Parents of trans kids deserve compassion, not condemnation.

Parents of trans kids deserve compassion, not condemnation.

If you believe the media: all “good parents” are rapturously affirming when their child comes home announcing a novel gender identity. In contrast, the parents who hesitate are painted as villainous monsters; backward bigots who reject the child they are supposed to love. In rush the ‘caring professions’, who claim to really know what is best for the child.

Caricatures of villainous parents are allowed to substitute for reality in the public imagination because we so rarely hear from the parents themselves. The Australian is therefore to be commended for this week publishing Judith Hunter’s letter titled: “The grief of Parents”.

Judith is accustomed to having her letters rejected by the media in the same way that she, and parents like her, are increasingly finding themselves marginalised and undermined by teachers, medical professionals and even the courts.

As Judith explains, most parents of “trans” kids are just regular people. They love their children; they have nurtured them for years; they want what is best for them. And they understand their children better than any teacher or clinician ever could. As Judith says:

Many parents know their children have been groomed online. Many children come from backgrounds of trauma, such as family separation, bullying or sexual assault. Many are on the autism spectrum. All that parents want is caution, exploratory therapy and a return to the medical ethos of ‘Do no harm’.

Imagine the grief of such parents when, right at their child’s most vulnerable point, the long arm of the State intrudes into a fragile family situation, confirms that any gender identity declared by the child is correct, and accuses parents who express caution of abuse. Imagine the untold heartache these families are experiencing as children are medicalised without much, if any, exploration into underlying issues.

The media’s wrongful characterisation of regular, careful parents as abusive monsters has gone unchallenged for far too long. It works to alienate children from their parents, right when parents are relying on the trust and connection they have established with their child over years of careful nurturing and relationship development.

It is becoming increasingly clear that greater caution must be exercised before encouraging children toward irreversible and permanent treatments. Greater caution must also be exercised by the state and the media before pronouncing who is and who is not  a “good” parent.

At a time when culture is working so hard to encourage children down the transgender road, the vilification of ordinary Australian parents who express caution about where that road might lead, should concern us all.

​​“Families are experiencing untold heartache as children are medicalised without much, if any, exploration into underlying issues,” Binay spokeswoman Kirralie Smith said.

“Greater caution must be exercised before proceeding to irreversible and permanent treatments.”