Teen searching web about breast binding

I recently discovered that my 13yo has been searching the web about how to bind her breasts. Ever since covid shut everything down, she started to endure quite an upheaval in her mental health coupled with puberty hitting and her body changing very quickly. (I couldn't keep up with ensuring her clothes and undergarments fit her properly as her body changed so fast.) I also know that she's been watching tik-toks on the same topic. As background, she does suffer of anxiety and depression. I am struggling on how to navigate all of this aside from knowing that we need to find a new therapist for her. Anyone sharing experience on this topic and advice on navigation or resources will be appreciated. Thank you.

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Do you think this is a gender identity issue? If you think it might be, you might want to check out Transfamilies.org. This is an amazing group that is located in the Seattle area, but have on-line support groups. One of my children had some gender questions when he was younger and they were extremely helpful and supportive. I don't know if Aidan Key works directly with families anymore, but he is a truly wonderful person. Video Support Groups – TransFamilies. I highly recommend this group if you believe your child has any questions about their gender identity. 

Can you broach the subject with her and offer to help her find information?  Breast binding is a sign that she is perhaps not happy with the body she was born with, and she could use an ally in expanding her world.  Listen, offer support and help in her explorations.  Having to hide important things from your parents is exhausting and potentially harmful.  If she knows you're ok with her online exploration and search to find the body and "self" that she feels good about, that's a HUGE burden off her shoulders.  Let her be who she really is.  This may be just curiosity; something she heard about and wanted to know more about, but it may be a first step in uncovering her true self.  

A lot of people poorly informed people (including an online community) will push your daughter into transitioning. There are sites out there asking "are you trans?" if you just feel different (as if most teens don't feel different?)?  Well meaning counselors, schools, psychologists, doctors will tend to affirm your kid's self diagnosis. Many experts do not agree with this self-diagnosis route but are afraid to speak up (two world known ones have told me this).

You will be told puberty blockers are safe and reversible, they are not.  See, e.g., here.  Hormones are needed by your kid's brain and bones to develop at this age, for instance, if you don't develop enough bone density in these years, you don't catch up later.  (This is your lifetime reserve until you die.) My understanding is it is like not getting proper nutrition during the period one would normally have a growth spurt, you can't just eat a lot later and get the growth spurt.  Also, the successful case by Keira Bell in the UK brought to light the fact that 44 of the 45 kids on puberty blockers in their study went on to cross sex hormones. 

Two good articles and one set of good documentaries:

In my experience, UCSF is not slow or careful enough, others have similar experiences.

There is a lot of disagreement online but the medical literature is pretty clear--no one knows enough right now to know what is appropriate to help these kids:

Gender dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives (Kaltiala-Heino et al, 2018) “virtually nothing is known regarding adolescent-onset GD, its progression and factors that influence the completion of the developmental tasks of adolescence among young people with GD and/or transgender identity.”  

Gender dysphoria: scientific oversight falling between responsible institutions should worry us all (Byng and Bewley, 2019, full text), “[..]we have now moved from a small, uncontrolled study with unpromising, unpublished results to the scaled up commissioning by NHS England of interventions that are of unproven benefit.” 

Challenges in Timing Puberty Suppression for Gender-Nonconforming Adolescents (deVries,2020), author of original “Dutch protocol”: “This raises the question whether the positive outcomes of early medical interventions also apply to adolescents who more recently present in overwhelming large numbers for transgender care, including those that come at an older age, possibly without a childhood history of GI. It also asks for caution because some case histories illustrate the complexities that may be associated with later-presenting transgender adolescents and describe that some eventually detransition."

You can also check out this parent information page with lots of references.

Deeply grateful for the responses so far on this question, and I want you to know we empathize. In the past few months we have been going through this discovery process with our 12 year old. Due to the pandemic, we have allowed her access to social media (YouTube, Instagram and texting/chatting).  She has found respite from loneliness in LGBTQ+ groups and has told us she is bi or gay, and then trans. We were taken by surprise on all the news and adjusted to the idea she is attracted to girls, but are pretty skeptical about her being trans.  

We are reading a book called “Irreversible Damage” by Abigail Shrier. It’s very eye opening about what is a current phenomenon on the rise with girls. The book is written in a tone that feels harsh and there is some controversy around it.  But it echoes what we had been feeling, and offers some guidance to help the family navigate the situation.  

This movement shares some qualities with cult membership, and we are quite concerned about the long term trajectory for her physical and emotional health.

Please know that I respect there are many people who are genuinely trans. But I’m feeling like the pendulum is swinging too far toward accepting kids’ self diagnosis at this time.  

Honestly you cannot know her motivation or thoughts if you dont ask! Saying she definitely needs therapy for this without knowing her basic mindset is problematic. She could be uncomfortable with her changing body as many girls are or she could be questioning her gender identity or she could have strong feeling about her gender identity. Please have a heart to heart in a kind and compassionate way and listen to what she has to say. Then you will have more information on how to provide her support.