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Confused and Wanting Finality but Also Afraid

Question:

Hi, I’m Z and I’m really confused. As a kid I always associated myself with more masculine things. I wore boys clothes, played with boys, asked my parents to call me boy names, and I asked them to treat me as if I were a boy. all of that surprisingly came from a 4 year old.

As I got older my mom pushed me more into female oriented things. My mother and her friends constantly told me if I didn’t start acting like a girl and dressing like a girl, I’d be picked on, especially in the small town I lived in. So with that I was thrust into harsh gender roles and forced to be the girl my mother had always wanted, (even if she had my younger sister that perfectly fit the bill and was willing to comply), but I resisted. I would put up a fight for clothes and always longed to shop on the boys side of the store, but never piped up because my mom seriously scared me.

After a while I gave up and decided that it would just be best if I complied. I forced myself to wear make up at 14 and even half attempted to do something with my hair and body. Being the girl my mom wanted me to felt wrong and I hated it.

Flash forward to now at age 16 and I’m struggling with gender issues. Since I first learned about gender issues I thought maybe I was bi-gender or queergender, but those never gave me the finality I wanted. I had put off thinking about gender up until my online friend came out as FTM. I began to slowly question what I wanted to be once more. And it killed me because I was so confused and I felt I had no one to go to.

I brought up the issue of being FTM to my sister through a hypothetical. She quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together and told me that I am a girl and that I will always be a girl, no matter what. Later that week we were in the car with my mom and my sister outed my struggle to my mom. My mom asked me questions and if I had names picked out yet. When I revealed my two name choices she shot me down. From then on my mom was visibly angry and decided to recognize that the whole conversation had ever happened.

I told my friends and they told me they accepted me for who I am and whatever decision I come to. My mother on the other hand, told everyone in the house to ignore the issue if I were to ever bring it up again. My father was fine with the idea of me living as male, while my sister revealed she’d rather move out and be homeless than live with me as a male.

Since then I have had a lengthy talk with my mom and it really boiled down to, “You’re only 16 and I don’t want you to ruin your life because of some stupid decision.” She told me that I wasn’t thinking everything through and that’d I’d be affecting everyone and making it hard for everyone because they have seen me as a girl for my whole life thus far. She also told me, “You’re not a boy. No matter how much you think you are and how much you want to be, you aren’t a boy. Maybe you’re a girl who wants to be a boy, but you aren’t a boy.” Which hurt. She accused me of making a rash decision just to see how everyone would react, but that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t even want to “come out” yet. And the thing is, I know that’d it be hard. I’ve thought about this issue and researched it through and through, but I’m still confused!

Because of all the research I do, I feel I should have a solid answer. But I don’t. I’m still confused on what I am and what I want to be. I cringe when I hear my all too feminine name and when I feel or do something feminine. I’ve begun to hate my female anatomy and feel much better when I wear a sports bra with compression and layers upon layers of non-revealing clothes. I see boys and think, “I want to look like him/have a body like his” and stopped looking at girls and thinking the same things. And I wouldn’t care if someone thought I was a boy, or used male pronouns. In fact, I think I’d enjoy it! Recently someone I don’t know made a comment about how I don’t look like a boy, and that made me sad.

My dad, who I thought I could confide in, has also told me I’m not a “real” boy and that if I were a “real” boy I’d do certain things. Which leads me to think, if I do decide to transition, I wouldn’t be a “real” boy who does “real” boy things and maybe I’d be too feminine, whereas I thought I was already extremely masculine. My mom won’t let me bind my chest, and she won’t let me treat myself as if I am a boy. The luckiest I am in that respect is my hair cut.

All in all I just want finality in my gender decision, but I’m afraid of that finality. What if it was the wrong decision? I’m constantly waging a war in my head I feel lonely and I don’t know how to bring it up to anyone. I want to bring it up with my parents, but I am so afraid of them putting me down and being downright rude. I’m afraid to talk to my friends because I don’t want to bother them with my issues, they already have enough from me being depressed and having anxiety. I’m so confused and I just want it all to stop, and I want everyone to accept me.

-Z

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Dear Z -

Thanks for your email. It’s awesome that you’ve taken the time to write to us. It sounds like you’re experiencing a lot of complex feelings and trying to make sense of them all – which is very common and entirely normal. Having a mixture of feelings is natural, and defining them is sometimes more difficult than one would think. So this is a great time to start thinking about what you want.

In trying to understand your sexuality and gender confusion, it might help to remember that sexual orientation involves emotional, romantic as well as physical feelings and attraction for people of both genders (bisexual), people of the same gender (lesbian and gay), and people of the opposite gender (heterosexual or straight). It can also help to think about whom you have crushes on and who you fantasize about being with girls, boys or both.  You mention feeling like you might be ‘male’ at the core.  Although this idea would be foreign and unfamiliar – and therefore uncomfortable – for some of your family and friends to understand or accept, it is entirely possible that this is the case.  Gender is difficult to define – and only you truly know what feels right to you.   It can be scary to try and choose a category for yourself, so take your time.  And know that you don’t ever have to choose one label or another if you don’t want to. These terms exist only to help us understand ourselves and connect with others. And since there are many variations of sexuality and gender, you may or may not find that one label suits you more than another. It’s all ok. Whomever you choose to love in a romantic way will be lucky – and you will be lucky to experience that fantastic feeling. You can also find more information on gender identity at http://www.genderspectrum.org and http://www.genderspectrum.org/images/stories/Understanding_Gender.pdf.

You may want to find a trusted friend or adult to discuss some of this with. But please stay in touch with us, too! You can always reach us by phone on The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, and online via TrevorChat and TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org. It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re having about your sexuality/gender identity.

We’re always here for you!

Sincerely -

Trevor