Thursday, January 18, 2018

Transgender overlap with unschooling

Because of some conversations in and around unschooling (late 2016, early 2017) concerning young girls who decided they were boys, and wanted hormone blockers (one girl reportedly had a crowd-funded mastectomy at 14), I expressed my opinion and got jumped and insulted.

Unaccustomed to having people tell me that I was not allowed to ask questions, or that something that came out of unschooling discussions was none of my business, I began to read more and to ask questions.

A quote from an article unrelated to unschooling:
Thanks in part to the full-throated support of progressives and trans activists, one approach is gaining ground in America. It contends that children know themselves best: if your three-year-old says he is a girl, do not deny or question her but instead support her. When she is ready to transition, assist her to do so – whether that means buying pink dresses now or approving her use of cross-sex hormones later on. Parents who affirm their kids’ desire to transition have been widely lauded for their courage; doctors who question whether medical intervention is in a child’s best interest have been accused of transphobia.

So contentious is this argument that parents I have spoken to fear publicly raising issues that worry them. There is one, in particular, that troubles many: what if my child changes her mind?

It's not only in America.

In late 2017, a couple of unschooled girls "desisted." They changed their minds. Then another one changed her mind. When they were interviewed and their stories were published (one of the young teens was interviewed, and two moms were interviewed), unschooling groups variously attacked the reports, or removed the links. That was interesting to me, too.

I had already started collecting notes and information on my page at

On November 5, 2017*, I created a public facebook group I was going to call "Transgender Questions." There was already a group with that name, though, and it was rougher advice for adult transgender folk, so I added (Parents) to the name to distinguish the two. My hope was that people would join and share what they knew, both supporters and skeptics of treatment for teens.

What has happened (as I report this in January) was that people who never joined attacked me verbally (facebook writing, mostly), and in some of the discussions I could see, there were dogpiles of "yes, she's awful," complete with some detailed lies and various add-on claims that make no sense to people familiar with my unschooling beliefs, practices and writings over the years. I was called a TERF bitch, and told to shut the fuck up, that I had no business in or around that topic, that it was people like me who caused deaths, and suicides would come of it, all because of me.

In the early days of the group, some of the 35, 50 members, were adult trans people. No one was asked to self-identify in any way, but some people volunteered to do so. Their information, though, was outdated, and the assurances they were giving were not current as to what is being said and done then, late 2017, for/with/to children and teens who said "I think I'm transgender, too." They were wrong in thinking that this happened about equally with girls and boys. Overwhelmingly, it's girls, these days.

One by one, a few supporters came to the group. A mom; a young woman using "they" and claiming non-binary status; another one of those later; one less unidentified as to status. Each seemed sure that a few posts would persuade us all that we were wrong and they were right, but they were bringing no research, and no caution, just the same recitations and assurances of acceptance-or-death, and each lasted just a couple of days (or less) before getting pissed off and storming out, or dropping away.

Meanwhile, the world was continuing to change quickly—politically and medically. Those in the group who were concerned with danger to young people continued to bring real research and evidence. In the outer world, more and more young women who had lived as men, who had changed gender, some legally, some who had taken testosterone and grown beards and begun to bald, changed their minds. They decided they were women, started sharing their stories online here and there, saying had been swept up in something questionable, and that the drugs they had been taking were unhealthy.

Notably, many of them come back to say that they don't mean to suggest that others should not accept treatment, and there are transgender people, and they don't mean to suggest everyone who takes testosterone is wrong to do so, and such backpedalling and defensive statements. I'm guessing that they fear the bullying pressure of the transgender supporters.

These notes are here mostly for my own benefit, to check back years from now about when and why I asked all those questions. If there had not been so much overlap with and co-opting of unschooling terminology and principles in the defense of children's truth and right, without any consideration or questions about the legitimacy of the feelings or the pressures behind the expression of them, I still wouldn't know. People started saying that anyone who didn't immediately offer hormone blockers was "not a good unschooler."

It should not be associated with, or part of unschooling, in my opinion, because the problems with the whole movement and belief system are huge and growing. Unschooling shouldn't be connected with anything that can't withstand the light of casual inquiry.

Late 2017 and early 2018 are seeing revelations in other places, about legal, moral, medical problems with "the transgender community." If, from within, the emperor's clothes are sorted out, real from imagined, my Q&A group won't be at all needed.

The unschoolers' accounts referenced above, and the link to the facebook group:

Brie Jontry: Born in the right body

Noor (Brie's daughter), and her account: It’s not conversion therapy to learn to love your body: A teen desister tells her story

Jenny Cyphers, A Careful Step into a Field of Landmines

Others added later:

Freed from the girl pen: Another mom and desister teen tell their stories

A different take on affirmation (discusses unschooling relationships betweeen parent and child specifically)

Another by Jenny Cyphers, after she was interviewed for an article: What I wish the Atlantic article hadn’t censored (with a link to that article, too)

Transgender Questions (Parents) public (readable without joining) facebook group

* At first this said October 5, but it was an error; sorry. It was November.


Anonymous said...

Research does currently show that trans children who are supported by their parents and who socially and/or medically transition are happier and have less anxiety and depression.

There is also medical evidence that trans children are biologically more aligned with the gender they identify as than that of their natal sex:

And while you rightly may be concerned that there are kids jumping on the trans bandwagon because it's the cool thing to do, most kids who are NOT trans will not medically transition. Very few who go on to medically transition regret it.

Yes, some do. However your mission to try to stop trans kids from transitioning in the first place will harm more than it helps. Also, disparaging the entire trans community as being awful people is a bit extreme. One can be concerned about kids and potential regret without the blatant transphobia against a wide range of human beings who just happen to be trans.

