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This board exists primarily for parents of LGBT children to swap support and advice. Others are welcome to post but please be supportive.

Gay DD(15) confused about dating girl who identifies as male/non-binary
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BetsyBigNose · 27/04/2022 03:57

My 15 year old DD (I'll refer to her as "Betty", which is not her real name) came out to us about a year ago and has so far only had one (very short-lived, not at all serious) girlfriend. She is really, really keen to start dating someone properly, but struggles to meet other, similar aged lesbians in our area. She is "out" at school and goes to an LGBTQ+ Youth Group and a Theatre School at the weekend, and through these, she has met someone called "Miki" (not their real name).

When they first met, Betty says she thought that Miki identified as non-binary, which she felt comfortable with, as Miki was assigned female at birth and appears quite feminine, despite using they/them pronouns, having a 'boy's haircut' and wearing gender neutral clothing.

Betty and Miki have recently started dating, but Betty has just found out that Miki actually identifies as male/non-binary and does not identify as female at all. This has left Betty feeling very confused, because as a lesbian, she is physically attracted to Miki, but as they don't identify as a girl, Betty doesn't feel that it would be right to date them.

Betty has pretty much decided that there is no future in this relationship for herself and Miki, but with such a small LGBTQ+ community for their age where we live (and the fact that Miki is a lovely person!), Betty is really keen to remain good friends with them. She obviously needs to explain to Miki that she is gay and is only interested in dating girls, and as much as she likes Miki, the fact that they identify as male/non-binary, means that they are not a suitable person for her to be dating.

I'm looking for advice (possibly from someone who is the Mum of someone AFAB who identifies as male/non-binary), so I can help Betty to explain things to Miki without them feeling like they need to change their gender identity so Betty will continue to date them, or being horribly upset or offended by Betty saying the 'wrong thing'.

It just feels like such a minefield, I'm hugely aware of how fragile the mental health of LGBTQ+ teens can be and I desperately want to avoid Betty upsetting Miki, and Betty becoming increasingly stressed and worried about the situation. She's questioning if how she's feeling will make her sound transphobic and she's unsure if it's even ok for her to feel this way about Miki's gender identity (I have obviously reassured her that it's fine to feel however she feels), or if it's disrespectful. Betty has asked for my advice and I really don't want to get it wrong.

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Toddlerteaplease · 27/04/2022 04:12

Good friendship is a better thing to base a relationship on, than how they identify. But I think 15 is far too young to be getting into serious relationships and dating.

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Toddlerteaplease · 27/04/2022 04:13

I'd suggest they just be friends, take the pressure off and see what happens.

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BetsyBigNose · 27/04/2022 04:31

@Toddlerteaplease - thank you for responding. I agree that they should "just be friends, take the pressure off", but it's how Betty communicates the reason for this shift in their 'relationship' which we need advice on - do you have any suggestions?

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IstayedForTheFeminism · 27/04/2022 04:31

Rather than telling Miki she doesn't want a relationship because they identify as male, can't Betty just say she only wants to be friends. No one has to date someone they don't want to, and they don't have to have a reason other than 'I don't want to date you"

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LetitiaLeghorn · 27/04/2022 04:33

But if Betty is attracted to Miki, what does it matter what sex/gender Miki identifies as? If Betty met a man and was attracted to him, would she automatically turn him down because he didn't fit the idea of who she should be attracted to? Shouldn't she just date whoever she's attracted to regardless of how they identify?

It's so complicated that I just think teenagers are too young to navigate through these waters. From what you say Miki is a nice person so why not just encourage them to be friends. Betty doesn't need to go into anything to do with Miki's sexuality nor explain anything. If Miki makes a move, she can say nicely that she's not interested in them that way and leave it at that.

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Poppins2016 · 27/04/2022 04:57


But if Betty is attracted to Miki, what does it matter what sex/gender Miki identifies as? If Betty met a man and was attracted to him, would she automatically turn him down because he didn't fit the idea of who she should be attracted to? Shouldn't she just date whoever she's attracted to regardless of how they identify?

^This is pretty much the first thought that flitted across my mind when I read the OP.

I have a friend who was struggling to process her sexuality and how to label herself and in the end, this realisation (that attraction and mutual happiness in a relationship, rather than a label, was what was important) was something that helped her enormously.

Having said that, I can see why (particularly as a teen who moves in LGBTQ social circles) labels and associated identity feel like a big deal. And of course, your DD must do what she feels is right for her.

