Welcome to Ask Trevor

Welcome to Ask Trevor
Ask Trevor is an online, non-time sensitive question and answer resource for young people with questions surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. Browse the published letters or submit your own letter.

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Hope you are having a great summer!

Is It a Phase?

Question:

My mother grew up Catholic and raised me as a non-denominational Christian. She is completely against LGBT persons, and strong (black and white) in political, religious, and personal views. I do not agree with her in many areas of politics and science and she is very accepting of that.

However, she gets very upset over the topic of homosexuality and transgenders (although more okay with the latter). I’ve always been her “little girl” even though throughout my life, I’ve questioned that term. “Girl”. At first I thought I was just a “tomboy” and that it was totally normal. Well, recently, I’ve become more rocky on the subject of gender. I cut my hair short, I wear unisex t-shirts, etc. And it feels more right.

But exactly when I felt more confused, so to speak, was when I became highly involved with others who were genderfluid, or trans.

I don’t know if I really want to be identified as male, or if I’m a tomboy in a teenage hormonal phase trying to fit in with my friends. My mother’s clear objection to the matter makes this decision harder. Do I make the official change and come out to my mom, or stay rocky until I am independent? Any small particle of advice would be hugely appreciated!!!

 

Answer:

 

Dear Rachel:

First, let me begin by assuring you that the confusion you are experiencing about your gender identity is completely normal. It is something many people experience. Some people find it easier to figure out, but for some people the process can take a longer. What’s important to remember is that gender is something that is socially constructed. Society treats gender as if there are only two (man/masculine or woman/feminine) when the truth is that there are many expressions of gender, and it’s up to you–and only you–to define yourself. It sounds like you have already taken some steps to defy traditional social stereotypes of what it means to be a “girl” by cutting your hair and wearing unisex t-shirts. What’s important is that it feels right, makes you happy and you can do it in a way that you feel comfortable.

In your letter you describe yourself as “rocky” on the subject of gender because you have not decided whether you should identify as male or is it just a phase and whether you should come out to your mom or wait. These are questions that only you can answer. Exploring your gender identity is a process that occurs over a period of time. One resource I can recommend for your journey can be found at:

www.thegenderbook.org

It contains some excellent information on the subject of gender. The process can be frustrating at times, but it is important that you do not pressure yourself or feel pressured by your friends if that is the case into making a decision at this point in time. Your mother’s views on transgender people does make the decision harder, so it is important that you are comfortable with yourself and that you feel safe–physically and emotionally–with those to whom you’re considering coming out. When coming out to a parent (or those we are physically or financially dependent on), it’s wise to safe plan, which involves having an alternative place to stay (perhaps a sympathetic relative or close friend) and a plan to ensure your financial and educational needs are met in the event your home becomes unwelcoming or unsafe.

Don’t feel that you have to go on this journey alone. You can call the TREVOR LIFELINE (866-488-7386) 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The call is free and you can talk to a trained counselor, who will be glad to talk to you about whatever is on your mind.

Trevor Staff