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To the editor:

I am a former “trans” kid.

In first grade my teacher asked the school psychologist to evaluate me. She could tell there was something terribly wrong. In a meeting, the school psychologist told my teacher and my mother that I wanted to be a boy. Rather than affirming that I was a boy, the school psychologist came up with some simple recommendations for my teacher and parents to help alleviate my gender dysphoria. These recommendations included:

· Reinforcing positive ideas of womanhood.

· Exposing me to talented women.

· Putting me in activities with girls such as Girl Scouts.

· Discouraging me from wearing my brother’s hand-me-downs.

 The “conversion therapy” ban that was introduced by Equality Utah in 2019 requires therapists to “affirm” a child’s sexual orientation as well as gender identity. The simple recommendations that my school psychologist made that put me on a path towards resolving my gender dysphoria would be illegal if  “conversion therapy” is banned. Transgender activists deny that talk therapy is helpful in managing and resolving gender dysphoria and yet, I am living proof that can be.

Though my school psychologist didn’t know it, between kindergarten and first grade my brother and I were abducted by two men. I was brutally sexually assaulted and my brother was not. In my child’s mind, I thought that being a boy would prevent me from being hurt again in the way those men hurt me. Not my mother, not my school teacher, not my school psychologist knew that my trans identity was based upon my desire to keep my body from being sexually violated. 

If therapists had not been allowed to question my gender identity, I never would have made the connection. I never would have understood that my hatred of my female body was the result it being violently violated.  I never would have realized that my transgender identity was a coping mechanism.

“Conversion therapy” helped me because my therapists did not affirm my trans identity, did not accept the hatred I had for my female body was normal. I am so thankful that my school psychologist put me on a healing path. I am grateful to other therapists who helped me understand that the self-hatred I had was a result of the sexual assault not because I was inherently flawed.

I shudder to think at what my life would be like if I’d been encouraged to believe that I was transgender. I would have lived my life hating myself. I might have had my breasts amputated in an attempt to appear less female. 

I can’t imagine how we can force therapists to tell transgender children they are born in the wrong body; to confirm that a child’s self-hatred is appropriate. 

Erin Brewer


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