You're complaining that you were insulted. Most of what you have written is insulting to transgender people, and you attacked trans people on your facebook page. Maybe you should consider being nicer to people who were trying to help you understand.

Sandra Dodd said...

The longitudinal study cited there isn't longitudinal in its methodology. Unless it really does follow those kids into adulthood, it's not going to be "longitudinal."

The increasing number of people reporting remorse seem to be a few years into the change. Their numbers didn't show earlier bcause each could be disregarded as "wasn't really trans," but there are enough now that some organization is beginning, and at some point their experience and knowledge will be more reasily available.

-=-However your mission to try to stop trans kids from transitioning in the first place will harm more than it helps.-=-

My mission is to help people to understand unschooling and to live peaceful, happy lives. When other causes or topics have intruded on that in the past, I have objected and tried to clarify. This topic resists clarification. I don't like that. It's okay for me not to like purposeful deceit and obfuscation. It's legal. It's moral.

"My mission" was to create a place where questions could be asked in public with the lights on, rather in closed groups that threw out anyone who asked too many questions, or provided information other than "transition-or-death" themed rhetoric.

My intention was to provide a broader and more balanced set of information for unschooling parents, or any parents, to have at hand as they made decisions. It wasn't about me or what I thought, except for me thinking parents were being under-informed.

I don't think my own opinion, or a facebook group where questions are asked, will harm anyone. It might not help anyone, either.

In no way, though, am I preventing people from finding information such as in the links you've brought. I've never asked ANYone to learn less nor to ask fewer questions. I haven't deleted any links others brought to that group, either.

-=-you attacked trans people on your facebook page-=-

I didn't attack anyone. When I've quoted people, I've left names off. I am, as usual, trying to deal in ideas and in information, not in personal lives and individuals.

Sandra Dodd said...

I'm re-posting this without change. I thought it was the second comment sent. Neither had a time stamp; sorry to have reversed them, but I did want to comment on each and not mix them up.

Anonymous said...

I checked out your page. Plenty of people provided research as to why you are wrong. You just refused to believe it and want to continue your transphobic rants. You know you've gone off the deep end when your "sources" are right wing populist websites and conservative right wing pastors.

You whine about being silenced when in your group you actively silenced every. single. trans person who offered up personal stories and information.

What I really don't get is why a cisgender woman with no skin in this game spends her time trying to discredit a marginalized community. I also don't get how a person who preaches respecting children is perfectly fine with disrespecting transgender children.

You're all about being right. Well, on this topic, you and your transphobic, exclusionary friends are dead wrong. Thankfully most of society is getting it right.

Sandra Dodd said...

I considered not letting either of those through, as both were anonymous. They could be the same person. No tellin'.

-=-I checked out your page.Plenty of people provided research as to why you are wrong-=-

My page on my site, I guess this means. "Plenty of people" provided the same-same statements, not research. I'm sure there is no research on my own being right or wrong. What my page has is quotes, and links to other people's writings. If the links work, I wasn't wrong. When I quoted accurately, but cutting and pasting and citing the authors, I wasn't wrong.

-=-You just refused to believe it and want to continue your transphobic rants.-=-

I haven't ranted. Claiming that I am "continuing transphobic rants" doesn't make it true.

-=-You know you've gone off the deep end when your "sources" are right wing populist websites and conservative right wing pastors.-=-

I went back and looked at the page I linked above. There are no rightwing websites or pastors of any sort. There are unschooling parents, and links sent to me by unschooling parents.

-=-You whine about being silenced when in your group you actively silenced every. single. trans person who offered up personal stories and information.-=-

I haven't whined, I haven't been silenced, and the Transgender Questions (Parents) group is EASY to join, and anyone can comment.

(to be continued...)

Sandra Dodd said...

-=-What I really don't get is why a cisgender woman with no skin in this game...-=-

Is it a game? Someone else wrote "no dog in this fight."

Factual, medical, human-development information shouldn't be a game or a fight. It should be open for anyone to see and ask about and know more about. If it affects everyone, why should it be limited to those with "skin in this game"? What does that even MEAN?

-=-...spends her time trying to discredit a marginalized community.-=-

If there's a community I'm not part of, I'm sure they can take care fo themselves and not worry about my distant and invalid opinion. I don't like the idea of "communities" in that sense, not even "the unschooling community." I think information should be provided, shared, examined. Read a little, try a little, wait a while, watch—that's what I've said for years, and written, and shared, and linked. It's for individuals, and their learning—for parents learning how to provide an optimal environment for unschooling.

I can spend my time however I want to, I'm sure, even though an anonymous person doesn't understand it.

-=-I also don't get how a person who preaches respecting children is perfectly fine with disrespecting transgender children.-=-

The rhetoric here is a recitation.
I don't "preach." I save the good parts of discussions over the years. I help people who want to discuss unschooling figure out why they think what they think and whether it will help. I've been doing that since 1991. Lots of people appreciate it.

-=-You're all about being right.-=-

These assurances of what I do, and preach, and "am all about" are interesting. Kind of stalkerish, at worst, and enthusiastically accusatory (and misrepresentational) in the blandest way of seeing it. It's okay for anonymous people not to try to be experts in me and my beliefs. It's better than okay.

(continued from post above)

-=-Well, on this topic, you and your transphobic, exclusionary friends are dead wrong.-=-

Perhaps I'm wrong. I don't have a group of people who agree with me, or whose beliefs I have bought or adopted. I'm looking at individual ideas and trying to figure out which are true, which are rhetoric, which are useful, which are not.

-=-Thankfully most of society is getting it right.-=-

That's a statement that can't be considered without defining "most of society" (the whole earth? most of Seattle, or Ontario?), and defining "it" in the "getting it right."

Assertions don't create truth. Opinions are fine, but bullying others to aceept one's opinions is... bullying.