Eight year-old Jack Wilson was on a weekend visit to his grandparents' house in mid-December 2016 when he informed his grandmother that his name was really Jacquelyn.
"Grammy, my name is Jacquelyn," he complained as he walked into the room and sat down at the kitchen table for lunch. He had just received Christmas presents from friends of his grandmother addressed to "Jack" and was visibly upset.
"Why is that your name?" Amanda Wilson, his grandmother, asked in response as she set a plate of chicken and rice in front of him.
He replied: "Because I'm a girl now."
"What makes you think you're a girl?" she inquired.
"It's my gender," he said.
She pressed him: "Well, what's a gender?"
He stared back at her, puzzled, and said: "I don't know."
Amanda Wilson hasn't seen her grandson in two years and each day she longs to hold him in her arms and hug him but can't. Her daughter, Marissa, and her spouse began believing that little Jack was really a girl around three years ago and because Wilson doesn't agree they've cut off all contact with her, no longer speak, and don't allow her and her husband to see him.
Shortly after Jack turned 7, Marissa and her spouse excitedly announced on social media that Jack was a girl and they couldn't wait to start him on puberty blockers in two years when he turned 9. They posted a picture of Marissa's spouse and Jack outside a children's hospital that is home to one of the 55 transgender clinics now operating in the United States.
The social media account Wilson's daughter had was deactivated and Wilson no longer has the exact words of her daughter's happiness about starting Jack on puberty blockers but she still has the picture.
At Wilson's request, The Christian Post is using pseudonyms in this report and has changed or removed identifying details in order to maintain her anonymity. Although she was baptized as a Methodist, Wilson is not a subscriber to any particular religious faith but chose to speak with CP because she felt it was important that the voice of a grandmother is heard as more parents speak out about their heartache of losing their children to what many are calling a transgender "social contagion." She has reached out to many secular journalists to no avail.
In 2008, Marissa, who lives just outside of Portland, Maine, was in a relationship with a man, became pregnant and gave birth to Jack in 2009. That relationship ended soon after Jack was born and just a few years later, when Marissa was 26, she came out as a lesbian and started dating a woman. Approximately 16 months later, they married in June 2013. Seven months into that marriage her spouse came out as transgender and changed her name to a male name and started taking hormones. The couple separated last year and now share custody of Jack.
Wilson, who is from the Boston area and now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, first thought something seemed strange in early February 2016 at an event where Jack was there with his mom and he was outside playing. She noticed he had on a girl's leopard-print jacket with pink fur around the cuffs and hood.
Several weeks later on May 1 she received a letter in the mail from Marissa saying that Jack was a transgender girl and that if family and friends did not affirm and support 'her' in this new identity they would be written out of their lives. They were to henceforth call Jack "Jacquelyn," noting they would allow people to call him "Jackie" as a nickname because Jack helped pick that name, but they personally preferred Jacquelyn.
"It seemed like this all happened overnight," Wilson said in a recent interview with CP.
Other than her daughter's spouse transitioning and hearing about it briefly in the news on the radio, she wasn't familiar with transgenderism as an ideology and was not one who followed politics much at all.
Yet when she received the letter she didn't know what to do because although she and her husband didn't believe it, they wanted to do their best to figure out what was happening. Wilson started doing her own research online to find resources on children who believe they're transgender.
For the first year Wilson and her husband decided to play it as cool as they could, especially when Jack was with them, but that soon changed. They would sometimes have Jack for a weekend and just let him have fun and would play with him. They tried not to pay too much attention to the gender issues swirling around him at home.
"But every time we would send him back my daughter was disappointed or mad about something," Wilson said, explaining that Marissa would call her and berate her for not being sufficiently affirming both of Jack as a girl and of her parenting.
What Wilson describes as "the final straw" occurred just over two years ago in February 2017. The Wilsons had Jack for the weekend and Marissa had packed a sleeveless summer dress for Jack to wear but the temperatures were below freezing and they had several inches of snow on the ground. Because it was so cold Wilson washed what Jack had on the day before — a Disney Cinderella T-shirt with glittery gold lettering and girl jeans — so he could be warm when they took him to a birthday party they were going to the next day.