Could your DD simply say that the relationship doesn't feel right and she'd like to be just friends? I suppose I'd view it similarly to breaking up with someone if they had a physical feature you were unattracted to... you'd ideally let them down gently by not mentioning it or glossing over it. I would suggest that this feels like a big deal because gender identity feels like a big thing, but actually the break up only has to be a big deal if it's made into one. I realise I'm over simplifying here, but hopefully you get the gust of what I'm trying to say... instead of "I'm breaking up with you because you have a honking big nose and I can't see past it" you'd say "I think you're a lovely person but you're not the one for me, I'd like to remain friends". In this scenario you'd substitute 'big nose' for 'gender identity'. I guess your DD needs to ask herself how she'd break up with someone in any other situation and apply those principles...
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eurochick · 27/04/2022 05:35

Miki is biologically female so perfectly fine for a lesbian to date. If she doesn't want to date Miki due to gender identity would she have no compunction about dating a transgirl (biological male)? Gender identity is the fashionable thing at the moment but biological sex is at the heart of attraction.

Ultimately though, your daughter is free to date or not date anyone. If Miki's gender identity is not doing it for her, she can walk away.

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Soontobe60 · 27/04/2022 05:51

They’re kids, and they’re confused. We should stop trying to put labels on our children. Your DD is attending a group who’s whole premise is based on labels. That’s not seeming to be working out too well for her, wouldn’t you say?
as far as any teen is concerned, the only reason they should give when they decide they don’t want to see someone any more is ‘ sorry, but I just don’t fancy you’. No further explanation. She’s getting all tied up in knots with identity politics. And I’m afraid that you’re going along with it by the sounds of your post.

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PinkSyCo · 27/04/2022 06:01

Why is your DD so ‘keen to start dating someone properly?’ In all honesty she doesn’t seem mature enough (understandable as she’s only 15) for a proper relationship if she’s basing so much importance on labels. I’m not sure why you’re so determined to get involved in her (lack of) love life either to be honest.

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PermanentTemporary · 27/04/2022 06:04

Discovering her sexuality would ideally be liberating not restricting.

I'm not sure from your post whether or not your daughter wants to be with Miki as a person. I think I'd encourage her to talk to Miki about how Miki feels about being with her. She might be reassured by that.

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Iambecomethequeen · 27/04/2022 22:28

Wow, there are already replies infantilizing your daughter, talking about "kids and their labels these days" and labeling gender identity "fashionable"...

OP, Poppins' reply already says the important stuff. What you're going to get from now on will probably be really dumb GC comments.
Personally, while I think they're probably better off staying friends, I'd emphasize that labels are meant to describe, not prescribe, tools of understanding and not limitation.

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Beamur · 27/04/2022 22:48

Fundamentally there's a tension here. It all sounds a bit complicated.
If it's too loaded to explain to Miki that Betty is struggling with dating someone with a female body but male identity, then don't. Betty gives Miki a respectful and kind let down and seeks a relationship with someone whose body and identify lines up.
I've declined to date perfectly nice men because we weren't compatible in key areas. This is a big mismatch between these young people. Only Betty can really decide if she wants to be with Miki or not.

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Discovereads · 27/04/2022 23:17

Betty should not explain that she cannot date Miki due to gender identity. For various reasons I think you already know. She would be accused of transphobia and ostracised.

  • Betty is eager to “date someone properly” in an area where there aren’t many fellow lesbians.
  • She has only recently started dating Miki but can see there is no future in the relationship
  • All she has is physical attraction of Miki

Its as simple as Betty is dating with someone who isn’t compatible as a partner in a romantic way. I’d explain to her that physical attraction may cause you to start dating a person, but as you get to know them you often find out that you simply don’t have romantic, long term partner feelings for them. The connection simply isn’t there. I would advise her to simply say she’s physically attracted to Miki but isn’t feeling the emotional connection or vibe she needs for a sexual, adult type of relationship as the reason she would like to take the relationship into the friend zone. She could also play the youth card and say it’s all too much and she wants to wait until she is older before seriously dating anyone so can they be friends for now.

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sessell · 27/04/2022 23:25

What a lot of totally unnecessary confusion, for something that should be simple. She's same sex attracted. Miki is the same sex. The rest is irrelevant and best ignored.

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AuthorAccount · 27/04/2022 23:31

Why would she be called transphobic? In saying I can’t date you because I’m a lesbian, she’s actually validating Miki’s identity which is the opposite of transphobia.

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Whatwouldscullydo · 27/04/2022 23:34

You're dd cannot win this one. If she dates miki she clearly doesn't see her as male/NB and is a transphobe. If she doesn't date miki because of the gender identity she's a transphobe.

Probably best to just not go there tbh.

Doesn't sound like there's gonna be a way round this. They are young, they should be having fun together and enjoying eachothers company not worrying about how to make it all fit into conflicting/contradicting lables.

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axolotlfloof · 27/04/2022 23:37

sessell · 27/04/2022 23:25

What a lot of totally unnecessary confusion, for something that should be simple. She's same sex attracted. Miki is the same sex. The rest is irrelevant and best ignored.

Totally.
Poor kids, all this gender ideology is a total mindfuck.
No wonder she's confused - it makes no logical sense.

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AuthorAccount · 27/04/2022 23:37

I don’t think she should have to concede to not being gay because of this, in ref: to PP suggesting she just go with the flow. Not many straight people feel that degree of flexibility so why should she?

