latch on to these identities-- internalized misogyny, genuine sex dysphoria, and the aforementioned homophobia. A massive contingent of the young female population who is seeking "gender affirming care" are girls who are same-sex attracted. The beliefs are a only symptom, you must detangle the core of what it is that prompted her to identify this way. And this comes from sincerely attempting to listen to her justifications before you present alternative ways of thinking. If you could get her engaged in any second-wave feminism, that would be fantastic.

[–] wildclovr 32 points Edited

I second all this. It is unreasonable to expect children to follow rules that adults cannot follow. If any of us were told to sever ourselves completely from the internet, we wouldn't do it, and the reason we wouldn't do it is 'cause you really can't get by in normal life, in normal mainstream society, in today's world, with zero internet access.

Most people use the internet both as entertainment and also as a tool. You get online to do schoolwork now. You arrange meet-ups with friends via texting and internet. College applications, job applications, and any kind of application to any educational summer program is going to be online now. Extra curricular activities will communicate schedules and changes of venue using some form of internet - a portal, an app, maybe email if they're old-school. It's possible to be totally offline, but it isn't 1985 any more and never will be again. If a person is totally offline now, then that's a kind of alternative lifestyle.

I fully support an alternative lifestyle that would be totally offline, of course. But if you're not currently doing that yourself, then I think it is unreasonable to think a teen can do it.

Right. Like it or not, the Internet is deeply embedded into the social fabric of the current times and detaching from it entirely is functionally unfeasible for a teen who has grown up with near 24/7 access to the net. It'd be very different if she was a young child (who really should be not be accessing an unmoderated Internet) but seeing as she's a teenager with a sense of agency and the capacity to reason, it's just unproductive to try fully forcing her off where over half of human social communication occurs these days. As well as excessively controlling, imo.

At the end of the day, the Internet as a communication tool is neutral. Or at least so varied in it's potential that it evens out to a neutral. I mean, look at us now, discussing our thoughts & dissent on the Internet, haha. If we can use the Internet and come to the conclusions that we have about gender identity, it's not rational to assume that a compulsory ban of the Internet after she's already developed the views she has will necessarily lead her to drop them.

I find it kind of rich, that we're all on here, on the Internet, and a lot of us are saying that it's feasible to detach a teen completely from the internet. I just wonder if that's a sort of fallacy, of thinking, "I didn't have it when I was a teen, so why do teens today need it?"

But the world has changed, that's the thing. It's been awhile since I even received a paper phonebook. In order to make a call to a business, to check to see that they're open, I would be looking that up online now, because a paper phonebook just is no longer present. To look up movie times, I'd be looking that up online, because I don't subscribe to a paper newspaper any more and don't even know off the top of my head all that many places where I could get one. It used to be, I would have looked up a movie time in a paper newspaper. But now, you need some internet.

It's a wonderful exercise, try and be without internet at all for a few days. I would encourage anyone to do that. I think it's out-of-touch to think that most people are going to live like that for very long.

When you have a child, you assume the "I'll do ANYTHING to help them." Okay - do anything. Cut off access to the internet. That IS doing anything to help your child. Whether that's taking electronics away from her, and turning off the WiFi at night so even your stuff, locked/hidden away, can't be used by you after a certain hour, then so be it. You can get by with green bubble normal text messages and old school calling. If you (general you, not specific you) can't fathom not having the internet, then you know it's an issue because unlike food, water, shelter, air, the internet in the home is not a necessity.

It's going to be shitty, and hard, and you may have to modify your own life and internet use greatly, but like I said - you can still call people, still use normal text message over iMessage and social media DMs, turn it off after a certain hour and just connect as a family (which will be resisted at first, and hard work). It's for your kid. Do it for your kid if that's what is necessary and it seems like it could be getting there.

[–] chemical 3 points Edited

I don't think there's anything wrong with limiting the Internet, especially past a certain hour, I merely think trying to ban the Internet in it's totality is futile. There's still libraries, friends' houses, school, etc. And a wholesale ban on the Internet will only incentivize her to seek it out in those places. What I'm criticizing is not limitations, but the control that would be required to ensure zero net connectivity,

Thanks for being a voice of reason and sanity on this post. Isolating, controlling behavior will just destroy any remaining hope of right relationship with her daughter regardless of whether she desists.

