A mother who is dealing with her own child's gender dysphoria posed as a 15-year-old gender dysphoric biological female to access services online with the Trevor Project on Sunday. She found that every step of the way, she was guided further and further into affirmation of being trans, with no stop gaps along the way where a kid could be told that maybe they weren't trans, and should take a moment to think about it.
The mother, referred to here as Gloria though that's not her real name, presented herself as confused about many things, but sure of being "not cishet," and interested in knowing more about detransitioning.
What emerged in the online chat with a representative from the Trevor Project was advocacy for transitioning, no information about detransitioning, and apparent certainty in the face of an uncertain teen who didn't know where to go for help. The Trevor Project guided Gloria to resources on hormones, including how to get them without parental awareness, chest binding, and an introduction into a community of teen transitioners.
"My child spent a lot of time on The Trevor Project website when she first asserted a 'transboy' gender identity around age 12," Gloria told The Post Millennial. "She also spent a lot of time on Tumblr, Discord and other sites at the time. I had no idea they were actively grooming my child into trans ideology and a new belief system."
To access a live chat representative from Trevor Project, Gloria had to fill out an opening questionnaire asking if she'd attempted suicide before, and how she identified in gender identity and sexual orientation categories. The options for sexual orientation were "Asexual Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, or Queer."
For gender identity, the selectable options were "Agender, Boy/Man, Genderfluid, Gender nonconforming, Genderqueer, Girl/Woman, Non-binary, Questioning, Third Gender, Transgender, or Two Spirit," with options for "Questioning, Straight, Not Sure, Not listed above, and Prefer not to say" listed at the bottom.
"I'm confused about my gender," Gloria began.
"Hi, thanks for reaching out to TrevorChat," came the reply. "My name is Quinn, what's going on?"
"I am just not sure what to do about gender. I hear a lot [of] stories about people detransitioning. Maybe I made a mistake," Gloria wrote.
"Ok, interesting," Quinn responds. Can you tell me more about what you're hearing?"
"I have seen some videos on YouTube of people who had [top] surgery," Gloria wrote, "And [no] longer identify as trans. Will that happen to me?" She asked.
"I gotcha," Quinn replied. "It's difficult for sure. How do you feel about your own self?"
"I don't feel like a girl," Gloria replied. "And I don't like girly things. And I'm gay. I like other boys."
"What would you like me to call you today while we chat?" Quinn the counselor asked.
"My name is Trent," Gloria replied.
"Thanks Trent. How old are you?"
He asked where she was located—information which Gloria provided. "I have been identifying as a boy for three years," Gloria wrote. "I feel like my parents want me to detransition. In the past I did but then my friends said it was just internalized homophobia. I mean transphobia. Maybe. Both"
"I understand," Quinn replied. "Yeah. [S]ometimes it can be transphobia. How do you feel about it?"
"I don't know what to think," Gloria replied under the pseudonym Trent. "I once got a doll for a birthday when I was little and I really wanted a truck. I want people to see me as who I am."
"What made you first question this - parents or friends?" Quinn asked.
"I read about it and I know right away I was more than an ally," Gloria wrote.
"I gotcha. What did your parents say to you about detransitioning?"
"Also I am NOT cishet," she wrote. "They haven't said much. But I can tell it's what they want. At first they were very supportive and bought me binders and everything but then they started reading all these terf books and said they don't believe in gender identity anymore."
"Not cishet," Quinn wrote, "understood. How has their belief that they don't believe in gender identity anymore made you feel?"
"I don't know what to believe. I trust my parents but it's not what I have learned," she wrote.
The counsellor, open to so many gender identities and gender transition, did not seek to assure Gloria there's nothing wrong with being "cishet," or that being a "cisgender heterosexual," i.e. a person who is accepting of being the sex they were born with and is straight, is an okay gender identity and sexual orientation to have.
