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DD’s friend - help with what to say

29 replies

PronounMadness · 26/06/2022 20:21

DD is 11 and in the last year of primary. She has 2 best friends, one of which has had a bit of a mental health crisis over the past 6
months. All of the professionals suspect autism and DD has been chattering a lot about LGBTQ and pride lately. She’s pretty sciency and I’ve always been very clear that you can’t change sex, that nobody can be born in the wrong body etc. During half term DD said that her friend hated her name and wanted to be known by a gender neutral name, but nobody knew this yet.

She’s told me today that her friend is now wearing a binder and that she can’t do sports day because she can’t breathe. 🙁

Her mum has confided in me about the mental health issues and potential autism and I’m trying to support her as much as she wants me to. I want to reach out and warn her about the long lasting damage the binder will do. Thing is I know she’s absolutely desperate to help her daughter and stop her being suicidal so I have no ideas how to go about this. She can’t afford a private diagnostic test for autism and the NHS wait is a minimum of 2 years here.

What do I do?! DD obviously wants to support her friend but I’m worried about her potentially falling down a rabbit hole too.

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Porcupineintherough · 27/06/2022 23:45

If you can talk to the mum you could tell her to move forward on the basis that her dd is autistic and to treat her accordingly. My ds was diagnosed a few weeks ago and, whilst it's great to get the diagnosis what he needs is extra support at school and at home to lower his anxiety. Having the whole trans thing hove into view obviously isn't helping but I'd suggest that this girls parents don't over focus on this but concentrate on making real world changes that support their dd. Then hopefully the "need" to transition will wither away.

ArnoldBee · 27/06/2022 23:51

Just be there for her. She probably knows about the binder already but on balance she prefers to have her daughter alive with potential health issues. My DSD has issues - its a fine balancing act on deciding which battles we deal with head on and those we hope disappear. So far we've done pretty well.

Moreandmoreandmore · 30/06/2022 08:18

You could direct her to Bayswater Support . The ‘link’ between suicide and not-transitioning is massively exaggerated and is used to )understandably) terrify parents into agreeing to their children being transitioned. Bayswater have excellent advice and support for parents trying to help their children without allowing them to be pushed down a very damaging path

Moreandmoreandmore · 30/06/2022 08:18
PronounMadness · 30/06/2022 14:44

Thank you so much. I’m seeing her tomorrow so will try and work that into the conversation.

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IAmAWomanNotACis · 12/07/2022 22:38

Best of luck!

PronounMadness · 19/08/2022 18:46

Update: We went out with DD’s friend and mum yesterday. DD had a small op a few weeks ago and has been recuperating quietly.

DD’s friend has been “living as a boy” during the holidays and has chosen a male name, he/him pronouns. Assume the binder is still in use but “no more drastic measures” taken.

DD is absolutely unphased by it. I’m a whirl of conflicting emotions: I want to be supportive to friends who have clearly difficult issues going on but I’m so gender critical even the thought of the binder makes me want to scream.

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ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 12:07

It makes for a very difficult position - she may be gender critical herself, just as someone could be a body positive feminist with an anorexic child. Just support her however you can (meeting up for fun stuff is great) - she might be on a long road.

aweegc · 20/08/2022 12:49

I have a similar situation with a friend of mine whose DD is now apparently a boy. I have found it increasingly hard to spend time with her as her (the mother) has also a new identity: "the mother of a trans child". Which she likes to self identify as as loudly as possible when we're out and about. I don't care if she is it's more the fact that I'm now with someone performing.

Other dynamics have changed too. For instance I have a DD and DS. Now it's hard for me to talk about my DS in relation to anything regarding his life as a boy because she equates it with her child's life..and the child is a trans boy, who looks very female and has well-defined breasts. No way their experiences of the world are similar.

I'm also tripping over myself with pronouns and confused when she sometimes refers to her trans child as "they" because she also has another child.

And she happens to have swallowed trans ideology too (after being GC!). Looking forward to a medical pathway for her child (who 18 months ago hadn't ever uttered a word about any of this).

My point in all this is that while it's nice to be supportive, there can come a time where it's ok to say you can't do that any more. Your feelings about all of this are no less valid than hers. You are not obliged to be supportive if you believe something is abusive. I don't mean even confronting her, more that taking a step back is fine too, if that makes it better for you. There's so much drama involved in all of this, that it can be draining, especially when you feel something terribly wrong is going on.