[–] chemical 13 points Edited

Yep, I find it concerning the amount of people recommending homeschool or smashing personal items into smithereens in response to an ideology. Even if she came to the conclusion within that time that she's not transgender, that sort of behavior in what is almost certainly a time of emotional turmoil that led her to adopt that identity, will permanently mark her parent as someone to distrust with vulnerable matters & who will mete out punishment instead of understanding when she's faced with internal problems. I think the people here have lost sight of the fact that young girls who fall into these identities are victims of both the theory and the misogyny of the world at large, and disciplining someone for what amounts to an ideological coping strategy is both cruel and unproductive.

I don't think it is about taking away access. Not for me, at least. The key would be to replace the internet with things that are better (more interesting, more fulfilling, more active) to some degree, so that my daughter would prefer to do other things than to be on the internet - so that it doesn't fulfill a central role in her life, and instead becomes a tool.

A lot of ppl here have read Irreversible Damage. Restricting internet access was one of the main takeaways from that book. That's why ppl are suggesting it

I agree that totally cutting internet is unreasonable but restricting certain websites absolutely should be done

[–] wildclovr 10 points Edited

Yes and I mean. Let's turn it around. Let's suppose there were a gender critical girl in a full-blown lib femmy type household, or in a religious conservative type household. What kinds of things would we say about it, if that girl's parents were to physically break her phone or devices. If we were that girl, how would we react to that situation.

(I think one of the first things I would say about that in reaction, would be that breaking someone's stuff is classic abuser behavior and that abusers frequently start small and then build. If someone has broken your stuff, it could be that you're going to be next if you don't get out.)

[–] SecondSkin 4 points Edited

I think this advice often comes from the analogy of what a parent would be expected to do if their daughter was being groomed by peadophiles on line or indoctrinated into a cult on line. In these circumstances if the girl was abducted or left willingly to go with these predators the mum would get shit about not safeguarding her.

TRAs can definitely be the same thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for all parents of TiFs.

[–] Julie92845 4 points Edited

I'm disturbed by how many people here seem to think cutting off all contact between their kid and the outside world isn't horrible and abusive behavior.

Also, if anyone smashes their kid's phone/computer/whatever prepare for them to never speak to you again, and you would deserve it.

Not to sound uncouth, but I think a lot of people who assume they've "fixed" their children's behavior are in for a rude awakening when those children become fully self-sufficient, and they realize there's a difference between actually changing your mentality versus learning to bite your tongue and keep your real thoughts surreptitiously close to your chest.

Why does everyone always think homeschooling is isolating? Sure, there are horror stories in the media -- but there are isolated kids who go to public school. Don't believe the hype that PS teachers always rescue kids from weird abuse situations. I mean, are we talking about the same "mandated reporters" who use our kids' gender pronouns and new names with them at school behind our backs without telling us? Those mandated reporters? Really?

I secular-homeschooled my daughter. She got caught up in this anyway.

But removing your kid from school, if you do it very carefully, may be your only safe route if school's what's pushing this. You may have to, though, instead of homeschooling, move your child to a charter or private school instead if that's an option, or maybe move to a different district. And play dumb. "Uh, I thought the environment she was in was really toxic and that a change of pace might be good." But research the new school before you go making a big change like that, too. I say this because if you just bring her home, someone might look at that as a pretext to start showing up at your place and accusing you of abuse. But only you know what sort of situation you've been landed in.

[–] chemical 4 points Edited

Why does everyone always think homeschool is isolating? Because of the accounts of homeschooled kids who detail it as such. As well as applying rational thinking to the situation of a child without a consistent, daily environment of same age peers that they have the opportunity to socialize with. I went to a public school, I can tell you even that can result in social isolation. But you must agree that homeschool opens up far more venues into loneliness and a sense of separation, by the nature of it.

To be blunt, if your daughter was homeschooled and yet still managed to get wrapped up in gender, what makes you think that OP homeschooling her own daughter would prove to be particularly effective?

