Erin Friday’s daughter was introduced to gender identity ideology in a comprehensive sex-ed class in seventh grade.
“The seed was planted after that class,” Friday says. “And in fact, all of her friends, there were five, sat in my front yard saying what their new labels were.”
Friday says she was “alarmed by the language that they were using, including ‘pansexual,’ which is not a term that 11-year-olds should know.”
The mother began looking into what her daughter was learning in school and was struck by the fact that other adults were not also questioning the teaching of gender ideology to middle schoolers.
When her daughter said she was “transgender,” Friday began taking decisive steps to rescue her from transgenderism. She took her daughter’s phone, put her in a new school, and tried her best to surround the preteen with the truth about who she was as a female. It was not easy, but Friday says, as a parent, “you have to be strong enough, your love for your child has to be strong enough, to take their vitriol.”
After about a year and a half, Friday’s daughter stopped claiming a transgender identity. Today, through the work of the parental support group Our Duty, Friday is helping other families navigate through gender identity ideology.
Friday joins the show today to share her story, and to explain how parents can protect their children from the harms of gender identity ideology.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: It is my privilege today to welcome to the show California mom and attorney Erin Friday, who is a leader of the parent advocacy group Our Duty. They work to really support parents who are facing the issue of gender identity with their children. Erin, thank you for the work that you’re doing and for joining us on the show today.
Erin Friday: Oh, thank you for having me.
Allen: So let’s start with your family’s story. I know you all have journeyed through this. That’s what brought you into this advocacy space of talking about the issue of transgenderism. What happened in your own daughter’s life that she started to get interested or became introduced to the idea of being transgender?
Friday: Well, it really started for my daughter in seventh grade when she went to her comprehensive sex-ed class at her public school. And unbeknownst to me, a third party comes in and teaches these kids four, five hours—so an hour each day. And one hour was dedicated to gender identity, with the “genderbread man” and all of the pictorials of, you could have a female body and a male brain. And so the seed was planted after that class. And in fact, all of her friends, there were five, sat in my front yard saying what their new labels were.
And none of them chose the boring “cis,” which is a made-up term in and of itself, but they all picked something on the alphabet because it’s not cool to be a boring white girl.
That’s how I took it. And I was alarmed by the language that they were using, including “pansexual,” which is not a term that 11-year-olds should know. And in fact, I didn’t know what it meant, and I had to look it up. So, that was the first entry point for what happened to her.
Allen: So, that sounds pretty immediate. I mean, she has this class in school, and then it was right away that she and all of her friends were saying, “Hey, we don’t want this, the label of female, anymore. We’re going to pick new labels.”
Friday: Yes. But I didn’t know how important that moment was.
Friday: Later, I did, because I went to the parenting class because I thought, “Well, what are they learning at school?” And what gobsmacked me also was, I was a volunteer at this school. I knew all the teachers by name. I got the volunteer award; so, I was in the classroom all the time. And so, I was really confused why these teachers, who I considered friends, would be teaching this nonsense.
And that’s when I learned that a third party comes in, and then I went to that third party’s class. And that’s when my eyes really opened up to the lies that they’re teaching our kids at school. In that class, they talked about males being GI Joe and females being Barbie, and that there’s a spectrum in between. And of course, my hand shot up and said, “Well, then are we all trans, because there is no such thing as a Barbie and GI Joe?
They gave out a page with all these different gender identities—demiboy, I mean, most of them, they just didn’t make any sense.
And of course, my hand keeps shooting up saying, “This doesn’t make any sense. Don’t we teach our children just to be? Why are we putting them in boxes? Why are we labeling them? Why are we introducing sexual language?” And I was pretty much told to be quiet.
And what also confused me is, I was the only parent questioning them. … Fast-forward a year later, my daughter moved from one label, which she started with “pansexual,” which is a nonsense label when you’re 11 because you’re not sexual at all. And so, then she moved from that, she moved to lesbian, then she, over the pandemic, landed on trans.
Allen: OK. And how long did she identify as trans, and what did that look like?
Friday: She identified as trans for about a year and a half, at least from what we knew, because she was doing things in secret, of course. She had secret social media accounts. We thought we were smart parents; we thought we were on it.
