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Archive for the ‘Expression’ Category

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 MarkA reader writes: “I recently started college, and I quickly came to the realization that I am transgender. I have been transitioning every way but physically (mentally, socially, etc.), and the process has been enlightening for me. The problem has mainly been with my friends and classmates.

“All of my friends have been as supportive and understanding as they know how. Some friends that I have known for years simply accepted my trans identity as if I came out as gay, telling me they love me, but showing no signs of changing pronouns or their mental perception of my gender. And other friends struggled to remember pronouns and try to shift their thinking from the binary, but it left me feeling discouraged around them and strangers. Additionally, most of my classmates only have my voice and clothing to go on, which convinces them I am a lesbian.

“And I worry that girls who would like me as a guy don’t because they think I am a girl, and others won’t be able to forget that I’m not the girl they thought I was (which happened last semester). I feel as if I am constantly trying to convince people of my maleness. I can count on one hand the number of people I feel 100% comfortable that they view me as male no matter what.

“I have thought of ways to lightheartedly correct pronouns in a way that convinces people I am just a cis guy with a high voice and soft skin, but constantly being misgendered has crushed my outgoing spirit. I don’t want to be “out” in a way that everyone would know I am trans before knowing me, and I don’t want to discuss it with every person I meet. I identify proudly as trans, but I don’t want to be trans first, I want to be male.

“Some people accept the trans label and he/him pronouns, but I can tell they still relate to me as a lesbian. I don’t want my manhood reduced to others trying to remember the right pronouns or something open for discussion and questioning by those who don’t know me. How can I find my confidence and voice in a way that is empowering for me? What advice do you have for pre-/non-physically transitioning guys who want to be seen, and respected, as men?”

This is a tough problem that I think many, or most, trans people experience when/if they are changing name, pronouns, and gender presentation. Transition is an ongoing process, both for you and for those around you. I realize how annoying it is to hear someone tell you to be patient with others when you’re the one who is experiencing the pain of being misgendered, but that’s what I’m going to tell you – be patient.

I don’t know how long it has been since you came out to your friends, but since you say you recently started college and came to this realization, I’m going to assume that it might be a matter of only a few months, and maybe not even that. And honestly, a few months, while it seems like an eternity to you, is really a very short time for your friends to permanently alter their perception of you. (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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Question MarkA reader writes: “I was inspired to write by a question you posted recently from a parent asking about their genderqueer teenager. I felt like that teenager could have been me if I was born a couple of decades later.

“I started to have issues with my assigned birth gender at about age 13, but the message I got from so many people was that I was just going through a normal adolescent phase and I would grow up to feel comfortable being a woman. I spent some years thinking I must be a trans man, but that didn’t really fit either. By the time I was 19, I was pretty sure I wanted to change my body to create something androgynous and knew that meant taking hormones.

“But this was the 1990s and everything I read and heard about transition was that it was only open to binary-identified people who could complete a ‘real life test.’ My brief experiences with therapy where I tried to bring up gender issues did not go well – my therapists took the ‘normal adolescent phase’ tack I was hearing everywhere else. So I did my best to push my issues aside and accept living in the body I was born with, because I didn’t think I had another choice.

“Fast forward to the past couple of years. I started hearing about non-binary and genderqueer folks who were pursuing partial transitions to achieve androgynous bodies. They were finding therapists and gender specialists who were supportive of this, even managing to get their transitions covered by insurance. I’m re-evaluating my decision not to seek transition in light of this.

“I’m really wishing I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self this was an option, but of course the past is the past. I have to deal with the present, and the present I live in is one in which I know I could have hormones if I decide I want them, but in which I have the weight of nearly two decades of convincing myself I didn’t need that weighing down on me (I’m 37 now). So I guess the question is, if I’ve lived without T for the better part of two decades, do I really need it?

“On the other hand, if I’ve lived without it all this time, but the feeling of wanting it never went away, maybe that means I really do. Complicating this decision is the fact that I am married. My spouse identifies as agender, but to him that means he just expresses himself however he wants and if other people project gender onto him that’s their problem and not his. (more…)

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Question MarkA reader writes: “I have a question about how to support my teen daughter. She is 19 and decided this past year that she identifies as genderqueer, which she describes as ‘being neither male nor female, but only herself as an individual.’

“Until she was 18, we saw no sign of this; for example, she used to wear very long hair and dresses at 17, but now is dressing and wearing her hair ‘butch,’ to use her words. She did not express discontent to us with her gender when growing up. She also identifies as bisexual, which we have been aware of and supportive of since she was in high school.

“She says that she has great discomfort with her biologically female body so has decided to go onto testosterone hormones in order to have a more gender ambiguous body, ie, to look and sound less female. She is not interested in transitioning to becoming male. However, she does want to drop her voice to sound like a man and hopes to change her facial structure.

“Her father and I support her feelings about her gender identity – at least we think we do – but we are very concerned that she is apparently being given medical permission to go onto male hormones so quickly. We would like for her to slow the process down and take more time to decide.

“One reason is that she is struggling with other mental health issues, such as depression and ADD, with which she was just diagnosed this past year and still has not yet found the right combination of therapy and medication to treat either one. We’d like to see those under control before she adds any hormones at all to the mix. She seems OK with this part of our objection and says she will give it two months.

“A second concern is that she seems to have identified so recently as genderqueer that we wonder whether she can really know whether this is a deep-seated identity issue that must play out with hormonal therapy for her to feel comfortable in her body, or if it is part of normal exploration of what gender means to her in a culture that has pretty rigid and narrow expectations of what it means to be female. She also has never dated or kissed anyone (either male or female) and seems to fear vulnerability of her body within the context of a romantic or sexual relationship, and we wonder if that is also relevant.

“When we expressed these latter concerns to her, she told us we were being ‘transphobic.’ We think there is a difference between being transphobic and telling your child that we think she needs more time to discern. (more…)

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