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Stuck Between Genders

"Feeling Stuck Between Genders"

This week's confession comes from our anonymous Confession Booth group in the TrèsSugar Community. Weigh in with your advice below.

I'm not entirely sure how to explain this, but I really feel the need to try and hopefully I will get some positive feedback from the community.

First I gotta give a little history. I was born male, but when I was 2 or so (can't remember exactly when) my father had a stroke that left him with a severe mental disability. It left him with physical and mental handicaps that made it so his presence in my life almost non-existent. He wasn't able to be that "Father" figure in my life (not his fault) but because we was still IN my life in some way, I never really found any other father figure either. He became a placeholder, in a sense. He was there, taking up that spot in my life as I grew up, but at the same time completely unable to fulfill that role because of his disability.

Because of this, my mother became sort of the "father" figure for me, and I grew up more like a daughter than a son, in terms of the things I learned in both how I act and what I was interested in. I was sensitive and emotional as I grew up, and never felt uncomfortable around girls. By the time I reached high school I had never really developed any strong relationships with guys, the few I made not being much deeper then a shared interest or pastime. Girls, on the other hand, I had a lot of very strong relationships with and more often than not I was "one of the girls" when it came to talks about things like periods, clothes, and their personal issues, and I was always willing to listen and help whenever I could.

Keep reading for the rest of this reader's dilemma and to offer your advice.

When I entered high school though, I was hit with this huge wave of pressure and a lot of problems as well. The first year of high school was the roughest. New people, new classes, new pressures from all sides. Suddenly the guys had gone from being people I didn't talk to much to being almost alien to me, and girls suddenly started viewing me as different as well. I was already much taller than the girls I was friends with, and even most of the guys, and I was rapidly growing into a very masculine body. I struggled to deal with the rapid changes in my life as I tired to "fit in" with the other guys, but I couldn't connect, and even though I was still more comfortable with girls than guys, than they with me, both sides were starting to see the other as "male" and "female" and it made things tense. Love blossomed and withered, friends came and gone, though mostly gone, and my life felt like it was going into a dead drop straight to hell. No one understood me, no one could help me. I was starting to think I was crazy, and developed anxiety and mild androphobia from it. I thought I was going to kill myself at several points during my high school years.

But there is a good light in this dark story. At the start of high school, I had started reading Manga (Japanese comics) and one genre in particular I found myself reading and enjoying the most, the Genderbender genre. In these stories the characters cross-dressed or even switched genders, and I always felt a strong connection to those characters. Eventually I discovered that I didn't feel like a guy anymore, and started exploring things like cross-dressing and being transsexual. But the idea of cross-dressing made me feel wrong. Not that wearing girls clothes was wrong, in fact I liked the idea and still often fantasize about wearing a nice dress or a skirt, but if I was going to cross dress, I wanted to pass as female, and anything less than that repulsed me.

Because of this, I started feeling like I was a girl trapped in a guys body, and started looking for others who felt this way. I talked to people who were taking hormones and a few who had gone through surgery to change genders. The main thing that came from all these conversations was the feeling that they had felt that their body was wrong for them, and they felt that they would only be happy as the opposite gender. This wasn't how I felt though. I didn't hate being a guy, but I didn't enjoy it either. I loved the idea of looking like a girl, but at the same time it wasn't something I wanted all the time. I had started counseling at this point, and the person I talked to said I was likely someone who was gender fluid, and changed back and forth between them. This might have been fine, except for two things. Even though my mind might easily go between male and female, my body most certainly didn't. A 6'4" tall guy with broad shoulders and "handsome" face wasn't exactly easy to picture as a girl, and as I said before anything less than passing was unacceptable to me, and the other problem I had at this point was that, in a way, the two genders had developed their own distinct personalities. The people I talk to, the way I talk, the words I use. The way I talk, the way I dress, the way I act. They all were very different when I was "male" and when I was "female" which made things feel even more complicated, and leaves me at the stage where I am now. I'm still actively going to counseling for my anxiety and androphobia issues, and often bring these issues up as well, but I want to come to a community of others to see what they say.