If the only way someone can deal with their child buying into an alternate, if irrational, set of beliefs, is by removing all contact with their peers, then I rather worry for this comment section's children. Perhaps one's inability to effectively communicate with their child and redress her internal teenage struggles without unmooring her entirely from her surroundings is what would lead her to be susceptible to an ideology that promises mental reprieve. If her daughter has taken on a gender identity and expresses dysphoria, it speaks to a deeper set of issues undergirding her actions, issues that she pursues relief for by attributing them to gender. It may simply be teenage angst & desire for belonging, or something more lasting like internalized homophobia. In any case, it would be much better to unearth what's causing that while still demonstrating that as a parental figure, you won't punish her for vulnerability.

It worries me the amount of people who are unable to communicate opposition with their children, with what may very well be a temporary teenage phase, without going full scorched earth and curtailing all familiar social contact. There is no way uprooting your child's life should come before trying emotionally connect with them on their terms.

School is not what is pushing this. Our country is still more or less free from this stuff. It came from the internet, during the height of the pandemic. She does have another friend who identifies the same way from school, but that friend also found it on the internet, and they then egged each other on.

Said mom now wants them not to socialize, which I understand, but it is sad and painful for my daughter.

It is in the UK. The Cass review interim report confirms that children turn up at the doctors identifying as trans after they are introduced or taught about it in school. Parent reports on free to speak, transgender trend, safe schools alliance, Bayswater support and mumsnet also often confirm the same pattern.

[–] SecondSkin 1 points Edited

The difference possibly varies between countries also. In the UK homeschooling often involves lots of home school meet ups, parent run groups and activities, other classes for home school kids only and a much wider variety of social experience than the same age kids, same group of kids, day in day out. (Every local trampolining place, gym, parklour place, swimming, climbing, go karts, soft play, etc etc etc runs home school sessions or meet ups here during the day. Many places have home school art classes/science clubs/forest schools etc, on top of all the ones home school mums set up themselves at community halls etc) But from what I’ve heard home schooling in the US doesn’t seem to be the same dynamic that we often have over here- here that is generally made up of parents who choose to home school after being teachers/social workers or similar themselves, or parents whose children end up out of school because of disability or mh related reasons, who have no choice in the matter.

But there is a variety of experiences of home schooling. It’s not some catch all easy answer, or some universally terrible idea either.

(Home school parents in the UK, from what I’ve seen, seem to be a strange mix of very pro or very anti gender ideology)

I agree with everything you've said. I read everything I can on the topic (and hence I can also feel the exact types of feelings that she must be feeling when she does it from the other side, because it can get obsessive), but I'm very careful to follow others' advice. Even if those others are parents with now desisted children, who have had successful outcomes in terms of their relationships with their kids too. Those other parents aren't me, after all, and their children aren't mine.

She's 16, nearing 17. I am not sure if she could be lesbian. I used to think so, but further discussions have revealed that... it's hard to even have that kind of discussion, because she frames sexuality in terms of gender, and not sex ("genital preferences" and all). She's a rigid thinker who could be on the spectrum. We're immigrants. I work long hours, partly from home so I need the internet for that and can't be cutting off access to it because it would harm my earnings potential and we're already stretched as it is.

I think spending as much time with her in a positive way, doing active things, is generally a good approach - not taking away things, but adding new and better things. I also think she needs a job, but those are hard to come by for people her age where we live.

She's expressed an interest in medicalizing, but due to where we live, that likely won't be happening and definitely not without years of therapy (which will only become accessible when she's 18). Indeed, affirming is more likely get me into trouble with the authorities than not doing that.

I want to listen in an open manner, but it is hard. The things she says so often come verbatim from a particular "trans YouTuber". I find them vile. No matter how gentle I am, she picks up on that and the resulting situation isn't open conversation, but scripted talking points followed by crying.

It's amazing how quickly she's changed since announcing this, when she'd been playing around with it well before that, so the cause of the change seems to be the announcement and not just the adopted identity. It went from "I'd be happy if you could use my chosen pronouns sometimes" to "you're evil if you don't".