The kids are just more technologically advanced. And so she had fake shadow accounts where she had a trans identity. But over the pandemic is when we really learned it because her public school changed her name to a male name and used male pronouns … without, of course, involving us. This school never met my daughter because it was the pandemic, and she never stood in their doors or in a classroom. And so we pulled her from that school because I thought, what an overreach!
And the school used the term “safe.” We need to be a “safe space.” Well, she’s in my home, so by extension, I must be unsafe, and what do you know of me? Name one thing about me. Of course, they couldn’t. And that’s when the house of cards started to just fall. And I need to just back up a little bit.
Before she actually came out with the new name and whatnot, her mental health had plummeted severely. Depression, getting very dark, mean. This child was a sweet kid, and she just didn’t want to come to family dinners, decorated her room in goth, emo, dark, almost a little, I don’t know, demonic things. And her whole personality changed, just she wasn’t the child that I knew anymore.
Allen: And was she, or were you all as a family, talking to counselors, psychologists, doctors? Was there any of that input coming in?
Friday: Well, there was. I mean, we, of course, quickly engaged a psychologist. Again, I was clueless that we should have vetted her, or we should have understood whether she’s an affirming psychologist or not. She of course wasn’t an affirming psychologist, as they pretty much all are in California.
Friday: She quickly told us that we needed to call her by the male name and male pronoun or she would commit suicide. She cited a study that said 41% chance of kids committing suicide. She didn’t read the study. I know that because I queried her about the study after I read it, and it was clear she’s just taking a headline and regurgitating it. I found out that she used Diane Ehrensaft as her mentor in transgender kids, using her terms.
Allen: And who is Diane, if you would?
Friday: So, Diane Ehrensaft is a psychologist at [the University of California at San Francisco].
Friday: Her claim to fame is that she believed in the satanic panic, which of course was debunked, and she believes in the transgender child, and says things as moronic as when a child is unbuttoning their onesie to turn it into a dress that is gender communicating. Another insipid statement of hers is that if a little girl rips barrettes out of her hair, she is gender communicating. So in my mind, she’s a quack. I mean, the absurdity, anybody who’s had children understands that children will rip off their mittens. And what does that mean?
Friday: That they identify as an iguana? I mean, I don’t know. It’s just nonsensical. And this psychologist also told me that my memory of my child was false. When I talked about how girly my daughter was—actually contrary to me, because I’m not girly—and she was really girly and into Barbies and American Girl Doll and Little Ponies and all of that, and she said, “Well, she was hiding her true gender identity.”
I mean, that’s just so absurd. Sign her up for Mensa because you think my two-year-old was planning on outing herself when she was 14 or 13, and she had been planning this. That’s amazing. So, it reinforced that there’s no science behind this, that this is all smoke and mirrors, and it’s made up. And so, of course we fired the psychologist.
Allen: Yeah. How were you doing at that point as a mom? What was running through your head?
Friday: Well, I was not doing well, of course. I wasn’t doing well. I was terrified. And you question how you were as a parent. What did I do to create this? What did I miss? You, of course, kick yourself for giving the phone, for not checking enough, for not being smart enough to see that there was shadow social media.
There was another thing that I did, and I don’t know how I feel about it now, but there were friends of hers that I knew were damaged children, and they were the influences on my daughter. But I felt as a parent that I’m a parent to all kids, and the sins of the parents should not be placed on the children.
So, I let my daughter have relationships with these kids, and they influenced her to concretize her gender identity more so. And again, I don’t know how I feel about that, because I feel sorry for these kids, too.
Allen: Yeah, of course.
Friday: But in hindsight, I should have barred them.
Allen: Yeah, yeah. So, what was your daughter’s full journey, and what made her ultimately desist and come to a place where she said, “No, I’m not transgender”?
Friday: So I mean, it’s long going in; it’s long going out. And I don’t know exactly, and I probably never will, what the recipe was, because I threw everything at it. At one point, you’re counseled to keep having this relationship with your child, and that’s the most important thing.
And I took a different tack with that. Not that I wasn’t loving towards her, but I decided that I was going to set boundaries, and I was going to hold the line on those boundaries, and they were not going to be crossed.
