OH BOY! You’re a girl?

transgender onesie

“Transgender toddler”.

These words don’t belong in the same sentence.

The “Transitioning Ryland Whittington” story smells to me a whole lot like The Next Thing and they are going to use a sweet, innocent child as the symbol for the campaign. After all, what is left for the cause crusading junkie?

Racism? Pretty much done. Morgan Freeman said so.

Traditional marriage? Redefined.

So who’s next? I’ll tell you who. The crusaders have scouted about for the next group to make a victim of intolerance in order to rush in and save them. This new group is the Transgender crowd. By save, of course, I mean paint everyone who thinks that gender is not fluid as intolerant… We all know the drill, agree or be outcast.

Intolerant = The new tolerant.

While I watched this mini-documentary on Ryland’s short, but now irrevocably famous life, I was transported to a quiet morning last summer.  (Insert appropriate flashback soundtrack of your choosing here.)

I was having some coffee at the local stand. It has a quaint little shaded area with tables and chairs, you see it. Up saunters the mother of my daughters BEST school chum. She joins me and we start to chat about all the things mothers chat about. It is one of our first real conversational encounters beyond “how’s the weather?” so we are sizing one another up a bit. I sure do like her. As I am also tremendously likable, I am sure the feeling is mutual. After awhile the mood distinctly changes and our conversation takes on a seriousness. In the minutes following, my cushy rug is yanked out from under me because apparently my daughters bestie is not a girl. She is a boy.

I am hard to shock.
I ALWAYS have something to say.
But this time? Nothing. I’ve got nothing.

I clumsily attempted to ask questions in a delicate way while trying to cover the fact that I was completely stunned and that my heart was absolutely breaking for this woman. She told me that she and her husband just wanted to have a happy child and that they had tried everything to illuminate the emotional issues that their son was suffering. Accepting that their son felt more comfortable as a girl and to allow him to pretend to be one was the most difficult decision they have ever had to face. I could see the anguish in her face when she described the unfolding of the journey that lead to this revelation and the toll it had taken on her marriage and family. This was not a happy, “He just wanted to be a girl so HUZZAH! Let’s make a mini-doc and seek public recognition, maybe even get an award!!” Nope. No award night for this family. This was a gut wrenching odyssey of desperately trying to figure out why their son was so hopelessly unhappy.

How could I feel anything but compassion for this fellow mother? I had not walked in her shoes. These parents were desperate. Desperate to save their sweet child from despair. To stop his suffering. I. Get. It. I am not going to judge her. They just wanted their child to be happy.

But there was one thing that she said that stuck out in my mind.

She said, “He was different from the very beginning” and “He was a very miserable baby”.

How would a baby be railing against their born sex as an infant? There was a problem from the beginning. I believe that problem is neurological and the trendy and erroneous diagnosis for this particular confused wiring is transgenderism.

Have you ever heard of Body Integrity Identity Disorder? It is an illness in which someone believes they would be “complete” if only they were an amputee. It is theorized that there is a neurological fault of the brains inner mapping function which is located in the parietal lobe. People with this mental illness will apparently do horrible damage to themselves in order to force an amputation of a limb. So do we make the accepted treatment for this mental illness dismembering sufferers? Do we make their body fit their mind? For me that is a pretty damned easy no. What happens if a treatment, or even a cure, is found? No putting the leg back. In this situation we treat the mind. We right the mind, if at all possible, so the mind reflects the reality of the body.

Why would we not do this with transgenderism? Is it because it has to do with sex? Because the gay mafia doesn’t want even a whisper that such a thing might be a neurological defect? Little Ryland DID get the Harvey Milk award after all, and from what I recall Milk was not a transgendered individual. And, while we’re at it, why exactly are same sex attraction and transgenderism so closely linked? Not all transgendered people are gay.

I have not shared the truth about her friend with my daughter and I am growing weary from the tiptoeing around the subject of why her friend cannot be invited for a sleep over. I asked her recently what she and her friend do at recess. Do they play together?

