When I read about the new gender groupthink, I can feel myself—and my daughters—being erased.

Here’s just one example. Where are men and women, boys and girls in the sex education curriculum adopted by the Fort Worth school district? They’re absent, and there’s no excuse. They’ve been replaced with new terms, “body with a vagina” and “body with a penis.” FWISD has backtracked and pulled the curriculum, but the message was clear: we’re beyond girls and boys.

And that’s a problem. Our needed focus empowering girls has been stopped in its tracks by the transgender craze. Instead of focusing on the underlying personal and societal issues of why girls lack the confidence that they deserve, pop culture is presenting an easier way out: Why not just become a boy?—as if our very DNA could be altered.

But I’m from the Beyoncé generation—and in 2011, her song, “Who Runs the World?” contained its own answer: girls.

A dozen years ago, as a 25-year-old full of energy and passion (but also insecurity and uncertainty), at a naturally vulnerable time in my life, I was grateful for that nudge of cultural encouragement from Beyoncé. I began to think that despite my insecurities and imperfections, maybe I should still go for it—whatever “it” was (I was still figuring that out). Soon after, I ran for a seat on the Austin City Council, won, and served as the youngest woman ever elected in Austin.

As a mom of three children ages 6 and under, I was determined to make sure my kids—and my girls in particular—were infused with the confidence they needed to believe in themselves. Aware of the very real and well-documented truths about the differences between men and women, boys and girls, I knew that my daughters would need additional encouragement to overcome a natural tendency to risk aversion and insecurity, as well as the confidence gap.

I even wrote a bestselling book about my own journey to do just that, in hopes of inspiring other young women to get out of their heads and take action—run for office, speak out, get involved, run the world.

Life is hard. No matter what stage of life we’re in, we are all facing challenges. But as adults with fully formed brains, we have the capacity to evaluate our options and make thoughtful choices. Children, by their very nature, simply and unequivocally cannot.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “ongoing changes in the brain, along with physical, emotional, and social changes, can make teens vulnerable to mental health problems….such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.” The medical treatment for these disorders rightly aims to address the underlying causes, whenever possible.

Yet in the case of gender dysphoria, Big Med and Big Pharma have allied with anti-family interests in a mad rush to urgently push children to life-altering and fertility-inhibiting surgeries, rather than acknowledge and compassionately address the underlying causes. Can you imagine telling a 16-year-old girl with bulimia that she should have her stomach surgically enlarged so she can more effectively binge and purge? And that this would make her life easier? Or a depressed teen that the world does hate them, and maybe they have nothing to live for after all?

Medical professionals are surely aware of the clear difference between the very small population of young children who experience the true medical condition of Gender Dysphoria (most often around the age of 4) and “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria,” a new social contagion that comes on suddenly in adolescence, afflicting teens who’d never exhibited any confusion about their sex and often transition in peer groups. 

Add collectivists of all sorts, from FWISD to taxpayer-fueled “charities,” to the list of those seeking to advance their gender ideology. They’ve created a market of suffering families seeking multiple surgeries, counseling, and lifelong medication. And they have found eager allies in corporations like Target, who profit from marketing “trans rights are human rights” t-shirts to kids as young as 3 years old so they can “stand out on the playground.”

There is no “easy button” for growing up. We all have an awkward stage that we would prefer not to revisit. I’ll spare you from my 7th grade school photo where my teeth were hidden under braces with purple bands, and my frizzy hair refused to be tamed. Surely I won’t be the first to tell you that women’s insecurity about their bodies endures long after middle school.

Tricking our girls into thinking that they should just give up on who they are, and “become a boy” instead of loving and embracing themselves, imperfections and all, undoes decades of work we have done encouraging our girls to believe that they can be anything they want to be. The opportunity for our girls to persevere through those awkward moments and growing years is an opportunity for them to build character. We should promote their character development, not avoidance or fantasy.

A century ago, women fought for and earned the right to vote. Women are making unprecedented gains in elected office, corporate leadership, science and technology, homemaking, and choosing the life that is best for them. Girls and boys are “wonderfully made,” just as they are. Our daughters need us more than ever to support, encourage, and love them for who they are, not change them in order to fit the current narrative.

It’s time to protect, encourage, and celebrate our girls.