Advice for the Young
Being a teen with gender questions/confusion is tough. I
know, I was there just a couple years ago (I'm 21 now). It can be a very
dangerous time, but it can also be the best time to discover these
things about yourself.
If you explore this side of yourself now you can avoid a
multitude of problems that older individuals might face. You avoid
building a lifetime of relationships based on lies, example: you
probably won't have to worry about the wife and kids. Also, if you chose
to go for hormones/SRS, you will have a much greater amount success if
you start young, while the body is still very receptive to change (at
age 18 the body will still show about 80% - 90% of the effects which
estrogen would have produced in an adolescent female).
Of course there is the aforementioned danger also. One
thing to remember: anyone under 18 is NOT a legal adult and is therefore
basically the PROPERTY of their legal guardians and therefore lacking
many of the civil rights and protections of society.
I almost found this out the hard way. I had barely
turned 18 when I decided to bring this issue up with my family. They
attempted to commit me, yeah to an asylum, "nut house", or as
they called it a "youth counseling and development center".
They could not legally FORCE me to go, but I went anyway for a couple of
It was terrible, I was surrounded by two counselors and
my sister. They grilled me like a hamburger, it was like the
Inquisition. They focused on the "facts" that I was perverted,
would never be accepted by society, and that my "moral
transgressions" endangered the welfare and mental health of my
I finally pulled out of this 'downward spiral' when I
moved away from home to go to college. I simply agreed with the
counselors and my family, told them I was 'Cured', played the part they
wanted, and basically shut my mouth and 'sold out'. Then I started
college a couple of months later and got away from their 'sphere of
I tell this story, not with the hope of frightening you
to death, but with the hope of giving you a 'bad case scenario' to learn
from. It is not nearly the worst or best that can happen in your case,
because every family is different. But before you start 'spilling your
guts' to ANYONE you must be sure, or nearly so beyond a reasonable
doubt, that you can trust them and that they have your best interests at
heart (and not theirs, or the 'greater good' or some crap like that).
This is especially true if you are a very young teen, say 12 to 16, but
it is still very important to anyone 17 or 18.
You can do several things to aid in judging this. First
of all, what is their degree of education. It is often found that a
person's degree of open mindedness goes up as they are educated. This is
not always the case, but it is a good general guideline. The most
important factor is probably religion. Regardless of what people may
say, religion is a prime motivator for intolerance. Religion often calls
for 'evenness' and a lack of diversity, especially the nomadic desert
religions such as Judeo-Christianity and Islam. If a person is very
religious, or even moderately so, they will often react very badly to
any such issues. Once again, this is not always the case, but it is all
to often the way things are.
Do you live in an area of great ethnic diversity, or are
these people used to an area of great ethnic diversity? By this I mean
are there 10 or 20 different ethnic groups in your immediate area. This
will often, but not always, breed some tolerance in the people of an
area. Generally, people in Los Angeles are more tolerant that people in
Podunk, Kentucky (I live right next door to Podunk, it sucks). You could
also attempt to gauge their reaction by bringing up certain related
issues in an intellectual/political context. Ask them their opinion
about homosexuality, gays in the military, Matt Shepard's murder, or the
TV show 'Ellen'. If Jenny Jones or Oprah is doing a show about
transgender people, ask "What do you think about that stuff?"
Don't be too obvious about it, bring it up in context of a news show,
magazine article, or class assignment.
These things are just guidelines. You can choose to take
them to heart or ignore them altogether, its ultimately up to you. On a
final note, even though it might seem hard, being patient is the key. If
you are an older teen, and your parents/family are very intolerant, at
worst you may have to wait a couple or three years to be free of their
most detrimental influence. If they are at least grudgingly accepting,
be patient in exploring this aspect of yourself.
Take time to find a QUALIFIED counselor, one who can
help more than they will hurt. They should have previous experience with
transgender issues and preferably have a good reputation in the
transgender community. Talk with some of their patients if possible.
Above all keep HOPE, that is by far the most important
thing. Most people don't even begin to seriously question their gender
until their mid thirties. By simply addressing this issue now you are
years ahead of many, so don't be afraid to wait. Build your resources
and reserves until you are sure about what you want and if you can
actually do it. No one in their right mind would attempt to climb
Everest without substantial preparation, and this is no different.