I’m 13 years old. From a young age, I’ve always felt different. I could never explain how I felt, but I never felt the way I was ‘supposed’ to feel. For years, I kept these feelings locked away, afraid of being labeled ‘freak’ and my parents thinking it’s wrong. That was a mistake. Since I pretended to be a completely different person than I actually am, I started feeling really depressed at the age of 8. Around fifth grade, I started being able to explain the feelings I had. I felt like a boy. No one saw that; no one saw how unhappy I was with being gendered as a girl. I always liked girls, not boys and I had pretty much all guy friends. I thought that entering puberty and getting bras/my period would make me more feminine and ‘normal’. It did not. It made me feel worse. In seventh grade, I snapped. I started buying boys shorts/shirts, only wearing baseball caps, cut my hair as short as my parents would allow, and secretly joined social media as Ben. People in school started judging me for it, started bullying me and I started self harming. I would say I’m sick every day in attempt to stay home, I had no real friends, I was nothing. Until one day I checked out a book from the library called ‘Rethinking Normal’ about a trans girl going through high school. I finally had a term for how I felt. Of course, I displayed no symptoms of GD (gender dysphoria) when I was young so no one believed me, thought it was a phase. That was really invalidating. I bought a binder and boxers. I used to dress up in boxers, basketball shorts, a binder (binds your chest down), shirt, put my hair up in my hat and that’s when I felt the most ‘me.’ Now I’m going into eighth grade and I’m stuck. My parents think I’m gay, as does everyone in the school but my best and only real friend. I can never come out; they wouldn’t believe me. I wouldn’t have enough money to move out at 18 and transition. I’m going to be a girl for the rest of my life and I hate it.
- Not being able to be yourself can make you feel frustrated and angry. You are strong for making every effort to be yourself even though you face oppression too often when no one should have to.
- If you need someone to talk to, you can go to the Teen Central website and click the Help tab to call a hotline for LGBT youth such as Trevor Project Lifeline, Trans Lifeline or Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender National Help Center among others. Under the Learn tab, read about your issues such as Self Injury, Bullying, Depression, Sexuality (then click LGBTQ) or others. You may also speak to a trusted therapist, school psychologist or religious leader. If you speak to someone, make sure they genuinely listen to your feelings, answer your questions and treat you with the respect you deserve. If they don’t, then it’s best to find someone who sees you as a human being.
- You can be positive by repeating positive affirmations to yourself when you need to. You may also head to the Teen Central website and click the Tools tab to download resources for positivity, yoga or to learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Read inspiring quotes or write down a few things you’re grateful for in a daily journal. Stay hopeful in order to keep from spiralling out of control by always having meaningful activities to look forward to. These may be reading a favorite book, watching a humorous movie, volunteering or spending time with a pet.
- The truth is that you’re still young and you have plenty of time to move out of your parents’ house and earn enough money to transition in a few years. You can be patient by being positive and focusing on doing something else that matters to you like career goals or becoming more responsible so you can find a job.
- No one deserves to be driven to hurt themselves because other people lack empathy. If you still self-harm, you can use other coping techniques to stop hurting yourself. You can use this internet article as a resource: Cutting and Self-Harm from Helpguide.org.
- Your life belongs to you, and you have the right to be yourself as long as this doesn’t harm yourself or others. You can let the negative judgement of others make you a stronger person and be yourself even more. No one has the right to abuse you or mistreat you in any way.
- Knowledge is power. You can read more about your issues by checking out books from a library or reading educational internet articles. You are not alone and no one should feel like they don’t belong because they’re different. The more you know about something, the more you can do about it.
- You can stand up to bullies and other negative behavior by volunteering. Help the LGBT community by training to be a counselor, writing for an LGBT nonprofit website or using other talents or skills you may have to make the world a better place. Find opportunities online or in your area by visiting websites like Volunteermatch. You may also foster or adopt a pet from a shelter so an animal can have a home and unconditional love from you. This could help you feel loved and make your life more meaningful.
- Spirituality can help you practice acceptance, become more understanding and live a more meaningful life among other things. Spiritual techniques you can try are meditation, yoga and prayer. You may also attend church services.
- Creativity can help you express your feelings in a healthy way and let go of tense feelings and unwanted emotions. It can also help you be yourself more because you’ll be expressing yourself. Creative activities you can try are coloring in a coloring book, painting, drawing, creative writing, playing a musical instrument, listening to music and more.
- In what ways can having a positive mindset help you be happier now and in the future?
- How can you make sure you always stay true to yourself and stick to living by your values and beliefs no matter what?
- In what ways does being different make you a unique individual?
- How can you become a positive role model for others who struggle with similar problems?
- What can you learn from your struggles and how can you let these make you a stronger person?