Something that has been grinding my gears for awhile now is this silly transphobic (debunked) theory about Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). As someone who worked hard to hide from my feelings about my gender, this was interesting and upsetting at the same time. My curiosity got the better of me and I started looking into it. What I found troubled me more than almost anything I’ve seen about adolescents.
The research around the initial idea was accomplished by talking to the parents of teens who maybe identified as trans. I don’t know about you, but my parents had little to no idea of who I actually was as a teenager. I was treated like a drug addict who was failing out of school with a ton of restrictions and rules about who I was allowed to socialize with, how late I could be out, and where I was allowed to be. My grades were all As and high Bs with just a couple exceptions all through school. I had a job, did marching band, and never snuck out or went to parties. I was a GOOD KID by most metrics. My parents felt that I was disagreeable, constantly challenging boundaries, snarky and rude, and unwilling to do what I was supposed to do at home. They never did understand that their rules and restrictions were why I was so disagreeable. I was always the first one of my friends who had to be home after a movie, party, or school event. They claimed it was to “protect me and keep me out of trouble.” I wasn’t interested in trouble, I was interested in my future like going to college, becoming a doctor, and moving the hell away from my parents.
My parents knew I hated ballet, the color pink, dresses, most girls’ clothing, makeup, and pretty much anything related to girls. They knew I refused most girly toys, jumped off my bike like I was doing movie stunts, climbed trees, and was interested in being outside and running around playing sports than doing anything associated with girls. The more they forced this stuff on me, the more I rebelled and refused to do what they wanted me to do. They never stopped forcing all of this on me. But I guarantee the second that some researcher asked them if I had showed any signs of gender dysphoria as a child, they would have said no, I loved dresses and dolls and girly things. That was how I was before I was 4 years old. I didn’t fight them on anything. They were the sole supplier of my toys so I wasn’t choosing things. When I look at pictures of my childhood, there is a definite line between the point where they chose my clothes and toys and when I started choosing my own clothes and toys. I go from pink sleepers and dresses to spider man pajamas and pants with suspenders (which I STILL have a soft spot for) and trucks and guns.
So my first problem with this research that tries to make the case for ROGD is that parents are pretty much clueless when it comes to their kids. Or, more accurately, the type of parent who would subscribe to this theory doesn’t know their child like they think they do. I know several parents of non-binary kids who are very accepting. There are a couple that are very open and forthcoming about it, one who told me privately that her child is now going by they/them and is SO HAPPY NOW, and another who hasn’t come out and said anything specific, but only refers to her oldest as either they/them or “my oldest.” That’s a pretty strong indication that she’s respecting her child’s privacy and also accommodating the child’s non-binary identity. I’ve also noticed that her child has gone from a cranky, sullen, very unhappy looking teenager to a smiling, thriving, happy person. The timing of the they/them and the smiles coincides. These parents aren’t worried about protecting their children from anything; they just want them to be happy.
I get that fear is what’s behind all of this. No one wants to see their child hurting or treated badly. And let’s be honest, some people believe that others will judge them if their child is non-binary or trans. So there’s some level of embarrassment there, like you don’t want the other PTA moms to point and laugh and say “there goes the freak mom whose kids don’t know if they are boys or girls.” My answer to that is IDGAF. Who cares? Is it more important to impress the PTA moms or your own kid? How do these parents not see that THEY are the ones doing the hurting?
I started reading the nonsense Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters several months ago. What a bunch of fucking drivel! Abigail Shrier has no idea what she’s talking about. She acknowledges that for some reason girls don’t want to be girls anymore. Gee, Abigail, why do you suppose that is? That they are made to feel like second class citizens? That they have lost the ability to make decisions for their own body? That they are fighting off the gaze of grown men before they’re 12 years old? That their school is up their ass about wearing short shorts and skirts, and shirts that don’t cover anything yet the entire girls’ clothing department in ANY store sells nothing but short shorts/skirts and revealing shirts? That I could dress my 9 year old like a grown woman before she even starts puberty? But none of that is the damn point.
