I think I’ve been experiencing gender dysphoria. I’ve thought about being the other gender since I was 9. In the past, I tried to just ignore it, but this year, it’s been too overwhelming. I feel uneasy when people address me with feminine pronouns/words and my body feels like I’m wearing an uncomfortable piece of clothing. My performance in school, eating habits, self-esteem and sleep have worsened as a result However, my religion goes against being transgender and I feel guilty about that. Also my parents have a really negative view on being transgender and I’m worried that talking about it with them will ruin our relationship. What do I do?
- Thank you for trusting the TeenCentral community with your story! Sexuality can be difficult to talk about and explore as it’s an extremely personal topic that can make us feel vulnerable and scared among many other things. It takes a lot of courage to open yourself up about this issue – so great job! We hope that you can find the help and support you need here at Teen Central. You are not alone in this!
- Here at TeenCentral, we have many resources to help you through this journey. Under the Learn tab on the site, we have sections devoted to Sexuality and LGBTQ information. It can help you with areas related to “coming out” such as how to tell others and how to care for yourself during this stressful time. We have a Tools tab that even includes a Self-Care Plan to help you navigate any thoughts or emotions that come up during this difficult process. In addition to these resources, we also encourage you to read the stories of others who have been through similar struggles in regards to their own sexuality.
- Unfortunately, the process of coming out can be not only difficult for the individual coming out, but also to those who you are coming out to. Denial, questioning, and even rejection can be difficult responses to cope with and make you hesitant to continue talking to others about your sexuality. The important part to remember is that it’s YOUR story, feelings, and opinions and you have to do what’s best for YOU. It may take time and you may not always get the responses you are hoping for. Do you have any other trusted adults that you can talk to about this such as another relative or positive adult figure?
- There are people ready to talk with you that are available anytime and understand what you are going through. You could call the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender National Help Center at 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743) or go to http://www.glbthotline.org/youth-talkline.html to get support. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline anytime day or night at (877) 565-8860 or http://www.translifeline.org. This hotline is staff by volunteers who are all trans-identified and educated in the range of difficulties transgender people experience.
- Working through issues related to your sexuality and how that impacts your life can create many challenging thoughts and emotions. It’s important to make sure those thoughts/feelings are managed in a safe and appropriate way. Having the courage to explore your sexuality is a great starting point. Have you tried journaling about your thoughts and feelings related to your sexuality? That can help you organize your thoughts and get a clearer picture of who you are. You can also use writing to help communicate with your family. Maybe you can write a letter explaining how you feel and what your concerns are. That could help bridge the gap and make any in-person conversations a little easier.
- You mentioned that your parents have a negative view of being transgender. Consider that they know you as a whole person, and may feel differently when asked to consider accepting your identity as part of you. They may need some time to adjust, have lots of questions, and may feel afraid or uncertain about what this means, but it’s important to be patient with them, and make sure you are staying true to yourself.
- Making sure you practice good self-care is another important part of supporting yourself through this time. There can be a lot of uncertainty and stress that comes with figuring out who you are. Find time to do the positive things that calm you down or make you feel happy. What are your favorite things to do that bring you happiness or calm? Include those things in your support plan and try to make them a part of your daily life.
- Surrounding yourself with positive connections is another important piece to getting through this situation. Who are the positive people you enjoy spending time with? Having these individuals as sources of support and comfort can be very helpful when you feel like others might not understand you.