So please, Group, I want to hear from you with what you think.

There's lots of cool stuff going on in our community — join it, check it out, share your posts or advice in the great groups, and maybe we'll feature it here on TrèsSugar!

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Join The Conversation
Jessica2428874 Jessica2428874 3 years
I think that the development of two different personalities is a result of two different lives you want to live. Speaking as an addict, which is another issue but sort of helps me relate to the development of two different personalities. I don't want to say normal and abnormal, because that doesn't fit in your case, though it fit in mine. More accurately, the life you have now and your other life. I had two seperate groups of friends, I had two seperate sets of places and people I was around... you tend to separate those close to you for fear of being judged and seek out new people because it's more liberating... if they met you as a woman they'll accept you as one, where as friends and family may be less understanding if they know you as a man. You're bound to talk and act differently, but it's probably exaggerated in your mind because you see the behavior as something that isn't "you" while the people witnessing it assume it is. As for what to do, that's going to be tough. It is a long, hard road to transition between genders, though I think if you're serious and you're certain about it, you should try it. I would seek out a therapist who specializes in gender identity, they may have more insight than a regular therapist. There are a lot of resources available now, especially online, for people who share your feelings and experiences, who probably know of better outlets. If you feel more like a woman and that your role in life should be that of a woman, there's no reason not to look into different options and try and lay your finger on what you want to achieve. Then start making it there, step by step. Mostly, much support, much love and good luck.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 3 years
Gender is a social construct. Of course you need to keep exploring who you really think you are, but I don't think it's necessary for you to "pick one." I think therapy will be great and helpful for you to accept who you are, whether or not that fits into the sometimes narrow definitions of gender identity.
freakorist freakorist 3 years
Hello friend, I'm sorry you've had such a hard, confusing childhood.  How often do you feel 'female' and 'male'? Do you tolerate being male but enjoy being female? I feel like life is full of compromises and trying to make sense of this fleeting world. I don't know how I can help but what do you, in your heart of hearts. think you want to do?  In terms of my opinion, coming from a practical person who you should never feel obliged to listen to, I think that this gender issue shouldn't overwhelm or dictate your behavior, why not do what you're comfortable with? What do you want to do in life in terms of work? Also what do you feel is your sexual orientation, from what you've written it seems like you're not sexually attracted to either sex? Otherwise from a very practical sense, it might be 'easier' to develop your 'male' personality and incorporate some of your 'female' touches without overtly doing until you are very comfortable being 'male' and  compromise in that sense. But this is probably a very naive opinion and I hope I don't injure you in any sense. I wish all the best for you and hope you can find your way through this tumultuous, effervescent world.   PS were you male or female when you wrote this?  
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 3 years
Hey Outlaw, I have often said if I wasn't born a woman I'd be a tranny. I LOVE women's clothes, accessories, makeup too -- such a huge joy in life. Why would you have to hate being a man to be true to your cross-dressing self? That's old school. Sounds like you accept your male & female selves. I think time will help settle a lot of this as your identify gels. Right now you need to be busy exploring the world, developing your interests, finding the clothes that are best suited to you (a life long task if you ask me), meeting people, and keeping close what and who makes you feel whole, or more whole. From those experiences you'll piece together what if anything you need to do. Maybe what you need is to simply focus on growing up, continue counseling to make sure you're honoring your emerging self and surrounding yourself with those who can appreciate you. Let the labels fall where they may along the way.
henna-red henna-red 3 years
Burnng Man, Beyond Black Rock is a documentary available on netflix, and possibly other online sources. It's a great watch, if your phobia makes it impossible for you to be around groups of people. There are other things to see to, to experience vicariously that forming of community each year, that not only accepts what's not inside the box, but encourages it.
henna-red henna-red 3 years