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Discovereads · 27/04/2022 23:43

AuthorAccount · 27/04/2022 23:31

Why would she be called transphobic? In saying I can’t date you because I’m a lesbian, she’s actually validating Miki’s identity which is the opposite of transphobia.

Because under gender ideology it’s transphobic to not date someone because of a non cisgender identity. Doesn’t matter if you are lesbian or straight or bi. There’s no avoiding that rule and people are happy to leap to calling anyone not toeing the line transphobic. It doesn’t have to be logical, it just has to stick and mud like that sticks. Furthermore we are dealing with young teens with limited understanding of the concepts, and ignorance feeds knee jerk reactions, drama, bullying and so on. So it’s honestly best to not mention gender identity at all when breaking up with a teen crush that you have dated a few times but just aren’t clicking with.

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thatwasawetone · 27/04/2022 23:46

She can explain that she really fancies Miki, but that she is attracted to girls and afab non binary people, and that Miki may potentially wish to make changes to their body when they're an adult which could have a detrimental effect on her attraction to Miki. It sounds like they could have a lovely friendship with Miki if she is able to word it right.

My eldest was dumped by a boy once the boy realised that my eldest is actually serious about his gender identity. The boy was nice, but was seemingly only gay for afab boys 🙄

They've rescued a friendship though. And my child is concentrating on his mocks and his creative writing skills rather than bothering with dating now, which is a nice break from the teenage angst (for me).

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BuanoKubiamVej · 27/04/2022 23:50

No relationships at 15 should be deeply committed and serious anyway. Its the time for having fun.

Miki is of the female sex and will always be so no matter how they identify, so it doesn't invalidate Betty's status as a gay woman to be attracted to Miki. If your DD wants to date Miki and still describe herself as Gay then there's nothing wrong with that. Betty is same-sex attracted. Miki is of the same sex.

If Miki can't deal with reality to the extent of acknowledging that their physical appearance is attractive to a gay woman, and therefore wants to control the way that Betty identifies and tell her not to self-describe as Gay while they are a couple, then that's something that I would find deeply unattractive, sufficiently that I'd walk away.

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Stylishkidintheriot · 27/04/2022 23:51

Jeeze, I’m confused by this all. If she fancies Miki then she should date Miki regardless of gender identity. She’s only 15: they’re not likely to get married or anything serious m

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nightwakingmoon · 27/04/2022 23:52

She could just explain this to Miki exactly how you’ve said here: “I’m attracted to you, but I’m afraid I’m a same sex attracted lesbian, and if you don’t feel that’s right for your gender identity, then it’s probably best that we stay as friends.” That at least gives Miki an opportunity to think about what she wants and about how her gender identity fits into that. (But equally your DD may wish just to gently withdraw and say she isn’t quite ready for a romantic relationship right now, and that’s okay, too. She doesn’t need to provide any explanation to anyone of who she chooses to date or not.)

(Ignore @Iambecomethequeen , who is young and is very political about gender ideology.) To be honest, your DD is coming up here against all the logical inconsistencies and incoherences of gender ideology, which tends to multiply young people’s social and emotional difficulties rather than resolve them. But she doesn’t need to get into political stances with her new friend. She needs to be true to herself and protect herself.

It’s sadly something that as a young lesbian she will encounter multiple times in the future; but whatever her peers say to her, it’s okay for her to have emotional and sexual boundaries and choices, and so you might want to talk to her a bit about how she protects herself from other people’s emotional demands and issues. Teens and young people in their early twenties often do a lot of projecting and acting out, and creating of friendship dramas; so this is all part of navigating that as well as the other factors of sexuality and attraction, too.

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2bazookas · 28/04/2022 00:06

Betty can just say " I'm new to being out as a lesbian and just finding my feet. I've not had any physical relationship yet and am not in any hurry."
That makes no assumptions about Miki's feelings, commits nobody to anything, and offers an uncomplicated friendship. A good starting point.
I'm sure then they get to know each other well, it will be easier for both to describe where they are at.

I appreciate your concern for both kids; but you're overthinking it and over involved. ALL teenagers struggle with their early relationships; feel unsure and insecure and have ups and downs. It's not just LGBTQ teens, and as parents we just have to let them experiment by themselves.
There will be tears, hiccups and mistakes along the way ; don't make the mistake of attributing everything to LGBTQ issues.
issues to LGBTQ.

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MatildaJayne · 28/04/2022 00:08

I think it’s the person she’s attracted to, not whether they identify as trans or lesbian. That shouldn’t matter if she’s attracted to them anyway.

My DS’s friends started going out in sixth form, boy C and girl S. S is now a trans man, they are still a couple and C is still atrracted to S but doesn’t feel that he’s gay. If he wasn’t with S he’d be wanting a relationship with a woman. But he’s happy being with S.

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