When my (minor) child was in the thick of being harmed by the mental healthcare system’s capture which resulted in her not getting the appropriate mental healthcare she so desperately needed because all they could focus on was her “gender identity,” my husband and I stayed calm and reasonable. We talked with all the professionals in the psychiatric hospitals that were working with her with respect. We told them we were trying to work with them as a team, to support them supporting her. Her private therapist tried to reach out in writing and in calls to help them understand and support her properly. We were clear that we were not asking them to change how they treated other patients. All we were asking was for them to look at her individual case, her individual medical and mental health history, to see how her belief in being trans wasn’t even stable or consistent, and that affirming and encouraging transition during mental health crises was making things worse and creating obstacles to care and recovery. We have it documented in her records that they refused, they lied to us, that they continued after we told them to stop, that they hid things from us. No amount of kindness, rationality, or middle way worked.

We are (were?) liberals, always voting blue. During all this, I did not support laws banning medical transition of minors. I didn’t like the way republicans and conservatives were talking about or acting on this issue.

Now we are on the other side of this. My daughter desisted and is highly critical of the ideology. We are all dealing with various levels of mental, physical, and financial fallout. I have things carefully documented. I’ve filed complaints with our (red) state. Nothing happens.

Now, I don’t know how I feel about the legal bans. Maybe that is the route to take since nothing else seems to be working. I cringed listening to Matt Walsh’s rant. It really seemed excessive and cruel. But I was also furious watching Dylan Mulvaney simpering and posing at the White House with Pres. Biden, talking about transitioning kids while Biden nodded along to everything DM said. I was furious listening to Biden telling parents how they should affirm and raise their confused child. He doesn’t know anything about my child’s case. I get furious when I hear people insist that nothing like what we experienced is actually happening. I’ve got it documented in her records. I’m furious but I don’t show it or express it because no one wants to hear it. I need to be reasonable and rational, speaking carefully, and staying true to what I believe about being kind and compassionate to others. But sometimes I feel like an angry rant from someone like Matt Walsh is the vicarious venting of anger I need (kind of like those comedy

sketches with Pres. Obama’s “anger translator”). Or maybe we do need some angry people in all this. I don’t know. I really don’t. Most days, my husband, daughter, and I just want to ignore all of this, move on, and pretend it’s not an issue. But it’s everywhere and impossible to not have to deal with it one way or another.

Expand full comment

One of the strands in Lisa's piece relates to the trajectory from gay marriage to the present. It's important to tease that one out. Lisa writes, eg, "Little did many of us know that advocacy groups supporting gay rights would evolve to push ideas that in some cases actually endanger gay people, push for young gay kids to access the same medical protocol . . .". As a gay woman myself, I certainly wouldn't have predicted this to happen, and many theories have been advanced about why.

One person I have found to be trustworthy on this set of issues, particularly, is Bev Jackson, who is co-founder of the LGBAllianceUK. I just ran across the following, which she put out today, and I thought it might be of interest:

"Everyone who cares about LGB rights please note: all former gay rights organizations are now run by the gender identity cabal. Any group that upholds the original, only, definition of gay & lesbian - same-sex sexual orientation - is barred from consultations on LGB issues. This cannot go on. We will not accept this ideological stranglehold on LGB issues exerted by groups that have grossly betrayed the legacy of the gay rights movement. It will take time, but make no mistake, we will recover what has been lost. We must - and will - repair the damage done to the reputation of the gay rights movement by TQ+ groups’ incessant clamor for attention, their unreasonable demands, and aggressive targeting of women - especially lesbians. To quote a phrase: 'We know who we are.' Stand with us."

Out of my own efforts to research this issue, I believe this assessment to be accurate.

It is going to be tough to find common ground, even on the left side of the aisle, but I take heart that one-on-one conversations, when I am able to have them with friends and neighbors, do help. So, I will keep trying that in my little corner of the world.

Expand full comment

"You wanna stop letting people transition? Unreasonable." I agree that adults should be able to undergo whatever treatment they like, as long as I am not asked to pay for it. Even if I believed that "gender dysphoria" were a legitimate diagnosis requiring drastic body modification, trans people will be the first to tell you that "gender identity" is not an illness. And yet they want to have it both ways, insisting that insurance or Medicare cover the treatment for their non-illness. Insurers won't cover any other kind of elective plastc surgery, but they are required to pay for procedures that will help someone conform to the regressive stereotypes of his or her choice. What a crazy world.