I took the phone, so that was key. And a lot of parents will say they can’t do that. You can and you must, if you want to get your child out of this. And your child will hate you, and you have to be strong enough. Your love for your child has to be strong enough to take their vitriol. And it’s very, very hard. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. Some days, I didn’t get out of bed.
But you still have to do it, because now there’s not a day that doesn’t go by that my daughter doesn’t say that she loves me. So, you can take the hate because you know what the end is going to be.
Friday: And even if my daughter didn’t come back to have a relationship with me, which I knew she would, but even if she didn’t, I saved her from being a lifelong medical patient, so I would do it again.
So, I took the phone. We dropped the friends. We moved to a private school, which wasn’t as helpful as I thought it would be, but just getting her away from the people who thought that she was transgender, which it’s a really important part of the parenting piece, is you have to give your kid an out because they’re going to be embarrassed.
Friday: And you need to pull them from the people who concretized that gender identity. And you need to be the fall person. So, I was the fall person. She wasn’t allowed to get her phone back until she went by her real name again. That way she can point and say, “My mom’s the jerk. I have to be called by my female name now.”
Friday: So, we did that. We sent her to some overnight camps, which I don’t think you can do anymore because they’re all captured. But they were giveback camps. They were, “You need to help save the reefs.” And so she’s weeding; she’s working hard; she’s tired. She doesn’t have time to ruminate at night because she’s been working all day. And she’s also learning how powerful her female body is.
Friday: So, that I think was really important. And then I hit this stuff straight on. I started to protest, and I had all my protest signs around the house. I made it very clear, I do not believe in this.
Friday: Your mother, who you used to respect and who you used to think was intelligent, doesn’t believe in this.
Friday: And I am not an activist by trade. And I’m like, “But your mom’s doing this crazy thing.”
Friday: She’s going out there with signs. And then I had books all over my house. Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters”] was in every room. You couldn’t miss it. Erin Brewer’s book was in every room, Maria Keffler’s [“Desist, Detrans & Detox: Getting Your Child Out of the Gender Cult”]. Like, I made it very clear—I had boxes of them—that we don’t believe in this.
Friday: And I think that was an important thing. And then I did some, I call them drive-bys, because I would make her listen to cult podcasts with me. And so, we’d be on a long drive, and we’d listen to the Moonies, and we’d listen to this cult, and “The Vow,” and whatever. And then after a couple of them, I would say, “Some people think transgenderism is a cult.” And I’d walk away, and let her think about it.
Allen: Think about it.
Friday: So, I did a lot of things like that, coming around it in a different way. When the Johnson & Johnson [COVID-19] vaccine came out and wasn’t good for females, I said, “Well, is it good for you?” And then I would leave, not wait. You don’t want to have the battle. You just want to leave little drops.
Allen: Asking the questions.
Friday: Yeah. And she was in the car. She was a captive audience. I played a podcast with Helena, a detransitioner. And my daughter’s story was very similar to Helena’s in that my daughter was into anime, got into cosplay … the parallels were there. So, we were on a long car ride. She was forced to at least hear it in the background. And I know that she listened to it because when I started to play the second half, she said, “Oh, we already heard this part.” So it just starts to unravel it for her and make it come from her.
Allen: And how old is she now?
Friday: She’s 16.
Friday: It’s great.
Allen: That’s awesome.
Friday: Like I said.
Allen: And because of your work with Our Duty, I know that you have spoken to so many parents who’ve walked in these same shoes. How common is your story, is your daughter’s story? I mean, are there common threads and themes that you’re seeing as you’re hearing other families’ stories?
Friday: All of our stories are similar. All I need to know, is your child male or female and the age of the child, and I could probably fill in the facts about your child. And to me, that’s insane. Why can’t the medical community do the same? Because our stories are all the same. The kid that was bullied into anime, same-sex-attracted is another one that’s in there, watched a lot of porn. Porn’s a huge component, especially for the boys. Autism. I mean, we know all these factors. And so it’s clear to those of us in the parent space what the markers are for a child who’s going to get caught up in this.
