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dd who appears to be confused about gender/ sexuality/ everything really

(25 Posts)
overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 16:44:08

I'm hoping not to be flamed here but I find all this really really confusing.

My dd who is 16 and bed bound through very serious illness for last 2 years has started talking a lot about cis, binary, non binary and all sorts of other stuff which I do not follow at ( though trying very very hard to for her sake). She only has the Internet ( a bit on iPad) to talk to as all her friends have dropped her and I worry about her. She told me recently she though she was bisexual and is now talking about transgender all the time. She talks about 'pan' and so many other experts signs I do not understand. She has a lot going on inside her head but honestly how do I support her? I think ( from what I know of her as a 14 year old before she became suddenly ill) as very like her elder sister at same age, interested in mates and school and animals and curious but not that interested in either boys or girls sexually - because she hadn't reached that stage yet. I think her interest stems from watching performers on YouTube. I am not knocking her or her curiosity but am so confused. It seems like a hugely popular topic with teens though.

I am concerned that through her intense vulnerability she may be drawn into a world she doesn't really belong in - she went to bed a pretty stand 14 year old and woke up bed bound and very sick. It all feels a bit 'cult like' to me. But I want to understand and support her. I love her beyond reason and if she ends up bi or lesbian or whatever I just want her happy.

Any advice/ reading I can do?

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 16:44:46

Sorry - autocorrect- expressions not expert signs

Floundering Thu 22-Oct-15 16:58:33

Is she getting any counselling at all Over? There might be something you could access that could help by visiting at Home. Both you & DD need outside support in different ways do you get much help from your GP?

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 17:09:28

floundering that's such a huge question! We get no support for DH and me except a few hours sitting so we can go out for coffee. Her illness is very difficult and it means she can't be touched so as I have developed ways of caring without touching her ( hardly) we stick with just me. No psychological support offered though asked a lot- where we live it's a desert! And she was offered a bit of psychology but it was only specific to pain desensitisation and she hated the psychologist who came and thre literally is no one else. I thought psych was a bit odd myself . Dd has had 13 psychological assessments all of which says she has no MH or psychological issues which kind of helps

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Thu 22-Oct-15 17:15:33

Have a look at local lgbt teen groups they have loads of support. My son was gender fluid for a while and is now my daughter (16). We are going though psychotherapy etc etc it is a long process and definitely not a case of randomly chopping bits off to be another gender on a whim!! There are a lot of terms out there as there are many versions of gender and sexuality (not the same thing)
Also trans peeps aren't a cult!!! no one would choose to go through that amount of shit.

Look at www.mermaidsuk.org.uk it may help both of you

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 17:28:57

I don't think being transgender is a cult, honest. I knew a man who transitioned to female many years ago and it was amazing what he/she went through to be herself in the end. I completely admire people who struggle with this. What I mean is the tumblr 'movement' seems to me, an initiated mum, a bit of a club that you are in or you are not. And she is being drawn into it ( I fear) because she is so confused and vulnerable at present- so lonely/ alone and she's finding a 'home' . What happens to her in the end will be partly her choice, I just don't want her dragged into thinking she's something she is not. Does that make sense? I really don't mind what she ends up sexuality/ gender wise if it's her free choice ( if gender confusion can be a choice, I apologise if I'm incorrect in language I am not intending to be patronising or rude). I respect everyone's life choices. And it does feel like a religious cult all this 'mermaid' ' pan' ' Demi' stuff I am sorry but to me it does

Offred Thu 22-Oct-15 17:29:09

I think first of all, if you don't understand then could you ask her to explain?

Parents are not meant to know everything and teens are often more up to date with loads of things, it's pretty standard I'd say for teens to do a bit of explaining their world to their parents.

I don't think you need to worry about gender/sexuality cults! All teens go through a time of exploring themselves and these issues and it's great she is talking to you about it - many won't!

It must be very isolating being stuck in bed and I'd expect her to have some issues as a result of this - who wouldn't? Also exclusively using the Internet for socialising can affect your mental health I believe from personal experience.

