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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Hurting and Confused

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Author Topic: Hurting and Confused
Tigercub
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Member # 38532

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I will try to keep this as succinct as possible (we'll see how well that works out). I am a female, 16 years of age. I feel disgusted by parts of my body (I do not mean to say that these parts are disgusting, just that they feel unnatural and disturbing on me personally). Specifically, I am at odds with my breasts. I hate (and have always hated, since they came into being about 2-3 years ago) how they look and can barely stand to take a shower naked, let alone look in the mirror. I don't want to make this too graphic, but I am highly sensitive to tactile touch in general (like clothing seams, etc) and this is even more true when it comes to my chest area, to the point where it's uncomfortable to wear a normal t-shirt anymore. I sometimes get so desperate that I bind them with tape. I truly wish with all my heart that I was completely flat chested. Sometimes I stay up at night because I feel like a freak (don't most people want theirs larger, not gone?) and I don't know what to do. My plan is to get a mastectomy when I turn 18 because I have heard that that is possible, but I have this terrible fear that I will be denied the surgery because doctors will think me completely crazy for wanting this. And I have to do something in the meantime, because this issue makes life almost unbearable.

I thought for a while that I might be a transsexual person. I am definitely a tomboy (I don't think I've ever worn makeup or a dress without being physically forced in my life, have short hair, and wear gender neutral clothes), but I have realized that I don't really want the male genitalia (although I am less than ambivalent towards the female "parts" - the bleeding thing creeps me out beyond belief, but I've heard you can get BC pills these days that will stop that). My sexuality is non-existent; even though I'm in my mid-teens, I've never felt attracted in "that way" towards guys or girls.

I guess I'm just wondering if there's anyone out there who feels anywhere close to the same way as I do, or if I'm just some sort of anomaly/monster...

Posts: 4 | From: USA | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TSuper
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Tigercub, first things first, NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE is a monster for feeling any sort of uncomfortable feelings about his/her body. I want you to know that just because a certain attitude is out of the norm does not make it "wrong" or "sick". Differences are not bad, and they are not evil. Differences are what makes us who we are. You are not alone in the way you think, and there is support for everything. Please don't lose faith in yourself, I don't want you to do that. You are a human being who may or may not fit into popular opinion. So what? That does not make the way you feel wrong. Each person feels the way he/she do for a reason. You are a person, and just for that very reason, you are important. I may not be an expert on these sorts of matters, but Heather and the staff here are very helpful. They are here to help you. You are loved. You are not hated for feelings that confuse you and that you cannot control. I'm sure that everybody here will do the best they can to help you. Don't lose faith, we're here for you. You can count on my support, you are a person, my fellow human, not a monster. Don't cut yourself down like that again. I can tell that you deserve to be built up and informed. I'll do my best to help with that =D.

[ 05-20-2008, 10:10 PM: Message edited by: TSuper ]

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Its all in the way one looks at the world

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echomikeromeo
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I can tell you you're not an anomaly, and *definitely* not a monster. I've definitely felt some gender dysphoria (feeling like there's something "incorrect" about your assigned gender).

I'm pretty much a tomboy, and get mistaken for a boy fairly regularly. I just feel more comfortable presenting that way, even if I like some parts of my female anatomy underneath my clothes. (However, menstruation is pretty much the bane of my existence.)

Some people are asexual, which means that they have a much smaller or nonexistent sex drive - I think this is fairly common, though I'm not sure of the statistics. However, you could also be a "late bloomer." I think I was about 16 or 17 when I developed a sex drive, and that's perfectly normal, though I did feel uncomfortable for a while to be lagging behind my peers.

When you're 18, you can indeed get a mastectomy, though there are procedures associated with the lead-up to the operation that I don't know much about. If you go to the right doctor, they won't think you're at all crazy. If it's at all possible for you right now, I think the first step would be to see if you can see a therapist who is friendly to gender identity issues. Depending on where you live, such a person shouldn't be too difficult to find.

Best of luck.

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Tigercub
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Thank you for your compassionate responses. Reading them made me feel better - more hopeful - than I have for a long time.