The point is that children understand who they are long before any parent, teacher, church, culture, school tells them who they are. Just because your child never told you that they feel uncomfortable in the clothes you chose for them doesn’t mean they actually like them. Just because a girl wears a skirt that you suggested and paid for when she’s 10 doesn’t meant she actually likes it. Parents like Abigail need to shut their mouths, sit down, and think for a minute. Is it possible that perhaps your child still wants to please you? Or that they just don’t have a rebellious personality and will go along with what you want even if it makes them miserable? What if your child is putting up with your insufferable parenting as long as they absolutely have to and have a plan to never speak to you again because you are so busy telling them who they are?
I also cannot stand the title of the book. Irreversible damage…what does that even mean? Surgeries? Hormones? You know what is irreversible? Suicide. You can’t get your kid back after that. It is not reversible. So your continued argument of their existence pushes the child to consider means to end their suffering, whether that’s shutting out a parent or looking for another way to end the pain. The transgender craze? WTF does that even mean? I didn’t realize there was some kind of craze in deciding to be transgender. Let me be clear…there is no craze. This is not a decision that most people, even teens, take lightly. THIS IS NOT A DECISION. The decision is whether to acknowledge it to yourself, to accept it or deny it, and whether or not to tell anyone else. It might look like a “craze” to people who have their heads in the sand and haven’t tried to look around and see that everything about the binary is being challenged. Why should girls be there and boys be that? Why can’t there be a place where you can just be you and choose what you want? Some from column A, some from column B, and then you aren’t defined by any label properly. Why is that bad? Just be a good, kind person.
Seducing our daughters…this is very…Handmaids Tale to me. You have no right to own anyone else. “Our” daughters. Seducing our daughters. Taking away “our” uteruses to birth more babies (read WHITE BABIES, but that’s a whole other post) for “our” society. Seducing is a powerful word to be using here, Abigail. As if girls are too dumb to see what’s happening. Would you rather they were seduced by the grown men who start staring at them the second they start puberty? Just look at Millie Bobby Brown. The sick and disgusting countdowns until she turned 18 were appalling. Grown men were lusting after her when she was TWELVE YEARS OLD. This is fucking sickening. Let me tell you a terrible story. I once worked in the footwear department of a large sporting goods store as a young 20-something getting ready to commission in the Air Force. I was just a regular associate. We had a footwear manager and a key associate who was basically a shift lead. There was always the team sports section and they also had their own manager. Rollerblades lived between footwear and team sports, but only a handful from each department were actually trained to fit and help with rollerblades. The footwear manager, key associate, Rollerblades-trained associate, and the team sports manager (all males) were all standing around the rollerblades section with a family. Their 10-11 year old daughter was on the bench putting on rollerblades and her shorts opened up a little and she was exposed just a bit. The guys turned around uncomfortably except for the team sports manager, who said to the other guys “It’s such a beautiful sight, that young, untouched place…” I heard the story from the footwear key associate who was disgusted and appalled by this. He said he told him that was disgusting and disturbing. The footwear manager also was disgusted because he had toddler daughters. He didn’t know I knew the story, but I heard him talking to the key associate about how upset he was. It was just a few weeks later that the team sports manager disappeared from our store.
I digress…Abigail’s argument that an entire friend group of girls all of sudden decide to be trans is so silly. The girls I interact with on the soccer team all seem to be happily girls who enjoy being girls and wearing pink cleats and doing their hair cute for games. They also are fierce soccer players who enjoy pushing the boys around. If they came to me and said they don’t want to be called girls anymore, I would simply say ok. And if any of the boys wanted to wear pink cleats, I wouldn’t have any problem with that and I’d shut down any bullying on the team and on other teams we play. I also just call them “friends” or “ninja monkeys.” Not everything needs to be so gendered. I’ve also called my kids “friends” for years. My parents think it’s stupid and once pulled me aside to tell me that the kids aren’t my friends. Um ok, boomer. They aren’t my friends, but calling them friends is gender neutral and I’d like to try to be as gender neutral with them as possible. I do not care how they identify as long as they are good people.
Back to Abigail…this fear-mongering piece of shit book that I could not finish is trying to serve as some sort of warning that if you don’t encase your daughter in a cloud of pink, monitor her friends, keep her away from any unpink girls, and control everything about her, you risk losing her to the transgender craze…that doesn’t even exist. All I see is Gen Z crashing through the binary, living their best lives and helping those of us who were too scared to be our real selves to stop hiding.