I think try getting her to lead you through the things she's feeling and explain the things to you so you understand properly.

What's the prognosis for her illness?

Offred Thu 22-Oct-15 17:32:47

And TBH what teen hasn't had an obsessive interest that their parents worried about? Mine was serial killers hmm

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 17:34:44

Her prognosis is she probably won't die but will take many many years to recover. She has a very unusual presentation/ pathway of a severe form of her illness. She will probably be ill for a long time. In itself it's awful.

I do talk to her and ask her but she is completely exhausted talking. She goes on iPad at night when she can't sleep after I drag myself to bed around 1.30 and she ' talks' to people. Initially it was via looking at people like Mal Blum on YouTube and finding out about it. We do discuss everything- I don't think she hides things from me - I lived entirely with her in a hospital single room then a NH for 17 weeks across the summer and it was hard to hide anything! But I want her to have privacy and to feel she doesn't need to explain herself. I want to try to understand what the issues are and how I can support her. I genuinely think she's not confused about gender/ sexuality but confused about how fucking awful her life is , if you can call it a life. But it's attractive to find a home with a group isn't it either via school ( impossible) or work ( haha) or this. I am so lonely too. It's not a life I wish in anyone

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WaitroseEssentialPancetta Thu 22-Oct-15 17:37:31

I know what you mean about tumblr. Being trans or bi etc is obviously not a cult but I think tumblr is. Is there any way you could transfer her interest to online forums for lgbt teens?

Fooshufflewickbannanapants Thu 22-Oct-15 17:38:16

Apologise if I sounded snappy, pan just means loving/being attracted to someone no matter what their gender/sexuality is, nothing more nothing less. Many children come out as bisexual first them gay then trans. Its kind of a developing understanding of who you are and baby steps of acceptance.

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 17:41:07

Yes tumblr all the time

Offred Thu 22-Oct-15 17:44:48

So really you need to plan for her condition not improving to the extent she can be up and around any time soon. I think diverting her interest into a healthier forum is the best plan and maybe looking at a forum you can join to learn more about it yourself if she is not able to explain due to her illness.

Your situation does sound so hard. sadflowers

VashtaNerada Thu 22-Oct-15 17:46:34

I think it's okay for her to play with different definitions and try to work out who she is (pan just means you fancy different people regardless of their gender, a bit like bi but takes trans into account).
The key is that she's not doing anything she's not comfortable with (such as inappropriate chat or photo sharing online). I would talk to her about general internet safety but I wouldn't let the different definitions freak you out, they're not really anything new just a new way of saying it.

Gunpowderplot Thu 22-Oct-15 17:57:38

Such a terribly hard situation for you all.
I suspect that you are right - that this is to do with her being very different (bed bound and isolated with v scary and painful illness) from others, and finding something to develop an interest in and latch onto on the internet, to do with other young people who also feel different and isolated.
Is there is any way that you can help her to develop real life relationships? Eg if she has no friends now, maybe some same age children from the local school could visit her weekly, on a volunteering basis? If necessary it could be part of their Duke of Edinburgh, or whatever.
Could she make some pen friends, who live a more usual kind of life?
Do relatives visit, eg similar age cousins?
Maybe you should reduce her access to the internet?

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 18:03:12

All good ideas. She's only meant to have visitors for 5 mins a day and that includes medics so they come first. No one local to visit - and cousins all loads older. Her siblings aren't at home anymore - post uni and at uni. They visit when they can and send her little messages. I did wonder about turning off Internet when I go to bed but it is her only interaction with life

lljkk Thu 22-Oct-15 18:07:54

14yo DD is CIS hetero & obsessed with same stuff, OP. Luckily her world is a little broader than gender identity & sexual orientation or I would strangle her from boredom hearing her bang on about those things.

I guess I would shrug & listen & ask her forgiveness if you keep getting a bit confused.

