This guest opinion is authored by the parent of a transgender child. It is deeply personal, hence some questions (and identity) are left unanswered. The GUARDIAN suspects the information will strike a chord with others experiencing the attempted invasion of privacy by the Idaho House of Representatives.
An odd dichotomy exists here in Idaho: the state Legislature is constantly flexing its muscles, claiming that the Federal government tramples the rights of the state. However, the Legislature seems to never stop navel-gazing long enough to realize just how much they trample the rights of the residents of Idaho.
This issue has reared its head once again, in the form of HB 675. Introduced by Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa), and tellingly, with Blaine Conzatti of the Idaho Family Policy Center listed as a contact, the House has decided, mostly along party lines, that gender-affirming care provided to minors should be illegal. Fortunately, Chuck Winder, Senate Pro-tem, has provided some adult supervision and indicated the bill will not get a hearing in the Senate. This has (somewhat) restored my faith in the “old-guard” of the Republican Party in Idaho, because ultimately this is an issue about how a family best raises its children, which has always been one of the core beliefs Republicans in Idaho claim to espouse.
You might be asking yourself: why does the writer care? Well, fifteen years ago my oldest child started expressing (to their mother) just how uncomfortable and inappropriate they felt with their “assigned” gender. My wife and I did not understand then, and to be honest, we still don’t understand, because to us the idea of having an incorrectly assigned gender seems so incredibly foreign.
We took the stance that our child wasn’t mature enough to fully understand the issue, and I even went so far as to attribute part of our child’s behavior to “trying to be cool and fit in” with the particular peer group they selected. The multiple times we ended up on suicide watch should have been the first clue there was more to our child’s statements about their gender than my wife and I believed.
We pushed back, continually. Even now, fifteen years later, we still don’t get it, and probably never will. For myself, I accept, even if I don’t agree: this is my child, and I love them. The world is a hard, cold, and unforgiving place. Sadly for my child, they know this all too well, and for too many years of their life, I was one of those making it hard, cold, and unforgiving.
I don’t remember the exact age when my child started their transition, but more important than the physical changes were the emotional changes. I saw my child’s self-esteem grow, which makes perfect sense: finally, the root of so many issues was being addressed. Our relationship is now better than ever, but somewhat bittersweet to me: I don’t see my child as much as I would like because they felt the need to move to a different state where the level of persecution non-traditional sexuality/gender is less.
Like too many things in life, I simply didn’t understand the issue until it affected me. That’s really a horrible way to learn: I often wonder how many people other than my child I hurt in the past with my callousness. Families dealing with gender issues are already struggling enough, and the licit use of power and punishment won’t do anything other than give the national audience of CNN something else to laugh at Idaho about, which is definitely not needed, not as long as Ammon Bundy keeps making the news.
Every time the Legislature is in session, I brace myself for the number of bills that claim to be “family-friendly”. Consider the arguments made in favor of school choice, sexual education, vaccination, and so on—the proponents of these bills always say “parents know best”. Why can’t a parent know best in this situation? And to penalize a medical provider for following a parent’s wishes seems to run counter to everything I witnessed here in Idaho during the COVID pandemic.
Idahoans claim to have Christian values (I definitely try to!), but many seem to forget the most important parts of the message: love one another as yourself, be an example of what you believe, and realize individuals will, in the long run, be held accountable for themselves. My children, although they aren’t believers, understand this. Why can’t Representative Skaug, and the 54 other legislators who voted for this do the same?
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Mar 13, 2022, 2:17 pm
Guardian, Thank you for sharing the space and providing a public forum for the issue.
And to the father taking the time to write the letter, to help others – Good job!
Mar 13, 2022, 2:40 pm
Once again, ashamed and embarrassed to be an Idahoan. We made national news on PBS Friday news hour with commentary from a journalist about Idaho’s attempt to criminalize parents who help their transgendered children with medical interventions.
I don’t understand the inconsistency and ambiguity with which many Idahoans and their elected state legislators support laws that have to do with personal freedoms and the right to choose. On one hand Idahoans went ballistic over the effort to mandate health measures to prevent the spread of Covid because it was seen as an infringement on personal choice. And now, on the other hand, certain moralistic legislators and their supporters want to fine or imprison parents for exerting their parental rights and freedom of choice in providing appropriate treatment for children with gender identity concerns. Idahoans are two faced with regard to practices based on freedom of choice. We let parents refuse medical treatment for dying kids based religious beliefs while holding sanctimonious efforts to criminalize parents and medical professionals because the issue involves a matter of gender identity that very few people even begin to understand and for which they have no empathy.
In my professional career as a licensed counselor, many LGBT people were my clients. Personally and professionally I believe that I understand the concerns being voiced by the gay and trans community and fully support the brave parents who posted this letter to the Guardian.
