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How to be a trans man and feel good

Hi Sam, I’m almost 16 and I’ve known for almost four years that I identify as a man. My parents told me I’ll never look like a boy. This was true when I was 13 and had a baby face. However, for the past two years, instead of my face developing into an even more feminine shape, it’s become masculine. My cheekbones have sharpened, my jawline has become more defined and my nose straighter. As a result, even with my almost shoulder length hair, I look like a bloke. Even dressed up as a girl, unless I’m wearing really thick makeup, my face is still really masculine. I’ve checked with friends that my brain isn’t just playing tricks on me, and they all confirm it. This would be fine, except for the fact that I’m forced to dress like a girl. And as much as I’m happy to have such a masculine face, being seen as the ‘ugly‘ girl is really knocking my self confidence and I don’t want to go outside and see other people. I have no idea what to do or how to sort this out. Any help would be reaaaally appreciated!

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Sam

Hi there,

Gender and appearance can be a problem for some people because it feels like there are so many expectations about how men and women should look. If your gender doesn't fit with the clothes that people say are only for men or only for women it can affect your confidence and how you feel about yourself.

You should be able to wear whatever clothes you want without feeling like there is a gender attached to them. There isn't anything to say that women can't wear clothes often worn by men or boys wear clothes that girls usually wear - usually it's down to how confident you feel. Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world so when gender and clothes are mixed there may be some unwelcome and unhelpful comments from people. If you can build your confidence up enough to handle those kind of comments, then you can wear whatever clothes you want.

It's hard in your situation because the clothes you're being forced to wear don't match your gender identity and that's not fair. You should be able to wear the clothes you feel most comfortable with. This problem really comes down to choice and how much say you get in the clothes you wear. If you want things to change you have a couple of options.

You could try to explain how you feel - just like you've done to me. If you explain to your parents how it's making you feel, you're giving them a chance to put this right. It's important to tell them why you feel this way and the effect it's having on your happiness. To get to a place where you can see eye to eye with your parents it's important for you to try and understand their point of view as well. Ask questions about how they feel when you talk about your gender as it might be a difficult idea for them to get used to as well. If you're not sure about talking in person, you could try writing them a letter.

If talking doesn't work or isn't something you feel comfortable doing yet, you could try taking some control over your clothes. If you're able to work part-time at the weekend or evening or find some way to have a small amount of income, you could buy some of your own clothes. If there are any family members or friends that you trust, you could ask that any gifts for birthdays or holidays could be gift cards for clothes shops you like.

If you can't do any of these then you might have to wait until you'll have control over all aspects of your life, including what you wear. This could be something you bring up with your parents if they're still resistant to the idea of you wearing male clothes. If you remind them that when you leave home you are going to dress the way you want to anyway and it would be a more positive experience for everyone if you had their support now.

I hope that this has helped but remember you can also talk with other young people who might be going through similar things by posting on our message boards.

Thanks for writing, take care.

Sam ​ ​

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