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I feel like I don’t know how to differentiate between who I am and who I should be. I want so desperately to be feminine, and it’s also what my parents and friends want for me, but it doesn’t feel right. I feel like deep down I’m meant to masculine things, like hunt and wear male clothes. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a boy. I just don’t know how to approach it, with my parents and friends or myself. I love a boy, and he’s straight (to the extent of my knowledge), so I don’t plan on acting on this, but I define myself as pansexual. I am so scared that if I don’t seem like a girl to him, he won’t love me, so I wear skirts and things, but I feel like in the process of doing so I’m betraying myself. I know he doesn’t care that I feel this way; we’ve discussed it before. But it was always really awkward for both of us. I struggle with attachment issues because when I was younger my biological mother abandoned me, so even though it’s irrational, I’m so scared of losing him. But at the same time, I am scared of losing myself. I feel like either way I’m at a dead end. Please help me.
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I am sorry to hear that you are having a hard time being yourself for fear of how it will affect your relationship with your boyfriend, family, and friends. Despite the images presented by society of what makes someone masculine or feminine, the truth is that there is a lot of overlap and that it’s totally normal for people to be a mix of both. Being born a girl does not mean you have to wear feminine clothes that you do not feel comfortable in, or that you cannot enjoy hunting. The key is knowing that you are unique and special because of the mix of the traits that makes you you.
It’s good to hear that you are with someone you love and have been able to open up to about how you’re feeling, even if it was awkward. That was a really brave step and it shows a lot of courage. Relationships aren’t always easy to navigate, but it is important to remember not to give up being who you are and staying true to that. If your boyfriend cares about you, it is not because of the clothes you wear. Do not feel pressured to do things that make you feel like your betraying yourself in the process. You need to be healthy in order for your relationships to be healthy.
On http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=731&Itemid=177 you’ll find the brochure, “I Think I Might Be Transgender…Now What Do I Do?” which may be helpful in exploring and understanding your feelings regarding your gender. There is also information on PFLAG’s (Parents, Families & Friends Of Lesbians & Gays) ‘Be Yourself: Questions for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth’ at http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Be_Yourself_TT.pdf that can be of further help as you try to understand your gender identity. Remember that there’s no rush to figure this out. What is most important is that you are comfortable and safe.
We here at Trevor Project are here for you and care. If you are interested, www.trevorspace.org is Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people, 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 gender identity.