Lynn Meagher has two adult children who identify as transgender. “A lot of these kids have concurrent mental health issues, and they find a place to fit in because as soon as you say that you’re trans, you get love-bombed,” she reflects. “You get love-bombed online, you get love-bombed on at school … As soon as you say you’re trans, you turn into a star. And kids are thirsty for that kind of affirmation.”

Meagher joins us to discuss what parents should (and shouldn’t) do, what resources exist, and what she thinks is going on. Read the lightly edited interview, posted below, or listen on the podcast:

We also cover the following stories:

  • A new witness testifies about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.
  • Trump says another key ISIS leader has been “terminated.”
  • Teens are spending an insane amount of time staring at screens.

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Kate Trinko: So we’re at the Values Voter Summit with Lynn Meagher. Lynn, thanks for joining us.

Lynn Meagher: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Trinko: Lynn, you were speaking at the Values Voter Summit on transgender issues, and you have your own personal experience with this in your family. So tell me about that.

Meagher: Well, I have unfortunately lost two of my children to the transgender cult. I call it a cult, and it really has some very cult-like characteristics to it. So it’s been a very painful journey for me. And so I have learned a lot through that journey. Yeah.

Trinko: How old were your children when they decided that they were transgender?

Meagher: They were both college age, which is something that’s not talked about a lot. But a lot of kids come home from college and tell their parents that they’re trans. The trans narrative is promoted on college campuses deeply. There’s like basically trans dorms, there’s trans health care, there is trans clubs. My kids weren’t actually in college at the time, but it’s actually a really common age for kids to decide that they’re transgender.

And the hard thing about it happening at that age is you don’t really have a whole lot of control. There’s not really anything you can do about it. They’re adults, they get to make their own decisions and you just have to kind of watch it happen. Kind of like a slow-motion car wreck, you know? So that was my story.

Trinko: You said your kids were older than college, were they in their 20s?

Meagher: They were both 21.

Trinko: Twenty-one, OK. And if you’re comfortable sharing, how did they approach you? Did they approach it as a done fact? Did they say, “I’m thinking about this,” or how did those conversations go?

Meagher: It was a done fact. Yeah.

Trinko: And had there ever been anything in their past or when they were children that suggested they were uncomfortable with their biological sex?

Meagher: Not that I or anyone else that knew them could see, no.

Trinko: So how did you feel, especially when the first one told you?

Meagher: Well, when my son told me that he was trans, it was 2003, and this wasn’t really a thing yet. Nobody knew anything about it, and it was devastating and confusing and just shocking, and I didn’t know what to think.

And then last year when I found out about my daughter, … because I’d already kind of experienced it, and I had been involved … kind of in the issue through my work with Hands Across the Aisle, and so I was quite knowledgeable about the issue. So it was really devastating for me.

Unfortunately, my daughter broke off her relationship with me as soon as I found out. So I’ve never actually had an opportunity to have one conversation with her about it. She didn’t give me that opportunity.

Trinko: So even with her, you just never saw any signs of gender confusion?

Meagher: No. Nope. She went to cosmetology school. She loves makeup. She rode horses, she had sleepovers. She was a girl, all her life.

Trinko: You just mentioned that you work with Hands Across the Aisle. Can you explain to our audience what that is and what your work is with them?

Meagher: Sure. Hands Across the Aisle is a coalition of women who have reached out across every political and ideological persuasion to work together to fight the gender ideology madness that’s overtaken our culture. So we have radical feminists and Christians and lesbians and all kinds of people working together. And we just lay aside all our differences, and we work on this. And it’s been a real growth experience I think for all of us.

Trinko: We’ve done interviews at The Daily Signal with members of Hands Across the Aisle before, and it’s just fascinating, the dynamic you described to me, like people who probably disagree on 95% of the issues, but on this one [agree]. Why do you think you’re able to find common ground on this issue?

Meagher: I think it’s because we so passionately care about not only about children, but about women. The feminist members of our groups, they’re largely passionate about women and girls, safe spaces for women. But whatever our personal reason for being so passionate about this issue, it really does transcend any other issue that we really could have in this time.