Maybe she thought that announcing this identity would lead to great and wonderful changes, and when that didn't happen, something shifted.

Yes, some of this is normal teenage stuff. Yes, she could be depressed. So many questions, so few answers.

I need to find a way to get that connection back. No matter what happens next, that is important.

You can restrict her internet access without totally cutting it. I am sorry you're going through this

*eta esp tumblr, reddit,tiktok, Twitter

What sort of hobbies did she have before getting ensnared by the gender cult? Getting her involved in regular volunteer work could be super helpful, especially if it relates to something she already had/has a passion for. Volunteering simulates many of the healthy parts of a paying job (social connections, sense of purpose, responsibility, etc...) and can open up career opportunities for her once she's of age to find a job.

If she has interest in any of the following, I highly recommend: working with animals, children, the impoverished, or the elderly. These and jobs like them can help her establish a really good sense of purpose. The T cult loves to prey on one's own lack of self-worth and our inner sense of narcissism. (We all have a little of the latter, and the T cult loves to prey on it when they sense the person in question is easily influenced by lovebombing and flattery.) By working with others who are less fortunate, she can help develop a sense of purpose outside of "trans activism" and also see how the fruits of her labor play out in the real world. Again, trans activists love to pounce of young women with damaged self-esteem, and it becomes more difficult for one to see oneself in such a poor light when you can directly see how much your existence has helped others. If she's not into charitable stuff, that's ok, as realistically, any volunteer work is good work as long as it gets her off the internet and thinking about things that aren't trans, however, my one warning is to avoid any LGBT and ESPECIALLY and "queer" groups like the plague.

This is excellent advice. Now to get her excited about something like that.

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[–] TransWidow Memoir Oct 16! 4 points

If she's lesbian or butch, she might also appreciate meeting the different kinds of women at an all women's festival. I've heard from some girls who say they were changed by this because it's the first time they saw women like themselves comfortable in their own skin. Might even help if that doesn't describe her.

How old is she? It might be a temporary loss as she goes through an asshole phase. I was an asshole teenager. I get along pretty well with my mom now, as an adult. Am visiting her this weekend.

Sixteen. The assholeness is delivered in a "happy to dish it out, but can't take it" kind of way. This is especially causing problems with siblings. Any criticism or even question (can you take your pants of the floor, etc) is met with "you're transphobic".

What concerns me is that she doesn't talk about it with us. She does it on the internet. On the one account I know she has and has access to, I've seen her giving advice to other young people on how to be trans. They think anything even gently questioning is abuse, or at least they say so.

So, she's eloquent and vocal online, but at home, almost anything can lead to her just refusing to talk to us at all (I don't mean about serious stuff, I mean at all), crying, etc. I'd find it a lot easier to get into arguing and screaming matches than this, because at least she'd be talking.

Okay ... I've got a lot, and I hope I'm not just dumping it on you. I also want to clarify that I am NOT an expert. Just a fellow mom who's had teens (and who still has one teen).

First, brains.

The brain development thing is huge and affects their behavior so much -- I'd say every aspect of their life is affected by it. And one of the biggest game-changers for me personally when my kids were going through it was to not just understand it but talk about it with them and help them understand it.

Here's what I mean. If you're going through something -- anything -- difficult, say a health issue or life upheaval, your emotions about that issue can become so big and so overwhelming that you start to struggle to even unravel what's going on. The whole issue basically snowballs and becomes your Whole Entire Life (or identity). Being able to identify exactly what's going on and why this is happening can help you better recognize various patterns not just to your health or choices but your emotions, too.

So talking to my kids about their brain and physical changes during puberty and the teen years gave them tools for understanding it. It's to the point now that when my youngest (16) is feeling off, he'll just tell everyone, "I feel teenager-y" and that's that. We all give him a little bit of space because hey, it's tough. We know he's going through it. By giving him space, we aren't constantly irritating him, and he's able to move through the foul mood quicker. It's really a useful tool. Kind of like when little ones are first able to put their emotions into words (and really, teens and toddlers aren't too different, when it comes down to it).

