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I hate being a girl: is that wrong?

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Anonymous asks:

I'm a 13 year old girl and HATE being a GIRL. I have the mind strength hands feet and hairiness of a boy but still have the body of a girl complete with boobs. Is there something wrong with me wanting to be a boy?

Heather Corinna replies:

There are a couple of common reasons why someone might hate being a girl: you might hate it for one of them, or you might hate it for all of them. Regardless, you get to feel however you feel and there's nothing patently abnormal or wrong about being uncomfortable with your own sex or your gender, be it for a little while, or even full-stop.

The most common reason, by far, why girls can hate being girls is because the world that we live in is generally constructed in such a way that women are positioned to be lesser and/or feel lesser. (In fact, it's a pretty good illustration of that when anyone talks about having the "strength" of a man, since men and women, by sex alone, are equally strong: our physical strength just often can have different centers of gravity...but not always!) Many of us are told -- either outright, or just by the messages we see and hear more subtly -- that it's better to be a boy than a girl, better to be male than female. There are also specific burdens most girls and women in culture carry which boys and men do not (and vice-versa).

Too, a lot of the time, when we go through puberty -- and this can be the case for both boys and girls -- and our bodies start to become more gendered, and our sex becomes more obvious, it's typical to feel uncomfortable with the extra attention our bodies and our identities as defined by biological sex can get, especially if certain or traditional gender roles ascribed to us aren't roles we like, want or are comfortable with. A common term for a person, of any sex or gender, who doesn't feel comfortable with their gender is gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is especially common at the age you're at right now, so this might be something that will change and feel better with time.

A less common reason someone assigned female sex may be less comfortable being a girl, or want to be a boy is because that person may be intersex or trans gender: in those cases, gender dysphoria may not go away in time or feel better over time if that person is trying to be a gender that they either simply are not, or do not feel they are.

An intersex person isn't biologically female (XX) or male (XY) but instead, has a different combination of chromosomes, like XXY, XO, XXX, XYY or other variations . Sometimes, a given variation of chromosomes can result in an intersex person feeling more like the "opposite" sex, but at other times, an intersex person may not feel male OR female: too, sometimes, intersex people don't feel any different at all. Some intersexed people will need medical treatment: others will not. Some will look different in some ways than other people, most others will not. A person can get a test from their doctor to determine if they are intersex or not.

Trans gender is a term for people who are usually (though some can also be intersex: one doesn't have to be XX or XY to be trans gender) assigned male or female sex at birth, and/or who are XX or XY, but who do not feel like the gender that "matches" that sex, but like the opposite gender. There are an awful lot of theories as to why some people (and it's tough to estimate how many people are, but it's usually estimated at a maximum of one in every 2,000 people, and a minimum of one in every 10,000 people) are trans gender, so right now, no one has any one reason why, but what we can say for sure is that some people ARE trans gender and gender dysphoric, and probably not just because of cultural gender roles or sexism (though that can certainly make being trans gender even more uncomfortable).

I want to also mention that things like hands, feet, hairiness and the makeup of our mind and personality aren't just or at all determined by our biological sex. Certainly, for instance, overall, men as a group tend to have more body hair than women as a group, but at the same time, there are some women who are hairier than men and some men who are virtually hairless, and both of these variations are normal. And what our overall mind or personality is like -- the way we think, what we think about, what we like, what skills we have -- really is not, so far as most data has shown us -- about our gender or biological sex, period.

The real issue right now with you as I see it is that you're feeling really uncomfortable in your own skin, and obviously, that can cause some real stress, suffering and agony.

So, what I'd suggest is just thinking about these things a little, seeing which of them ring true for you, and then seeking out some good support or counseling if you still feel so uncomfortable and/or like you don't want to wait this out a little bit and see how you feel in time. There are some counselors who specialize in gender issues and dysphoria, but this is also something you could address with a lot of general counselors, or if you have a doctor or nurse who you like and trust.

You might also want to hop over to your local bookstore or library and check out some books on gender identity and/or intersex/trans gender to help you get a better bead on how you're feeling exactly so that you can figure out what exactly you need most right now to help you feel better. Kate Bornstein's My Gender Workbook is one I'd very enthusiastically recommend (and Kate is trans gender herself, so she gets it, big time). Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling's work with biological sex and gender is also really illuminating, and you can read all about it in her book, Sexing the Body. You might also look into some books about dealing with puberty, since, as I mentioned, it's really typical to feel this way when your body and brain are changing uncontrollably every fifteen minutes.

I do hope that you know that no matter what the case is here, whatever gender identity feels best to you, and feels the most true to you is okay.

What's most important isn't having a gender identity that "matches" your biological sex, or one which everyone else thinks is best, but having one that feels best to YOU and most authentic for you. So, I'd advise you in exploring your feelings on this to do what you can to accept that whoever you are is whoever you are, and to put your heart and energy in finding out who that is, even if you don't think it's what others would agree is right. It's really no one's place to decide on gender and gender roles for anyone but ourselves, and none of us can ever determine what the 'right" identity or set of feelings about gender is for anyone else.

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