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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m 17, a junior in high school, and FTM. I live at home currently with my mother and sister. I came out about a year ago.

“My mum’s response had been ‘I saw this coming. I’ll love you for whoever you are.’ The next day she clarified that whoever I am isn’t a man. Biggest bubble burst of a lifetime. If she had said she wasn’t okay with it from the beginning, I would have felt better than I did about the whole thing in the long run. The kicker is that she saw it coming and still doesn’t believe it.

“According to her I was a feminine child. I was actually very androgynous, but she doesn’t want to remember the Legos and remote control cars. She has this picture of me in her head as a women, and when saying I was feminine isn’t enough, she claims I’m just on a quest for perfection and the media has corrupted my mind with male supremacy. I don’t even know where she gets half of the ideas she spews at me.

“After a lot of struggle I confided in my doctor that I was trans and needed help because my mum was refusing to find me a therapist or let me go to the one I had found. The doctor helped me to get a therapist and I’ve been going for a few months. Secretly I purchased a binder and packer. Many fights arose from that. Now I’m able to wear them and everything is kind of okay.

“My problem is that I want to start hormones. I’ve been ready for a long time for this. My mother has shown no interest in any if the materials provided and has banned me from physically altering transition-related things while living under her roof.

“I realise that I won’t be able to do anything until I’m 18, but I’ll still be in high school then and living with her, so I still wouldn’t be able to start T even then. My only option is to move out. I haven’t been able to find a job as of yet but I’m still looking, although any job I can get at 17 won’t be enough to support me to get a home and hormones.

“I do have one alternative. My father is okay with my transition and willing to take me in, but he’s mentally unstable and sometimes abusive. On the other hand, I have my grandparents. They are very religious and don’t understand trans people. My grandma at least seems to want to understand. She helped me get my binder. But I don’t feel I could ask to live with them, and I don’t know if I could physically transition under their roof. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m in high school (Junior), but am very open about my gender identity (cross dress, bind, etc). At this point there isn’t a whole lot I can do about hormonal treatment or surgery. So instead I try to do what I can, at my age. I bind, as mentioned, and use a commercially available binder.

“It has been fine, but lately I’ve gotten a lot of pain, difficulty breathing, and nasty bruising on my rib-cage. I wear it too often as it is (about 12 to 14 hours a day, nearly every day), so I know the best thing to do would be to just stop wearing it so much.

“Unfortunately, this is a problem for me as my gender dysphoria has also gotten much more severe as of late (and includes thoughts of self-harm and things we don’t need to get into). It’s a difficult trade-off for me to consider – wear it less and hopefully not end up with a serious injury in the hospital and cause my dysphoria to be that much worse (which, when paired with my depression, anxiety, and raging teenage hormones can be a serious and kind of terrifying problem), or continue doing what I can to suppress (no pun intended) my dysphoria and likely end up in the hospital.

“My mother doesn’t take my depression or dysphoria seriously (it took her witnessing one of my most violent panic attacks to convince her to let me see the school therapist), so advice from her doesn’t help (especially when she doesn’t offer any).

“So that’s problem one. My other problem, which is much less serious, is standing to pee. I really would love to be able to stand to take a pee, but the price of commercially available STP devices that also function as packers is insane! Not to mention the harnesses! The cheapest set I found would still set me back by $50 that I do not have (a lot of money for a jobless teen who’s worried about affording college, a car, gas for that eventual car, animals, etc). Do you have any ideas in this regard?”

Last question first – have you tried a coffee can lid? I never got the hang of it, but a lot of guys use a plastic coffee can lid with the edge or lip part cut off so that it’s just a flat circle. Then they roll it into a kind of tube and pee through it. You can also buy a sheet of thin plastic at the hardware store and cut a coffee-lid-sized circle out of it. It’s explained here on TransGuys.com, along with other suggestions, tips, and links for the Stand to Pee situation. (more…)

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Question MarkIn these two letters, we look at the confusion around, and intersections of, sexual orientation and gender identity. Here we go:

A reader writes: “I’m dating a trans man now and it’s been amazing. I’m still slightly confused as I have always considered myself as a straight female and have always seen him as male, but at the same time I’ve accepted that for the moment he is still female and am willing to do stuff with him (obviously, haha).