TowelingThoughts · 20/08/2022 12:49

All throughout summer I have seen men of all ages with significant man boobs, some bigger than my own. Would it help to show this girl images of man boobs so that she doesn't feel so conflicted about her own growing breasts? Along the lines that many boys and men have 'moobs' so she can be gender neutral even with breasts? Rather than binding, suggest sports bras in neutral colours.

I personally blame tik tok and other social media sites as well heavily gendered product and clothes design for the spread of this damaging gender ideology.

Are they all moving to the same secondary school in September?

ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 14:40

while it's nice to be supportive, there can come a time where it's ok to say you can't do that any more.

I do agree and certainly only meant that if your friendship is good and you want to support, she may well appreciate the 'normal stuff'. I was imagining this fiend may be as alarmed as the OP, but I would find any ideology swallowing by the parent hard work too.

ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 14:40


QueenHippolyta · 20/08/2022 19:06

I'm going to say some unpleasant truths;
your friend's daughter is a minor. Her brain hasn't matured ( brains mature at 25)so she cannot make life-altering decisions.
As a responsible adult you need to tell your friend and show her the evidence of the harm binders cause, the direct pathway of social transition to hormones and surgery. And the lifelong problems that these experimental conditions cause, which are so bad that Sweden, Holland and Finland are stopping these treatments for minors.And Detrans' stories.
Plus the fact that they will have NO social life. Straight women don't want transmen, gay men don't want transmen, most lesbians don't either ( Elliot Page's wife divorced upon Elliot's transition from FtoM.)
Then you need to tell your child all this. You need to be the moral center. And make sure your child (because your daughter is a child) understands that someone can never change sex and you are doing this to save your friend's daughter from a lifetime of regret. Read the Detransitioner's stories together. And discuss it. Do not let her handwave their misery away!

Why am I so tough...I had a dear friend in high school and college who developed anorexia. We'd go for dinner at uni and then she's immediately go to the ladies and vomit. Her conversation was as if this didn't happen, divorced from reality. I went to the Dean of the college and told her about my friend and called my parents who then called my friends parents. My friend had therapy and all kinds of ensuing support but ultimately died at 39 from anorexia. I was so sad, but I have no reason to reproach myself. I did everything to help save her and it's a comfort as I loved her..

In 2019 an acquaintance-friend talked to me about his effeminate 14 year old son who was using a girl's name. He asked what I thought about 'trans'. I told him plainly that his son would have zero social life (for the reasons above) and recounted all the health problems from female hormones and surgery. And then what if his son changed his mind later...he was just a boy! I advised him to say 'no' to everything until the boy was a legal adult. He agreed.

You need to stop being a 'friend' to your friend and daughter and step up to being the adult who says the unpalatable truths. Your daughter will respect you for your strength of character and being true to your values (so important) your friend...well perhaps this is what she is waiting to hear. Either way, your friend is unimportant it's her daughter's welfare that comes first and you did your best.

ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 20:22

A difficultly is though that, post-pandemic, adolescent mental health has fallen through the floor in a way that I don't think anyone foresaw, suicide attempts and self-harm on an unprecedented scale. The trans thing seems to be for some a coping mechanism, and anyone who has seen these children before and after is usually seeing a child who can 'manage for now'. Obviously hormones and surgery are not wanted by most of these parents but now that gids has closed, people feel more able to do the watchful waiting. Obviously binders are not safe, but the parent may be constantly weighing the lesser of evils.
If the parent of the child is lacking information then of course it would be helpful, but she may know all of this and just feel judged and helpless.
I'm so sorry about your friend from University.
Do you know what happened with your acquaintance's son?

ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 20:26

And while I think there is a lot of truth about the problems of potential partners you describe, for the ones where it is a phase/coping mechanism a lot of them have a brilliant LGBT+ social life as teen-agers, the problems, as you describe, would come later I think.