“No, she is always running around playing with the boys.”

Of course he is. He is a boy.

I would not have made the same decision these parents did. Hard as it might be to wrestle with, I believe catering to the misapprehensions of the mind is to temporarily bandaid underlying neurological disorders. My opinion of their decision, however, does not change my desire to be in a relationship with this family. If anything, I want to be a person this mom can be real with. Really messy, raw and vulnerable with.  The Whittington’s? Not so much.

Ryland Whittington is a toddler, far from the age of reason. She proclaims she is a boy at the very learned and enlightened age of three. She wants to do “boy” stuff. Her parents insist she wasn’t interested in “feminine” things. Wait, what? That sure is an awfully sexist concept from these evolved, enlightened and tolerant folks. Who decides what is feminine or masculine? We are all individuals and there are billions of ways to be a girl or a boy. Ryland says she is a boy. The proper response is: no you’re not baby, you’re a girl. Because she is. She is also a toddler. Toddlers take their cues from their parents. The parents in this case are those that make seven minute videos about their/her (no wait his?) beautiful story. These are also parents that revere an organization set up to honor Harvey Milk, a man who engaged in statutory rape with drug addled minors.

I don’t believe Ryland and my daughters bestie are the same story. I believe my daughters friends family have the best intentions and want the best for their son, I simply disagree with their decision. They maintain their child’s privacy and do not parade him about proclaiming how enlightened and forward thinking they are. Ryland’s parents? Well. They seem to be enjoying the trendy spotlight at the expense of their daughter because they appear to be crusade junkies first and parents…well…somewhere further down on the list.

It is the trendy diagnosis that these children have in common. It bothers me very much to see a little person objectified, using words that are clearly not hers, to further a political agenda. Ryland is a toddler. What happens if little Ryland is just going through a long phase? She has now been assigned a role. Her parents are invested. She HAS AN AWARD for goodness sake. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a five year old.

What happens if Ryland does indeed decide to pretend she is a boy for a lifetime but would like it to be a private matter like my daughters friend? Can’t un-ring this very public bell.

We can disagree on the subject of Transgenderism. But can we at least agree that using children in this manner is wholly unacceptable?

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31 thoughts on “OH BOY! You’re a girl?

  1. Well said, and interesting story. Will be interesting to hear more about it in the future.

    Two thoughts.

    Given that these children are born as a particular gender, I find it interesting that physical reality is what needs to be changed rather than their perceptions and desires regarding it. Why is it that the body is wrong, but the mind is not? The amputee wannabee comparison is a good one in that it demonstrates that one can have unhealthy and unnatural thoughts in relation to an otherwise normal body. Unfortunately, that analogy is not as strong a defeater as it might seem. I watched a documentary on this and the producers seemed very hesitant to characterize it as a pathology. There were many points where the language used was much the same as that used to justify LBGT dispositions. The normalization of same-sex attractions is a universal acid working its way out into an ever increasing number of psycho-social issues.

    Social liberals make a big stink about gender stereotyping, but this sort of thing seems to actually affirm stereotypes. If a girl doesn’t like girly things, well then, she must really be a boy! In the old days, we would have just called her a tomboy. I knew many of those (arguably a sister, niece, and my wife) who went on to become happily married to men. I think in reality we conservatives have a more broad and nuanced view of what it means to be a member of one gender or another.

      • Frau, on the racial topic, I posted this on FB during the last presidential campaign. I called it “The case of Herman Cain and the implicit racism of the Left”

        ~~~~~~

        I’ve heard numerous liberal commentators, both black and white, speaking out against Herman Cain’s conservative views. Rather than claiming that he is simply wrong or misguided like any other conservative, the accusation seems to be that as a conservative he is somehow a traitor to his race, not an authentic black man, or an unwitting tool of the white man.

        The implication is that if you are black, then you should, or properly do, hold to a leftist ideology. Since there is no such expectation or pidgeonholing for other races, it seems odd that these liberals should think that the black race should be uniform in this way, or to stereotype them as such.