Jack had "loads of fun" at the birthday party, Wilson said, recalling how he was laughing and horsing around with the other kids in the snow with their sleds.
But Marissa was furious and "totally freaked out" when she found out that Jack was never dressed in the summer dress while in the care of his grandparents that weekend, Wilson recounted.
"And that was the last time I spoke to her and saw him," she said, distraught.
Three months before, they had him for another weekend and took him to an event for children at the Boston Museum of Science. Wilson and her husband were wearing Boston Red Sox sweatshirts and Jack said he wanted one so they got him a Red Sox hoodie and a New England Patriots T-shirt — he wanted one with a player's name on it — and a pair of red socks that had the Red Sox logo on them.
"He had a blast, running around like boys do," Wilson said.
Even though Jack always had lots of fun when he was with his grandparents it didn't seem to matter to Marissa. They had always done something wrong. The angry phone calls kept coming, insisting that Jack must be fully affirmed as a girl and that Wilson must also voice her approval of how she was raising him.
"But when he was here with us, we didn't have to be [affirming]. We just played with him. It wasn't a big deal," she said.
Although Jack was being led to believe he was actually a girl he never really caught on that his grandmother was not affirming him as a girl. When he was with her she would say Jack very quickly and it was close enough to Jackie that he never said anything.
Yet right before Christmas in 2016, Jack was again visiting his grandparents and there were many presents for him under the tree from other friends that were addressed to "Jack," and that upset him. Wilson and her husband had left his name off their gifts and just gave them to him.
It was that weekend where Wilson and Jack had the lunchtime conversation about his name and where Wilson asked him "What's a gender?" and he replied that he didn't know what a gender was, even as he was being required to live and function as the opposite one.
For Wilson, that exchange revealed just how much confusion had been sown into her grandson's impressionable, developing mind. She believes today that had Jack not spent his formative years watching his mother's spouse transition that he would have never entertained the idea that he might have been born in the "wrong" body.
Around this same time, Wilson was seeing a therapist herself to sort through her own confusion with this, as she was struggling to know how to continue being a good grandparent in a situation she could not understand. She wanted to tell Jack about "the facts of life" and explain biology in terms a young boy could understand, but she did not because her counselor cautioned against doing that and urged her to be extra careful.
A clinical social worker furthers the deception
Two weeks after the Wilsons received the letter announcing Jack was a girl, her daughter invited them to meet a clinical social worker to alleviate their concerns. The two of them met with her the next week.
"She basically told us, 'just let him explore his gender,'" Wilson said.
The social worker seemed gracious and she appeared to share the concerns they had that their daughter's spouse had some anger issues, Wilson noted. But she had not heard, as Marissa had told Wilson, that Jack had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
Wilson was then extremely confused, as what she was hearing from her daughter conflicted from what the social worker was saying. When she brought this up later on a phone call with her daughter, Marissa became very angry and then said another meeting would take place with all four of them, the Wilsons, Marissa and her spouse. Wilson and her husband agreed to the meeting.
"Well, it was only about a month later and the clinician had a totally different attitude," Wilson recalled.
"She looked at me in the eyes and said: 'Your granddaughter does not think she is a girl. She is a girl."
Wilson was stunned. She could hardly believe this was the same woman who was so understanding and kind a few weeks earlier at their prior meeting.
"I started screaming at her and said 'No, that's not true,'" Wilson continued.
She then turned to her daughter's spouse, pointed at her and told her: "My grandson is no more a girl than you're a guy."
The social worker then tried to calm everyone down as the discussion was growing heated. Wilson's husband then inquired about puberty blockers and their use in young children.
"She just made it sound like it was like kids eating candy, that they were reversible, that there were no harms," she said, disgruntled.
Upon hearing her brush off their questions, Wilson and her husband got up and left, enraged.
Wilson did not buy into the idea that the blockers were like candy because of what she had learned from her own research. She had found critical voices on the practice of chemically suppressing the pubertal signals in the brain, medical perspectives that had reinforced her common sense.
