#Staying the Course

Isabelle & Frédéric

“Soyez patient à l’égard de tout ce qui dans votre cœur est encore irrésolu, et tentez d’aimer les questions elles-mêmes comme des pièces closes et comme des livres écrits dans une langue fort étrangère. Ne cherchez pas pour l’instant des réponses, qui ne sauraient vous être données ; car vous ne seriez pas en mesure de les vivre. Or, il s’agit précisément de tout vivre. Vivez maintenant les questions. Peut-être en viendrez-vous à vivre peu à peu, sans vous en rendre compte, un jour lointain, l’entrée dans la réponse.” – Reiner Maria Rilke, Lettres a un Jeune Poête

We are living through not only one of the most polarizing times in history but unfortunately also one of the most vicious and ideologically charged. Views expressed, which do not fit the mainstream agenda are hammered out, literally, by fact checkers operating the largest perfectionist Procrustes bed in history for sure. The common ground for differentiated approaches to the hidden meaning of truth and reality is lost. – This gets especially tragic when it comes to kids and adolescents, who are increasingly pulled into the net of this new reality of the coming metaverse, its convenience, health doctrine and social uprooting. Indeed, AI, virtual reality and a redefinition of the very identity concept of society and its individual members threaten the existence of humanness and related values as has been hitherto known and fought for.

Imagine this story: a father in one of the most well off cities on the planet has two daughters. Although the parents are separated, the kids grow up in a loving relationship with both of them. When they turn teenagers the bond with the father becomes even stronger. The girls are good at school, lively and creative and for some years everything seems pretty perfect. One day, by now at the age of fifteen, the younger one declares that she suffers from incongruence with her biological sex, a feeling she qualifies as “gender dysphoria”. From then on  Zoe wishes to be considered a boy and called Zack. The father and his partner react a bit puzzled but tolerant, taking into account that adolescence is up for many a surprise and time and experience will show what to make of Zoe becoming Zack – they were right, yes, but see how it evolved.

But Zoë’s demand does not wane. The feeling of being a boy and the wish to be considered as such becomes more pressing. At the beginning of the school year, and on the eve of her 16th birthday, she starts to regularly attend Le Refuge, an organisation that supports LGBTIQ youth. A few months later, with the help of this organisation, which intervenes in the school to raise awareness among teachers and pupils, Zoé changes her name at school. The father is informed afterwards.

Alerted by a psychiatrist friend that all this is not to be taken lightly, the father consults the pediatric department of the Geneva hospital. After a 20-minute interview with the child, the pediatrician confirms to the parents that Zoé expresses gender dysphoria. She suffers from it. For her well-being and to avoid the danger of suicide, her request was granted and her first name and pronoun were changed. “Would you prefer a dead girl or a living boy?” Faced with this dilemma, the parents do not hesitate (who would?). Gradually, the circle of friends and family are informed: Zoé becomes Zack.

The father and his partner are not convinced, however. For them, it is obvious that one “does not become a person of the other sex”. Zoë’s suffering is real, however, and the father keeps telling her that he hears her pain.

Over the next two years Zack starts to lead his/her own life to quite an extent, not revealing what is happening on her social media accounts and general environment too much. Boy and Zack not withstanding she also has a boyfriend which her parents will discover later.

The parents know that Zack has joined a group of LBTQi advocates. They appear to proactively pursuing to embrace Zack in a new and glorious family and do everything to force a wedge between him/her and her progenitors/parents. The community provides extensive information and advice on transgender medical and surgical measures. They sell kids “binders”, and soon Zoé systematically compresses her breasts. She also starts seeing a psychologist who issues “gender dysphoria certificates”, the necessary sesame for access to hormones and surgery.  

After 4 individual sessions with this doctor (who also saw the parents with their child several times in order to convince them of the need to allow “him” to move on), Zack receives her certificate. She comes home proudly showing this document; she has published it on social media and is warmly applauded by her friends and the LGBTIQ community. The father, partner and mother are flabbergasted: Zack/Zoe is sleeping with a boy at that point in time and how should one dare to take ones body and its predicament so lightly as to just change it at a whim? At this point, the parents have a joint interview with their child and tell her that they will not support her to go in the direction of a medical transition at this stage. Zack has a mental break down, bursting in tears. “Great, but then WHAT ?”, she cries.

Luckily father and kid still are having a very good, loving relationship and so the father can convince the kid to listen to his advice and offer: he convinces her that he is by no means against her leading his or her own self-determined life but that he wants to prevent a rash and irreversible decision. So they agree to vet the agenda in which the Zoe-Zack transition is happening together. They also agree that Zack takes steps to work on her body by doing sports, at this stage, instead immediately turning to hormones. Body building sessions are set every morning from 6 to 7. At the same time, Zack’s father encourages her to engage in activities that empower her: climbing, theatre, music…What appears to the parents to be the lesser of two evils, she also takes the pill continuously so that she no longer has a period.

For a year, the family lives like this: they call her Zack, she lives her life as a boy and remains determined to make her medical transition when she turns 18. While the girl seems to be coping with this, the LGBTIQ Association Refuge is not, and is harassing the father and mother to allow Zack to be medically transitioned without delay. “To question is to cause pain, to wait is to abuse.” Some heated exchanges take place between the father and the Association. The latter threatens to report the parents to the child protection services on the grounds of “psychological abuse”.

The father and his partner realize at this point that they cannot fight this phenomenon and this transactivist community alone. They set up a foundation (AMQG) offering sensitive advice and consulting to parents of kids who suddenly think they are born in the wrong body. They are overwhelmed by request for help from affected parents. There daily routine is seriously affected but they do keep up the fight for a measured approach to questions of a redefinition of sexual identity and medically effected changes of that valuable good called our body.

The Refuge’s threat is carried out a few weeks before Zack’s 18th birthday, although she has distanced herself from the association and has not attended any meetings for several months. Zack is placed under judicial guardianship. She is appalled, indignant. She feels betrayed. Two weeks later, having reached adult, she goes to her lawyer/guardian and lodges a complaint for slander. The case is closed.

A few months later, she tells her parents that she wants to be ‘gendered’ female again. Soon after, she asks her friends and teachers to do the same.

The person I was a few years ago is not quite the person I am today, she is a bit different, because of these discoveries and reflections that have come to me over time. It is not a “return to the past” but an evolution, a new stage in my life and the fruit of my reflection on the world and on myself.”

Zoë has come back to herself.

But the AMQG’s struggle continues. According to federal statistics, the number of girls who had their breasts removed for gender dysphoria more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, from 50 to 110. Of these, about 10 girls were between the ages of 10 and 14…

In England (July 22) the closure of the world’s largest pediatric gender clinic was announced, following a damning report of ideological practices that had endangered the health of thousands of young patients.

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, several trans-affirmative conferences are continously being organised by renowned university hospitals….IFt- August 2022