I believe that this is an emergency. If you’re in a fire, you don’t only pull some of the people out of the house, you go get everybody. And across our world, there are kids being sterilized, and mutilated, and damaged for life. And there are women losing their spaces and their opportunities. There’s girls losing their sports scholarships. … I could go on. But this is a big deal.

Trinko: You referred to the trans cult earlier. Could you expand on why you think of it that way?

Meagher: Well, in a cult, you have an ideology or a thought. In a typical cult, you have a leader. That’s really the only thing that this is missing. So instead of like a personal leader, it’s more of like an ideology-type thing.

But typically then the members begin to identify very strongly only with the other people in the cult who agree with them. They have mantras that they say over and over again. Some of the trans mantras you might know. “Trans women are women.” Have you heard that before?

Trinko: Yes.

Meagher: There’s a reason they have mantras like a cult. They are told that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is dangerous to them. That’s because … any reasonable discussion about this will, in just a matter of moments, tear it down. And so they can’t really be exposed to those rational ideas. So there’s really no alternative for them but to band together and cut the world out.

As soon as you try to engage or talk about this, they just start screaming that you’re a hater, and you’re a bigot, and you’re transphobe and you’re trying to erase them. You can’t have a discussion about this. You just can’t.

Rachel McKinnon was famous for her Mother’s Day speech where she told kids that if their family doesn’t accept them, it’s perfectly OK to leave their family and join her glitter family. And if that’s not cult talk, I really don’t know what is.

Trinko: I think one of the baffling things that we’ve encountered in modern times in the past few years really is the amount of kids who seem to be identifying as transgender, or maybe something else in the LGBTQ area, and it’s, you know, huge numbers. I believe a study showed at one school, or someone was saying anecdotally, that a quarter of kids identified this way. [Editor’s note: Trinko has been unable to verify a study exists with these findings since doing this interview.] Do you think there’s a contagion going on?

Meagher: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. It happens so often that a kid is trying to find a place to fit in. A lot of these kids are kids that … have troubles, they’re on the autism spectrum. They’re a little bit different. They may be a little socially awkward, maybe they’re just really, really smart.

My kids never fit in because they were really, really smart and they kind of had some social difficulties. And a lot of these kids have concurrent mental health issues, and they find a place to fit in because as soon as you say that you’re trans, you get love-bombed. You get love-bombed online, you get love-bombed on at school, your social status goes up by at least 10 ranks. As soon as you say you’re trans, you turn into a star. And kids are thirsty for that kind of affirmation.

And as well, most of us can probably remember puberty, and the awkwardness that comes with it.

Trinko: Yeah, not a great time.

Meagher: … It’s a hard time. And so they’re struggling with the way their body is changing. The girls are like, “Oh, I’m growing breasts, and I hate it. And I have to wear a bra.” All these changes are happening to your body and you feel really weird. And it’s always been an awkward, difficult time.

Now, when these kids express that they feel funny about their body, and they don’t really like how it’s changing, they’re immediately told, “The reason you feel so awkward is you’re really a man.” And you can stop all these changes. They don’t have to happen to you.

Trinko: Right.

Meagher: Yeah. … You cannot tell me or any rational person that one-quarter of any kids in any school are really actually born in the wrong body and they’re transgender. I mean, that’s just not rational.

Trinko: So what would your advice be to parents, if their child, and let’s say their child is above 18, like your situation, and they come to the parents and say, “I think I’m transgender,” or, “I am transgender”? How would you recommend parents handle that?

Meagher: Oh, boy. Well, it’s really a tough situation. First of all, you need some support. A lot of times it’s really hard because you can’t find any support. You don’t know anybody in your life that knows anything about it. If you look online, every single resource that you find … will be what they call an affirmative, or agreeing that your child is trans. And so if you’re doubting that story and you want the other side, you really can’t even find it by Googling. You can’t find it.

So there’s a couple places online. There’s a blog called 4th Wave Now. … That’s a blog with a lot of articles and information. And parents can write, it’s a public forum, so it’s not really designed to be basically a support group. There’s also the Kelsey Coalition, which is a group of parents that are supporting each other and acting in concrete ways to try to stop this.