Here are some links that you can read and maybe find good stuff to share with her and her siblings.

https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2020.00053

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/The-Teen-Brain-Behavior-Problem-Solving-and-Decision-Making-095.aspx

https://www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/sfn/42862

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-7-things-to-know

Talking to her about her brain development will help with setting boundaries about treatments. You can let her know what changes you are comfortable with (clothing, name, or whatever) and which you are not (binding, hormones, surgery) and this is why: because her brain is not fully developed, and neither is her body. Tinkering with major alterations before the brain and body have finished developing is a recipe for disaster. Once she's fully grown, then the conversation can be revisited. But until then, no permanent medical changes.

Next, personal relationships.

When kids are this age, too, they're pushing away. That's entirely normal and healthy, even. She's defining herself and her place in the world, and it's a painful process, pushing mom away and figuring out who she is and what she believes. And ultimately, she's going to end up believing things that you don't (and vice versa) and that's okay. None of us agree with our parents on everything.

This is where things get tricky, though. First, you have to trust yourself that you've raised her to the best of your ability to make good choices. That's HUGE and crazy hard. But second, you've also got to learn to trust her to make good choices for herself. And I'll be totally honest: That's one of the hardest things I've ever done as a parent.

In THIS instance, and I'm treading very carefully here, but in looking at the big picture, your daughter is making a choice that is effectively rejecting womanhood and all that goes with it.

In the context of this culture, the culture we live in -- hypersexualized, grossly pornified, where women are deeply objectified -- that's an entirely logical choice. She's made a choice that she believes is for her own good. Making matters more difficult is that she's making a choice that is highly celebrated -- right now, being trans is entirely on trend (and this aspect has been talked about extensively here on Ovarit).

I don't have daughters and have not experienced this, so my advice here comes only from gut instinct and personal thoughts on parenting and gender issues. What I would do here is talk to her about the deeply misogynistic culture we live in. With care, you can do that without getting dragged into any gender battles. Misogyny is so baked into our society that the conversations can be easy to have, and you can even include personal anecdotes from your own childhood (and include your other children in this conversation if they're older!). Talk about ways you coped and survived it. Talk about ways other women in the past have coped with and survived misogyny and male violence. Talk about GNC women, too, and how they lived life on THEIR terms, no one else's.

Since you have other children, they may struggle with a lot of their own emotions surrounding this. How you handle this will vary largely depending on how close they are in general, how close they are to their sister, and how they feel about it. Generally speaking, though, I want to just encourage you to make sure the others are getting plenty of love and attention, too, and that the oldest doesn't become an attention hog (this isn't an attack -- many TIP tend to be fairly self-absorbed or self-focused).

One thing I do want to emphasize is to not let her bully her siblings over this. Oldest siblings can be a little rough on the littles sometimes, and I cannot imagine how an oldest might be in this scenario. But if she starts bullying or terrorizing them, do your best to shut it down right away. Sibling relationships have the potential to be some of our strongest, deepest, and most lasting family relationships -- but they have to be nurtured. Insist that the family (including her) is respectful to one another -- but that doesn't mean letting her have her way in everything.

I wish I could suggest therapy, but in the environment we're in right now, I fear this would make matters worse, and that's heartbreaking.

But in lieu of therapy, maybe it's time for her to get involved in some new activities. It sounds like she's struggling with some social isolation and depression. If she had a former passion, maybe she could revisit that. Or she could try some new things. Either way, getting her outside of her own head and involved in something fun and new and different could be a good diversion to get her out of the negative headspace. She might even discover a new passion or hobby or interest. If she's not involved in any extracurriculars at school, get her involved.

And I've already mentioned before, but please, please take time to refuel yourself. Mothering is hard. Mothering a teen is harder. And mothering a teen who is going through something life-altering like this is unimaginably hard.

I know that's a lot of writing, but I wanted to get it all out while I was thinking of it. These people are grooming our kids, and they will do anything they can to get at them. This is going to be a battle, but the only way you'll win is with love. We're here for you.

We're isolated, to some extent, by definition, as immigrants in a place that doesn't really welcome us. That's part of the problem — my daughter feels like she doesn't belong, because she doesn't, because she's not made to feel like she does by the wider society around her. I suspect that that's played a large role in the trans identification.

