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Ask Trevor is an online question and answer resource for young people who have questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Am I transsexaul or just a tomboy?

Question:

I don’t know what gender identity I relate to. Ever since I was a very small child I would prefer boys toys over girls and even watched and compared myself to the guys I saw on TV. As I got older I became more and more uncomfortable around other girls of my age and don’t like makeup, dresses and I keep my hair in a short style that is above my ears. I always dress like a typical guy if I can(my mother is always telling me to act like a girl.) I don’t know if I am transgender, genderqueer or what and it is confusing me.

 

Answer:

 

Dear Marie

Thanks for writing to Trevor. Gender and gender identity can be very confusing, especially when what you hear around you gives you mixed messages. It is good that you are comfortable expressing what feels right to you, despite the pressure to conform to social standards.

Gender, the way we think about ourselves and the way we choose to express our gender are very personal. You wrote that you prefer hairstyles and clothes most often associated with guys and that you associate with male images on TV and you asked if that is transgender. The term “transgender” can be used to describe someone who doesn’t conform to the social norms of gender identity. Transgender is also used for someone whose gender identity, their personal idea of themselves, is different from their physical sex. So you could call yourself transgender – it’s up to you really. In and of itself, the terminology doesn’t really change anything, but it does help you find information if you are doing research and to find other people who share your experiences and feelings. A really helpful resource for sorting out the terminology is The Gender Book: http://www.thegenderbook.com/the-book/4553374748

A separate but often related issue shows up at the end of your letter – throughout life we experience other people – sometimes well-meaning, sometimes not – who try to get us to conform to their expectations. In this case you mention that your Mom tells you to act like a girl. Each of us has to figure out for ourselves how to chart the path through life that works best for us. It is often helpful to talk and share with others who have had to make similar choices, to help you navigate an alternative path or to weigh your options. At TrevorSpace.org, you can chat with other young non-conforming people and exchange thoughts and experience. I encourage you to take advantage of this.

If you ever need to talk to someone, you can also call the Trevor Project Lifeline (866-488-7386), where there are counselors available to talk twenty-four hours a day/seven days a week, or talk to a counselor through TrevorChat, which you can access through our website, thetrevorproject.org.

I wish you all the best in your journey. And if you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us.

The Trevor Team