The Way Back: What should we do for our girls?
“Are trans-identified teens receiving good advice, mental health care, and medical care?” Shrier asked this question of many of those she interviewed. One of the first individuals in the United States to medically transition from female to male responded with an immediate “No! They think it’s going to fix everything about the way I feel about myself… And that’s the dangerous part. It’s not going to fix everything until you fix your brain… A therapist’s role is to question adolescents’ self-assessment…”
“There’s something horribly sad,” writes Shrier, about teenage girls who sit at home dreaming of obtaining and injecting hormones rather than indulging fantasies of kissing or touching another teenager.
What should we do? First, says Shrier, we must understand what is happening. She quotes Sahha Ayad, a therapist who has worked with hundreds of transgender adolescents: “This isn’t necessarily about gender at all. When these kids go online they’re essentially being steeped in what could be seen as propaganda.” As Denise, founder of a blog billed as “a community of people who question the medicalizatioin of gender-atypical youth.” puts it, we should inoculate our daughters against this social contagion.
To do this, says Shrier, we need intellectual ammunition to confront those who educate our daughters and, sometimes, other parents who are sowing gender confusion. This requires “merely knowing the truth.”
For parents, Shrier has seven recommendations:
- Don’t get your kid a smartphone.
- Don’t relinquish your authority.
- Don’t support gender ideology.
- Reintroduce privacy into the home. Don’t share everything on the Internet.
- Consider big steps to separate your daughter from harm (even moving physically away from school, peer groups, and online communities that encourage self-harm).
- Stop pathologizing girlhood. It is special to be a woman. A woman is not less than a man.
- Don’t be afraid to admit it’s wonderful to be a girl.
What might we add to Shrier’s recommendations?
- Teach children from a young age that they are made in God’s image and that he loves them , is always with them, and they can talk with him. That is their identity, who they are. A self-determined identity is very fragile. Continue this conversation throughout the teen years.
- Teach teens a healthy skepticism. They need to be aware that not everything they hear or read is true. Teach them to be like the biblical Bereans who, even when listening to the Apostle Paul, “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
- Help teens to search out credible resources, online or otherwise, against which to weigh what they hear from peers or on social media — even from adults.
Talk about these things with your teens.