“I know labels are not the best way to go about things, but I’m not sure of how else I can understand what I am feeling? I hope this doesn’t come across as naive or stupid. I’m just a little bit confused.”

It’s not uncommon for those who are dating trans people to become confused about their own sexual orientation. For you, it seems pretty straight-forward – you’re a straight woman dating a trans guy, so you’re a straight woman … because he’s a guy.

I would argue that he is not “still female.” I think what you mean is that he has not had any type of genital surgery. Maybe you even mean that he is not taking hormones. But if he’s living as a man, then he’s not female. And if you see him as male, then he’s not female to you, either.

Just because he has a different body type from what you might be used to doesn’t negate any of that. If you’ve been with several men in your life, you know that their body types vary widely, even though they all might have come closer to the particular prototype or representation that we have of a “standard” male body than your current lover’s body does. No matter. He’s a man, you’re a woman, and the label for that type of relationship in Western culture is “straight.” (more…)

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Question MarkHere, we have two coming-out posts reflecting very different situations. As always, I encourage readers to chime in. Here goes:

A reader writes: “I identify as a genderfluid/ genderqueer FTM transsexual who presents and lives publicly as male. I’ve been in a relationship with a cissexual, genderqueer person who presents and lives publicly as female for about a year and a half.

“She recently came out to her parents as queer. I’ve been out to my family as queer and trans for years, but I’m not out to her family (and most people in general). It simply doesn’t come up/isn’t any of their business, combined with an intense fear I have of people knowing I’m trans, in part due to an experience of coming out to someone I thought I could trust and his reaction being to rape me to try to prove to me that I’m female. I don’t trust many people with this information.

“My partner and I just got engaged, and everyone is happy for us and all is well and dandy. My concern is that folks in my family (who all know my gender history) will tell other people at the wedding, perhaps even tell everyone at once during a toast. I can’t really imagine a worse way for me to come out to her family.

“The options I see are (1) tell her family ahead of time, (2) keep our families apart/elope, and (3) ask folks in my family not to out me and just hope they are able to do it. Do you see any options I’m missing? I’m just so uncomfortable with all of these options. I imagine this information will eventually make the rounds, but I’d feel much more comfortable if it came up naturally and not as a big announcement.”

That’s a tough one. But there’s one thing missing from all these options, and that is – what does your fiancée think? It’s not her decision when and how you come out, but I think under these circumstances, it’s definitely something that the two of you should discuss together (with you getting the final say if the two of you disagree).

My personal opinion is that you should tell her family ahead of time, and here’s why: The two families will probably have many interactions over the years, even if you elope. Expecting every member of your family to honor an agreement not to out you over the next fifty years might be more than you can reasonably count on.

Just expecting no one to slip up at the wedding might be too much. Even with the best of intentions, someone can easily make a mistake, and there could be one family member who thinks this bit of information might be too juicy to withhold – especially after a few champagne toasts. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I’m a 16-year-old trans guy, and I came out to my mom two months ago, and my dad one month ago. They haven’t rejected me (I knew they wouldn’t), but they’re not on board with thinking of me as their son, and probably won’t be in the near future. My mom e-mailed a gender therapist recently, so I’m looking forward to my parents getting a ‘professional opinion,’ and so I can finally talk to someone who speaks my language.

“Some problems are: I don’t know how (or when) to come out to my siblings. My brother is 13, and looks up to my 18-year-old sister. My sister has treated me like less than a human being for my entire life, probably from deep jealousy that started when I was born, and I’m finally letting go of the belief that if I tried hard enough, she would show any emotion resembling love toward me. She’s leaving in the spring, and if I came out to her before that, she would probably out me to our school, and subsequently our town.

“My town has a population of 400, with less than thirty people in my high school and with two other students in my grade. I’ve lived here my whole life, and have despised it for just as long. I need to transition as soon as possible, and the only way I can think of to do that is to move to a big city, and since I’m a minor, I can’t just go and get an apartment and a job in Portland and start testosterone on my own.

“I feel guilty about wanting to ask my family if we can move, since I only have a year and a half of high school left. I also don’t want to put them through a lot of stress if I ended up coming out in this town, which is what I would need to do if I had to spend my senior year here.

“So, do you have any advice for getting my brother on my side, without him getting thrown into the middle of differing opinions within my family?

“How can I convince my parents that living this female lie is so debilitating that I can’t keep it up for even another year, and if I had to stay in this town, I would probably sink into a very deep, deep depression?