Hi outlaw=wind. I have to say that your story doesn't sound to me like other stories of transgendered people I've met and read about. I wonder how much your phobia has to do with your selfidentity, how much your fear is preventing you from self acceptance. Some of the things popping out for me are your insistence on perfection, your phobia, and your refusal to experiment with across dressing until you've achieved the physicality you desire. So you only want to look like a woman if you ca look like a perfect woman. For me, I think this insistence on some personal level of perfection is a thing you need to look at in yourself. I think you're using that as a way to not find some level of self acceptance, as in "If I can't be......then won't even try" So you're throwing up barriers for yourself from the getgo. I don't know how cross dressing will make you feel. I worry for you that you will build up an unreasonable expectation, and then will be be disappointed. It sounds to me as though that's where you're headed. You have a dream, a fantasy, but you will take no steps to fulfill it unless you've hit this other level first. My suggestion is going to be odd, maybe, for you. I see that a community of like minded people is something that would be invaluable to you. You definately need a supportive community, no matter how you define your gender, or sexual identity. And it's very difficult to choose a community if you have confusion about your self identity. My suggestion is that you look into meditation. I think the answers you're looking for are going to be found within yourself, more that without. And I think your self identity is going to be about more than gender. Your story reminds me of some native stories about berdasche, people of either sex who self identified as the other gender, but who also, frequently persued a spiritual answer and identity. Many tribal peoples revered folks with identity issues, I think, because they believed those folks closer to creative universal spirits, and gods, who could more easily tap into and communicate with that energy than the average person. I also think that your counselor needs to be someone who has dealt with the very specific identity issue you're facing, which is beyond just gender. Meditation, a practice of inward seeking, of learning to recognize yourself, and honoring whatever it is that find rather than insisting on some level of perfection before you take a step toward fulfiling a dream or fantasy that excites you, may help you to take those steps towards self actualization. I think you need to look for yourself without some predetermined destination. Find out who you are, rather that picking a label or definition, and then trying to color inside those lines. There are so many schools and styles of meditation, of soul seeking. I wonder if there is a culture that vibrates for you, that draws you in and makes you curious and interested? Yogis, sufis, monks of many faiths, native traditions.....And whatever community you seek I think needs to be open to support you no matter what you find. Do you know what I mean? It may not be just a transgender community, or a glbt community....it will be a community that accepts you no matter where you land, and that may be a community of creativity, artists, faith based, alternative.....something. Have you ever been to burning man.. It's the biggest art show in the world out in the desert every year, and though I've never been, it's about people looking outside of the box. it's a tough environment to live in, even if only for a week, but I'd like to suggest this experience to you also. You certainly have quite a path to walk, not an easy one, but one I hope you give you all that you need, and want in your life. take good care, and blessed be
outlaw-wind outlaw-wind 3 years
@ Luckyduck The counciling is of mixed results. I often do come away feeling like some of my problems have been solved, or ive overcome barriers, but at the same time there is always the feeling of there still being more to fix, more to oversome, and the everpresent problem of my androphobia and anxiety that even if they are better then they were in high school, they're still pretty bad. Your right in that it doesn't seem like i hate my body, which is true, im not repulsed by what i have between my legs, but sometimes i feel that's because it doesn't feel like my body is "Mine" at all. And i wouldn't say i wouldn't be interested in physically or chemically changing my appearance. I might not be interested in getting my parts switched, but id certainly contemplate the rest of changing my appearance. I've done enough research into things like hormone therapy to know its risks and still feel like its an avenue I might pursue down the road. I've never personally crossdressed myself, but imagination-wise i'd imagine doing it in my everyday life, making it just part of my life to look like a girl. when i do think about it, i tend to feel really frustrated and even hate my male body, but at the same time the thought of dressing in those clothes, able to act the way i really feel makes my heart race and my skin tingle. I think i'll continue to hold off on crossdressing though. At least until ive gotten into better shape. a really bad bout of depression left me too lifeless to do much more then lay around for half a year and its messed with my health and physique. As i work on getting back into shape, i feel my self-esteem rising as well, and hopefully once ive lost the weight i put on ill feel ready to try to cross that line
