Where’s Our Life Raft?

“This is my rant. My attempt at a cathartic retelling of a story so many know.”

Our daughter was—is—a wonderful little girl. Funny, outgoing and pleasant. Loving and caring, empathetic to a fault. Wildly smart in math and science, she’s always excelled academically. And, like every other damn story I read, COVID happened, and so began what I sometimes call The Oppression Olympics.

It started, as it always seems to, with simple things. Declarations of “I'm gay” or “I'm bi” transitioned to “I’m asexual” or “pan sexual” or some variation I’d never even heard of and had to google. I felt like what was going on here was simple: Everyone is online, and how do you stand out as interesting among a group of 50 kids? Well, the more esoteric and mysterious your particular brand of weirdness is, the more likely you are going to get a reaction. It’s the digital equivalent of being outside a bar at 3am in the morning dancing drunk on a stage. Look at me!

Whatever, she’s 12 years old I told myself—she’ll figure this out. And then came the trans identification, (with a nickname that I later discovered was that of a particular TikTok influencer…). Then the trans stuff morphed a bit—it wasn’t enough anymore to be trans, you had to be an oppressed trans. And so the kids all started sort of competing for who had it worse—“my dads a homophobe!” or “my moms a TERF!”—“I have it worse!” “No I have it worse!”. Terms like “AFAB” and “Dead Name” showed up. It all seemed a bit much, but kids will be kids right? I grew up with crass garbage patch kids trading cards, bootleg copies of Easy-E or NWA we secretly listened to, and kids stealing their parents’ Marlboros. 

I told myself: Maybe this generation’s stick-it-to-mom-and-dad was that they wanted to be called some silly name and complain to their friends that they had it tough? We acquiesced. Be gay, be trans, tell your friends that your mom is awful because she won’t buy you a binder, or that your dad’s an asshole because you had a bedtime. We get it, we were teens once too, and look, if it turns out you really are trans after all, we are supportive. We love you unconditionally. Gay, bi, trans, and anything in between. Like all parents, we just want you to be happy. So, sure, explore what feels right. What’s the worst that could happen?

It got worse.

Ignorance is bliss. Our kid spiraled into depression. And, in retrospect, of course she did—she’d basically been told that, for the rest of her life, she would inhabit the wrong body. That feels pretty inescapably difficult. Not surprisingly, she became besties with other trans kids and, also not surprisingly, a disproportionate percentage of those new friends were also depressed. Self harm started. Demands for T and surgery started.

They sought professional health care at “one of the preeminent hospitals in the country for a gender evaluation.”

It got worse…..

Where’s Our Life Raft?

Sinking Ship” by swisscan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


What Have We Done To Our Children?