After setting up that baseline, the counselor moves on to ask Trent about her safety. "Thanks for everything so far, Trent," he writes. "Seems like things have been difficult lately and I want to keep talking about that, but before we move on, I need to ask a few more questions about your safety."
Quinn asks if Trent has self-harmed. "I have not self harmed in over a year and I'm feeling really proud [a]bout that," Gloria replied.
"Wow. T[h]at's an accomplishment!" Quinn praised.
Quinn asks if Trent has previously thought of suicide, and the reply comes that yes, suicide has been contemplated and tried. "I have attempted in the past," Gloria writes. "I took some pills. And went to the hospital."
"Thanks for being so candid with me, Trent. When was that?"
"Last year. I have been to [sic] hospitalized three times. And they always respected my pronouns there. How do I know if I'm truly trans?"
Quinn says that it's a "great thing" that the hospital respected the pronouns, a "great thing" that "came out of a not-great situation."
"Before we move on," Quinn continued, "I got your last question I have a couple more safety questions… just a sec. When is the last time you thought about suicide?"
"Not in a few months," Gloria responds.
"Ok, thanks for bearing with me. Now, back to your last question, how do you know if you're truly trans? Some people like to look at it on a scale. Like, it's not an all or nothing situation. Some people need it to be defined and some don't. I think all are valid and makes sense," Quinn said.
"I can get hormones online." Gloria presses. "Should I?"
But that question is simply met with another question.
"How would you feel if you started hormones?"
"I [have] friends on T and they are really happy," comes the reply.
"How would you visualize your life being on it?" Quinn asked.
The pair had a typo and autocorrect-fueled misunderstanding about moustaches and acne, before Gloria as Trent wrote: "I want to pass. I don't want people to read me the wrong way. I want to pass."
"What's the 'wrong' way?" Quinn asked.
"I don't want to be misgendered," she wrote.
"Yeah, totally a valid concern. For people you see everyday, they would learn from you - learn who you are they wouldn't need correcting over time."
"What about detrans" Gloria asked. "Do you know any detrans people who are happy[?]"
"And strangers on the street that you'll never see again… don't matter. T[h]at's REALLY hard to say/accept as a young adult tho."
"I mean I'm gay so I don't know," she wrote, posing as a 15-year-old girl who believes she is a boy and is also attracted to boys.
The Trevor Project counselor could not help with detrans information.
"I personally don't know any detrans," Quinn wrote. "I hear about a lot tho. Have you ever heard of TrevorSpace? TrevorSpace.org [h]as a preferred social networking website resource for LGBTQ youth. TrevorSpace is the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies."
When asked about how common it is to detransition, Quinn then Googles it and arrives at 3 percent, before writing: "That could be tough."
"Did you read the trevorspace blurb above?" Quinn asked. "I think it could be a great resource for you. I'm sure you could connect with people who have experience w/ detrans." Quinn then provides links to help. Gloria asks if there's any "detrans support," saying: "I have seen most of the pro transition stuff already."
The Trevor Project counsellor first provided a link to the Transgender Teen Survival Guide. That resources first up on that site are for "transfeminine resources." Gloria replies: "I don't have a penis so I don't need tucking info lol."
The "transfeminine resources" are divided into sections on presentation, medical transitioning, and other. The first section is primarily about how to "pass" as female or to take on the stereotypical trappings of femininity, such as "curves," "waist training," "growing out your hair," in addition to clothing and makeup tips.
Medical transitioning has links for "not medically transitioning," as well as fertility, puberty blockers, types of surgery available, including breast surgery, facial feminization, and other kinds of body modification.
The "other" category has links that ask "What does it feel like to have a vagina?" And discusses "transfeminine period dysphoria." Links about "representation" go to resources on anime, comics, Jazz Jennings, Laverne Fox, and others.
In the transmasculine resources, similar links on how to "pass" as male and style your body to look male are up top. Medical transitioning resources include various kinds of body modification surgeries, from face, voice, body, genital surgery, and hysterectomy.