luckyduckyy luckyduckyy 3 years
I've never experienced this, so of course I can't give the best advice. I feel like those who have first-hand experience in this would be best. Anyway, I can still give my two cents. I think the main issue is that you're confused. You know you enjoy appearing as female sometimes, and that you're okay with appearing male most times. You're not thrilled about it. But side-note: I wonder who's actually thrilled about being the gender/sex they are? I mean, for me, I don't wake up in the morning and go 'Gosh, I frickin love being a girl!' When I think about it, I would be happy either way, being a boy or a girl. It's kinda like we make do with what we've got, but some people just aren't happy with that for whatever reason. And that's perfectly fine. Going back to my main point, I feel like you're mainly confused about why you want what you want, and how you can even achieve it. You present several theories that what you want dates back to when you were young and your father experienced a stroke, another when you only related to girls and didn't have guy friends, another when you struggled to fit in with boys. I think maybe your therapist/counselor may be alright, but just not good enough to really know how to get to the heart of this issue. When you leave your sessions, do you feel better about the issues? Do you feel like you're closer to resolving or reconciling with them? If you leave the sessions just as confused as you were before, then that's a sign that something's not working, and you should probably find a different counselor, no matter how nice or understanding that person is. I think another thing to help us understand this is with a few more questions. Where is it that you enjoy cross-dressing (or if you've never actually done it, where in your imaginatio is this place?)? How do you feel in these instances that you want to appear female? Do you feel stuck, confused, angry, sad, hopeless, does your heart race, do you hate being male, etc? Have you ever actually cross-dressed? How did you feel if you did? I think it's certain that you don't want to surgically or chemically change your gender. You don't hate being male, looking down at your male-parts doesn't repulse you, and you only desire to appear female sometimes. One of your main qualms is that you have an overly-masculine facial structure. That can't be changed without surgery (as in, shaving down your jaw-line. ouch). You can lose weight, but I really don't advise that unless you do it very properly and maintain your health. Even with weight loss, that won't change your bone structure. You'll still have broad shoulder and be tall. If you don't want to go through surgery, you should try to learn to make the best of what you've got. Work towards being happy and having better self-esteem rather than wanting to change yourself. Oh, and if you haven't tried cross-dressing yet, I suggest you do that. While you may feel an 'all or nothing' reaction towards it, you should still fully explore that.
outlaw-wind outlaw-wind 3 years
Thanks! It means a lot to have such positive feedback and support. I guess my bothersome reality at this point is just how "masculine" I look. I don't think I'd want to switch genders, but I'd certainly have an easier time enjoy life if i were slim instead of broad. for me its my face that bothers me the most. Body-shape can be changed with exercise and hormones, but the facial structure is kinda set for life. At least I'm still young at 20 xD so I've got lots of time to try and reach for what I want
BiWife BiWife 3 years
I can certainly appreciate feeling stuck between two identities. Granted, orientation isn't the same thing as physical gender, I totally get that. It took me most of my life to figure out *what* I am and how I was going to handle it. Good for you for continuing counseling, having someone to talk to is critical. I'd never have gotten where I am if it weren't for my husband, he truly helped me quit lying to myself about who I was and what my true feelings were by giving me a greater perspective on things. I can't really give much specific advice, since I've never gone through exactly what you're dealing with, but know that you aren't alone and you will find your place in due time. and while I wouldn't call myself intersex, I definitely appreciate working the androgyny. It's easy for me, as a woman, to strap on a fake c0ck, but there's no hiding my DD's or feminine face to pull of the kind of cross-dressing where you actually pass for the opposite gender. We gotta figure out how to play the hand we're dealt, sometimes that means trading in a few cards for something better/different.
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