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Too old to be confused about my gender?

Question:

I’m sorry if I’m too old to be using this site, but I couldn’t find an alternative.

I’m 27 and so very confused about my gender. I’ve always know that I’m attracted to women, and honestly that isn’t a factor at all. My family doesn’t care, except the occasional “are you suuuuure you wouldn’t like [guys name]? He has a big farm/money” sort of thing, which I don’t take seriously. I don’t think it is meant seriously either.

The thing is, sometimes I’ll have these moments of: ‘arm brushes breast’ –> “What the fu..?!”—> ‘look down at chest’ —> “oh, right, there are breasts.” or reaching down to adjust something that just doesn’t exist.
I don’t hate my body, I don’t feel uncomfortable in my body…not exactly. I dress however I feel like on any given day, which might mean frilly underthings and ‘pretty’ clothing or boxers, jeans, and a sweater. Sometimes I bind my breasts and pack a sock, if I’ve been having a lot of episodes of breast-confusion and trying to adjust non-existent genitalia recently.
I’ve been mistaken for male pretty much my entire life, (even by my father!), and it never bothered me until I got to my teens and the kids around me started bullying me harshly. As you know, people can be cruel, and I started, I don’t know, overcompensating? for the whole “dude!…oh, sorry miss” episodes by going for the more female clothing and growing my hair out past my shoulders.

Before that I used to keep my hair really short. I have a very square jaw, so even after my breasts came in, if I wore a large sweatshirt, people mistook me for a guy until I had my hair down to my shoulders.
When I was 25, I was living away at college. I was keeping my hair short again, cause I’ve always preferred that, and I wore my dads old leather jacket constantly, and it started happening again. I don’t know if it’s my body language or just my masculine jaw-line.
The thing is, I’ve always just gone with it, never ever set anyone ‘right’ about it in either direction. Even my dad will occasionally say ‘he’ when he refers to me, then immediately say ‘no,no, sorry, she’ even though I’ve never discouraged it. I’ve always been a bit happy when he misspoke, or counted on me for any heavy lifting, or anything ‘stereotypically male’ and have always been hurt and jealous when he would ask my sister’s boyfriends for help instead. I even think I’ve thought something like ‘step back, I’m the eldest son here!’ on several occasions.

I’ve since had to move back home due to financial/health difficulties, and have grown my hair back out because that seems to be what was expected of me. I also like the way it looks, but in the way you might like the way a certain style looks good on a model without actually wanting it on yourself. I look androgynous with a decidedly feminine touch, mostly because of the hair and as I said sometimes I just want to wear something pretty.
Is the term for someone like me genderfluid, even though inside, I feel like a guy? Can I still be a guy genderwise, if I don’t really feel uncomfortable with my physical sex?
I don’t mind having breasts and a vagina, I don’t hate those parts of my body, even when they surprise me by being there when I expect something else. I don’t feel like my masculinity is threatened by them, or by my like of pretty clothes and lingerie, but at the same time I don’t feel like I can call myself a transgendered person, because I don’t try to match what I feel like inside to my outside, nor does my outside cause me grief. (Except, sometimes I do, and I would love the ability to grow a kick ass beard, really I would.)
I just don’t know. Am I just an androgynous dyke with some gender confusion?

Letter submitted by:

Answer:

Alex,

I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to us! You are definitely not too old for The Trevor Project, and we take pride in the diverse group of people that we are lucky enough to communicate with. From reading your letter, I can see that the situation you’re in would be difficult or confusing for anyone! You are not ‘just an androgynous dyke with some gender confusion’. In fact, you’re never ‘just’ anything. Your gender is just one piece in the ‘Alex Puzzle’, there’s a lot more to you, so it is totally acceptable that you’re still thinking about what makes you most comfortable.

I can tell by your letter that your family situation seems to be a point of contention. You wrote that your family doesn’t care, and that was an interesting statement. The fact that your family is so accepting could be a wonderful gift, but on the other side this is also an important time in your life and clearly, very important to you, so would you want them to show they care more? I’d remind myself that although they seemingly don’t care, your family loves you for you, and not everyone may be as comfortable aggressively confronting these topics. Perhaps if you felt comfortable enough, you could be upfront and honest with your family and in a straight-forward manner and explain the circumstances (i.e. ‘Dad, this is how I’m feeling, this is how it’s been and this is how I want it to be”) and you’d be able to listen to any questions they might have and could stress to them what makes your feel happiest. They may simply not know how to ask you what you prefer. I think that this could be a great first step into making your external environment more comfortable for you!

Gender identity is certainly how you described it with your use of the term ‘genderfluid’ – it’s not static, and not the same for everyone. Some people identify as male, female, transgender, intersex, or none of the previously mentioned! Some identify one way one day and another the next day. It’s all about finding what fits you and feeling forced into labeling yourself is not the constructive way to do so. If it means some days defining your gender by wearing ‘frilly’ or ‘pretty’ things, like you described, then that’s the answer, and if other days it’s something different, then that is great too! You can definitely still present yourself as male, even if biologically you would be defined as female. This is completely normal and you only owe it to yourself to do what you makes you most comfortable. I would definitely refer to the following link which expands upon this idea, and has a helpful link to some more useful resources: http://s.bsd.net/trevor/default/page/-/files/resources/UnderstandingGender.pdf.

What makes The Trevor Project so great, and I hope you take the time to find out, is that it can connect you to a number of resources! To begin, I would check out www.genderspectrum.org, which is a great website with some valuable reading materials regarding the fluidity of gender. I would also suggest checking out The Trevor Project’s ‘Coming Out as You!’ guide: http://issuu.com/trevorproject/docs/coay_v07. This helpful guide provides you with some further explanation on gender expression and can help you think critically about your own gender identity. It also highlights many of the resources that The Trevor Project is able to offer. As always, I would suggest reaching out to a trusted friend whenever you feel it’s necessary and remind you that you can always reach The Trevor Project, 24 hours per day 7 days per week at 1 (866) 488-7386.

Good Luck!

Trevor Staff