Originally Published: March 5, 2017 5:57 a.m.
Editor’s note: Letters to Rhonda and Dr. Cheri come from around the U.S. via our website and are not necessarily from Prescott.
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a concerned grandmother. My son and his ex-wife share custody of three girls, ages 10, 9, and 7.
The ex-wife is a high school teacher and sponsors an LGBT club. Two years ago she announced that the middle girl was transgendered, cut her hair in a boy’s style and wanted everyone to start calling her by a male name.
I make a point to spend individual time with each child. Never in seven years did I hear my middle granddaughter make any statements about feeling like a boy. She did, however, ask once if her mother would love her more if she was a boy.
My son attended counseling sessions with a LGBT therapist at ex-wife’s request. I encouraged him to be an advocate for his daughter. The ex-wife cancelled sessions after just a few appointments because she felt the therapist and my son were ganging up on her.
The ex-wife changed the kids’ school and enrolled the middle girl with a boy’s name, demanding the staff acknowledge her as a boy and they have complied. My son won’t confront his ex-wife about his daughter.
The ex-wife is insisting they start hormone treatments to avoid the natural changes coming with puberty. My son doesn’t want this to happen but won’t confront his ex.
I feel its child abuse to push medical treatments without a professional therapist helping her make this life-altering decision. I’m hoping no doctor would agree to this without something more substantial than her living with a boy’s name and dressing like a boy.
This isn’t a happy boy. He/she spends recess alone. He/she is never invited to play or have sleepovers. I love this child and feel helpless.
Encourage your son to actively co-parent with his child’s mother, voicing his opinion.
Your son needs to take his 9-year-old to therapy, with or without the ex-wife.
You both will fare well by staying on the high road. Kids know when there is tension and could react negatively.
The most important factor in dealing with the kids is that they know they’re loved no matter what decisions are made.
Do everything within your power to be the best advocate for your grandchildren. Your voice counts.
What you can also do:
You can encourage your son to be fully engaged with his 9-year-old (and all of his children). She needs him.
His daughter may have hormone treatments, and it is often highly recommended pre-puberty. The real question here is – can she have the treatments at this young age without your son’s permission? Know that hormone-blocking is reversible.
At such a young age, this decision requires thorough therapy with a qualified and OBJECTIVE opinion.
Tell your son that MD’s are obligated by law to explain everything, including risks and long term ramifications — most require psych assessments.
You can express your concern over her isolation and sadness.
Continue your loving one-on-one conversations with your grandchildren.
It doesn’t look like you can report your former daughter-in-law to a Child Protection Agency, based solely on allowing medical treatments.
Please stay in touch. We are concerned about your family’s situation.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous questions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org. Find out more about Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation at www. rhondastopbullying.org.