Dr. Maggie Goldsmith was working as an independent contractor at the psychological and counseling service of a small, progressive, liberal arts college when her 16-year-old daughter announced that she identified as trans-masculine and required he/him pronouns.
Unable to find appropriate help for her daughter who was intensifying her demands for cross-sex hormone treatment as she approached her 18th birthday, Maggie embarked with her on a trip to their ancestral homeland. While there, Maggie wrote about her experiences as a clinician and parent of a gender-questioning adolescent. In her first PITT Substack essay titled, “To my daughter’s therapist: you were wrong,” Maggie wrote about her daughter’s process of shedding transgender identification as she worked to build a more flexible and resilient sense of self. That essay got over 20,000 reads within the first three months of its publication. Her second PITT essay titled, “Trans and the myth of sloppy parenting,” explored the conditions that made her family fertile ground for gender ideology and how, ultimately, the parent-child bond was the solvent for her daughter’s gender dysphoria.
Maggie’s clinical work with teens and families impacted by gender dysphoria is guided by child and adolescent developmental theory and a belief that a good working alliance between therapist and patient can act as the scaffolding to support a young person’s mental health and emotional growth.
We enjoyed this discussion so much that we decided it will be followed up by a Part II in the coming weeks.
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- Maggie was surprised to see they/them pronouns on student applications.
- She didn’t think much of her daughter approaching her with the idea of taking hormone therapy when she turned 25.
- Her daughter had the makings of an identity crisis.
- During Covid, tragedy struck the family and her children were attending school online.
- Her daughter went to Planned Parenthood to get testosterone shots on her 18th birthday without talking to Maggie.
- Even respected gender identity specialists were offering Maggie misplaced recommendations.
- Maggie felt that she had no resources and that she, as a clinician, would have to figure things out on her own.
- Attaching to binaries and a denial of history is common in teens and this compels a parent to be present-day focused.
- The same day Maggie made an appointment for her daughter at a gender clinic, her daughter bought a dress and heels online.
- Maggie thought about traveling as a way to give her daughter time to get clearer about her identity.
- Her son supported her daughter’s transition which Maggie found created a toxic environment.
- A fellow psychologist told Maggie that she was abandoning her son.
- In the family’s native language there are no gendered pronouns.
- When Maggie told her daughter she was done with gender issues, her daughter admitted to being done with it as well.
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