Charlie Rae talks about a controversial website called 4thWaveNow, run by “gender critical” parents, and their new spokeswoman, Brie Jontry.
4thWaveNow is a collection of parents founded by a mother whose daughter once identified as trans. When this anonymous mother looked for information on how to help her daughter with her gender dysphoria, she found there were few places to get alternative or critical viewpoints beside the dominant mainstream message of affirmation and medical transition. So she decided to make one.
The story of the spokeswoman they introduced the other day, Brie Jontry, seems somewhat similar. She also has a daughter who came to identify as trans after fixating on trans stories in online media. Both of these mothers decided they were not going to take the easy way out–they were going to do all the research and searching that they could to find the best answers for their daughter’s lives, bodies, and overall health.
Brie Jontry is a woman with a clear and strong voice. In her introduction as the spokesperson for 4thWaveNow, she tells us about her and her daughters journey navigating what people are calling gender identity. She wants parents to know that affirmation and medical transition are not the only options, and that her daughter picked another: self-acceptance. Some have called this method Gender Critical. The choice not to transition will impact the rest of her daughters life. It will allow her to grow into a healthy female whose puberty and brain growth was never halted, nor her body surgically reconstructed. Jontry encourages parents to “dig deeper,” to ask questions, and treat underlying problems like anxiety and depression without attributing them solely to symptoms of gender dysphoria. This is important in an atmosphere where children’s self-diagnosis and claims of ‘I feel therefore I am’ are considered unquestionable reasons for full medical transition. For some parents, 4thWaveNow is their only lifeline for critical analysis. To them, Jontry says:
“Becoming a life-long medical patient is not liberating; it is enslaving. Being critical and cautious is not hatred, it’s being a good parent.”
This completely interrupts the dominant narrative of affirmation and introduces a boundary of skepticism. In discussions about transgenderism, this boundary has been forcefully removed.
4thWaveNow has been posting since March of 2015. In the time that followed, the website has become an invaluable resource for parents who have children dealing with gender identity issues, and is not afraid to turn over every rock to try and figure out the healthiest way of addressing transgenderism. It has featured writings of a parent who calls himself Gender Critical Dad, another emerging voice in the group of parents who are resisting the option of medical transition for their children. On the website there are tons of comments from parents asking how to talk to their children, and how to support their children without supporting unneeded medical interventions. Other parents offer advice, making the blog more interactive and communal.
I myself have also published with 4thWaveNow, sharing my experience of growing up thinking I was born in the wrong body and how my mother handled it. I was contacted by the anonymous mother because they’re always looking for more information and different experiences, especially with those of us who ended up not transitioning or desisting, which is the alternative viewpoint currently not allowed in debate. For example, a psychotherapist at Bath University in the UK “was prevented from researching people who decided to reverse their gender assignment surgery because a university said it was “politically incorrect.” Kenneth Zucker, who worked for 20 years researching gender identity disorder in children, had his clinic shut down for preferring a method which helped kids feel comfortable in their own bodies over social or medical transitions. He sites in his work that most kids grow out of their dysphoria, with only about 10% persisting. In another instance, at the 2017 inaugural conference hosted by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Zucker was de-platformed after being asked to speak by “those who perceived his participation as an act of violence”, a detransitioner explains.
“I have to say that I am disappointed in WPATH’s no-platforming an invited speaker. I saw the protest, and for me it was a sad and chilling reminder that voices that run counter to traditional Trans talking points are often silenced by the community. As a detransitioner, I have experienced it directly time and time again.”
In a time when alternative viewpoints and research are considered violence, and parents who do not support medical transition for their kids have been said to be abusing them, those of us at The Fem Column can’t thank Brie Jontry or 4thWaveNow enough. Now with a spokeswoman who has a clear and thoughtful perspective they can continue their work bringing this information to other parents and the general public.