Mar 13, 2022, 4:25 pm
In my opinion the author has left out a lot of important points while making sure to interject their political beliefs. You don’t need to mention that you are not a fan of Ammon Bundy…we already knew that. You didn’t mention how old your child was when they started speaking of their problem. That would be good information. I hope that a parent who was confronted by this issue would seek professional help for their child, and not from some liberal whack job psychologist who likes the idea of fashioning boutique children. It seems to me that some parents of very young children who they claim decided on their own that they wanted to change their gender that I have seen interviewed on tv seem way too excited about their new gender celebrity that has opened doors to being accepted by liberal chuckle heads. Pre-teen children are too young to make these decisions on their own often even in conjunction with their incompetent parents.
Mar 13, 2022, 5:21 pm
Gender is a term from linguistics, so the correct word to use for biology is sex. If a boy wants to larp as a girl and grow his hair long and paint his nails, fine. It may be weird to me, but whatever. It’s not permanent. But allowing a minor to have his penis and testicles surgically removed or to take hormone treatments while still developing is pure insanity. Everyone of us can look back at our adolescent years and cringe at some of the things we believed at the time, or the things and people we thought were cool. Your job as a parent is to listen to your children and guide them towards a rational decision. Rather than beat around the bush about “gender confirmation” or whatever soft language you want to use, let’s lay it out and use explicit language to say precisely what we mean. To be honest, I feel sorry for people who feel they were born with the wrong chromosomes and don’t wish them any ill will. Hopefully it’s a temporary condition that they grow out of. I know they are suffering from mental problems aggravated by pop culture, but surgery and hormones are not the answer. They need psychiatric care.
Mar 13, 2022, 10:04 pm
@ Shoogi and Bubba:
It saddens me to see your comments, and they really speak to how uneducated people are on the subject. You clearly both make a lot of assumptions on topics you’re not knowledgeable about.
Shoogi, you suggest that parent’s seek professional help for their children and not “some liberal whack-job psychologist.” Psycologists are literally the people you have to take trans children to, in order for them to get help. Do you have an alternative suggestion?
Bubba, you also clearly haven’t done any actual research on the subject. The normal course for children starting HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) is to start hormone blockers. This allows the delaying of puberty, and if these blockers are stopped, puberty starts normally. Literally no damage done. These are usually done for a longer period of time to ensure that what they are experiencing and feeling isn’t a “phase” (which btw the psychologist has already confirmed!)Only after this period do trans women start estrogen, and do trans men start testosterone. Often, they are on blockers until they are eighteen and then they start their needed hormones. If surgery happens for a trans teen, it is after a long period of time, and after confirmation by the teen, the parents, and AT LEAST 1 psychologist and 1 doctor (but usually more). If you both honestly think you know more then multiple trained professionals, I suggest you do more research.
I hope you both look beyond your surface level knee-jerk reaction to this, to understand that these teens just want their bodies to match what they need. Denying Trans healthcare isn’t helping children, it’s an act of violence.
Mar 14, 2022, 12:30 pm
To the author, thank you so very much for sharing your personal journey and experience. I can’t imagine those choices one would have to make as an individual, a parent, even as a friend. What still amazes me is dense, darksided beliefs of many that these issues are “choices” one makes. It is those beliefs, pressures and lack of acceptance that drives teens to suicide, as you shared. Unfortunately, the House GOP in this state thrives on the edge of extremism. Fortunately the Senate is still moderate, thoughtful rather than reactionary. Hopefully we can keep it that way into the future. Thanks again for sharing your pain and personal experience.
Mar 14, 2022, 1:23 pm
“The normal course for children starting HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) is to start hormone blockers. This allows the delaying of puberty, and if these blockers are stopped, puberty starts normally. Literally no damage done.”
How do you know this? Maybe you can point to some long-term peer-reviewed studies (over decades) showing there’s no harm done, and puberty can progress normally? I doubt that there are any, since this phenomenon is so new. According to your argument, if a boy starts and then reverses hormone blockers he will have the same amount of muscle mass and bone density, and genitals of normal size and function as without. And if a girl starts and reverses blockers, she will still be able to bear children and develop mammary glands of normal size and function? Are you willing to attest to this? Because if those are not true (or if the jury’s still out), then it would constitute medical malpractice to claim otherwise and administer those treatments regardless.
You purport to be a medical professional, so I would like to hear more about your education and professional career history.
Mar 14, 2022, 2:05 pm
Bubba, great points…
Mar 14, 2022, 4:23 pm
I never claimed to be a medical professional. I simply have put in the research.