Another is probably this — she feels like she's on the verge of adulthood, and it scares her. She probably now feels like the safe environment of the family is crumbling around her because we don't affirm and celebrate, so she feels like she's alone in the world. Except for the trans activists on the internet.

I don't know. I've always been a no-nonsense parent, more focused on hard work than on feelings, in part due to time constrictions. I've never coddled my daughter. I feel the need to do so now, in a way. Part of me feels like she needs... love, indulgence, fairy tales, etc, more than she needs a reality check. Part of me feels like she already knows what reality is, and this is her way of trying to escape it.

But all I do is speculate, because the relationship is broken right now. I need to do something different. I can't necessarily fix the social isolation, certainly not in the ways that are often suggested - I simply do not have the money to pay for activities. I can do something, though, and I'm trying to figure out what that is.

We've discussed adolescent brains even before this, and she is very insulted by the idea that her brain isn't fully developed. We've also discussed misogyny, and part of me wonders of that is partially what led her to want to escape womanhood.

Thanks for taking the time to write all that. I really appreciate it.

This is very good. Thank you! I'll come back to reply later.

Fellow mom of a 16 yo (and have had two other 16 yos previously who are now adults) -- there's something about 15-16 that brings out the most assholish behavior. I think it's partly brain development (the amygdala is well-developed, so she responds to everything in fight-or-flight mode, while the prefrontal cortex is poky and slow about developing, which means she has very little self-control or forethought). And partly a matter of maturation -- they're about to be adults and are naturally pushing away their parents/family members even while they still need them very much.

I'll have a few more thoughts on this but have to leave for a bit.

For those who asked, she's 16.

I have other kids too, and that impacts my approach. They are younger and have come down on the skeptical side, and my daughter feels the need to "educate" them. So I'm balancing my need to protect my younger children with my need to protect her.

If she currently has unfettered access to the internet, you need to act fast. Kids don't need unrestricted access to "all the internet you can devour." None of us do, but kids especially. Talk to her about making new boundaries about her internet use -- you've seen symptoms of depression and anxiety that concern you, and those can be associated with excessive internet use. She's withdrawing, she's avoiding activities she used to enjoy, she's not contributing to the family, and she's unhappy. Focus on those things when you talk rather than the gender stuff. You don't have to cut the internet entirely (and probably couldn't anyway if she's in junior high or high school because so much of school revolves around it). But create boundaries -- and if possible, create those boundaries together. Listen to her input so that she realizes you care about her (she should know this, but kids get stuck in their heads especially when they're going through stuff).

You don't have to do what I do, but my kids have always had fairly strict internet guidelines -- no internet access/devices in the bedrooms and definitely not after bedtime (not good for sleep hygiene). When they were younger (below high school age), they were not allowed social media accounts (and those platforms generally have age restrictions anyway) at all. We had many, many talks on internet safety. And when younger, they had time restrictions on anything not related to school (so they could game for an hour or two but once their time was up, they needed to finish what they were doing and move on). If your daughter is older or already has social media, this might not be effective -- you don't want to cut her off entirely and certainly can't control what she does when she's away or at school or on her phone. But you can talk to her about being wise and careful when engaging with people online and how to recognize red flags (but again, don't make this all about the gender issue -- there are many MANY reasons to be cautious online, and these are important conversations to have).

Edit: And don't just talk! Listen, too. Let her talk, and listen to her. Have conversations! About anything and everything.

Personally, I wouldn't bring up the gender stuff myself and would absolutely NOT engage with her (allow her to draw me into a fight on it) about it at all. In fact, personally, I'd grey rock her whenever she tries. And don't let her lead the conversations. For example: If she demands a new wardrobe, let her know that's perfectly fine -- but she needs to earn the money for it herself.

Remember that kids know how to push all of our buttons, well and truly, so be kind to yourself during this. Make sure you're getting adequate time for rest/rejuvenation so that you're fully prepared to manage anything she throws at you.

