I am a very concerned mother and desperately need help for my daughter. She is almost 17 and for the last 4 years she has been pretending to be a boy online and also on the telephone. She has taken it to extreme measures: lying, stealing, whatever she has to do in order to get her hands on a phone or computer to play out her role. She has all these little girls calling her and they think she really is a boy. I have talked with her about this until I am exhausted...have had her in counseling...nothing I do seems to help. She refuses to open up and talk about it. When I try to get her to talk about it, she goes into denial and claims she has quit doing it. I personally think she is gay but cannot face it, so she becomes a boy so that she doesn't feel like she is lesbian. Her entire life is wrapped up in this obsession and I am worried for her future. I don't know what to do. I finally got her to agree, today, that if I could find some kind of help or support for her that she would take it. Please help us!
It is very healthy, supportive and encouraging that you have taken such an interest and concern in your daughter's life. In addition, it's very impressive that you have previously had your daughter in counseling to address the issues that you've written about. Though her behavior has not changed, your contacting us demonstrates that you have not given up on her.
The reasons for your daughter pretending to be a boy could be many, including an attempt to process her sexual orientation, confusion about sexual identity, or confusion about her gender identity. It's very important to have her connect with mental health services to clearly understand her reasons for engaging in these behaviors—behaviors which could potentially have serious consequences for her if/when girls she is communicating with find out the truth.
It's not unusual for teenagers to be reluctant to discuss emotional issues with their parents. They may want to figure things out on their own as a way of establishing their independence or they may fear their parent's reactions. While counseling has apparently not been effective in the past, The Trevor Helpline (1-866-4-U-TREVOR) may be able to offer you professional resources in your area that are more sensitive to the issues your daughter is dealing with.