At an undisclosed location somewhere in North America, a small group of parents met for a secret meeting. When they arrived, they were warned not to use their real names or reveal where they were from. Not that they weren’t trusted—they had been thoroughly vetted beforehand—but if real names or hometowns were not known, then no one could inadvertently let them slip.

The location of the meeting was also a concern. Three or four locations had already been considered, then eliminated, because the venue needed to know the purpose of the meeting. They finally settled on a nondescript hotel that did not ask too many questions located close to an international airport, convenient for those arriving by air.

This was a group of parents with teenage or young-adult children who had suddenly decided they were transgender. The parents came from a wide range of religious and political leanings, but all were intelligent, well educated and strong-minded enough to ask questions when something sounded wrong, even if it was coming from “respected” authorities. They had all independently researched their children’s issues, and each had arrived at the same conclusion: The experts were wrong.

The parents were not buying the currently-accepted standards of care for their children: “affirm” them and send them down the path to transition as quickly as possible. They knew that there was no consensus among doctors as to the best course of treatment for their children. They knew there was scant evidence to support affirmation, social or medical transition. And they knew what little evidence did exist indicated that the affirmative approach had severely negative outcomes for their children.

The secrecy was necessary to avoid attracting the attention of transgender activists, who would picket, harass, attack or otherwise try to cause trouble, and to avoid attention from the media, whom they knew would only cast them as transphobic bigots.

The meeting lasted all weekend, with the parents sharing their stories, each one more tragic than the last. Almost all of their children, mostly daughters, had turned against their parents for not being supportive of their newfound identity. Some had cut themselves off from their parents entirely. Some had even called the police on their parents. Many of their children had started cross-sex hormones, and some had had surgery to remove their breasts and uteri, and create false penises.

There were tears and hugs and anger and anguish. Linda was there, too.  She spoke of her lonely quest; how she would go to the support groups put on by her local children’s hospital, searching for another parent like herself, who was skeptical of the rush to transition our children—only to end up being ejected from the group and having the police called on her. There was so much suffering, yet it was a relief to be among other parents who shared our pain and understood what we were going through.

One of the highlights of the meeting came when Dr. Michael Bailey, a leading authority on gender dysphoria, skyped in to speak with us. He listened to our stories with interest and compassion, then assured us that our children did not fit into the traditional categories of gender dysphoria, which have been recognized and well-studied for many years. Rather, they were exhibiting a new kind of gender dysphoria that had never been seen before. Researchers had dubbed it Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), and it is so new that it has never been properly studied. Since the meeting described in this article, Dr. Lisa Littman has published the first ever study on Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria. Dr. Michael Bailey is working with Parents of ROGD Kids to publish another study which corroborates Dr. Littman’s findings.

It felt good to hear that our gut instincts—what we had known for certain right from the start—were correct, although it was disturbing to learn that we were caught up in a newly-identified syndrome. We drew some comfort in the fact that at least we had a name for it now.

It was out of that meeting, and the incredible support we found in each other, that our organization, Parents of ROGD Kids, was born. Our primary mission is to create support groups for other parents who find themselves in our situation, so that they may never feel so isolated and alone.

And there seems to be many of us out there. Since the launch of our website, in the last 16 months, we have received over 800 emails from desperate parents all over the Western world—from Norway to Australia. We have created support groups in over 36 cities in North America, and affiliated Parents of ROGD Kids organizations have sprung up in the UK, Australia and Scandinavia. The great majority of the children of our members are girls between the ages of 9 and 18.

Our secondary goal is to provide a counter-narrative to the overly-simplistic stories presented in the media of the child who was sad, but then he transitioned, and now he’s happy! Our stories tell another, darker tale.

Yet we must continue to operate in stealth. We meet in secret and approach every new email with caution. We know that aggressive transgender activists regularly expose, harass, intimidate, threaten and report those of us with views they find offensive. They would like nothing better than to silence us.

In her now-infamous interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson, Cathy Newman demands, “Why should your right to free speech trump a transgender’s right not to be offended?” We, the parents of ROGD kids know the answer to that question.  

It is this ideology, promoted at universities and now being enshrined into law, that stifles debate and stymies research. It is this ideology that allows politically-motivated activists to force their grossly-unethical and clearly-abusive policies on medical organizations and educational institutions simply by crying “offence!” It is this ideology that turns children against their families and encourages them to submit to dangerous, unproven and often traumatizing procedures. We, the parents of ROGD kids, are already living in the Orwellian world it creates.

Frances Mallory is a pseudonym.