QueenHippolyta · 20/08/2022 21:58

I grew up in NYC during AIDS, when no one knew how it was spread. Young men were dying left and right. And we young people dealt with the harsh reality.
So, gods COVID is not worse than AIDS. Children today are shown to be psychologically over fragile and need to be told home truths.
This child can never become a boy and needs therapy. Transition is not a 'coping mechanism' and there is no 'lesser of two evils'; It's all BAD. The 'brilliant social life' is based on a lie as soon as adolescence and dating happens this child will be abandoned.
The mother of the trans-identifying child, needs to be the adult and use her power to protect her child and make unpopular decisions on the child's behalf!
No binders, no boy's name no aiding and abetting a fantasy but instead teach that child to deal with reality and become strong..

ivejustgotthis · 20/08/2022 23:44

AIDS was worse than Covid but a worry for slightly older people, these are kids who were told to spend six hours a day, every weekday, isolated and online. I wish I had told mine to f that but the school didn't drop the attendance rate etc so they were worried about failing.
I don't mean actual transition is a coping mechanism. A lot of the kids doing this are autistic. There are so many kids doing this it's more like the old gender non conforming stuff, but no kids want the oldies telling them 'oh we've all been here before, don't bother, do it like this'.

RiceLamp · 21/08/2022 08:15

@QueenHippolyta I agree that

This child can never become a boy and needs therapy. Transition is not a 'coping mechanism' and there is no 'lesser of two evils'; It's all BAD.

But when you are dealing with autistic children, it can be so hard or nearly impossible to change there mind in the usual ways. It's about managing things and helping them change their view on their terms and safeguarding from harm as much as possible during this phase. When they have a special interest or are convinced of something they often just have to grow out of it.

RiceLamp · 21/08/2022 08:16


GlueyMooey · 21/08/2022 09:30

I'd be careful to check that your daughter isnt having to become a pseudo counsellor for her friend. It's a lot of heavy stuff for an 11 year old and she won't be mature enough to handle it. Make sure she knows she can prioritise her own MH over her friends. Iykwim

QueenHippolyta · 21/08/2022 11:54

I agree entirely with @GlueyMooey keep your daughter away from the friend for her own good. She comes first!. An 11 year old should be doing schoolwork, playing sports, enjoying life, figuring out her interests. Help her make new healthy friends, find new things to do....This burden is not hers.

And I say this having grown up with a best friend who started taking drugs and having sex at a young young age (13)...I pulled away for my well-being and also from the others in my upper middle class group who became addicted to drugs.
Yes, sometimes I was lonely, I had books and then my mother and father to do things with....

@RiceLamp I know nothing about autism, this is for experts.But the % of autistic children who have been and are now undergoing mastectomies, castration, effects of dangerous drugs is absolutely terrible and a form of modern eugenics. It must be stopped.

PronounMadness · 21/08/2022 12:04

Just to clear a few things up, DD hasn’t become any sort of counsellor to her friend (yet). She’s very accepting and says it “doesn’t change who her friend is”. So far it’s been limited to a name change, pronouns and a binder (which mum says is actually pretty loose and she’s hoping can be replaced by a good sports bra). Yesterday they were in t-shirt and shorts that my DD would have worn without batting an eyelid.

Mum is determined to see this as a potential phase/ROGD linked to the autism. More worried about her child now controlling through food and refusing to see certain family members than trying to access hormones etc. She seems content with the name change for school but doesn’t anticipate demanding that her child now play boys sports rather than girls, etc. She describes it as “presenting as a boy” rather than “is a boy”.

Child is having talking therapy but is very quiet at home and with friends and doesn’t really talk about the therapy.

We live in opposite directions from school so any out of school activity will be managed, IYSWIM, rather than walking home together.

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PeriodBro · 21/08/2022 12:20

Study on the risks of binding. Study based on adults, mind you. Outcomes may be different for children/young people.

And of course as the Cass Report notes, social transitioning is not a neutral act.

ivejustgotthis · 21/08/2022 12:22

Mum is determined to see this as a potential phase/ROGD linked to the autism. More worried about her child now controlling through food and refusing to see certain family members
This is a massive new learning curve for all of us but this sounds like (new) textbook ROGD linked to autism to me.

PronounMadness · 21/08/2022 13:13

PeriodBro · 21/08/2022 12:20

Study on the risks of binding. Study based on adults, mind you. Outcomes may be different for children/young people.

And of course as the Cass Report notes, social transitioning is not a neutral act.

I pointed mum in the ROGD/autism direction a little while ago.

Mum herself is very fragile and overwhelmed with it all. She has a family member that attempted suicide and self-harmed for years before coming out as trans and is now much happier on hormones etc. She’s trying to support her child but acknowledges that the name change doesn’t seem to have had the positive impact on mental well-being that she hoped.

It’s so hard for her. I’m trying to gently give facts without appearing to judge. She doesn’t need that.

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