TSuper, you said something in your post that really got me thinking - I’m not that well informed at all on gender issues like this because I’ve never personally known someone experiencing them (I go to a private school where the majority of the people are rich, white, and homophobic, unfortunately). Intellectually, I know that it’s ok to be different, but when emotions enter the picture, “different” seems more like “alone and clueless.” People at my school are always laughing at me behind (or not-so-behind) my back, and although I know that they are just jerks and that their opinions don’t really matter, it does wear on you after a while. I have tried talking to my parents about this in the past, but every time I bring it up they either change the subject or act like there is no solution and I am a hopeless (mental) case. I guess that’s probably where the feelings of being a “monster” came from. I think that I have to start researching so that I can become better informed - maybe finding a therapist friendly with gender issues would be a good first step (but I’ll still have to bring my parents around to the idea, because I don’t think I have enough money to pay for more than a couple of sessions).

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Beautiful*But*Lonely
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Alot of teens go through these stages and it varys through ages (11-17) it is completely normal to feel that way. I am just going to try to relate to you and tell you how it was with me.
I was somewhere in between 10 and 11 when I went through this stage. Alot of it was feeling like i was a virgin to everything (sex, drugs, fashion, ect.) and another part of it was i saw myself as i was uglier, fatter, and worst looking then everyone else. Then one day i decided to dress up all girly and go to school. I did and alot more people started complimenting me. Most of the reactions (and i qoute) were, " WOW STEPHANIE, what happened? You look really nice" and i just worked on my self esteem by working on me personal and physical appearance. That helped alot. And about the being uncomfertable with your breasts, most girls are they just dont show it. I dont like my breasts either. But when i put in an underwire and lightly padded braw on they look fine. And when you think about it im sure that those girls you see on the street that look so confident and perfect, they are not perfect either, there clothes and ten pounds of makeup and there positive attitude hides it. But in all reality they probably have bigger issues and lower self esteem then you yourself do. They must since they wear all that makeup and wear such tight clothes that sucks in all there body fat. I hope this was helpful private messege me if you ever want to talk.

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*To keep yourself together when *everybody else expects you to *loose all self is *TRUE STRENGTH*
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Posts: 8 | From: Indianapolis, IN | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Tigercub: when it comes to finding a therapist, you may be able to use your parent's attitude right now to your advantage. In other words, they may support general therapy, and you still get to pick your therapist. There are plenty of therapists sensitive about and informed in gender issues who don't advertise themselves as trans-friendly. You can find out how they are about this issue when you're picking one.

If it makes you feel better right now to bind, then bind away. But ow on the tape! A too-small sports bra often does just fine, or an ace bandage can work too, and both feel far better than tape.

So far as menstrual suppression goes, just so you're aware, we have no studies on younger women doing that yet, so have no idea if there are any long-term health issues. Still up to you, but it's not something I generally advise. Too, you will generally still have some irregular bleeding or spotting when doing that. Getting a full mastectomy at 18 is something which may certainly be outside your options, but a breast reduction then would not be. What you'd likely want to do, though, before doing anything permanent, risky and costly is just talk to someone qualified. Having surgeries only to discover they don't change your struggles at all obviously isn't a position you want to find yourself in.

What you're dealing with is something that is not uncommon during puberty, and which may or may not be a trans issue. It's more common with girls and young women than men, likely because of two things: one, the markets of our changes tend to be more visible, and two, people tend to respond to them more, and pay them more attention. It could be that in a few years, you'll just feel better about your body all on your own, believe it or not. You might want to take a look at this: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/i_hate_being_a_girl_is_that_wrong

Of course, it may also not be phasal, and may stick around. Or, once you have a different environment to be in than the one you're in now, which sounds pretty intolerant, that in and of itself may help a lot. Can I ask what the situation is like at home when it comes to how women are viewed, women's bodies, etc?

I can suggest some books, but it'd help if you could tell me if this feels more like a body issue -- more about your outsides -- or more like a gender identity issue. I'm hearing more the former, but you're the expert on this one.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Tigercub
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Hi again - sorry for taking so long to respond, but I am in the middle of end-of-year exams and have been a bit preoccupied with academics this past week. Heather, I was intrigued to see you ask about attitudes towards women/female bodies in my household. Actually, I don’t really perceive this as an issue - my mom is the primary breadwinner in the family (she owns her own business) and has what I would consider a better-than-average opinion of her body (she would probably walk around naked if I wasn’t here to stop her…well, maybe not, but you get the idea). I find the oversexualization of women’s bodies in the media degrading and insulting to all girls/women - but I feel like my problem goes deeper than that.