Allen: OK, wow. And through the work of Our Duty, you have done a lot of advocacy work in your home state of California. You’ve testified in California, you’ve spoken with leaders, with legislatures. Share a little bit about the update of what is happening in California right now. What rights do parents have? Because California has been consistently one of the central leaders on this issue. And a lot of people say, “So goes California, eventually, so goes America on this issue.” So what is the latest in your state?
Friday: Well, you are absolutely correct in that whatever happens in California is going to spread. We are the beginning and the end of this. So, California is absolutely insane. I don’t know how else to say it. We continue to pass bills without even the Republicans saying much on it, which is shameful. And that’s coming from me, a Democrat.
But we just keep passing bill after bill after bill, taking away parental rights and pushing the gender agenda. And I can see now how each one of the bills that pass, how they are used as steppingstones for the next bills. So, I mean, right now, the first bill that I testified against was an insurance bill that requires insurance carriers to keep secrets from parents who pay for the insurance.
That if their child, and this is over 18, I still call them children, anybody under 25, but if they are on their parents’ insurance policy, and they get a double mastectomy, well, the parents pay for it, and they have no idea that their insurance is paying for it. And they have no way of knowing that it even occurred.
So, again, it’s this breakup of “Parents are nefarious, we are evil, and we are bad.” And that’s how they come out of the gate on everything. We have been called terrorists. A mom testifying is called a terrorist. We testified at or we spoke at a school board meeting, and the vitriol after that was, and we’re all Democrats by the way, we’re all Democrats up at the microphone, getting told that we’re right-wing bigots, homophobes. I mean, we can bring a lesbian up at the microphone, and they will still call us that.
So it’s just name-calling. But California just continuously gets worse. But in 2023, Our Duty has decided that they’re going to go on the offensive. I don’t want to play defense anymore. I don’t want to be begging the lawmakers to veto bills. I want to propose bills to safeguard our kids because parents should know that their child is being called another name at school.
Allen: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Friday: That is a medical intervention to change a child’s name. Parents should know if the child is going to school and going into a trans closet and changing their clothes at school. And that happens in California. Parents should know that schools are giving out trans tape so that girls can tape down their breasts and boys can tape down their genitals, and girls can ball it up and create a fake genital.
Parents should know this, and parents should have the right to stop it. California has just funded 10,000 new school counselors, 10,000. And that sounds like a good thing. In my former life, I would’ve been like, “That’s great because mental health is such a problem for our kids.”
But I know that those 10,000 new school counselors are 10,000 new indoctrinators. They are 10,000 new secret-keepers. Because once a child goes to a school counselor, parents don’t even know. They don’t have a right to know that their child is going to a counselor every single day.
Allen: Yeah. Why did you decide that you were going to speak out on this issue as a parent? Because for a while, you said, “I’ll tell my story, but I’ll do it anonymously.” And then you said, “Nope, I’m going to go public,” so public that now you’re on the forefront of advocacy. Why?
Friday: Someone has to do it. And it’s two years later, and it’s pretty safe out there now to be an advocate and to be in your name. People are told that they’re going to lose their jobs, and maybe that does happen, but there’s other jobs to be had. Me personally, if I can’t stand up for children, I have no morals. So, I will stand up for children 100 out of 100 times.
The movement is growing, and so, more and more parents are standing up. And what parents are also finding is that they’re not losing their jobs from standing up. So, more people stand up, more people call in now against these bills. And you need to create a crowd of courageous people because they can’t cancel us all. And we can’t ever defeat this unless we have the numbers. So, everyone who is against this needs to do something to stop it. And there’s plenty of things that they can do anonymously.
I mean, we have parents that put on wigs and sunglasses and come in and testify, we have parents who write, we have parents who come to the protests, and sometimes in their real name, and sometimes not. They don’t have to get their picture taken, but they need to know that there are the numbers out there. And especially they need to know the stories in California from the Democrats.
Friday: Because we are the ones who have to change it in California. It has to be the Democrats. And we’re the ones actually getting decimated by this. It’s mainly a white liberal issue in California, although the Hispanics are getting hit also pretty hard.