Under "more resources," the question "What gender am I?" is linked, and through that page another link can be found at the bottom to the question "But what if I don't want to be trans?" This is the first link in this journey that would have addressed the questions Trent had on teens issues about detransitioning or wondering what to do if you're not sure if you are trans.
The answer listed for "But what if I don't want to be trans?" reads:
"Self-acceptance is the only thing you can do. You can't un-choose being trans because being trans is who you are- it isn't always easy, but it's just the way things are. A lot of trans people wish we had been born with a different axab [assigned x at birth], but we have to just accept that we weren't and then make the most of the situation we're actually in."
"For some people, even if they're fully transitioned and stealth, they'll always have some dysphoria about not being cis. And it sucks. But that isn't something that we can do anything about besides therapy and developing coping mechanisms to deal with the dysphoria, whether that's radical acceptance or anything else that helps with your Mental health.
"In my case, I really wish I naturally had a flat chest. But I don't, so wishing I did won't do me any good or make things any better. I didn't want to have top surgery and have scars, but for me, having scars is better than having breasts. Is it perfect? No, I wish I didn't have scars and my chest was just flat without surgery. But that isn't the world I live in, and this choice was necessary for me- getting top surgery made my quality of life much better.
"There will always be some things you wish were different, but accepting that you’re trans and transitioning if that’s what you need will make you happier than ignoring it and trying to live as your axab."
Another section on the site shows the encouraging of hormones even though the person asking about how to obtain it states outright that they have medical conditions that would preclude the taking of cross sex hormones. Another link offers tips on "how to hide things from your family." While still another offers tips on how to run away from home.
The Trevor Project counsellor pushes Trevor Space as Gloria continues to ask questions about who to trust, medical advice, and what to do. Quinn gives the advice that in the Trevor Space chats "people are questioning and there are some there that have found their answer and those are the ones who will probably give you the best info."
"You have time to go on hormones," Quinn goes on to say, "and time to realize how you feel the best in your skin."
"What do you think?" Gloria as Trent asks, "And what if my parents won't pay for hormones? I don't think they will and I can't wait until I'm 18!"
Quinn doesn't push hormones, saying that "I think you have a good sense of who you are. I also think you have time to see and experience how you feel the best." Quinn gives her a link as to where to begin to start the process of accessing hormones even if her parents don't want to pay. And then he signs off. That last link, Point of Pride, gives information on how to get a breast binder so that girls who want to live as boys can visibly suppress their breasts. There is information on how to get hormones, and a stipulation that free drugs aren't available to people under 18.
Once Gloria signs into Trevor Space, she finds that misinformation about detransitioning is more readily accessible than anything factual. Doctors who are open to detransitioning are listed as transphobic. There was no forum on detransitioning.
Once a child begins questioning whether or not she is trans, the avenues of support for mental health gear the child toward becoming trans. Gloria spoke to The Post Millennial on condition of anonymity about her family's experience.
The reason she accessed the Trevor Project was because that's exactly what her child did at the beginning of their questioning journey. "I am trying to keep my child safe from bad influences, peer pressure and drug use. The Trevor Project is providing all three," she said.
"I never imagined," she said, "that the bad influences in my kid's life would be the mental health community; I never imagined the drug we were trying to shield her from would be Testosterone. We're always fighting the last war."
Recently, she realized that her child "might be exploring desistance and finding resolution from gender dysphoria." It was because of this that Gloria reached out to the Trevor Project initially to obtain resources that could help her child explore detransitioning the same way previously they'd led her into transitioning. Those resources were not available.
"It became clear to me that my child might be exploring desistance and finding resolution from gender dysphoria," she said. "I wanted to make sure that we had some social support. I contacted The Trevor Project for resources on detransition. They had none. I kept asking them and saying surely they must have something."
They finally sent her a link to Stonewall.org in the UK. It was to an article called "Dispelling myths around detransition." It claims that "most people who transition do so without any regrets," that "Detransitioning is very rare," and that those who do have regrets tend to do so because of "unsatisfactory surgical results."