“And this isn’t as important, but I’ll ask it anyway: do you think me acting masculine on some days and effeminate on others would confuse them, or that they would have a harder time believing I’m male?”

First I would like to say that I have never known a family that picked up and moved because their teenage child asked them to. Maybe it’s my generation, but my parents would not have even paid attention to such a request. Your parents are probably settled, with jobs, a house, and a life where they are, so I can’t imagine them moving because you ask them to. Again, times might be different now or your family might be different. But I wouldn’t count on them moving. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: I’ve never felt like I fit in until I started to dress as a male at University a few year ago. Before I left University, I threw away my small collection of male clothes because I was scared of what my parents would say/think.

“When I was 16, I was forced by my sister, in particular, to wear a dress. I did tell my sister at the time (who is three years older than me) that I didn’t feel right in a dress, but she said, ‘You’re a woman, so act like one.’ Now I’m settled in a job I really enjoy, I feel it’s time to start to transition, but I’m scared of my parents’ reaction.

“A few years ago, they found out I self-harm, and my Mum didn’t know what to say, but one morning my Dad suddenly wrestled me to the ground and shouted and spat at me, saying, ‘Do you want someone to talk all simple to you? Do you want a straight jacket? Just stop it.’

“I never sought professional help, because I felt like I needed my parents’ support. I stopped self-harming a couple of years later. I want to start to wear male clothes again, to begin the transition, but I’m scared that my parents won’t support me, especially after their reaction to the self-harm.

“I try to dress as androgynous as I can, and I’m being read as a male a fair bit already. Dad keeps on lifting my top up to see how many layers I’ve got on. I feel humiliated, but if I tell him to stop, he still does it.

“My other worry is work. If I suddenly wear male clothing, people may ask questions. Would it be better to make an announcement before I dress as male, so everyone knows what’s happening?”

I don’t know how old you are or whether or not you still live with your parents, but it sounds as if you might be out on your own. You have graduated and you have a good job. If you’re not out on your own, you might consider saving the money to do that fairly soon, if that’s possible.

You do not need your parents’ support to start therapy if you are able to pay for it yourself or have some kind of health coverage that will pay for it. I suggest you start therapy, regardless of what you decide to do. Even though you say you stopped self-harming two years ago, there is a possibility that this could start again as you become more stressed, and some professional support might be able to prevent a setback.

A therapist can also help you make decisions about how to come out at work and what to do about your parents, as well as helping you deal with any negative repercussions that might come from coming out or transitioning in any way, if that’s what you decide to do. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I am a parent of a teenager who just last year, at the age of 17, shocked me with the announcement that she was transgender and would be starting the transition from FTM as soon as she turned 18.

“Up to that point, my husband and I had no idea her gender identity was in question. She was definitely a ‘tomboy’ (as was I most of my life), and never played with dolls, etc., but we never put two and two together. We did think she was a lesbian, however, but even that we were unsure about, because she had gone from one phase to another over the years (emo chick, athlete, etc.).

“So I am trying to find a place where I can be educated that will help me not only believe this, but accept it, embrace it, and eventually advocate for my child. I am having a very difficult time ‘transitioning’ my own mind to believe that my daughter of 17 years is not a female. I cannot get the word ‘him’ out of my mouth, and I cannot get myself to call her (him) by this new name.

“Does this make me a mean, closed-minded, unaccepting parent? I just tried to call my husband ‘babe’ or ‘honey’ the other day (something I’ve never done), and that felt so incredibly awkward coming out of my mouth. How in the world will I call my child ‘he’?

“I cannot seem to find good information on how to change myself, and my husband and my 12-year-old son’s mindset on the fact that ‘Jane’ is now ‘John.’ Not to mention, my husband is not at all willing to change the name. He does not even believe that this is happening. Knowing nothing at all about transgenderism and totally unwilling to educate himself at this, I am at a loss!”

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way right up front – you are not mean, closed-minded, or unaccepting. You wouldn’t be writing to me if you were. So stop beating yourself up about that, and let that one go.

Next, let’s put your husband on the back burner for a moment, because it’s not your job to make him accept his child. Don’t worry – we’ll come back to him later. Right now, we are going to focus on you, because how you deal with this will likely eventually influence how he does, and how your 12-year-old son does. (more…)

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