Help please, teen questioning gender.(31 Posts)
I'll try to keep this brief as its a very long story.
Dd 14 has always been an extreme 'tomboy'. Had her phone confiscated recently. Msg came through from friend saying "are you okay?" I was worried so read recent msgs. Turns out she believes she is a boy, and truly despises her body. Shes also had anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder, and shes said (when I questioned her) that she doesn't know what she thinks, because her feelings may just be the EDs interfering. Shes told me millions of times "when I'm older I'm going to cut my boobs off and cut my hair really short" (which I refused because she attends school with dreadful bullies). I also tell her every single time we go underwear shopping "no boxers, you have periods, they're for boys etc". Two months ago she went out and bought boxers, tried to hide them even though I knew. Haven't mentioned it. Shes always worn 'boys' clothes, I don't have a problem with it. She came out as lesbian 2 weeks ago but says she doesn't feel like a lesbian, she feels straight because she thinks shes a boy. Shes also somehow got hold of a binder (!!) which was still in packaging and has been confiscated. I've said its dangerous and although I fully accept who she is and wants to be, I don't want her hurting herself. She says when people use her birth name or female pronouns she correct them with male versions in her head. She has suffered before from anxiety, depression and self harm but these are subsiding. She says she truly hates her body and cries herself to sleep every night.
I truly love her so much. I'm very supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and love her no matter who she is. I'm so distraught about how she feels, shes terribly confused and is miserable. What do I do? I'm truly, unbelievably stuck.
I personally wouldn't do anything to promote the idea that she is transgender and would instead find her a therapist/psychiatrist who will focus on her mental health and help her feel more comfortable with her body.
Why won't you let her have a short hair cut and wear boxers? Truly not the hill you want to die on here. If you don't help her to accept herself as a masculine presenting girl then she'll be more likely to go further down the trans rabbit hole meaning hormones and surgery will become more likely.
I agree with you confiscating the binder but why not let her have boys clothes/hair? Hang on I'm going to look for something I saw on Facebook recently.
Mina she has had therapy for 2-3 years for eating disorders & depression. She still isn't comfortable, it makes my heart break that she isn't happy.
Mephisto I know I sound very selfish, I know. But the last girl at her school who cut her hair was bullied horrendously. Dd has been bullies before and it spiralled onto a severe case of anorexia. I am beginning to consider it though. As for the boxers, I haven't mentioned it again. I slipped the money she bought them with back in bed piggy bank, as if id paid for them. I don't want to force anything on her, if shes trans she is, if shes not, she's not. I'll love my child no matter what.
Thank you for responses
Have a read of this. A mother who dealt with this situation perfectly.
I agree you should let her cut her hair and wear boxers. Seriously I think not letting her will make it much more of a big deal than it needs to be. Have you told her the reason you don't want her to is because you're worried about bullies?
Mephisto thank you so much for that. I truly believe my daughter feels this way because of her eating disorders. They are utterly consuming her life (she is getting all the help she needs though). Honestly, thank you. I've read about the increasing number of detransitioning women and it frightens me.
WilLiAm yes I have told her my reasoning, however she fights against it. Shes even saving up for it, threatening to cut it herself with scissors. I think I'm reconsidering it, I think shed be a lot happier for it
She also has extremely curly hair (straightens it daily) so I don't know how it would look on her. Would it be okay? I think itd be too curly but I really don't know
Listen don't worry so much about how it would look. There are boys with short curly hair and they look fine. I know you want the best for her and you're looking out for her but I'd be seriously pissed off if someone wouldn't let me do what I wanted to my own hair..
It's hard being a girl nowadays, it really is. Sorry you and your dd are going through this. Have you looked on transgendertrend? It's informative and critical of the mainstream transgender narrative.
Why not try therapy for gender issues?
Let her get her hair cut! Lots of women do.
Boxers may well not be your taste but they aren't really a big deal.
Let her get on with things and explore and also try and focus on her studies.
Maybe get a change of therapist who understands these issues.