        Since one of the defining characteristics of racism is to imagine that a race is intrisically uniform in mind or behavior, either for better (as the Arians thought of themselves) or ill, then to suggest that all “proper” blacks *do* believe one way seems to be an implicit form of racism.

        Now, a liberal may respond by saying that their politics favor blacks, so a right-thinking black should favor them as well, but it is nowhere commended by conservative thought leaders that racism is to be exercised and condoned. Indeed, many “conservatives” (this being a modern label) were in the vanguard of civil rights, and a casual reading of early/mid 1900’s history proves that many progressives and Democrats were actually opponents of such things.

        It may be argued by liberals that blacks *should* vote for liberals because conservative policy *leads* to disadvantage for blacks, but it is equally the contention of conservatives that liberal policy and attitudes ultimately cause the conditions under which blacks find themselves “oppressed.”

        Conservatives can (and often do) say that blacks should consider their politics, but they understand that people, of whatever color, are diverse in their thinking, and do not condescend to suggest that one racial group is monolithic in thought and that any who do not tow the racial line are apostates to be ridiculed and shunned. Freedom from slavery and discrimination is good, but freedom of values and thought may be even better.

  2. Yes, we can agree that exploiting children for any cause is a selfish, short-sighted, ignorant, gross thing to do. I think you have some good points. I really like the part about how likable you are… Who wouldn’t like you!? That would just be crazy.

    The transgender camp also sometimes separates themselves from the gay community because as you said, they aren’t at all always gay. But groups who feel ostracized frequently band together and in the beginning these seemed like natural allies.

    I’ll definitely think about what you’ve said- good point on the amputee thing.

    I know you generalize and bunch together everyone in the public sphere advocating against what you think, but I would caution to remind you that when it comes down to it, most (not all) of those people are not irrational, intolerant-mongering, out to get you and anyone who disagrees with them, jerks. There is a small group of leaders and the other people are mostly good- many of them have just been hurt. It’s just like with the crazy ass Christians- get to know most of them personally and it’s much more complicated. Just like with your friend who you just met. When you make it us versus them, I think it’s harder to have compassion for the people who deserve it most. I do this too, of course, but it’s easier to see in other people and reminds me I don’t like it in myself.

    Also, why can’t the little girl (boy) spend the night? If she passes as a girl and had you not talked to her mother you would’ve never known, what’s the issue? I never went into the bathroom and exposed myself to my girlfriend’s at sleepovers. That didn’t happen until late high school! Won’t your daughter and her friend figure it out and discover what needs to come out at their own pace? Do you really need to protect her form this kid? What are you worried will happen?

    • Hey!

      Good to hear from you Thinker.The sleepover issue is that my husband and I are firmly in the camp of no co-ed sleepovers. Ever. These kids are going to be in school together for the long haul and I believe all bets are off when puberty strikes. If her friend decides to be the sex he was born to be, we don’t want our daughter to feel betrayed, self-conscious or possibly pay some unpredictable evil price of her peers because children can be unspeakably cruel to one another.

      Mostly my Us vs. Them mentality regarding this particular issue is those that would use a child in this way and those that would not.

  3. An excellent post on a most difficult topic. When I first saw the Ryland story sometime back, I wondered where were the adults in this scenario! (Certainly not the parents!) This is no different than when parents indulge a child with food (and lack of exercise) to the point of obesity! It’s time parents learn again to be parents, saying NO as needed to childish whims and inclinations. When there’s a deep need, children rarely understand what its root is … and in this case, the parents seem unconcerned to address the actual root cause, and will multiply this child’s life issues! Here’s a tragic case from real life:
    http://www.christianpost.com/news/nathan-verhelst-transgender-man-chooses-euthanasia-after-failed-sex-change-operation-106109/

    • From the article:
      “The Netherlands are suffering a similar fate, with 1 in 30 deaths now being by euthanasia or assisted suicide. There is also a charity that operates private mobile euthanasia units, traveling door-to-door offering death.”

