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I’m Scared: Gender Identity, Attractions, Religion and Cutting

Question:

Well, I come from a very religious family, one where “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Well, Adam and Eve doesn’t fit well with me, mostly because I really don’t feel like an Eve, if you know what I mean. I feel like I am the wrong gender, stuck in this body I can’t do anything with, but then the other confusing part is that I’m attracted to girls and guys sexually.

So whats wrong with me? I feel more in place as a guy, but I also like guys and I’m attracted to them, and I’ve been struggling with this for a long time. Last year I told my mom I was bi and she freaked out and threw things and yelled and told me I was going to hell and I don’t believe in God. So to get on her good side, I started going to church and told her I was confused. It hurts, saying your straight but really your bi, and no one can help you get through it because you’re afraid of being judged or worse. I mean, there’s a gay kid in my school, Dakota, and he is bullied horribly but just takes it.

But I can’t take that well, I get physical because it’s how I was raised with my dad. I can’t fight it, but it’s hard. And then on top of that, I self harm, yes, I self harm. There’s nothing terribly wrong with that because I know how to do it, so I won’t get badly hurt, it’s just my only way to cope. Sometimes when things get so bad I can’t breathe and it just gets too loud I cut and then I can breathe again. So sometimes in school, I’ll catch myself staring at a girl’s ass, and just oh God, this is embarrassing but I’ll be thinking “Dear Lord, the things I could do in twenty minutes with you” or some thing like that, and other sexual thoughts, but I’m fifteen, so that’s not too wrong is it? Anyways, I’m just so confused on what to do, do I come out? Am I gender confused or momentarily confused about myself, and is it bad that I’m bi?

Submitted by

Answer:

First, I must say that there’s nothing wrong with you. Second, I’m going to start by recommending that you take a step back and repeat that to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with you. With that being said, we all have questions, and not all of your questions can be answered in one day and not everything you are going through right now can be resolved today, but as with any thing, it will take time. Don’t let that get you down though, because recognizing your desire to discover and embrace your true self is a wonderful first step and I applaud you for doing just that.

In terms of your gender identity, a great resource may be http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/transgender.pdf which was written by youth just like you. And like you said, this could be a momentary thing, but it could not be, and that’s just fine too. In regard to your mother, and specifically your mom’s church, I would encourage you to check out the work of SoulFource, http://www.soulforce.org/, a great organization that brings to light some important points about the truth behind what The Bible says. And remember, regardless of what anyone may say, a God who created you this way could never hate you for being this way – you are loved and you are special.  Your mother may not see eye-to-eye with you or agree with a transgender or homosexual or bisexual “lifestyle” but her life is not your life. This is your life to live and she will need to come to terms with that at some point, regardless of any decisions you make – who you choose to love, etc.

Now on to your mention of self harm, that’s perfectly normal as well. People cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For some, and it sounds like this may be the case for you too, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive. With the way your mother has treated you and with the stress you’ve been experiencing in trying to figure out your gender identity and attractions, you may be experiencing all of these things. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control – which aren’t things you need to worry about.

If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, and it sounds like it might, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do whatever makes you feel taken care of and comforted. And it may take some time to figure out what that is, but don’t stop exploring. Whether listening to your favorite song(s) or dancing around or watching your favorite movie or eating a favorite food, find that alternative means of release. Sometimes, writing in a journal or drawing/painting helps a person to feel better. Have you tried that? For some people, doing something physical like running outdoors or yoga can help relieve stress. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground.

Additionally, There are websites available including http://www.safe-alternatives.com/ and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. It can be very difficult to stop cutting and it would be important to tell a trusted adult (maybe a school counselor) about the cutting in order for them to find a therapist for you to work with to find safer and healthier ways to deal with the hard things you’re going through – because it’s not always easy, and that’s perfectly normal. If you’re not comfortable talking with your mom, you could ask a school counselor for help finding a therapist or call 1-800-DON’T-CUT (1-800-366-8288) where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. When you have the urge to cut, you can always call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) and talk with a Trevor lifeline counselor about what you’re feeling and experiencing as well as your urge to cut which can help to delay or stop the urge to cut. They can also work with you to find a therapist to help you. We’re here for you and we want to help you – we believe in you! You can also check out TrevorSpace, http://www.trevorspace.org/, our safe and moderated social network for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24, or TrevorChat, http://www.thetrevorproject.org/chat, which is a great way to chat with someone in real time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Take care and be in touch!

~ Trevor