31 août 2009

I'm a very confused boi - is it wrong to want to be both genders?

I’m 15 going on 16, and I’m just, confused about stuff. I thought I had it figured out. I like girls, I’m a girl, so I’m gay. Fantastic. I’m kinda girly but I love being called a guy and dressing masculine. I thought about being male but I want to stay female. I want to identify as female but go by some unisex name that could be either gender. I tell people I’m a boi (not boy) but they don’t care. And I go to an all girls private school. Is it wrong to want to be both genders? I don’t want to not be a female anymore; I feel that I’m more of the female side than male. But, there’s something so appeasing about being a guy. I’ve even considered staying a girl and getting a surgery for a masculine chest because I don’t like my breasts (they’re big). I’m just so unsure and I can’t seem to find people to relate to. What’s wrong with me? And now I may even like guys again? Just what’s going on?

Julie Nguyen

Hi Shadow,

Thank you for writing to AlterHeros. As I hope you know, you are among many other teenagers who are questioning and exploring their sexuality; and sharing your concerns will help others.

If I understand well, I think we could divide your concerns into two aspects 1) your sexual identity and gender and 2) your attraction to girls and guys. You are questioning both, and it is entirely normal. For myself, I strongly believe that everyone is unique; we were all raised in different families and cultures; we have all lived different experiences and all have different genes, personalities and feelings. Many things make us who we are, and our sexuality is one of them.

This is why I would encourage you to not think of it as something being “wrong with you”. Everyone is different, and there is no “right” or “wrong”. The importance, I believe, is to find what makes you happy. It takes courage to listen to your heart, and also to your body. Trust them to show you what feels right to you. With time and experience, you will gain more insight into your sexuality. And it is possible that your identity will evolve; sexuality is not anchored; it can change. You might be attracted to only girls for a couple of years, and then to guys, and then to both. You might want to dress more “girly” one morning, and then buy clothes in the men's department another day. Your heart and body will tell you what feels right. My main point is that you should find what makes you happy. You are in no hurry. If it seems stressful to you to try to label yourself as “female” or “male”, as “gay” or “bi”, I suggest that you don't try to categorize yourself. Be proud of the person you are today, and take care of the person you will become by not rushing into things.

This is why I would suggest taking the time to really analyze all aspects of the surgery you are considering. It might be what you think will make you happy today, but it is a big decision, and its consequences will have effects not only today, but also tomorrow, and years after. Did you consider discussing it with people you trust? You can also talk to specialists, like physicians and therapists who are experts on gender and identity.

If you might allow me to talk a bit about myself, I would like to share with you what helps me most. Have you read about the Kinsey Scale? Alfred Kinsey is a well-known scientist: he did a lot of sex research. And one of his theories is the Kinsey Scale: according to him, there is a wide range of sexual preferences: from strictly heterosexual to strictly homosexual. And he believed that everyone fits somewhere on the scale. For example, someone could be mostly attracted to persons of the same sex, but can be attracted sometimes to people of the opposite sex. And I think the same concept applies to gender. On one end, there is the female gender, and on the other end, there is the male gender. Most of us fit somewhere in between. Someone may have a female body, but could also have qualities and preferences that resemble more what society portrays as male; so that person will be somewhere close to the middle of the scale. I tell you about those scales to tell you that it is comforting to me to know that everyone is different, all of us are somewhere on the scale, and it can vary with time. So you can “want to be both genders”, like you said. You can do whatever you want, you can dress however makes you comfortable.

The importance is to be proud of where you stand, even if you do not know exactly where you stand. Also, surround yourself with people with whom you feel like you can be yourself. You said you have trouble finding people to relate to. Have you considered making a profile on the AlterHeros website? It will allow you to interact with youth just like you, who will be happy to share their experience and hear about yours. Also, do not hesitate to contact experts, because it often helps to talk about it. And you are welcome to write to us at AlterHeros again.

I wish you the strength and courage to listen to your heart,