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The Cost of Transparency

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Over this past 2 years, since speaking publicly about the state of our healthcare system for gender dysphoria, I’ve been truly humbled by the courage and vulnerability of many of our podcast guests and supporters, to whom I feel indebted.

The creation of the Gender Dysphoria Alliance wasn’t about having a platform, becoming famous or becoming a leader. It’s a necessity, because speaking up as a person with this condition is costly. We need each other.

There are parts of my story I have yet to tell. Parts I may never tell, to maintain my privacy. Parts I have yet to discover.

My podcast cohost, Aaron Terrell, has become a valued friend. I trust his judgement and character. We’re on the same page that people may benefit from hearing an aspect of my story I haven’t told anyone but my inner circle.

First, some context.

Reasons for why or how gender dysphoria develops is something we explore at length and will continue to do so.

Reasons for transitioning are a separate matter. Sometimes it’s about severe GD. But other transitioners don’t have GD at all. And some people with GD never transition. My own reasons include severe GD, which I’d chalked up to being related to my DSD, but that’s something I lived with for many years. Why did I choose that moment? It’s complex.

My daughter had just been born, which motivated me to be the best person I could be. I wanted to function better, because I knew she’d be watching and learning from me. I didn’t feel well integrated. Counselling over the years helped with some things but not the GD.

I grew up embracing the values of my home community. I wanted to work, own a modest home, have dinner parties with neighbours, raise a family with a loving wife, helping the kids with homework and attending their school functions. I left rural life because I became convinced I could never achieve that dream. I was bullied through middle school and highschool, and felt that no one had my back. So I sought the city as soon as I turned 18. As a naïve young adult craving belonging, I was vulnerable to people and parts of society I never knew existed, which took a toll over the years. The LGBT became an increasingly dysfunctional family, and I have a thin skin.

I don’t think I had a single reason to transition, but I do remember feeling a deep longing to “go back home” which was less about the physical hometown and more about reclaiming my values and dreams for my life. I wanted to create structure and a healthy home for myself and my newborn daughter. Transition did help to first create more internal structure and cohesion, and reduced my distress. I’ve worked very hard to build a life for myself and for her.

Fast forward a decade, I took a chance on a beautiful small town girl several hundred kilometers away. We talked and talked for months. We had a great connection. I told her I wanted to go home. She invited me into hers. I broke into tears many times, overwhelmed by happiness and gratitude for her love. We were a good team, with shared faith and values, and a vision for our lives. I sold my condo on the coast and bought us a family house in her town.

Her ex – the father of her 3 kids – was addicted to cocaine, had abused her and the kids, stole from them, neglected them, and had multiple affairs, including a secret family out of province.

When I landed onto the scene, things with him escalated. He stalked and harassed us for months, and continued to abuse the kids. His girlfriend had done time for drug and weapons offences. To protect my new family, I insisted that we involve child protective services and the police – both of which were more of a strain than helpful. I emotionally and financially supported my partner to go to court for a restraining order and child custody. Which was eventually successful, but at a cost of thousands of dollars and escalated harassment. The ex never showed up to court and defied every court order. His girlfriend, who’d once been close with my wife and her kids, later died of a drug overdose, after convincing child protective services they weren’t using drugs and we were lying. I paid $15,000 of the ex’s debt, because creditors were coming after my wife. She didn’t see the point taking him to court over it when he defied all orders anyways and wasn’t paying child support.

The oldest son takes after his father. He’s a looming 6ft 2in adult now. He’d been expelled from elementary school for drug dealing and a bomb threat. He assaulted his mom, damaged her home, was caught stealing from a local business, and molested a young girl when he was small. He lied to his dad, saying that I’d hit him, which escalated his dad even more. We later learned that he’d been sexually abusing his two younger siblings, in our house, which necessitated another report to child protective services and the police. I insisted that his weapons collection be confiscated, and to never leave the kids alone with him. This is already, unfortunately, public information. The kids, who thrive in negative attention, have long broadcasted the details. I wouldn't share it otherwise.

I had been closer to the two younger step-kids. We had weekly family meetings. I taught them about boundaries. We played games together. I attended their school and sporting functions. I took them fishing. At times they were glad for this connection, but they would often lash out and make up tales after letting me in. This was understandable, given their past, but hard. We did see huge improvements in their mental health over the first several years, and they started to do well in school and make friends.

All of this was more than I had bargained for when I joined this family, but I did my best to protect them, love them, and provide the structure and safety I know they needed. Did I do that perfectly? No. But I committed to loving them and having their backs, and I stand behind the values I implemented. I meant my vows to my wife.