You are absolutely correct that there is a lack of a large amount of medical studies on multiple facets of Trans healthcare. A key factor in that would probably be when the Nazis burned one of the first LGBT clinics down and the world lost decades of research:
It’s totally fair to worry about the potential damages to a child’s body and health!
St Louis Children hospital has some information if you sincerely want to know more, and are open to learning:
Keep in mind that to even get to the point that a child is taking blockers, TWO licensed professionals are usually involved and believe that delaying/blocking puberty is the best idea.
Mar 14, 2022, 5:54 pm
Mara, it is not just ‘two licensed professionals’ (I’ll accept your research), it is also the person’s parent(s). Shoogi and Bubba would definitely believe “parents know best”. Or apparently Bubba knows best for someone else. Go back into your cave. We can all hope you ‘grow out of it’. Tough to tell the difference between Taliban and 55 of the Idaho Legislators.
Mar 14, 2022, 7:35 pm
Interesting column. I s’pose my major takeaway is relief that I’ve never been on the front lines of this issue. I feel bad for kids who are confused about gender, anatomy, etc. No easy fix – no “test drives” when you’re talking about surgical alteration, etc.!
A general observation about our Legislature… I’d much rather see them spending their limited time solving problems that affect 90% of Idahoans. How many of ’em made campaign promises to finally do something about our statewide gender-identity crisis? (This may be selfish and cold-hearted, but I’m more concerned that my property taxes have tripled in ten years.)
Mar 14, 2022, 10:28 pm
@Bikeboy are you “confused” about your gender? Were you confused at age 16? What makes you think a transgender person is “confused” about theirs? Are you curiously confused?
No test driving childhood ‘surgical alterations.’
Most (80%) of the males commenting on here had a circumcision on Day 1 of life. No test drives on that men! Anyone ask first? Did they have some counseling or a professional psych before the parents decided on your genital mutilation? The current law does say it’s okay for parents to choose a gender when a child is born with both. So the law is not opposed to some surgical alterations or gender choice. So a flip of a coin when the child is one? Ironically the bill doesn’t even include the word penis- modifying a law with 1,000 words about gender and the male genitalia is not even named. Now, who wrote that law?
Mar 15, 2022, 8:01 am
Agreed that parents are into cliches and lack of specifics.
However, the self righteous, born again genderites should take another look in the mirror.
Seems some changes are made for athletics, quotas, etc.,.
Mar 15, 2022, 9:25 am
Yeah, I’ve got a friend who faced this. Just about tore the family apart, and certainly any outside meddling (like what the Legislature is doing) wouldn’t have helped them.
And yes, the Legislature needs to quit jacking around with symbolic issues, and actually, well, govern. I still can’t believe election “fraud”, gender issues, something which is not taught below the university level (critical race theory), and trying to make unvaxxed a protected class is more important than stopping the shift of property tax to residential properties, addressing the shortage of daycares, and numerous other things that actually matter.
Oh well, as Mencken said, “the American people get the government they deserve, and they get it good and hard”. Until we start electing people who aren’t scared of the IFF, I expect this will only get worse, sadly.
Mar 15, 2022, 11:12 am
PD brings up an interesting point about circumcision. In my perfect world, this procedure would be illegal for a parent to decide on behalf of a minor child. It has no benefits and many risks and negative effects on sexual function. Strangely, female circumcision is illegal but male circumcision is not. To connect this with the article above, clearly parents and medical professionals don’t always know what’s best as evidenced by the frequent choice of circumcision for male infants. And some of our laws and customs are subjective and influenced by culture.
As a society we have decided (correctly, in my opinion) that some life decisions cannot be made competently until we have reached a certain age. The most obvious ones being consent for sexual intercourse, smoking tobacco and alcohol consumption. It seems highly inconsistent for a 12 year old child to be able to (with the right combination of parental and “professional” assent, and paperwork filed) take hormone blockers with potential permanent physiological changes resulting, but not consume an alcoholic beverage. But maybe I’m just a (millennial) dinosaur who needs to crawl back into the cave.
Mar 15, 2022, 12:25 pm
Mar 16, 2022, 9:56 am
I think the comments on this page show exactly why these decisions should not be made by politicians.
Mar 16, 2022, 6:37 pm
Should such a decision be made by any other people not directly affected by the decision?
Why would any one person’s opinion, or lie, be forced upon another? Bubba?
It is well said, through evolution “or minds unite us into teams, divide us against other teams, and blind us to the truth.”
Bubba’s comment is full of false statements- yet most of Alabama probably would say the same.
Mar 17, 2022, 12:45 am
I think the post is propaganda. It’s too perfect. The work of the recruitment club? Not an unreasonable question to ask. Recruitment is real and the schools seem to be participating. Beware of the crap they force on your kids. Protect them from it. Suggest a wide media search and see if someone finds a nearly identical post.