"The most common reason for detransition," Stonewall informs, "is that person couldn't cope with the family and community support they lost and the experiences of transphobia." The advice for someone exploring detransitioning or advising someone on detransitioning is that they need to be aware that exploring detransitioning could just mean that you're transphobic.
"So anyone who is concerned about detransitioning should be equally concerned with challenging the transphobia that is rife across our society. And we can't treat detransition as the end of a person's journey in exploring their gender identity, as many will choose to retransition at a later point when they are safe and supported."
In other words, once a person begins exploring their gender, that exploration never ends, unless it ends in becoming and living as a trans gender. Deciding you are not trans isn't the end of gender identity exploration, but being trans is. Stonewall eliminates detransitioning as a reasonable outcome, and this is the resource that a mother trying to support her potentially detransitioning child was given: she was told, essentially, that she is transphobic and not supportive enough and her kid is likely trans but needs more support.
Stonewall is doing more to fight detransitioning than to support people where they are on their "gender journey."
"I also contacted PFLAG, GLAAD, GLSEN, The LGBT Center and my local school board for resources on detransition. They had none. Not one. None of them," Gloria said.
Many states in the US have laws in place that basically require affirmation of trans identified or trans questioning youth. These laws have come under conversion therapy bans. Gloria notes that these bans include prohibition on "exploratory talk therapy to resolve gender dysphoria. It's criminal that talk therapy is outlawed," she said.
"Psychotherapy or counseling designed to help a child resolve their dysphoria and feel happy and safe in a healthy body is illegal," Gloria told The Post Millennial, because suggesting to a person that they might not be trans is considered trying to convert them from their stated gender identity.
In New York City, a Local Law 22 make conversion therapy "for a fee" illegal. "'Conversion therapy' means any services that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity." Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Connecticut, Nevada, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Delaware have all joined New York in implementing that ban.
Many school districts in these states, as well as others, have a policy of affirming a student's gender identity, including keeping a child's gender identity a secret from parents if that's what the child wishes to do. When a child begins to question gender identity and seeks guidance, each resource they encounter guides them toward transitioning, and not either away from it or to a "pause" or reflection point in their consideration.
Under the "What am I?" link with the Trevor Project, each answer to questions about "what if" are met with answers that boil down to "you are really trans and don't listen to people who tell you otherwise because they are just transphobic." And the first step under the headline "Here are a few basic steps to get you started on your journey" is "daydreaming."
Parents want the best for their children, and when they seek out resources to help with their questioning kids, they are looking for those which do the least harm and do not steer a child on course to be a voluntary life-long medical patient. They are met with resources, instead, that advise their child to "daydream" their way to their gender identity.
And when asked "What does gender feel like for you," respondents on Trevor Project had a variety of answers. One response from "Eden" said that "when I try to focus on what my gender feels like, I basically get a little sparkle in my chest, if that makes sense. On days when I'm especially confident, the sparkle can be a whole cluster of sparkles, like a sky full of pink stars, but on days when I'm really dysphoric and stuff, it feels like one really small, really weak star."
Jay wrote that "gender has always felt like being taken seriously," and what Jay means by that is being accepted as a boy. Ren said "I like being able to manipulate my gender expression depending on how I feel, and I especially like confusing people!" A person called Devon said "my gender feels kinda fuzzy. For a while I identified as gender fuzz…"
It's telling that most of the respondents speak about gender living in their chest, the same place we used to commonly identify the location of our soul. The soul has been eviscerated and replaced with gender, and that gender requires the sacrifice of our sexed bodies.
After three years of "affirming" her child under the advice of a "highly credentialed" medical and mental health team, Gloria's child is moving away from identifying as a gender that is the opposite to her biological sex. But this is after suicide attempts, hospitalization, and self-harm.
The Trevor Project has been reached for comment.