By Jonathon Van Maren
As Mary Eberstadt noted in her 2016 book It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, most people in orthodox Christian circles have, at some point, had a conversation about what they might do if their governments grow even more overtly hostile to Christian beliefs and practices. If you’re an American in a blue state, that might mean joining the growing conservative exodus to red states; if you’re a Canadian, that might involve deciding to move to the United States. If you believe that the American experiment has failed, you might—like Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option—decide to decamp to Hungary. I’ve been part of plenty of these discussions myself.
In the last few years, mainstream culture has become, in many ways, more tangibly dangerous. The complete colonization of our collective institutions by the transgender movement is one example. Many parents have reached out to me to describe the helplessness they experience when their children are introduced to gender ideology at school or online, decide to take irreversible cross-sex hormones or undergo sex-change surgeries—with nothing they can do to stop it. The educators, the medical professionals, the mental health experts—all stand in between desperate parents and their confused children. The pain they endure is cruel and unique—that of helplessly watching their children disintegrate before their eyes.
The Substack newsletter “Parents with Inconvenient Truths about Trans” regularly posts such stories, and a recent column titled “Eastern European Mom” caught my eye. It is written by an Eastern European immigrant to the United States who discovered that her 13-year-old daughter had gone through a “mental meltdown.” She was hospitalized and while in hospital stated that she was a boy. Her mother decided to do the only thing she could when she realized that every single institution supported a sex change for her daughter:
I subsequently learned that my daughter’s public middle school had socially transitioned her behind my back. Alarmed at this plot to take my child away, I immediately made plans to return to Eastern Europe. I located a school back home near my family for both of my children. I contacted the school director, explained the situation and was assured that they would not affirm and that they would work with me no matter what struggles my daughter has. So, I sent both kids to Eastern Europe to stay with family and I followed a few weeks later after making arrangements to work remotely.
When I returned to Eastern Europe, I opened up to my very large family about what had happened with my daughter. As opposed to many of the stories I’ve heard about with US families, where family members are quick to affirm regardless of what the parents see as being in the children’s best interest, my family was shocked. They asked how they could jump in to help my daughter’s distress and mental health struggles. They were also appalled by the gender ideology and their interference in family affairs. Rightfully, they were shocked that the school in the US could assume such a major responsibility for someone’s child’s future and health.
My daughter never disclosed her trans identity to the family our whole time in Eastern Europe.
As a family, we supported my daughter by lavishing her with attention and praise, especially for her beauty. Eastern Europeans are not ones to gush, so this was not natural, but we all praised, all the time, and then we did it again and again and again. Every day we would start with the simple statement “You’re such a beautiful girl”! We praised her general beauty, we praised her nose, her chin, her eyes, her smile, her hair, her neck. We also implemented a whole schedule to make sure she was never alone and without family. We organized endless family dinners, gatherings, and celebrations. At every gathering one of us would say “You’re such a beautiful girl”. And she obviously is—my daughter is perfect in every single possible way. My daughter is a wonder.
I was struck repeatedly and still nearly cry when I pause to think about the doctors who were ready to swoop in and mutilate my beautiful daughter. I still have nightmares of her walking up to me, as an adult, with her breasts cut off, with a deep wound in her arms, with hair on her pretty delicate face, asking why I allowed the doctors to mutilate her.
Eventually, mother and family returned to the United States, and her daughter is being sent to a private Catholic school and now identifies, happily, as a girl. But parents must recognize—as this mother now does—that most educational and medical institutions actually pose a real physical and mental danger to their children. She is still worried about her son:
My son is still young and I work hard to inoculate him. No one can be assumed safe. My son still goes to a public school in the same district that transitioned my daughter. I trained my son to talk to me if anyone at school or outside of the family discusses religion, sex, health, family or political beliefs with him. I told him that these are very dangerous subjects that can be used against our family. This is what my parents taught me while I was growing up in Eastern Europe. They were scientists and anti-communists; we children were not allowed to speak to strangers or teachers about these topics because, if our family was deemed to have problematic beliefs, my parents could be taken away by the KGB. I told my son the same thing could happen here. If he said the wrong thing about gender ideology, CPS could determine that I am a bad mom and take him and his sister away. That has happened to several families where I live. Just read the heartbreaking story of Yaeli.
Despite what she and her family have endured, this mother considers herself “lucky,” but not ready to lower her guard. The nightmare scenario of her daughter coming up to her, mutilated and broken, is not a bizarre paranoid fantasy. It is currently the lived experience of tens of thousands of families across the West—and likely far more than that. These stories are unfolding every day. These ideologies are not simply absurd abstractions pushed out by recently-invented university departments—they are the guiding principles of the very institutions we once assumed had the best interests of our children at heart. This mother had to flee the United States not because she couldn’t go to church, but to save her daughter.
The real life scenarios playing out across the West are, in my view, far more terrifying than those Mary Eberstadt, Rod Dreher, and others have been warning about. I would far rather face marginalization, ostracization, or worse for my beliefs than see the minds and bodies of my children ruined—with the backing of institutional and state power—by this destructive ideology. We must—we must—protect our families from this with everything in our power.