Rachel sometimes speaks of her daughter as if she were no more.
Her voice will never be heard again. Her body has been cut apart. Her old friends refuse to even say her name, Rachel said.
But Rachel’s daughter is still alive.
In high school, she decided she was a man. Later, with the assistance of doctors, she cut off her breasts, removed her female vocal range, and permanently changed her body with hormones.
“She was just so talented. She was athletic. She was extremely smart. She was creative. She was artistic. She was musical,” said Rachel, who prefers anonymity.
Today, Rachel’s daughter, who has rejected her own name, won’t speak with her mother. Rachel hasn’t hugged her daughter in years.
“Two years ago, she came to the house to help my oldest daughter move her stuff out,” she said. “And I was told I was not coming to hear her or hug her or anything.”
Rachel said she cried in the basement.
Across America, similar stories happen in countless families where children decide they should have been born in a different body.
Parents say that as soon as children express doubts about their biological gender, online strangers, school authorities, doctors, psychiatrists, and even old friends join to encourage radical lifestyle changes.
Rachel got the announcement as her daughter began high school. The girl had spent an unusual amount of time playing online video games with friends.
“I noticed she started hanging out more at home and being online a lot,” she said.
Rachel said she wonders if spending so much time in video games, where players can change their appearance at will, influenced the way her daughter thought about her body.
In games, children can change their “skin” or appearance at the push of a button, she said. Rachel’s daughter sometimes played under a male name. In real life, she “cosplayed,” dressing as male TV show characters.
“She would always play the male character,” Rachel said.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist, said that young people often learn about transgenderism from online influencers. These celebrities make becoming transgender feel normal, and teens make lifelong decisions based on their recommendations.
“Now you have all these social influencers who are gender-confused and trans,” Kardaras said.
Traci Sinor said her daughter felt very masculine at 16 years old because her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder, drove her testosterone levels up.
“She wanted to play on the boys’ team, because she felt like she was stronger than the girls,” Sinor said. “Pretty much all of her friends were boys. And she was just more in tune with a masculine way of thinking.”
Her daughter announced that she was transgender, Sinor said. But she didn’t know she had a hormonal disorder.
The Magic Word
Everything changed when her daughter announced that she was “trans,” Rachel said.
As if by magic, high school authorities, family friends, and psychiatrists accepted her daughter’s claims, Rachel said. The acceptance was so pervasive that Rachel’s daughter used it as a weapon.
“Ask anyone in my life. I’m a man. You are the only one who doesn’t see that, which means you’re, by definition, delusional,” Rachel recalls her daughter saying.
Rachel fought back when her daughter ordered binders—corset-like devices that flattened her breasts and impaired her breathing. The daughter got binders mailed to a friend’s house.
When Rachel asked the friend’s mother to stop receiving mail for her daughter, the woman condemned her.
“I’ve been ignoring you because, you know what, your daughter can have anything sent to my house. I’m perfectly okay with it, I support your daughter,” Rachel recalls the other mom telling her.
At school, teachers referred to Rachel’s daughter with a man’s name, Rachel said. No one told Rachel about this change.
“The teachers just kind of played along with it,” Rachel said. “And so then, of course, her teachers were the heroes who loved her, and her parents were just these stupid old idiots that didn’t know anything.”
Rachel’s daughter’s friends also accepted her new identity.
The school sent its guidance counselor to attend courses on transgenderism, Rachel said.
Sinor opposed her daughter’s slide into transgenderism, she said. But her daughter, under the influence of hormones that clouded her judgement, wouldn’t listen.
“I kept bringing up to her that I felt like it was hormones. But at that point with all those hormones, she was not agreeing with me.”
When Sinor brought her daughter to a psychiatrist to get help, the doctor pushed her to start acting more like a man.
“In hindsight, that psychiatrist was pushing her to embrace putting a male name on herself, and dressing like a male to see if it felt right instead of recommending medical testing first,” Sinor said.
When parents describe their children turning transgender, it sounds like the antithesis of maturing.
Bit by bit, Rachel’s daughter cut and chemically altereded herself away, Rachel said.
“Would you rather have a dead daughter or a live son?” Rachel recalled a doctor saying in front of her daughter.
Some deaths seem to happen one choice at a time, Rachel and other mothers said.
Femininity disappears, the moms say. Girls who once played smiling on the beach in bikinis start saying they never felt feminine. Clothing styles change. Then haircuts. Then the girls put on binders that constrict their torsos and leave them breathing heavy just getting to school.
Then hormones swallow old personalities. Then voices disappear into a lower octave. Then the surgeons step in. The process is the slow unmaking of the female body. Rachel said each step was a new wound for her.