The birth of GDA

When I first started speaking publicly about the trans healthcare system, the first blow was activist harassment – they made calls to my employer in an effort to get me fired. I was subsequently removed from my role as youth clinician and shuffled over to another department.

My wife felt it was important to tell the kids about my DSD and transition, and the work I was doing, because I’d been speaking online and to the press. She also started telling friends and family.

Though I’d asked for some privacy and discretion, the news quickly spread. The kids almost immediately told their dad, who threatened violence and switched from calling me a fag (because I’m a nurse) to calling me a woman and a tranny.

As the town turned on me, so did the kids. If I told them to do their chores, they’d tell me to fuck off. My parental authority was stripped away and the kids launched out of control again. The police showed up saying that the youngest boy could be charged with sexual assault, which the son laughed off. Without my rules, consistency and structure, there was none. Neighbourhood kids would come over, even when our kids weren’t home, and raid our fridge and cupboards. We’d locked the cupboards at one point, but my wife gave them the key. If I’d set consequences, my wife would take them away. The oldest refused to work, refused to do chores, and spent all of his time in his room doing drugs and playing video games. His paternal grandparents kept him on a constant supply of weed. My last straw was when he broke our back light and shoved me, screaming at me to get out of “his” house and find another family. He left the house screaming “FUCKING TRANNY” all the way down the street. My wife was livid at me for putting my foot down and calling the police. The youngest son started telling lies that I abuse animals and shoved him out the door, completely reinventing in his head our past memories together.

My wife’s friends quickly changed too. One of the friends has a daughter who identifies as trans, and seems to fit the ROGD profile. Despite the work I do to try to protect kids like hers, her vitriol towards me is palpable. She left security camera footage for me, giving me the finger through the camera at our house. This week she left a message on my Facebook wall saying that everyone thinks I’m disgusting.

My family, once loving and making great progress in healing, has been ripped apart. Once again, I faced a community and a family that did not have my back.

Almost overnight, it didn’t matter to anyone the time and effort I made to protect the kids in court. That the boundaries and structure I implemented were healthy. That I showed up, time and time again for them. That I provided a home and opportunities for them.

Abusers, cheaters, liars and thieves aren’t run out of town. Trannies are.

My wife did not stand up for me. Maybe it's selfish of me to expect her to, and I forgive her. But she eventually joined in on telling lies and said some very awful things about me. One single person in that town, one of her friends, reached out to me with a few words of support. Her family has also been kind.

I sold the house in October, on our wedding anniversary of all days. My last month there was the most terrifying and painful time of my life. I had a stress induced bout of paranoia and rarely left the house. My wife got her share of the home equity. And that’s the end. No more family.

I think it’s important that our GDA supporters understand the cost of speaking up and taking a stand. Many decent trans people have fought very hard for just a small, secure corner of the world for ourselves. For love and belonging. And are afraid of losing everything if they come out and speak up.

I am so grateful for the good, honest, courageous people, like Aaron Terrell, Janet Scott, Renee Sullivan, Buck Angel, Scott Newgent, Mars Fernadez, and others who circled around me during this time. You have my back, and have been my community.

From the bottom of my heart, thank-you. I really don’t think I’d still be standing without you. You’re truly decent human beings, and I love you.

I’ll never again travel on false ground, to find love where it can’t be found.


Note: This article was discussed on the Transparency Podcast, which can be seen on YouTube or listened to on your favourite podcast app

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23 comentários

20 de fev. de 2023

Oh, Aaron, I am so sorry for all those losses and the terrors, insults, and heartaches, you've endured. You're a very fine and brave, hardworking man to have built upon your dreams and to have persevered, spirit intact, through so many challenges that would have broken many a lesser spirit. Thank you very much for standing up for what you think is right; for sharing honestly your difficult, complicated story, and for co-creating this terrific and so badly-needed resource hub. Bless you. You're an inspiration.


15 de fev. de 2023

I read this article three times the first in tears, the second in anger and the third in helplessness. What’s been done to you is beyond sad. Be strong.


13 de fev. de 2023

Aaron, thank you for having the courage to do all that you. It means so much to so many. I’m a nurse too and work with many young people who are transitioning or are considering it. You and Aaron helped me to realize I wasn’t crazy or transphobic for questioning what was happening all of a sudden. I wish you peace and happiness down the road.


09 de fev. de 2023

You have such courage. Thank you for fighting. We appreciate you.


08 de fev. de 2023

I'm so sorry to hear you've been through such hard times! Heart-breaking in every way. 💔😣

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