Lately, Michael West* says he hardly sleeps. He said he wakes up four, five, even six times a night from the emotional baggage that has come with fighting for his 12-year-old daughter, Ava*, to not be enabled to undergo “gender-affirming care.”
Last year, New York courts took the side of his ex-wife Heather*, who West believes is pushing for Ava to embrace a transgender identity and begin puberty blockers. In an interview with IWF, West said he is being emotionally blackmailed and that there is a deeper cause for Ava’s gender dysphoria.
“Her mom wears pride hats and trans shirts all the time. She has two transgender flags flying in the room,” West told IWF, explaining that under court order, neither parent is actually supposed to bring up gender- or sex-related topics with Ava. “She doesn’t give a rip about the judge’s order.”
Protective of his daughter’s health, West began researching what puberty blockers and other facets of “gender-affirming care” can do to a developing child’s body. In doing so, West came across the stories of detransitioners like Prisha Mosley. Mosley, as well as Chloe Cole and Soren Aldaco, have blown the whistle on medical professionals who fast-tracked them down the path of medicalization and surgery instead of addressing underlying mental health issues.
West saw the writing on the wall. He explained that Ava is borderline autistic and struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Due to her diagnoses, West’s daughter has been prescribed two psychotropic medications to calm her down during “screaming and raging” outbursts.
According to West, Ava has additionally been subjected to psychological abuse by her mother. He shared that two therapists have allegedly advised for Ava to spend less time with, and potentially even be removed from, her mother.
After West had done his due diligence to understand both sides of the puberty blocker debate, he asked Heather if she would be willing to speak to detransitioners. She allegedly deflected by telling West that the situations were “totally different,” but West countered by pointing out how each story takes the same course of action: puberty blockers.
“That’s the only answer to this, no matter what the scenario is, it’s puberty blockers,” West said. “Lupron was used to chemically castrate male sex offenders. It was stopped because of how cruel it was to them. Women use it for advanced cancer treatment, and it can only go for about six months because of the damage it does to them.”
Some medical professionals, West noted, have been providing his family with conflicting information.
“Just a few weeks ago, I had an endocrinologist actually tell me that my child could go on blockers for six years and stop and everything would go back to normal,” he said. “That was an abject lie; they are absolutely not reversible. You can’t get time back.”
Since both parents are under court order to not speak to Ava about anything related to gender identity, the two are speaking through their lawyers to negotiate what can and can’t be said to their daughter.
When West’s lawyer had asked if he could introduce Ava to detransitioners, pediatric endocrinologists, and pediatricians who could speak to the reality of what happens during “gender-affirmative care,” his ex-wife’s lawyer responded, saying they didn’t want to scare the child away from transitioning.
Ava never specifically sought out puberty blockers, according to West. He recalled that his daughter started dressing like a boy around age 7 after participating in a child beauty pageant. But over the years, West said that Heather not only hid the fact that his daughter allegedly wanted to be a boy, but she initiated social transition when Ava began 4th grade.
West said that Heather has bipolar disorder and that she has been on depression medication most of her adult life. Because of these mental health struggles, West believes that his ex-wife may have assigned a transgender identity to their daughter in what’s known as “Munchausen syndrome by proxy.”
This term refers to a phenomenon where a parent, Heather in this case, draws attention to themselves by projecting a psychological condition or disease onto their child despite the child not being unwell.
“She’s looking for affirmation,” West said. “She’s looking for, ‘Hey look at me. I have a trans kid. Pay attention to me.’”
West, however, said he will not consent to puberty blockers despite Ava’s law guardian urging that they are “running out of time.” Some states, like California, have ushered in legislation that punishes parents who do not affirm their child’s transgender identity—and effectively deem them as abusers.
As a resident of New York state, West isn’t subject to these laws. But he still wishes to avoid going to trial in an attempt to keep the peace within their family and to avoid excessive legal fees—which their judge even agreed could leave the family destitute.
“I’m not going to let my daughter be pumped full of drugs,” West said. “But am I willing to live out of a box to protect my daughter? Yeah.”
*To protect the identity of each individual mentioned and the integrity of the court battles, all names in this profile have been changed.
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