I’ve been thinking about what you said about whether it’s my insides or outsides that are the primary problem. If I am perfectly honest, the answer is both. I never really think of myself as a girl/woman, but more of a gender neutral “person,” if that makes any sense. Although I don’t mean to stereotype, I feel like I do not have any of the “typical” female interests, and I have a hard time making friends with other females because of this. Apparently, I interact with people more like a stereotypical male (as I have been told by teachers/councilors/peers, etc. in the past). And I hate to be grouped in with other girls/women, like when people assume that I would like a chick-flick just because I am a girl (*barf*). This is only one example - there are plenty of others, and I usually run into several each day. Being grouped with boys (which occasionally happens because my appearance is rather androgynous, especially when I am “binding”) does not bother me in the same way because most of the resulting assumptions are actually true (i.e., people assuming I’d like an action/adventure movie or video game because that is considered a boyish interest). Sometimes I feel jealous towards male friends, or even people I just see on the street, because I wish that I was in their position as far as gender goes. I hate to admit this, but I really can’t think of any benefits of being female over male - when I casually asked my mom, she said something about females being able to create life, but I find that more creepy than endearing (sort of like the creature from “Alien”). The body issue just makes everything worse, like the straw that broke the camel’s back (to borrow a cliché). My body just feels wrong, like a mistake gone hideously amiss. I feel trapped inside of it, like it’s not mine at all. When I was younger (pre-pubescent), my body felt much much closer to how I feel it “should” be - I was much more comfortable in my skin. I am nearly 100% certain that I would feel this same way if I was the only person left on earth and there were no expectations placed on me by others. I don’t want to look like a pretty girl, I don’t want to be a popular girl, I don’t really care if people think I’m ugly or strange - I just want to be myself, really myself, and have that be okay.

I don’t know if that clarified anything or just came off as an ill-planned rant (the latter description is probably closer to the truth). Anyways, if you have some book recommendations in mind, I would certainly be interested in taking a look at them (and I would be very appreciative - thanks again for taking the time to respond!).

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Okay.

I think you need a very nice injection of some Kate Bornstein. "My Gender Workbook" is an amazing thing, and Kate's a transwoman so she really Gets It. "Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us," another book of hers, would probably also be helpful to you. For another perspective, you might want to look to Judith Butler's work on gender, too.

I'm certainly hearing in this that some of this does have to do with gender role status -- our status as women in this culture -- and gender stereotyping. I think it might be helpful to look at the urge to try and find things which make one gender superior to another: basically, I'd say that's inherited thinking, insofar as that we'd probably not do that at all did we not live in an oligarchy which puts gender in any sort of hierarchy in the first place rather than acknowledging that essentially, we are equal but different. Any special properties any gender has are more due to status a given gender is given by a culture where the rules have primarily always been made by one.

Something interesting to me about the process of SRS is that it is usually made clear to someone who wants to transition that one thing which gets you a no to doing that is wanting to be a different gender in order to improve your social status as far as gender roles go. In other words, someone who came in saying that they didn't want to be female because the world makes it suck to be female would not be approved. Just something to think on. What's your background as far as reading feminist theory? I think a couple books there might be a good idea, but don't know what you already have in your arsenal.

None of that is to say how you're feeling is not valid: it is, and a lot of us deal with that. But it sounds like you do very much have a physical aspect to this, too.

What I'd suggest is giving yourself the latitude to do what you say you want: to just be really yourself. That may take a while to suss out who that is -- it's, of course, kind of the great project for all of us through our whole lives and is never something we will be finished with. But explore that, by all means. For instance, if you'd prefer being addressed gender-neutrally, ask for that from the people around you and experience that for a while, see how it feels. Dress how you'd like to in situations where you can without too much stress. Don't put pressure on yourself to have certain or any attractions if you're just not feeling them. And by all means, I would try and seek out a therapist: it sounds pretty clearly like you are feeling distress and great upset, and could really use some help and support with that. You can just be clear when interviewing therapists, seeking them out, that you need someone who is trans-friendly. Even if you are not sure or do not think you're trans, someone with that background and area of empathy is likely to best understand where you're coming from and treat the issue without very traditional ideas about gender or the notion that the only way to get you feeling better is to get you to accept a gender identity that doesn't feel authentic to you.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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