Sinead Watson is a woman who identified as trans and underwent medical and surgical transition in her 20s and has now detransitioned, realising she mistakenly thought that transition would solve the issues she had.
To the parents of trans-identified children, I’d say don’t blame or beat yourself up about this.
When there are people in your child’s life – be it friends, an online community or even schools – that constantly affirm them, the horrible truth is: there is very little you can say that will have any impact. Especially if your child is a teenager, any attempt to challenge them will likely just push them further away.
I can only speak for my experience, and I didn’t identify as trans until my 20s. My gender dysphoria manifested after years of struggling with body image issues, self-esteem issues, a struggle with my sexuality and a few traumatic experiences. Other detransitioners I’ve spoken to experienced similar, but many also suffered from eating disorders, bullying and other forms of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that caused deep self-loathing and a desire to escape from themselves – an escape they found through the online trans community and the eventual decision to identify as trans.
While it may be difficult to come to terms with, your child may have experienced these things and not told you. It’s something I would not only advise you consider, but something I believe you should indirectly broach. You can be supportive of your child and their trans identity while simultaneously discussing with them any other issues they may have, but ideally you should try to find a non-affirming therapist you can explain the situation to, for your child to see for treatment.
You will not be able to convince your child that they’re wrong, only they can come to the realisation on their own. Either they will benefit from transition, or they will realise they misdiagnosed themselves after addressing their other issues with the help of a mental health professional.
Lastly, if they do medically transition only to detransition afterwards, all you can do is be there. Your support – even if it’s silent – means the world to them. Even if they don’t show it. You’re doing everything you can, even if you feel like you’re doing nothing.