“Okay. She’s on testosterone for a year—I was devastated. And then I get through it and I’m like, okay, okay, okay. And then the breasts removed. Oh my gosh, I fall apart again,” said Rachel.
Rachel’s daughter used each procedure to justify the next, Rachel said.
As Rachel’s daughter began to identify as a man, she struggled with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, the mom added.
When Rachel got her daughter psychological help, the doctor said that if Rachel’s daughter didn’t transition, she would self-harm and eventually commit suicide.
These thoughts meant she had to start looking like a man, Rachel said. That meant she had to wear binders.
Rachel said that she fought against her daughter using binders proven to be harmful by doctors.
Eventually, the daughter told Rachel that there was a solution, she said. She wouldn’t have to wear binders if she cut off her breasts.
“She got ahold of us and said that she really needed money because she needed a mastectomy,” she said. “Because, ‘You know, Mom, after a few years, you can end up with lung damage if you keep wearing it.’ I wanted to scream.”
Mothers Against Daughters
Sinor and Rachel said that when their children started pursuing transgenderism, it led to impossible family conflicts.
When a sister decides to become a “brother,” it damages the whole family, Rachel said.
Rachel’s daughter’s demand for others to say she was a man forced every family member to make a choice, she said. They could accept the lie or try to navigate conversations where names and pronouns were conflict points.
Some of her child’s siblings chose to use their sister’s new name and pronouns, Rachel said. Others let go of their sister.
Rachel said she tried persuading her daughter to stop destroying her body. She fought her daughter’s choice to wear binders.
Sinor said she fought her daughter by refusing to use her new name.
“I refused to call her that,” she said.
But it’s extremely difficult to always fight, both moms said. At points, they compromised.
Rachel said she allowed her daughter to wear binders eight hours a day.
Sinor said she allowed her daughter to attend prom in a tuxedo. But she had her take pictures in a dress too.
“I felt like she was going to regret that one day,” she said.
Life and Death
Sinor’s daughter turned back. A cyst on her ovary burst and her masculine feelings suddenly decreased, Sinor said.
“Once that rupture occurred, it actually caused the testosterone to fall,” said Sinor. “And when that happened, she was amenable to going to an endocrinologist and getting all of her tests done.”
She decided to see an endocrinologist with her mother, and found that she had a hormonal disorder, Sinor said.
PCOS affects 7 to 15 percent of women, said endocrinology and metabolism expert Dr. Andrea Frank. Despite it being common, doctors usually do a poor job of diagnosing PCOS.
PCOS is strong enough to make a woman feel like a man is rare, she said.
“That is not typical,” she said. “Some women with PCOS do have male hormone levels that are high enough to affect behavior and to bring on more male-like behaviors.”
After getting help to fix her PCOS, Sinor returned to normal.
Today, Sinor’s daughter is married, Sinor said.
“She’s happy where she’s at,” said Sinor. “But this follows her through her life. It’s kind of in the history books.”
Anyone looking at Sinor’s daughter’s past finds a time when she was replaced by a man, Sinor said.
“She has to always talk about how that’s not who she truly was then and who she is now,” she said.
Rachel’s daughter took another path. She left her parents’ home because they didn’t fully accept her choices, Rachel said.
“I was crying so hard. I was holding on to her,” she said. “Don’t leave! Please don’t leave. I love you so much!”
“No, I’m leaving, I need to be out of here,’” her daughter replied.
“Because we couldn’t see her as our son,” Rachel said.
It’s been two years since she has last seen her daughter, Rachel said.
Despite the distance, Rachel and her husband have tried to keep supporting their daughter. They gave her money originally meant for her college so she could buy a car and invited her back home.
Rachel texted her daughter a compromise, she said. Her daughter could come home, and Rachel would refer to her using a nickname of her choice. That way, they could avoid constant direct confrontation.
Rachel’s daughter replied, “Ok, boomer,” said Rachel.
Rachel’s daughter posted on Facebook to condemn her parents for not supporting her enough.
Only after Rachel and her husband had given her daughter about $10,000 of her college money did she stop complaining.
“Now she’s like, ‘I don’t understand. My family are Christians, and they don’t want to help me.”
When Rachel talks about her daughter’s future, she sounds sad. She says she sees more loss, more suffering, and childlessness.
“Now, she just wants to be a cute boy hanging out with her friends,” said Rachel. “The longer she stays on testosterone, she will become infertile.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described one of the medical professionals who dealth with Rachel’s daughter. The school did not send Rachel’s daughter to transgenderism events. The article also misstated that Rachel’s daughter kept on complaining after being given $10,000. The daughter stopped complaining at that point. The Epoch Times regrets the errors.