Expand full comment

Yes, polarization destroys rather than builds. But one of the major roadblocks here to building more bridges across the divide is that people who believe medicalizing children is appropriate just won't talk. If indeed they believe that a trans identity is immutable and inherent, then no amount of information about medical harms will matter.

I think it more important that we talk to "normies"--people who don't know what's going on, who assume it's like gay rights--the more of them we can wake up, the more likely we can turn this tide (mixed metaphor--sorry!).

Expand full comment

A good starting point is always: we all want is best for children, right? Can we try to find ways to support all kinds of expression in young people without medicalization? Can we also take into account that youths have a variety of stressors and many are channeling it into the trans trend?

Then, is it is possible to support an array in gender expression without changing pro nouns? Because they do feel like a slippery slope and they do tell kids there is a right or wrong gender for them to be.

But I get being angry too. I just don’t think it’s effective

Expand full comment

Agreed that Knowles was over the line. I think part of the problem is that this topic simply cannot be discussed open and honestly in many “polite” circles, including the MSM. (Notwithstanding GLAAD’s complaints, the NYT has yet to report on this topic in a truly honest manner, IMO).Perhaps more accurately, the very idea of asking questions or expressing any reservations about gender ideology or gender medicine is considered a “thought crime;”I.e. not acceptable to be considered, much less discussed. When someone says something like what Knowles said, it gets a disproportionate amount of attention, because it “proves” that only “haters” criticize trans ideology. Knowles’ comments will make it easier, at least in the short run, to dismiss criticism of gender ideology as bigotry.

I was watching a segment on local cable news last night about a legislative proposal in a nearby state to ban “gender affirming care.” The segment featured a few TRA’s railing against the proposed legislation as “hateful,” with no mention of what “gender affirming care” actually entails or why anyone (e.g. Finland, Sweden, U.K.) might think “gender affirming care” is not such a good idea for adolescents. Very frustrating, for example, this morning to see CNN railing against Fox News for presenting disinformation to its viewers about the 2020 election in the context of the Dominion lawsuit (for the record, I think CNN is right on this one), while CNN routinely airs a firehose full of deceitful nonsense to its viewers on “gender” issues.

Expand full comment
Mar 9Liked by Lisa Selin Davis

Hi Lisa, Maybe I am too idealistic but can there be some alliance of affirming and questioning parents? Can we start with a conversation/listening session? I have a friend that put out a call on FB to have coffee with a “TERF.” She is active in local PFLAG and she has a lot of respect for me. I don’t know if she knows my full beliefs (definitely not TERFY) but I want to reach out to her. We have talked about our kids mental health issues before and lent each other a lot of support. Maybe this is an opening to have more groundbreaking, people connecting conversation. I just can’t do this culture war sh!t but I also know that I can’t watch children like my child transition without access to thorough exploratory care.

Expand full comment

Lisa Selin Davis please take care of yourself. Happy International Women’s Day. It must extremely stressful for you and Jess Singal as journalists to be in the eye of this storm.

Thanks for writing this.

No reasonable person could accuse you of not supporting trans adults. And it’s completely ridiculous that anyone believes gender questioning kids don’t deserve good psych evaluations and cautious care. I’m done with extremists. Matt Walsh isn’t helping the cause of cautious care for kids. Neither are are the far left extremists who pretend kids are getting great evaluations at gender clinics...lots of activists lie and somewhere is the truth. The truth is everyone should care about kids getting good mental health support and psych evaluations before getting medical interventions.

Yuck about Michael Knowles. Not helping. Same with people trying discount Jamie Reed. We need some John Lennon Imagine up in here right about now. Can some musicians roll a piano into Central Park and play that song so we can all take a breath and chill?

Actually I feel like L Cohen would work too.

Ring the bells that still ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in

Expand full comment

Thank you, Lisa, as always. You ask such an important question: "how can we make room for multiple and conflicting ideas in a way that creates more thoughtful and nuanced people?" Yes, please! I'm afraid that the whole NYT kerfuffle and CPAC coming one after another has just made the whole thing feel very entrenched and hopeless. In a matter of days, I heard Lulu Garcia-Navarro's First Person, SF Chronicle's Fifth on Mission, and Ezra Klein all reinforce the "no debate", "science is settled" perspective. The voices most available at the moment are, as you put it, Knowles or Strangio. It is (for this parent) crazy-making.

Expand full comment

I think this is excellent. Thank you Lisa. Less rhetoric and more civil discussion is what’s needed.

