Parent of transgender child: ‘I thought the NHS would sort it out’ The Sunday Times 27.10.19
The original article is here.
Everything seemed fine until Sarah began secondary school. She developed early, and became self-conscious. Then her father and I divorced and she started self-harming. At 15, she said she wanted to be a boy. Two girls at her school had come out as trans.
I knew nothing about the transgender debate and thought the NHS would sort it out. Sarah [not her real name] wanted to see our GP on her own and was referred to a gender identity clinic. She began spending time online and was enthralled by Chase Strangio, an American trans man and activist.
She started wearing a binder to flatten her breasts, which can affect breathing. Then she ordered a “packer” to wear in her underwear, to simulate the shape of a penis. She changed her name and asked to be called by male pronouns, began going out with a fake beard and attending LGBT groups. These people encouraged her to believe she was a man. For a young woman looking to fit in, they made her feel as if she’d found a home.
Her appointment at the gender identity clinic came when she was 16. She had five sessions, at which, she assured me, her depression and anxiety were discussed as well as her gender identity. Gender dysphoria was diagnosed — as well as ADHD, as if it were unrelated to her confusion and dogmatism.
Sarah asked me to meet her specialist, who made me feel like a bigoted parent. She said home was intolerable for Sarah, that it was my fault for not affirming my child’s belief she had been born in the wrong body. But my daughter is just that: my daughter. She can’t change sex.
Then Sarah said the clinic recommended she take testosterone to make her look more masculine, develop hair, irreversibly deepen her voice. I had a meltdown. Sarah wanted to leave home. We reached a compromise: she binds, she can wear a fake beard and I’ll accept it as long as she doesn’t take hormones while living at home. I want her to get to 25, when her brain will be fully developed.
I was an early developer too: I had 32DD breasts and at 18 I begged my GP for a breast reduction, which he refused. I hated my female body and developed an eating disorder. Today I’d be trans. That’s what’s so frightening. I had a lucky escape, while my daughter’s generation is cornered. These children get a seed in their mind, which becomes a belief. Then they’re sent to a gender identity expert who affirms that belief. The next step is towards medicalisation.
Sarah is now 21, dating (a man) and doing well in her job. She binds, but has had no medical interventions. So I still have hope.
But I trusted the NHS with my child and cannot believe the harm I believe it has done.
The author wishes to remain anonymous.