There’s a group called the Parents of ROGD Kids, which is an in-person support group type thing. And there are chapters opening up all over the U.S. There [is] a British blog called Transgender Trend that’s really good. There are resources, you just really have to know what they are. You have to know how to look for them.

As far as relating to your child, I would highly recommend that you do everything you can to maintain your relationship with your child. And that is a very tough, tight line to walk. It’s just almost impossible. Somehow you have to gently but firmly, in the best way you can, just express that you care about them, you love them, [but] you can’t agree with it. Whether you decide to use their pronouns or not is [a] personal decision, I just was unable to do it. I felt like I was lying.

I really can’t tell anyone what to do in their own situation. It’s really tough. But one thing that doesn’t really seem to work is a lot of argument or pressure or presenting them with information, making them read articles, making them talk to people. And whatever you do, don’t take them to a gender clinic.

The hard thing is you can’t, and a lot of times you can’t take them to counseling because in a lot of states, there’s a therapy ban. And if you take your troubled kid to counseling, they’ll be inside the gender clinic before you know it on hormones, and you will be shut out of the process. You will have no input, and you won’t be able to stop the train. So that’s really tough.

Sometimes if you gently … just ask around with other parents that are in your area, you can find someone who will treat your kid that’s rational and not gender-affirming. Sometimes that’s really a struggle. There’s a few people that do it online, over the phone.

And then try to remember a lot of times this is a self-limiting thing. A lot of times after five years or so, it kind of cycles out, if you can just hold on. Just try to be there for your child. … It’s very hard.

Trinko: So there’s so much pressure on parents these days from the media and others that say, Unless you immediately embrace your child as transgender, your child is at risk for depression, or even, God forbid, suicide. What do you think about those charges? How do parents walk that line?

Meagher: First of all, I have to say that that is the worst kind of emotional blackmail that I have ever heard of. And that is, we don’t emotionally blackmail people and tell them that … if you don’t give me my way, I’m going to kill myself. And you don’t do that to parents.

The study that’s frequently cited says … 41% of the time your kid’s going to kill themselves. This was a really flawed study. And all the studies that they try to claim, if you know anything about science, statistics, and doing studies in the right way, … these studies are … garbage. They’re junk science. They decide, first of all, what they want the study to say and then they design the study to say that.

So basically, they took a random … sampling of trans kids and they said, “Have you ever thought about killing yourself in the last year? Have you ever thought about it?”

I’ve thought about doing a lot of things that I’m not going to do. OK? And these are kids that a lot of them have very complex mental health issues to start with. So yeah, maybe they’ve thought about it. To be honest, I’ve thought about it. You know, I lost my kids. It’s hard to find a reason to keep living, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.

So … that’s not a scientific study. Just to … have a generalized, really wide open question like that, “Have you thought about ending your life?” And then they make that study sound like 41% of kids actually will end their life, which is not true. Statistically, there is a somewhat higher chance, but it is not 41%. So I find that emotional blackmail line to be incredibly irresponsible.

Trinko: And is there anything parents can do because, as you’ve just mentioned, this is an extremely stressful situation for parents. How can parents get the support they need as they’re going through this?

Meagher: Well, you really do have to find … support for yourself. … Like the sources that I mentioned. It’s really important to find people that have walked this line before you, and people that understand the process.

A lot of times … it’s a crash course. [Parents] don’t really know anything about this, and all of a sudden it’s the middle of their lives. And so it’s really helpful to have some people around you. And I think that that’s the No. 1 thing.

A lot of parents find … a little bit of help in trying to help other people. That’s been really helpful to me. So I became a parent advocate. I’ve started a Facebook support group, I travel around, I go to conferences, I speak out, I educate people. To me, that puts a little bit of meaning in it, I guess. I mean, it’s not like you can just go on and act like it didn’t happen, like life is still normal. It’s not.