I wouldn't care about her hair or underwear. I would discourage or not allow the binders as they're dangerous. Also, if she decides later she is a woman and a lesbian, she might be very grateful for her female body that other women love and enjoy.
I would tell her you love her no matter what, and that she can do anything a man can do, but that she is not and never will be a man.
You can get some really good women's boxer briefs that will be suitable for periods whilst not being too feminine (or too masculine) Sloggi do some great ones. "Sensual fresh" I think they're called.
As for hair - so many styles are unisex. Fashionable, relatively androgynous? It doesn't have to be a buzz cut, think Rihanna with the shaved sides and the gorgeous curly quiff! All kinds of potential!
Small adjustments can make a huge difference to someone suffering with dysphoria, without inevitably making the leap to passing as male, or eventually undergoing medical transition. Dysphoria is awful - as I'm sure you've seen. A few friends of mine have blossomed into unrecognisably happy, productive people since addressing theirs, whether that's through full transition, finding a gender identity, somewhere mid-way that fits, or just being able to investigate it freely for themselves.
I know you think this may stem from depression/EDs, but please consider it might be the opposite.
It's a knotty issue. I think at 14 the best way for you to help is to find a diverse LGBT centre with a youth group for DC. They can help both of you, and can open up myriad different identities. Agender, gender-fluid, none of the above, etc. Knowledge is power I think, and they'll have all the solid info you can get.
I hope you're both ok, it's not easy on either side. The good thing is you're talking about it together. Keep it open so you know what's going on, and it's obvious that you're listening - makes a huge difference, psychologically to know you're being taken seriously, and will curb any extreme, destructive thoughts.
has she ever been assessed for aspergers? its pretty common for aspie girls to feel like they have a 'male brain'. it.is also.linked to anorexia. the symptoms are very different for women/girls to the 'stereotype'
Thank you so much for replies. As this has been going on for a while, the therapist is aware if the gender issues. Dd goes through phases of being fine with her body, loving herself, then times when she hates herself. Most of it, I feel is because of the EDs. Shes recovering from binge eating, which I'm sure you can understand is traumatising for an ex anorexic. It also doesn't help that since she came out as lesbian, she fell out with her best friend who was absolutely horrible. Called her vile things such as: worthless, ugly, freak, weirdo, f****t, retard, idiot etc. He was fully aware of everything going on and he told her to stop being 'an attention whore', which hasn't helped in the slightest.
The past couple weeks have been the worst, so currently sat down with munchies watching a film. I will check that website out soon, thank you for that. I think I will let her cut her hair, I think she would love it. I'll also buy her some more boxers I think. Thank you for everyone's replies so far
Thank you Lozza, I'll check those out. I'm not sure about whether the Eds are causing the dysphoria or vice versa, but were giving it time and seeing what happens.
Bombadier No we haven't had her assessed actually. Are there any other 'symptoms'?? She's extremely clever, receiving top GCSE grades already and being told she could get into Cambridge or oxford. I've never looked into that, so I wouldn't know. Thank you
it can be a bit hard to give an idea of aspie girl traits. there are quite a few websites and this is one, but you might find it applies to almost everyone in some way or another. it might be worth reading up on, but about how it presents in girls in particular
sorry btw, I mean it in a helpful way but perhaps it is a bit overwhelming. if she is aspie, knowing it should help her a lot to understand herself and that these feelings are very common as part of her aspieness, so to speak. it would be a good thing to help her achieve her life goals, rather than a disability limiting her iyswim?
Thank you Bombadier, I will check out those links soon. I'd love dd to achieve her goals, whether or not she does have a disability or not, whether she struggles for a long while or not. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, which ive told her is very cool Shes gone up to bed now, a bit better now. I think we'll have another chat tomorrow. Thanks everyone
Today has been good. Took Dd to the shop to buy some boxers and a new shirt. Shes very happy. I'm going to take her to the hairdressers soon and we'll get her haircut. She said she still doesn't know if shes trans or not, but she seems okay today
Glad you both had a good day!
Lozza thank you, she's been so much better today than she has been in a while
Beyond, thank you for that. I think we'll get her assessed just in case. Thank you
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