Gunpowderplot Thu 22-Oct-15 18:29:00

I would limit her access to the internet to certain times, so not constant. At other time she could still watch dvds, listen to the radio, music, audio books.
I don't know whether she's able to read books, send emails or type a letter, talk on phone, record herself talking, or anything like that. If she is able to type or record herself, then I would help her find pen friends, maybe ideally someone else who is disabled (as she is currently).
Very very tough but I doubt that obsessing over gender issues for many hours a day will help her. However, I wouldn't seek to prevent it, as at least she is communicating with other young people, just limit it and try to encourage her to move in other directions.

pointythings Thu 22-Oct-15 18:38:04

I think part of the issue is that there is a growing recognition that gender and sexual preference really are on a spectrum and that there is a lot more openness around that now. It's come out into the open amazingly rapidly and the terminology can be a bit dazzling, but when your DD talks about things not being binary, this is key - and it can be very comforting for teenagers to feel that they don't have to fit into a particular box. If I were you, I'd do a bit of research and become comfortable with the concepts and the terminology so it's all a bit less bewildering for you.

As a parent it is a bit ironic when teenagers say 'I don't want things to be binary, I don't want to be labelled' and then proceed to find a whole lot of new labels that they do want to use. I just roll with it.

overthemill Thu 22-Oct-15 18:40:05

she uses internet for around 5 mins at a time. over and over. she cannot really do anything else. she can't follow a tv programme really , she's hypersensitive to sound and light (I can't see iPad screen when i take it from her!) - she did record some stuff for medics and a 2 minute audio file took 10 hours to complete. its all hard. i want to stop her using internet as i think its too much physically but what else does she have?

DriverSurpriseMe Thu 22-Oct-15 18:48:12

What I mean is the tumblr 'movement' seems to me, an initiated mum, a bit of a club that you are in or you are not. And she is being drawn into it ( I fear) because she is so confused and vulnerable at present- so lonely/ alone and she's finding a 'home'

Totally understand why you're worried about this. I once saw some screenshots from Reddit (on Tumblr ironically) where a young person flirting with a trans identity was encouraged and enabled to start taking (black market, I think) hormones in a matter of weeks. It was scary.

Gunpowderplot Thu 22-Oct-15 19:00:15

It's very hard to imagine how tough it must be for her. I don't know whether talking to her could help you to identify and encourage other possible interests, eg maybe disabled groups on the internet. So more linked to her real life, rather than what may well be no more than a fantasy (the gender issues).
If her health gradually improves, obviously easier and in a way more important to encourage other, more real life interests. In some ways she will become more vulnerable as her health improves (more accessible to 3rd parties).
I assume you've accessed all possible expert help, eg from disability groups.

IsaBisaBuildsaBoat Thu 22-Oct-15 19:14:26

I have an illness that means I am in bed a lot and can't cope with much more than surfing the Internet sometimes. So I understand her limitations to an extent.

I would turn off WiFi at night. It is fine to set limits on it. She can surf in the day but presumably it is a good idea to try to get her to sleep at night.

I would also utilise helplines more. If there is a condition specific helpline, call that. If not, I would try the ME Association helpline as it sounds like it has some things in common. You can call it for help, but she could also call it regularly just to have someone else to chat to for five minutes.

I would also see if your local vicar or other religious flavour could come by once a week or so for a few minutes. They are free and call on the housebound as part of their job.

This is not your original question but I think that falling down the tumblr rabbit hole is a real concern. Gender fluid is fine. It really is. But she needs a bit more contact with real life even though it is hard to manage.

Offred Thu 22-Oct-15 19:19:15

I wouldn't try and squash her access to this interest if I were you.

My mum banned my interest in serial killers. She was ignoring the fact I was being sexually abused at school and that my dad was physically abusing me at home and though in her mind a depressed 13 y/o obsessively reading about serial killers was a big loud alarm sound I was actually just obsessively indulging a genuine interest which I am now indulging in my chosen career path and it felt as though she was forcibly removing my only escapism and denying me a part of myself.

I am studying law as an adult and just did a month on a workplace working on DNA cases in the USA including a serial killing. I'm not some kind of deviant with a penchant for murder!

I'd try to keep involved and interested if you are worried about this interest and divert it into a more appropriate form if you worry about tumblr.

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