      Perhaps the saddest thing I’ve read in awhile.

  4. What a sad situation. My kids wanted to be puppies, ponies, dragons, and yes, a bit of open mindedness and flexibility is good, but at the end of the day you just can’t eat out of the dog dish because you’re simply not a dog.

  5. Wow, Frau (rhyme!)…have we talked about how similar you and I are in our views? I think I would have reacted very much as you describe in this post, both with the media hyped case and with the distressed mother trying desperately to carve out some happiness for her child.

    Our brains do not always relay accurate information to us about our bodies. Anorexia jumps to mind. In fact, our brains aren’t always accurate in how they perceive our bodies or even how they perceive the world around us. Psychosis, schizophrenia, paranoia, even generalized anxiety disorders can tell our bodies to react to information that is not accurate. Have you ever spoken with some one who has paranoia or psychosi? I have. They are so convinced that their version of events is accurate that they make major life decisions and commit irreversible actions around that “truth”. But there is only one Truth and it is against Truth’s teachings that we compare our thoughts, feelings, bodily image and (dare I say it?) sexual orientation. It is this Truth that will orient us to true north.

    I love the family member I have with a mental illness and I struggle so hard to understand the world this person can live in. This person has enormous intelligence, humor, wit, and love with a smile like sunshine bursting through clouds. This person has loved me, taught me, guided me. Sacrificed for me and laughed with me and cried with me and fought for me and defended me fiercely. But this person, when poorly medicated or unmedicated, falls victim to paranoia and psychosis and acts on those “truths” with devastating consequences for themselves and for others around them. Not from intention, malice or forethought. From a conclusion, yes, that is erroneous but it’s honestly made. Just as the child in your post made his (her) conclusion. Should we encourage people to embrace what is not true in order to spare them immediate pain? Will it give them less pain or more pain in the long run? Is truth malleable? Can we turn it, shape it, re-write it to fit our needs “better”? These must be the thoughts that the parents of your daughter’s bestie are struggling with so desperately. I know we struggle with these questions with my family member. I really, really pray that God will bring peace to them. It can’t be easy.

    • It’s always nice to have such good company Tisha. I am very sorry to hear about your family member. I have no words of encouragement because mental illness sucks. Period. I pray the same prayer for this family. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

  6. I think the important thing here, as with the remaining LGBI in the gender group – it is important to examine your own reactions closely. Saying things from ignorance and fear can be harmful as well as hurtful. We as Christians tend towards arrogance on all kinds of issues that the bible does not say much about – eg science. I do understand a caution, however most of the stuff I hear from the Christain Camp comes from a desire to remain faithful to our own belief in what the Bible says…..which is a problem when what we believe and what is actually true are two different things.

    It is a natural thing to try and find meaning in tragedy – many who have lost loved ones etc find meaning in helping others who have lost. I am not entirely comfortable with the “child” thing but I can understand why this family have chosen to go public – they obviously want to find meaning and purpose in what has has happened to them and feel led to try and stop “bigots” like you from hurting theirs and other children or families who follow.

    Be careful, you have a persuasive writing style……and you are not always right

    • It is arrogant to presume that I have not examined every damn thing about this situation closely. And do tell. How exactly does a award and a bunch of publicity stop bigotry? Show me one person, that is an actual bigot, that saw this train wreck and was mentally remade. You can’t because this is all just a bunch of navel gazing symbolism. I believe I understand why they went public and they were wrong to do it.

      If my writing style is persuasive it is because the truth has a ring to it.

    • Hello Tapman. Exactly how was Frau M’s “bigotry” on display in this scenario? It seems that despite her desire to “be a person this mom can be real with. Really messy, raw and vulnerable with” you still feel that she is “hurting theirs and other children” somehow? I ask you, then, is the only way for her or I (because I agree with her conclusions and her real-life efforts to love this family) to not “hurt” others, to agree wholeheartedly with all of their actions and ideas?