Friday: But I think it’s a different world, two years now, and it’s safer, and nothing’s happened to me. I mean, knock on wood. There’s a lot of us who are out and really nothing has happened. And I can take a couple tweets that were people who call me a bad parent and call me names. I’m a big girl.
Friday: Doesn’t really affect me.
Allen: Yeah. And what are you all doing at Our Duty to be a support for parents and to bring about real change?
Friday: So, we do a lot of things. We are a jack of all trades, expert of none. We do everything and anything. So, we are a parent-support group. So, parents can contact us, then we usually send them out to other groups that are more of the “crying on the shoulder” groups because we don’t do that so much as connect them with other parents and other parent groups. We connect them with therapists and psychiatrists that we have vetted, that we think would be helpful for their kids.
And then we do a lot of advocacy. So we did a protest against the [American Academy of Pediatrics] in [Anaheim, Calif.] in October, and we joined forces with conservative groups, lesbian groups, all different groups, because that’s how we’re going to defeat this. And so, we’ve done that. We also do a lot of helping with the press. So, you’ll have a reporter who wants to find a parent who lost custody of their kid; we’ll connect.
Friday: We do a lot of the connecting. We connect parents with lawyers across the nation. We write a lot of simple fact sheets, too. So, you want to be able to distinguish, is trans different from gay rights? Well, we have a sheet on that. You want to know about the suicide stats? We have a sheet on that.
Allen: It’s really important to have those resources.
Friday: Yeah. And they’re simple. They’re really simple.
Allen: Yeah, yeah. For parents who would say to you, “I’m concerned for my child,” not maybe because they are identifying as trans; say, there’s some warning signs, and they’re just wondering, “What do I do? How do I protect my child?” Maybe even if there aren’t any warning signs, they just know for any kid going to middle school or high school these days, they’re going to be exposed to this stuff. How can parents protect their kids?
Friday: Well, I’m going to just do it California-centric ’cause we have the worst laws, so it can be used in other states. So, there’s a lot of things that parents can do. So, first and foremost, know the curriculum at your school. Read every book that your child is assigned at school before your child reads it.
Friday: Know your teachers. Go in that classroom and take a look around that classroom. Not just for the welcome posters or the pride flag, but go beyond that and look at all the books on the bookshelf. Does anything alarm you? If it does, pull your kid out of that class.
Friday: Don’t wait for it to happen. Be in that classroom when your kids are pre-K and kindergarten. Go for those read-alouds and see what those teachers are reading to your student, because those teachers hide it. So, they may not have the books on the shelf, but those circles on the carpet that every kid loves reading time, be in that classroom and see what that teacher’s teaching.
Friday: And note it and report on it. Go to the school board meetings. Read to your child the opposite books, the books that show how amazing their human body is. Reinforce that.
Friday: Reinforce two sexes. Teach your child how to respond when you’re asked pronouns, the polite way to respond, not snarky. But there’s papers that get sent home in the beginning of school. They ask if your child can take surveys. No, no, no, no. Every survey, no. There’s an assembly at the school, go to it. Pull your kid out of it if you don’t like the assembly.
Friday: Read every one of your kid’s assignments. It’s OK to say, “I need another assignment for my child. I’m not comfortable with this one.” See what the teachers do.
Friday: They may or may not capitulate. I mean, we have a kid—I think this is so fantastic—a California high school student was asked what his belief was with gender ideology and he said, “I don’t believe it.” He got an F. Mom was so proud. It’s OK.
Friday: It’s OK. So, yeah, you used to be on it with your kids. And that phone, OK, you need to know: The Switch; I should get some money for advertising for the Switch. The Switch has no connection to the internet, so no strangers can get on that device. So, you want to give your kid a device, give them the Switch. Pinterest has direct messaging. You think it’s just an art, cool. No, this is how they get to your kids. Just be in the know. It’s painful; it’s annoying; it’s time-consuming, but you need to know everything that your child is being exposed to.
Allen: Yeah. And for any parents listening who want to find more resources, any advocates who just want to get involved, you can visit ourduty.group to learn more. But Erin, thank you. We really appreciate your time. We appreciate the work that you’re doing. And it’s just really incredible to see how you are all in on this. And we need more parents like you out there doing this, so, thank you.
Friday: Thank you.
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