It is a bit like the old lady who swallowed a fly. We don’t know why she swallowed the fly, but it is something that can happen to the best of us. However, her subsequent actions in swallowing increasingly large animals to catch the previous one is what lands her in real trouble. While generally described as a nonsense rhyme, the allegory is clear.
Unfortunately, in her panic the old lady seems to have overlooked the fact that the cure may be far worse than the “disease”. It reminds me of a mother whose four-year-old son expressed a liking for girly things, and in her self-described “terror”, she finds herself pursuing a course of medical interventions culminating in having him castrated in Thailand when he is 16 years old. Attempting to change sex sounds a lot like swallowing a horse – a misconceived and life-threatening endeavour that is ultimately impossible.
Of course, the real question is why should a mere fly, or a remark by a toddler, inspire such drastic measures. I think in the case of Suzie Green we know from her own account that the father’s homophobic disapproval played a role. Fear of abusive men drives women to do desperate things, including seeking out defenders among those in authority.
Source: Be Careful What You Swallow