What’s the hurry anyway? Steroids hormones and surgery cause permanent and perhaps very regrettable changes. With the exception of a true biological hermaphrodite (which is rare), permanent changes to the body should never be initiated under anyone’s authority until the age of 18 or perhaps even 21.
Anyone get a teenage tattoo you regret? How about cutting off your junk? Probably shouldn’t do that until an adult.
Mar 17, 2022, 10:46 am
@ I’m not buying it.
The fact that the author did not attach his name to the article makes one suspicious. I wouldn’t trust an editorial about a political topic posted anonymously in a newspaper.
EDITOR NOTE–The post is legit. GUARDIAN knows the author and requested the post with promise of privacy to preclude harassment.
Mar 18, 2022, 8:58 am
I would love to know where this whole “recruit” meme comes from. I realize there are always exceptions to any rule, but there’s something here that just doesn’t make sense: with the way LGTBQ+ and trans folks are treated, why would anyone “make a choice” be in that situation?
As someone who is not a fan of any body modification (though I did have an earring in the late 80s/early 90s), I figure that unless liposuction can get rid of my potbelly, none of this will affect me directly. That said, can’t we just leave people alone?
Mar 18, 2022, 12:43 pm
Bubba, there is a transgender youth rally at the Capitol going on right now.
If you hurry, you might make it and learn sometin from the young folk (the next generation to make Idaho laws).
Mar 22, 2022, 9:04 pm
No response Bikeboy? Confused?
Mar 24, 2022, 1:31 pm
All of this is just nonsense. How is it that in the last 50 years or so there has been such an explosion in confusion as to what one is, genderwise? I have literally seen kids get confused because of the garbage they see on TV and learn in public schools. This all goes against evolutionary biology and needs to STOP. It’s funny how the so called “party of science” (Democrats) totally ignore science…so Orwellian.
Apr 10, 2022, 7:22 pm
I have witnessed the entire entry of this identitarian composition within the pages of far left literature from the 90s on, when I was a follower of leftist orthodoxy. None of this transgender conception language existed outside of the deep corners of gender politics until the 2000s and got really wound up in just the last few years.
When I was growing up everyone accepted their gender that I knew. There was zero confusion about that. Gay feelings only surfaced within the 90s with people I knew and it has since become more open, but still no confusion about one’s physical gender, just sexual feelings. Feelings change without serious damage done, bodies are much different.
When our media culture pushes perceptions of groomed kids like “The Amazing Desmond” who is pranced around on stage and on camera, strip teasing like a pole dancer…then you must ask about the morality of this effort. I doubt seriously that Desmond “chose” to be a drag queen girl when he is a boy. This is all from external tutoring.
No, if someone wants to change themselves after giving serious thought at a responsible age (18 is typical), then by all means, they can make that call and take that chance. But just putting a kid under the knife or pharma processes at young ages when important brain functions are still forming up to the late teens is child abuse in my book. What happens later when the kid is now an adult and wants to undo the transition? How many suicides are accounted for then? We only hear about the suicides of those who “wanted” to transition during childhood.
Parenting has become a lost skill. Too many child adults who never grew up are raising kids, or worse…letting institutions raise their kids. Agendas are at play. Social divisions are being accelerated in the name of “inclusion” and “tolerance.” Rubbish. Child abuse by another name….that’s what it is.
Jul 11, 2022, 5:45 pm
Sad to see how progressive the Guardian posts are becoming.
Thousands of years of human development has come down to nuts on or nuts off as though this was the most important issue of the time.
I do not care what you are, what you believe you are, what you do, so long as I do not have to be forced to deal with it. Case in point—if you feel your gender is the other and want surgery, and are legally aged, I couldn’t care less. It’s a somewhat free country. Just don’t inflict it on kids until they have had a chance to grow up. Despite what anyone says, they have little to no experience, are easily swayed by fads and flavors of the moment, not to mention drag queens reading happy stories about deceiving their parents.
But when I see your gender confused male now female, sporting a flashy tight breast revealing outfit, long hair, loads of makeup and a beard, I am reminded that there is whole other category for inflicting this my way.
Yes, you have the right to be stupid. No you do not have the right to require I act stupid with you. I have the right to not accept everything that is being peddled my way as normal. I have the right to exist with a set of standards I believe in, even if you feel my standards do not appeal to you.
And while you may think that gender confusion is a huge issue, it is not as huge as an 80+% obesity rate, a very high illiteracy rate, and a massive rate of unemployable youth who believe they are too special to work. Those are major issues worth discussing.
@Forced Air—exactly. And let me add it is a leftist ideology accepted by the progressive left alone.