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Hello. I’m a 16 year old female, I suppose, although I much prefer the term Genderqueer. I’m the kind of person who’s never really fit into the normal categories of boy or girl. I look like a girl on the outside, but I’m sick of that exterior defining me. I’m sick of my body, and I wish it wasn’t so girly. I wish I could make myself neutral, so when I introduce myself, the first thing people think wouldn’t be, oh, she’s a teenage girl. I’m sick of gender defining me. I really envy the girls who can just wear a baggy t-shirt, cut their hair, and pass for a boy. It’s a label I can’t get rid of because of what genetics has given my body, and it honestly has been driving me deeper and deeper into depression.
I feel really alone most of the time. I try to talk to my parents about it, but my dad has a “don’t ask don’t tell” and “you’re too young to fully understand any of that anyway” mentality, and my mom has an “it’s ok to be whoever you are as long as you’re yourself” mentality. They don’t understand. I love them both, and they try to be supportive in their own ways – my dad just smiles and shrugs it off, saying it’s too early in life to worry about it anyway. My mom says it doesn’t have to define me. But they really don’t understand. It’s something that is constantly defining me, and it’s that label that I’m trying to get rid of. It’s not something that I’m worrying about, it’s something that’s eating me, and I want it to go away. My friends understand more. They understand what it’s like not to fit exactly into the gender categories. Most of them are some kind of LGBT, or plenty supportive anyway. But none of them really understand. At the end of the day, all of them can settle back into that comfortable feeling of, “well, I’m a boy or I’m a girl”. I don’t have that. I don’t even have that tiny bit of security that everyone else can count on.
And that makes sexual orientation really confusing for me. I’m someone who mostly looks towards males for relationships, but I’ve also felt attracted to girls. It’s really hard to place myself anywhere, because I like boys and I like girls, just not as much. So does that make me hetero? Bi? It makes no sense. I want to stop hiding this, I want to tell people what I am, but most people only know the classic “LGBT” terms. They’ve never heard of “genderqueer” and I don’t even know what I’d say about my sexual orientation anyway. I just want to understand, or have someone like me to talk to. I’ve never met anyone else like me, never even read a character in a book like me or seen one in a movie or a tv show. So I just feel really alone. I wish there were more people like me out there. Or even if there aren’t, I wish someone out there could understand me.
Letter submitted by:
I first want to mention that I am very happy you decided to reach out to AskTrevor for help. It shows a lot of strength on your part to admit that you are feeling lonely and depressed and to seek advice regarding what you should do regarding these feelings.
Feelings of uncertainty regarding one’s gender identity are felt by many–you are not alone. I know it probably often feels that way. Many of the people in your life right now seem to at least have their gender to feel certain about. Your parents are also giving you similar messages that do not serve to help you feel understood. On top of that, society pressures people to define themselves by their gender and assigns traits to them accordingly. It is thus completely understandable that you feel confused, alone, and depressed.
Sexuality is a very complex and dynamic aspect of the human condition that goes through many changes as one develops. Gender is also not set-in-stone according to one’s sex but is rather something that one defines oneself. There are nevertheless many societal and environmental pressures to identify and label one’s sexuality and gender. However, many people feel uncertain about their sexuality and gender identity because not every person’s sexuality or gender identity is easy to define. The confusion you feel right now is thus normal–but that isn’t to say that is it any less painful to endure. The important thing to remember is that the person whose label matters most is your own–and if it happens to be the case that right now you’re unsure about how to label yourself, then that is completely OK. The fact that you are having difficulty doing so right now is normal. It is important to remain as honest with yourself as you are now as you continue to grow. Over time you will develop insights regarding yourself that you may not have now.
While it may currently seem like there aren’t any other people who understand the confusion you feel, I can assure you that there are many others out there who are struggling with the same issues you are. Have you heard of TrevorSpace? TrevorSpace is an online social networking website where LGBTQ youth can join together for support and understanding. It can be found at http://www.trevorspace.org/. I bet you would be able to find others who identify as genderqueer and who can offer you useful advice and support. Also, remember that the Trevor Lifeline is available for you 24/7 if you ever feel like you need someone to talk to. The number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR. Please consider calling if you ever feel alone or depressed and need to talk to someone with whom you can relate and from whom you can gain support. TrevorChat is also available if you would prefer to chat with someone online about your questions and feelings.
The path of self-discovery and understanding is a very long and difficult one that each person travels. The question, “Who am I?” and all of the ones relating to this question are ones we as humans try to answer often–but it is often the case that it is much easier to ask that question than it is to answer it. You yourself may not have an answer right now–and that is completely OK. I know that being unable to answer that question may cause you to feel scared and alone. You are so brave and strong for admitting that you’re having difficulty doing this and I am once again so happy that you took the initiative to write AskTrevor a letter. Know that there are people out there who understand where you’re coming from and want nothing more than to help you by showing you that you are not alone.