I am very confused about my gender identity. I think I have always been certain of my sexuality–I’ve always known I was attracted to girls, even if I denied it for a long, long time. However, it recently dawned upon me that maybe I wasn’t attracted to girls as a girl, but as a boy. My whole life I have been uncomfortable in girls’ clothes. I hated dresses and always wanted to wear a suit like my brother and dad when we went to church. When puberty really kicked in, I truly began rejecting my body. My breasts were foreign objects emerging out of my chest and my period was more than just a nuisance. I cut my hair short recently, which was a very liberating experience, even if everyone perceives it as a “pixie cut.” Whenever I am out in public and I “pass” (i.e. strangers mistake me for a boy), I feel really good inside. After doing some research on FTM transgenderism, I am very tempted to start binding my breasts. Is it possible I am transgender? Or are these normal feelings for a masculine girl? I know there are a lot of butch lesbians who are “pants” and appear and act more masculine. Am I one of them?
Coming out is a whole other issue. I came out to my parents as gay about a year ago. They took it okay, which was all I could really ask for. Now I am considering telling them about my gender identity. I am worried they will automatically reject this idea. I am not very athletic or physically strong, and I am concerned they will think I am too much of a wimp to be a boy. I am also worried they will view transgenderism as a self-esteem issue, and thus associate gender-reassignment surgery with things like nose jobs and tummy tucks. What is the best way for me to communicate my (confused) identity to them?
- A mind-boggled 15-year-old
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It is great that you reached out to us. This takes a lot of courage and awareness at such a young age of 15. Feeling confused about your gender identity is scary and brings with it a lot of questions. I will assure you that you are not alone, even though it may feel this way. It sounds as if this is something that you have been struggling with for a long time. What you are going through is a normal process of growing up and learning who you are as an individual. It is great to hear that your parent’s were supportive when you came out to them as “gay” last year. I can only hope they will be just as supportive when you decide to tell them about your “confused identity,” but there is no guarantee to know for sure how they will react. First carefully consider all the reasons why you want to tell them at this time by asking yourself: What are the pros and cons of “coming out” about this topic right now? Another question to ask yourself is: Does the thought of keeping your confused identity a secret make it difficult to live within your household?
There are many resources available to help you in determining if you are just a “masculine girl” or “transgender.” One of these can be found at www.genderspectrum.org which provides information relating to gender identity. Other great websites which can be useful are www.advocatesforyouth.org and pflag.org. PFLAG stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and this site has great articles and other reading materials on how to deal with some of the issues you are facing. I suggest visiting these websites.
I can only imagine that you must be feeling lost, alone and possibly isolated. That is why I suggest that you join Trevor Space. It’s a really great way to speak to others in similar situations. If you prefer to talk to someone further about this anonymously you can call the Trevor Project Life-Line at 866-488-7386. It is free and confidential. If you do not feel comfortable talking you can contact Trevor Chat at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/chat. If for some reason you have difficulty connecting with someone right away another similar resource you can use is the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, National Youth Talk line. They can also be of great assistance. They can be reached at 1-800-246-PRIDE or you can visit their website at GLNH.org to view a variety of their resources.
Something else to consider; Is there someone you can speak to about this at school? Perhaps a teacher you trust or a school counselor? Sometimes they can be great people to speak to about this; especially school counselors. If you speak to a counselor about this topic, they are bound by certain rules and would have to keep it confidential. Remember, you are not alone and there are many people out there willing to listen to you. Please contact us again if need be. We are always here for you.