For the longest time, I was just playing catchup with my waiting list for parent phone consultations.
You might have been one of the 700+ parents I've spoken with since 2016.
In that time, I've consulted with parents of:
more than 500 girls
more than 180 boys
I've heard so many harrowing stories. Parents have shared their intimate struggles with me and I've tried to be as attuned and thoughtful as I could with each story and family I've encountered. Here's what I've learned...
We were figuring this out together, and now we know much more.
I used to tell parents, in the "early days" that we are all figuring this out together. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (not an official diagnosis) was not even a thing when I was in training to become a therapist, and there were no books or courses on how to get young people through an epidemic of identity confusion.
So I spent the last seven years listening to parents, talking to dysphoric young people in therapy, talking with detransitioners, thinking hard, and listening some more. I have shared my personal opinions and clinical intuition about what might be going on in both public and private forums.
In consults, I made suggestions and offered ideas to parents who were desperate for guidance. But they were also desperate to know that it's OK to have reservations about your child's sudden new gender identity.
In fact, it's precisely your desire to protect and nurture which makes you suspicious of "affirming." Thousands of loving, intelligent, thoughtful parents ALSO have the same concerns, yet many have been made too afraid to discuss this honestly.
What I've learned is that parents need to feel validated in their very reasonable, rational, and love-based desire to slow down the gender train.
But that's not all I learned: I've had the good fortune to stay in touch with many parents after we've spoken. Sometimes weeks, months, and even many years after a consultation, I'll get an update about what has helped, what has hurt, and what has brought families closer together. This has been such a valuable learning opportunity for me: these updates have helped me discern when my instincts were right, and when I wasn't using the right lens to look at the situation.
Now I can continue to share this wisdom with you...