… And also try to take care of you because your child needs you. And they need you to be healthy and whole. They need you to be strong. And you can’t do that if you’re completely underwater worrying about your child. You have to take care of you, too.

So just remember that you need and deserve a good life, and some self-care, and some support. It’s not your fault. You didn’t cause this. A lot of times parents are just overwhelmed. “What did I do? Did I say the wrong thing? … Did I miss something? Was there something I should have noticed?” And it’s really … not your fault.

Trinko: Is there anything, and I’m not saying this means that it can be prevented, but is there anything parents can do to try to help their kids be more secure in their biological sex or get them ready before college for this onslaught of propaganda?

Meagher: I think that foreknowledge is really helpful. We need to talk about this issue. You know, being proactive sometimes is making sure your kids understand the issue. Even though it’s a really hard one to talk about, they’re going to hear about it. And whatever you do, don’t let your kids go on Tumblr.

Trinko: Is Tumblr a place where a lot of this is?

Meagher: Tumblr is a cesspool. There are people on Tumblr just going around looking for distressed kids, and trying to … pull them into the cult, seriously. Some other really bad ones, DeviantArt, a lot of artistic kids do this. There’s one called FanFiction, where they write stories for each other. There’s a lot of that on that. Reddit is pretty bad. And I’m an old lady, so there’s probably new ones that I don’t know about. Those are the big ones that I’ve heard a lot.

So watch what your kid’s doing online. Seriously.

And then we have really got to get to the place where we, first of all, accept our own bodies for what they are. We do a lot of body-shaming in this culture. “I’m fat.” “I’m too short.” If you’re worrying about your body all the time, what do you think your child is doing? Acceptance of themselves. Acceptance of their bodies, the way they are, allowing them, if they have some differences and some hobbies that aren’t gender stereotypical, they need to know that, some girls like to do motocross, and there’s lots of ways to be a girl.

And every single time someone says, “I’m trans,” it’s because I like the clothes, I like the sports, I like the activities, I like the haircut, it’s all this gender role, stereotype stuff that we thought we were getting away from. And it mystifies me that all of a sudden these gender stereotypes are the center of freedom for people. Or it’s this huge, huge thing.

You never hear anyone describing their thought that they’re transgender with any other thing but these stereotypes.

So girls need to know that, like I said, that there are a million ways to be a girl. And you’re not a girl because you feel like one, you’re a girl because you are. And it’s very hard for them to resist this new ideology that gender is a spectrum. And once one study said that there’s like over a hundred genders now, supposedly. They keep making up new ones.

Well, there’s not a hundred genders, but there are 500 billion personalities. Be yourself. But love your body the way it is, because no child is born in the wrong body. We are all born in exactly the right body, and fighting your body for the rest of your life is an incredibly heavy chain to put around the neck of any young person.

And I would say shame on this culture. Shame on you all. I don’t know … how dare the schools and the libraries and the doctors and the psychologists and the media and all these other people, how dare they tell children that there is something wrong with their body. … I don’t know how we got here, but hold your kids tight and keep telling them they’re all right, whoever they are.

Trinko: That’s such a powerful point and I really liked the point you made about [how] there’s a lot of different ways to be a girl, or to be a boy, because I agree that you often see when people identify as transgender, they take the most stereotypical male or female, and it’s sort of like, well … it might not be my favorite thing, but you could be a boy and wear nail polish. You can be a girl and have very short hair. Those are not incompatible.

Meagher: It does not mean you need to chop your body up and take hormones. And a lot of these kids, too, are struggling with sexual orientation, and they are trying to make sense of their feelings in that arena. And I don’t know of anything more homophobic than deciding that you can’t be a lesbian, so you must be a man.

Trinko: Absolutely.

Meagher: That is the greatest homophobia that that ever was. … It’s a tragedy that a girl would feel that she has to have a mastectomy and a hysterectomy. She has to have a beard, rather than just kind of figuring out who she is in her own body. I think we just need to stop. We just need to stop this.

Trinko: OK. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Lynn.

Meagher: Yeah, thank you, too.

This article has been updated with an editor’s note to reflect the interviewer was unable to verify a study cited during the interview.