"If I knew nothing about them I think she probably could have convinced my husband and me, but because I did have some knowledge, I was prepared," she said.
In Wilson's mind, Jack was just a little boy who was pretend-playing, putting on dresses and being creative, and that it was no big deal.
At the second meeting with the social worker, Marissa urged her to watch "I Am Jazz" on TLC.
"It's a really great show, and it will teach you a lot of stuff," her daughter said to her in a text message.
Wilson decided to watch the first two episodes of the series and was thoroughly repulsed and horrified when she finished.
"I sent her a text back and said: 'You let my grandson watch that crap? He's 7 years old. And you let him watch that crap?'" Wilson asked.
Wilson and Marissa then got into a big fight.
The horror of puberty blockers
The Massachusetts grandmother doesn't know if her grandson has been started on the blockers but she suspects that he has. And she laments that if indeed he has begun them he will likely be on them for several years and then be put on cross-sex hormones, which will permanently sterilize him. The only connection she has to him is through photos that friends of her daughter's sometimes see and send her. They continue to dress him and treat him as a girl.
After storming out of the therapist's office that day in May 2016, Wilson continued to research puberty blockers and her horror only grew. She started posting about them on her Facebook page along with expressions of her anger and disgust that they were considered legitimate medicine and health care. A friend who agreed with her urged her to take her rants to an even more public forum so more people could see them.
Although she was not computer-savvy she thought that was a good idea, so she opened a Twitter account. She soon connected with other distressed moms who were hiding behind pseudonyms to maintain their anonymity, all of whom were dealing with children who believe they are the opposite sex and were calling themselves transgender or nonbinary.
"I cry myself to sleep every night thinking about it," Wilson said, knowing that her grandson's normal physiological and sexual development is likely being stunted.
Wilson often worries that Jack will end up with a disfigured body and a severely split psyche. The thought that, like 17-year-old Jazz Jennings, her grandson will have a less than fully functional micro-penis because of all of the hormones and drugs he might now be taking frequently torments her.
In her worst moments she is plagued with a bone-rattling fear that after all these transition chemicals Jack might be so dissociated from his body that he will, in a few years, be steered into undergoing a surgical procedure where his underdeveloped gonads are cut off and his smaller than normal penis is inverted to fashion a fake vagina, which would be partially constructed using a bit of his intestine.
"Envisioning him going through that, like Jazz did, it gives me nightmares," she said, mournfully.
Her concerns about the psychological effects of puberty blockers have merit. Dr. Michael Laidlaw, a Rocklin, California-based endocrinologist, told CP in a December interview about Lupron, one of the drugs used in gender clinics across the U.S. Laidlaw said these drugs are psychologically addicting "either because of a direct psychotropic effect or because the child can reassure themselves that they are not growing into an adult male body or an adult female body. It continues the illusion."
A grandmother's agony
"I cry a lot," Wilson said of the sadness she now lives with daily, admitting that she sometimes self-medicates with alcohol. She has been seeing a counselor to process her ongoing anguish but hesitates to go on medication for depression.
In her conversations online with fellow suffering moms, activists and a few journalists who are resisting transgender activism and medicalization, suicide is a topic that comes up in a few contexts in their conversations.
"There have actually been times ... where I thought I could do it," Wilson said, her voice halting.
"But I don't want to really talk to other mothers about that very much because I don't want to put [suicidal] ideas in their heads," she said through tears.
What infuriates Wilson most is the manipulative threat transgender activists often use — that unless children are allowed to undergo gender transition they are at higher risk of or will indeed commit suicide. The fact is that when children are transitioned, it often creates suicidal ideation in their parents and grandparents who do not agree with or support it. Transactivists accuse parents and family who do not support their child's wishes to be the opposite sex as "violence" and that they hate their children when in fact the opposite is true, she explained.
"I don't think I could kill myself, but I just want to die. This has destroyed me so much I just want to die," Wilson said.
"And then I think about my husband, and I think about my other grandchild, and I pick myself up and go on another day."
Losing friends who demand she comply
The losses have been searingly painful and they have extended beyond the zero contact with her grandson and daughter.