Expand full comment

This has been a thorn in my side for a long time. The R's are holding us back from actually getting to a common sense place with all of this. With their extreme rhetoric, voices like yours can't be heard. Just when I was starting to get somewhere educating my liberal friends on the harms being to kids perpetrated in the name of social justice, my state swooped in with ridiculous ideas of arresting parents who seek affirmative care for their kids, and providers who offer it. That shut down all conversations I was having, just when people were really starting to listen. The extremes are going to kill us all.

Expand full comment

I hate to see our “side,” the side that truly wants to see ideology out of the schools & clinical practice, fight and fracture. I understand the frustration of many, particularly when it comes to kids as we are hardwired to protect them, but I agree that being mindful of how we convey our mission is important. I hope we can stay focused and move forward with clarity. Thanks Lisa.

Expand full comment

Perhaps Knowles responded so strongly after seeing my short post about the "gender" therapists encouraging cross-sex ideating men who are married to coerce their wives into demeaning role play. Matt Walsh was responding to Dylan Mulvaney's quite bold threat that he has the capacity "to steal your husbands." When Christina writes something regarding trans widows' experiences, and reviews the books Sex Change (Christine Benvenuto) 18 Months (Shannon Thrace) and me, In the Curated Woods, True Tales from a Grass Widow, I will be relieved to know that at least the harms to these men's families are reported. My clip on the experience of sexual harassment and coercion into demeaning sex role-play, which is part and parcel of the trans ideology:


Expand full comment

Several years ago I told friends that gays/lesbians had more to fear from the ideologies of the left than the right. Not well received.

I told them that because I saw the clouds of gender ideology gathering and sensed that for many gays, this would be a challenge. I sensed the shifting ground on distinction between sex and gender...and you may know that among younger people, many gays/lesbians are mocked, derided, and called "transphobic" if they are not willing to "date" a person who says they are trans.

Most of the gays I know are older and affluent to more than affluent. And frankly, there is a certain cluelessness to how the world has changed. In so many ways, it's still the era of Will and Grace plus gay marriage. And they continue to fund Human Rights Campaign, etc very generously.

Expand full comment

One last thought I’ll add re: Christina Button’s article explaining why she left the Daily Wire. Christina cites as one factor her friendship with trans woman Blaire White. I can’t listen to Blaire White’s videos because to me Blaire sounds just as mean, mocking, and cruel toward other trans people in the TikTok reaction videos on her YouTube channel as Matt Walsh did toward Dylan Mulvaney. BW will use terms like groomer and accuse people of being pedophiles. It feels like ultimately there are a lot of people on every side of this looking for how they can profit off keeping everyone angry and slinging insults at each other. They’re not going to profit by turning down the temperature (same for politicians and nonprofits who needs to keep people believing we’re literally in the middle of a genocide in order to keep their fundraising up)

Expand full comment

I agree with Buttons' stance. you make good points too. As for Knowles, confusion about gender ideology is forgivable. GI is purposefully deceptive and confusing, one can be forgiven for getting it wrong.

gop rage junkies are never going to get it "right". i agree that we should fight and communicate that its ok to ID as "trans". but this is really only the case for adults. kids cant consent to permanent loss of sexual function. the gop is correct when they refer to child gender "care" as child abuse.

its also not true that trans ID people just want to be left alone or accepted as trans. maybe some do. but really they already have that opportunity. many want to invade womens spaces, have grown men undressed in womens bathrooms exposing themselves to women and girls, as Lia Thomas does to his team mates. they want to trick kids and parents into gender affirming care with a 1000 fraudulant claims. they want to erase the rights of a half doz groups.

"How can we make room for multiple and conflicting ideas in a way that creates more thoughtful and nuanced people?" This is the wrong question. the right question is how can everyone retain their rights. How can people who ID trans retain their right to be trans? The already have this right. problem solved. If people who ID as trans dont feel comfortable in the spaces of their bio gender then they can seek a single space all gender restroom. These spaces are more and more common. If none are available then trans ID people should use the restroom of thier bio gender. crime stats show trans ID ppl are safest in the spaces of their bio sex. claims to the contrary are lies told to liberal women who dont know better. its high level mansplaining .

the backlash is comming. buckle up. when it does the only way out is via protecting everyone's rights. when that occurs we will notice that gender ideology seeks to erase the rights of a half doz groups. there maybe middle ground on messaging. but there is no middle ground on the core issue of rights.

Expand full comment