Adult Men Urged Binders and “Bathtub HRT” For A 14-Year-Old – Here’s How She Escaped Online Grooming

By Ashley McClure

“If you’re a tomboy and you only like to hang out with boys, you might actually be a boy.”

That was the message 14-year-old Emelie Schmidt received from an adult man in a Facebook group, titled Trans Hope United, that she had joined after watching a TV special about transgender-identifying youth like Jazz Jennings. 

Ten years later, Schmidt, now detransitioned, looks back on that message as the beginning of her descent into radical gender ideology. 

“They convinced me to start going by ‘Jacob’ and use ‘he/him’ pronouns,” Schmidt said of the adult men in the Facebook group. “They knew my age, they knew I was around 14 or 15 at the time. They knew I was going to school.”

Despite the fact that they knew Schmidt was a minor, the adult men in the group not only encouraged her to adopt masculine pronouns, but Schmidt recalled that they also began influencing her to separate from her family.

“This community convinced me to hate my parents because they wouldn’t let me start hormones or [get] surgery,” Schmidt told IWF. “So these men were telling me that I needed to run away. [They said that] I needed to get away from [my parents] because they’re abusive, they hate me, [and] they want me to die, which isn’t true. My parents are amazing, and I’m very grateful they did that.”

Although Schmidt never followed through with the idea, she revealed to IWF that an adult man in the Facebook group recommended that she try “bathtub HRT” – essentially encouraging her to take non-prescription testosterone without her parents’, or a doctor’s, knowledge. This practice is extremely dangerous and can lead to blood clots or stroke.

The fact that he messaged a minor about this is absolutely sickening,” she said.

When she was growing up, Schmidt said she was more susceptible to gender ideology because she “always felt like the odd kid out.” 

“I was always a tomboy, always a little bit weird,” she remembered. “I was bullied at school and at my church.”

As well as being a tomboy, Schmidt suffered from PCOS and endometriosis. These conditions caused excessive body hair growth as well as painful periods, and for Schmidt, identifying as a boy was a way to escape the embarrassment she felt as she began puberty and suffered from those accompanying health issues. 

“The PCOS caused a lot of body hair that I got made fun of for,” she said. “But if I could be a boy, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore. Body hair would be normal. And it would make my period go away.”

Schmidt continued, “once puberty started for girls, we started getting treated differently from boys. So all my friends who were boys weren’t really interested in being my friend anymore, and I wanted those friends back.”

Adopting a transgender identity, Schmidt said, was not only an escape from the pain she associated with femininity but also a way to stop the constant bullying she endured from her peers. 

“Once I was trans, they couldn’t really bully me, because they’d be called transphobic and no one [would] like them anymore,” she explained. “I was a ‘protected class,’ even in a small town.”

To cement her new transgender identity, Schmidt emailed her principal and teachers, stating that her name was now “Jacob” and her pronouns were “he/him.” The school agreed to her demands and began referring to her as a boy – all without her parents’ knowledge. Schmidt said her mother only found out after a friend saw Schmidt’s new Instagram account, where she had announced her new name. 

While Schmidt’s parents did not support her transition and did not allow her to receive any hormonal or surgical interventions – for which she is now grateful – Schmidt continued to secretly interact with trans communities online throughout her sophomore and junior years of high school. These groups, she revealed to IWF, were extremely inappropriate for a minor to be involved in. 

“They sent me a binder,” Schmidt said, explaining how transgender-identifying men often bind their breasts to emulate a flat masculine chest. “Most of the posts [were] men in lingerie being like, ‘oh, aren’t I pretty? I feel pretty today.’ And it’s like, you know children are in this group. Why are you doing this?”

At this point in her life, Schmidt said that she basically existed online. Right before her high school graduation, however, her mother sat her down for a heartfelt conversation that made her want to live in the real world again.

“My mom took the day off of work and we went to the beach,” Schmidt said. “She just sat me down and [said], ‘Hey, you’re allowed to be a tomboy. You don’t have to be a boy just because you like these masculine things.’ And that’s really when it all clicked, and I started questioning everything.”

At her mom’s suggestion, Schmidt began to take time away from her phone. In the process, she realized that she didn’t have many real-life friends.

“I would sit and talk with [people], but I was usually on my phone during the entire lunch period,” she said. “I wasn’t really engaging. I realized that my whole life was online. [I thought,] what am I going to do when I graduate?”

Meanwhile, her online friends began to turn on her. Questioning her transgender identity, she discovered, was not tolerated in the Facebook groups she had been a part of throughout high school.

“Once I really decided to detransition, the coin flipped and they started hating me,” Schmidt said. “Eventually they started spamming me with messages like, ‘you hate trans people.’ ‘You want us to die.’ ‘You’re not really trans.’ ‘You need to stop being transphobic and stop denying your gender.’”

Their treatment of her, Schmidt said, made her realize that she didn’t need them or their community anymore. And now, at 24 years old, she “really enjoys being feminine.”

“I don’t struggle with wanting to be a guy anymore, because I realized that it’s okay to be masculine as a woman,” she said. “I’m okay with being a little bit masculine, but I enjoy being feminine. And I think that’s okay.”

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