13 January 2008

I am a 12-year-old who does not want to be female, but does not yet feel any sexual attraction

Hi. I am a 12-year-old female that does not want to be female, but is not yet aware of any sexual attractions. I realize I’m a bit young, but this has been troubling me for 2 years now, ever since I got my first period. There is this boy at school that I might like, but I’m not really sure, and I don’t really think I am in love with him for some reason. But, I have also found that when I think of having a relationship with someone, I see myself as a man with a woman. I have told my parents that I believe myself to be a transsexual. I am beginning to have suicidal thoughts, and I want to stop them before they get to a extremely serious stage. I wanted to know if there are any support groups in California, and if you can provide any help as to how I can survive like this. I really need help before I try to hurt myself, because right now, that seems the only answer, but I know it’s not what I’m supposed to do. Please help me.

Kay Wo

Hi Sarah,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us at AlterHéros. It’s always great to hear from people who are actively thinking about their sexuality, no matter what age they might be.

From your post, it seems that the confusion you are having about how you feel (i.e. you don’t want to be a female and you see yourself as a man with a woman) has been troubling you for some time now. Sorting through these feelings can be a very confusing and stressful time in your life and it may take years to figure out how you truly feel. There are two things that you spoke about in your message: gender identity and sexual orientation.

Gender identity is the term people use to mean the way they see themselves regarding their gender, as a man, woman, a combination of the two, somewhere between man and woman, or agender. Individuals whose sex assigned at birth does not match their gender identity are commonly referred to as trans.

Sexual orientation, on the other hand, is the gender of the person you are attracted to, the most common categories being heterosexual (attraction to another gender), homosexual (attraction to the same gender), bisexual (attraction to the same gender and other genders) or asexual (no attraction to either gender).

As mentioned before, it might take a while to figure out your identity and orientation. Some people find that they knew how they saw themselves ever since they were really young, whereas some do not sort things out until an older age. You are already aware of these issues and you are trying to figure out how you feel in your own skin: this is and will remain a positive step, although self-discovery is always difficult.

I would also like to say that most individuals in our society stand on a certain spectrum in terms of attraction to the same gender as well as other genders, with some people being only attracted to one gender and others to tqo or more genders in different proportions. This is also true of gender identity. No matter where you stand on this spectrum, you can develop ways of interacting with others that are healthy and fulfilling to you.

I am worried about the suicidal thoughts you have been experiencing. What is it exactly that is motivating these thoughts? Is it the anxiety of figuring out your gender identity and sexual orientation? Is it the lack of support? You said you have spoken to your parents about your transsexuality, but you didn’t mention their reaction. Were they supportive? Have you spoken to anyone else about it? Do you have close friends/siblings who are reliable and trustworthy? Feeling like you don’t have any support during this time of confusion can be really discouraging.

Presuming you are attending elementary school or high school, there is usually a school psychologist and/or social worker who can listen to you, offer useful advice and insights and accompany you through this difficult process. These professionals are bound to confidentiality: you can therefore safely disclose information. It is important that you do not remain alone in this situation, as it may rapidly escalate in terms of emotional distress.

To answer your question more specifically, there are support groups in California for trans youth, however, they are spread out all over the state. The best we can offer you at this time is this list of resources from GLAAD. [2021 update : There is also this awesome and updated resource A Transgender Student Scholarships Guide: FinAid, Tips & Resources]

If you feel like you have no one to turn to while you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the USA National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). They will be able to help you work through your feelings when you feel alone or misunderstood. As difficult a time as this is, please do not give up on yourself. You have already been brave enough to reach out to us for help so please don’t hesitate to do so again or to seek help from the resources discussed earlier. Keep exploring your feelings and emotions; it will only help you further discover the person you truly are. Good luck and again, you owe it to yourself to not give up!

K-Wo for AlterHéros