A nonbinary teen tweeted on Tuesday to explain their side of the story after a conservative outlet published an article about them based mostly on their mother’s hesitation and eventual opposition to the gender-affirming care they received in Missouri.
Alex, a 16-year-old nonbinary teen based in Washington, tweeted on Tuesday that they were the subject of a Free Press article titled “‘I Felt Bullied’: Mother of Child Treated at Transgender Center Speaks Out.” The article conceals the teen’s identity by calling them “Casey,” but Alex shared on Twitter that they wanted to respond to the story and “make sure [their] voice is fully heard.”
“This is my story, not hers,” Alex tweeted, in reference to their mom. “This is not the Free Press’s story.”
The Free Press article, written by Emily Yoffe, documents Alex’s experience receiving gender-affirming care, which included puberty blockers, at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The Daily Dot reached out to the medical center, the Free Press, and Yoffe for comment.
The article is written from the point of view of Caroline, the teen’s mother, who was initially wary of any medical intervention. Caroline says she feels medical professionals “bullied” her into consenting to Alex receiving Supprelin, a puberty blocker in the form of an arm implant.
“Caroline told me that when she expressed resistance to starting Casey on blockers, the psychologist responded by quoting alarming statistics, in front of Casey, on gender dysphoric kids committing suicide if they aren’t allowed to transition,” Yoffe reports.
Alex’s tweets confirm that doctors quoted suicide rates of teens experiencing gender dysphoria in front of them and their mom. But according to Alex, their doctors didn’t believe they were at “substantial risk” of fatal self-harm.
Yoffe’s reporting, which misgenders Alex by using he/him pronouns, also describes a decline in Alex’s mental health and school performance after they got the arm implant.
“Within a semester, Casey went from all As and Bs to a report card dotted with Ds and Fs,” Yoffe writes. “Many days he found it impossible to get out of bed.”
This decline, which Yoffe reports prompted Caroline to “revoke” her consent to Alex’s puberty blocker, was “exaggerated” according to Alex’s tweets. They say that their grades “were on a steady decline since 2020 due to unrelated mental health concerns,” and that their mental health had been “declining” since the start of the pandemic.
Yoffe’s reporting includes an email that Caroline sent to the University’s Transgender Center when she revoked her consent.
“He’s not transgender. He’s a 15 year old child,” Caroline’s email reads. “The only further treatment I authorize as JOINT LEGAL GUARDIAN is the removal of the puberty blocker and the subsequent aftercare.”
With regard to the gender-affirming care that they received at the University’s Transgender Center, Alex tweeted that their counselor treated them “amazingly.”
“She was a friend to me and offered a great amount of support,” Alex tweeted. “This was taken away when my mom revoked consent for the Supprelin.”
Alex’s largest issue with the Free Press article, as explained in their tweets, is that Yoffe didn’t take their concerns about her reporting into consideration before the article was published. Further, Yoffe allegedly told Alex that they had “no say in whether or not the article was published.”
“When I read the draft I was disgusted with what the reporter and my mom had made my experience out to be,” Alex tweeted. “I asked if my consent was required to publish the article and the reporter told me, ‘that’s not how these things work.’”
When the article was published, Alex tweeted that they were “frustrated.” In an interview with the Daily Dot, Alex said they were “pissed.”
“I thought that many of my concerns would be amended, but they weren’t,” Alex told the Daily Dot. “The article was published anyway.”
They were also upset that their mother had contacted Yoffe and that Yoffe had written “an entire article by the time” Alex was made aware.
Alex was quoted in Yoffe’s article a handful of times and confirmed to the Daily Dot that Yoffe interviewed them with their mother “in the room.”
Yoffe reports that Caroline will not approve of Alex “getting a feminizing hormone” while they are a minor. When asked if they would like to start hormone replacement therapy, Alex said, “Of course.”
“But that won’t be an option for me unfortunately,” Alex told the Daily Dot. “I’ve come to accept that.”
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*First Published: Apr 4, 2023, 7:08 pm CDT
Tricia Crimmins is the IRL staff writer at the Daily Dot. She is also a New York-based comedian and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previously, she has written for Mashable, Complex Networks, and Moment magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @TriciaCrimmins.