But my focus here wouldn't be on preventing her from transitioning (not because it's not important but because kids will do what kids do). My goal would be to save the relationship between you and her (because in the end, no matter what happens, she's going to need her mom). But also in that vein, kids who have stronger relationships with their parents tend to be stronger emotionally and mentally and more resilient. They tend to have stronger senses of self, too. This all means that they may have better defenses against manipulative people online. So please, build that relationship and don't let others destroy it.

I wish you all the best. I cannot even begin to imagine how heartbreakingly difficult and painful this must be to go through.

This is good advice.

Through all of this, I want to find a way to make her feel loved, even if I can't affirm or agree with her current viewpoints. Because she's currently under the impression that anything but celebrating the identity is terrible, and she focuses on nothing but gender, I have a hard time finding a way at the moment.

I'll keep trying. I'm not giving up, but I am finding I need to give myself, and her too, space.

One thing that is causing tension is that my other kids talk to me about it, and when they do, I answer carefully but honestly. No, I don't think people can change sex. They can do a lot to look like the other sex, but their chromosomes don't change. That then brings conflict, but I feel these conversations are important. There is little opportunity to talk with my other kids when my trans IDing daughter isn't around.

I would recommend a recent episode of Gender: A Wider Lens. It is episode 85, "A Mother-Daughter Story..." It's an interesting take. The mom did take some drastic measures but they did not include keeping the daughter away from the internet. It was more of a distraction and introducing the daughter to other ways of being in the world, I think.

Is there something fun, satisfying, uplifting, that your daughter likes to do? What used to excite her? It may not be that you can drag her away from her friends on the internet all the time, but maybe you can get her for a half hour here and there.

I'm sorry you're both going through this and I hope things get better for you.

This is would have been my recommendation as well. It might take some exploring, but finding something she enjoys could help break her attachment to the internet, at least for a little while at a time. Physical activities could help get her out of her own head for a bit. Creative projects or hobbies, or even something like thinky board games could help pull focus to something other than the identity stuff. Working with gardening, or animals could help ground her in the natural world, etc.

That was a great episode.

Thanks for the well-wishes. It gets tiring, and I don't know what to do. What I do do is based on instinct, and I'm not at all sure I'm going the right route.

Just remember that no one loves your daughter like you do. No one cares for her well-being like you do. You are your daughter's best advocate. Hang in there and trust yourself.

[–] real_feminist 27 points Edited

You didn't mention how old she is. That would probably be helpful if you want advice.

I am not a parent so take my advice with a grain of salt (and a huge heaping of I cannot imagine how hard parenting must be ever and especially not now): If she's a teenager then it is totally normal for her to not want to hang out with you or share things with you. The problem is who she is choosing instead. Are there other activities with good-influence, irl peers that you can help her pursue so she's spending time with them instead of internet strangers?

Sending love.

Look up how to free your loved one out of a cult. There's tons written, lots of people sharing strategies, it also coincides with how to help someone leave an abusive relationship. Her behaviour is all pointing to a downward spiral, and letting her get away with disrespecting you will make it worse. I'm not saying bite her head off, but don't let her walk all over you.

Just hugs. Really.

A friend of mine experienced this w/ her daughter and she tried her best to refuse pronouns/name change and instead spent what she could on remote vacations and environmental work trips that made internet impossible. She has an upper middle class income, and is lucky she had only one child to focus on, but it did eventually work. Now, daughter is away at college and is fine being called a woman and uses she/her. Her daughter needed to mature. I'm trying to send hope.

Have you read PIIT stubstack or Genspect?

Yes. I read all the things that I can find. It is true that many resources are geared toward middle class Americans, which are, as I understand, disproportionately affected by this. I'm glad your friend's daughter recovered.

Do you listen to the Gender: A Wider Lens podcast? They have several episodes for parents in exactly your situation. If I remember rightly, the TL;DR is try to keep communication open and try to find common ground (eg an activity that you both enjoy and can do together that has nothing to do with gender ideology). You probably know it already, but if you don't, it might be some solace to know you're not alone and hear from two women who help trans-identified young people and their parents every day.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this, it's one of my worst nightmares as a mother.

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