  7. It is not the parents’ prejudices, but the children’s self-knowledge, which makes them transgender. David Reimer’s parents ill-advisedly tried to bring him up as a girl, and he fought it. If it were not right for your daughter’s friend to express herself female, she would stop. Her parents would be unable to force her. That she is transgendered was not the first thing they considered, or option they tried.

    Should they campaign? This is the parents’ choice, but you are trying to make the world better as you see it, and have the grace to let them do so too.

    An unhappy baby- well, adults speak to babies differently depending on which sex they believe the baby to be. So that is less far-fetched than you imagine, if you take the trouble to find out about it.

  8. I agree with your assessment. I think that in spite of sincere efforts the parents have not reached the bottom yet…the underlying issue making this boy so unhappy is something deeper than gender confusion. Hopefully they will take note as to whether he is really transformed by this attempt. I think, however, that if I were in your place I would distance my daughter from him though, only to spare my daughter the confusion and distress once she discovers the truth.

    • Here is a parallel, which might let you some way in to what I feel about Lindsay’s post.

      Imagine that Christians are widely derided, and most people are atheist. A decent atheist couple have a small child, who proclaims “I am a Christian” and everyone is shocked and horrified that avowedly atheist parents would allow such a thing. Another blogger proclaims the parents are wrong: when she was a child, she believed in Santa Claus. Just let the child be a child- giving the identity “Christian” is patently ridiculous, it can only be harmful, it is the parents imposing on the child their own fixed and rigid ideas of what “atheist” or “christian” means.

      Ryland is a boy. If he were not, he would not proclaim that he is, for a sufficiently prolonged period that his parents accept it, though first they would have been surprised, then scared, then unsure it was true, then worried about other people’s reactions, then wondering about “tomboys” etc, then plucking up the courage to back him (for he can change his mind at any time, and go back to his old name, and he thinks on that, and loathes it enough to press on) then arranging for him to express himself male at school, then coping with the publicity.

      It is Ryland’s decision. Were it not, his parents could never force him into it.

      • Not a great analogy.  Being a Christian is not the denial of some immediate physical reality.  It also does not have ramifications for the other children, e.g., bathroom privileges, affirmation of a physical charade, awkward sleepovers.  A better analogy would be if Ryland claimed to be a pony or an amputee.

        I’m unclear on your metaphysical perspective here.  Given that Ryland was born physically and genetically female, exactly how is it that Ryland “is” a boy?  I understand “wants to be,” but that is a different thing than “is.”

      • Another problem with the analogy is that Christianity is just a belief. Even though I believe it reflects reality it doesn’t mean that it actually must be true. You seem to suggest that Ryland’s belief actually makes it true that she is a boy, i.e., that belief and desire make reality.

        Also, you give a lot of weight and responsibility to the thoughts of a child. We don’t let kids get tattoos or get naked with the opposite sex, no matter how much they want to, but Ryland gets to make a major life decision with profound consequences if she later changes her mind. I hope, at least, that you wouldn’t advocate for surgery.

        • Congratulations! Rather than take the opportunity to engage your empathy, you say it is a bad analogy! No need to think, no need to empathise, no need to change your mind!

          • Or, conversely, rather than take the opportunity to engage your reason, you appeal to emotion. I’m unclear, was I supposed to be showing empathy for your hypothetical, empathy for parents who are affirming their children’s desires, or empathy for people denied the affirmation of “haters” like me?

            Remember, we’re talking about fundamental differences in perspectives on sexuality here. If this were a discussion on the temptations and burdens of living faithfully, as fallen creatures, to the design and will of God, then I would have nothing but empathy to offer. I certainly can understand why people have compulsions to do the wrong thing (I’ve got that in spades), but it is very difficult to extend sympathies for those who do the wrong thing and call it right, and insist that everyone else do so too.

          • Of course, it’s always us that has to understand, tolerate, and change. You are just “right,” so there’s no need to be open to think and change like we need to.

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