Wilson also no longer speaks to a pair of sisters, friends of hers with whom she has shared Thanksgiving and other holidays for over 30 years. These friends have sided with her daughter and fully support the transitioning of Jack.
Ever since it was announced that Jack was really a girl, whenever Wilson would talk on the phone with these friends they would use female pronouns when referring to Jack and correct Wilson when she referred to her grandson with male pronouns. Wilson would not correct her friends even though she did not like hearing them say that. But it finally got to be too much and she could not take it anymore.
"I said: 'Stop correcting me," she said on one particular occasion. But her friend persisted with the female pronouns.
"When she did it a third time I exploded," Wilson said.
"I've not corrected you once. And I've asked you three times to stop correcting me. This is my grandson, not yours," she emphasized, shouting at her through the phone.
A bitter fight ensued and Wilson eventually said to herself "I'm done" and hung up the phone.
The friend's sister heard about it and called Wilson to tell her that she owed her sister an apology for yelling at her.
"I told her, 'Well, she deserved it,'" Wilson recounted.
"So we're not friends anymore," she added. "She had a lot of gall correcting me every time I said 'he' telling me 'it's she' or when I'd say his name and she'd then say the girl name."
The holidays are now especially hard. Wilson said she just "goes through the motions every time one rolls around."
"When I consider how much I've missed in the past two years, there's a big difference between age 8 and 10. When I think of how much I've missed out on, we were always so close before this. I'm not like the see-you-once-a-year grandma, and I think that's why I'm so devastated. We were so close. And now it's just ... gone," she said, mourning that she could not be with him on his recent birthday.
Jack turned 10 on Feb. 28.
Wilson has pursued what she might do legally but she believes she has no recourse. She contacted a few attorneys in Massachusetts and even found one locally who was also licensed to practice law in both her home state and in Maine where her daughter and grandson live but she did not want to get involved. Another Maine-based law firm told her the same thing.
A paralegal there told her that "grandparents' rights are hard enough to fight for on a good day" and with the transgender issues factoring in they did not want the trouble or negative publicity.
Wilson has also called Child Protective Services in hopes they could help her but they could not because gender-transitioning children, legally speaking, is not considered abuse even though many physicians regard it as such.
"I can't find any peace," she explained. "Every time I try to find peace and I say to myself 'OK, you've gotta let this go, you've got to stop, you've done everything you can.' And then I say to myself, 'No, you've got to do more, there's gotta be something more.'
"So I just keep doing it, and the more I keep doing it the less peace I have. And I'm not going to find peace until there is resolution somehow."
Wilson now counsels parents to trust their instincts.
"Let your kid be a kid," she said, when asked what she would tell parents who are being told their children might be transgender.
"Don't take them to any gender clinic. They don't need therapy at that age. They need to just be allowed to play."
If a boy puts on a dress and starts playing around, don't look at it as him somehow sending a gendered message, she added.
"I will never affirm this idea," she continued, that children can change sex. "There is nothing that will ever change my mind."
"And that doesn't stop me from loving them. I mean, I love my daughter. I love my grandson. But wrong is wrong. I can't and won't try to convince myself of something that is not true."
Wilson believes she's as adamant in her fight as she is because she was a victim of childhood sexual trauma; the abuse started before she turned 6 and lasted for many years, she told CP.
"And, of course, at that age, I didn't know I was being abused when I was being abused," she said.
Her current fight to attempt to rescue her grandson has caused many of those horrific memories to resurface, and the pain is particularly potent because she continues to pick up on the red flags and abuse dynamics operating around Jack that are, unfortunately, eerily familiar.
"I'm 57 years old. I'm long past that. And so now, it's not like a trigger but it has brought it back. I think it makes me fight this even harder because I'm just so mad. I see that this is wrong. I know it's wrong," she elaborated, vowing to continue.
"It's wrong what happened to me as a child, even though I didn't know it was wrong then. But I know it now. And that's what's happening to my grandson. But the difference is that he's not going to know it's wrong until he's old enough to say it's wrong, and by then he's probably going to be so brainwashed he's still not going to know it's wrong."