Help Please

Hi, I’m a 14-year-old girl, and I really need some help. I’m a practicing Catholic. My problem is that I really want to be a boy. I’m in gymnastics, and I think that has distorted my self-image, but I can’t stop gymnastics; it’s my social life, it’s my only sport, and it’s the only place I fit in. It started about a year ago (wanting to be a boy), and it just hurts so much. It scares me. As I said before, I’m a practicing Catholic, so I don’t believe that being gay/lesbian/transgender is really OK. I don’t want to physically get the surgery done, and I don’t plan to, because I know it’s wrong. I don’t even really WANT to do that. I just wish I was born a boy. I like hanging out with guys, but they all seem to think I’m weird. I’m crying as I’m writing this. I feel like I’m in a constant conflict with myself and God. I feel like I’m living in sin. Please help me.

Being male oriented does not make you gay, lesbian or transgender, I know many happy women that drive heavy equipment, hunt, and do all the things men do while hanging out in the man circle, talking about guns, hunting, fishing and things that are normally the interests of males. They also have happy marriages and children. I understand modern philosophy would tag you as something you may not even be, but you don’t need a modern tag to be uniquely you. I don’t believe for a second God is going to hold being a Tom Boy against you, so be happy and celebrate your unique male oriented out look on life as who you are. A strong woman.

I do not have any advice to give, because it is not really an area of adolescence that I am familiar with, so I don’t want to say anything to cause you more confusion or pain. I just want you to know that I am praying for you and that God’s love and mercy are unfathomable. He will be with you every step of the way, even if you do not always sense His Presence in the turmoil. Enlist the help of the saints to pray, console and intercede for you, particularly saints like Therese of Liseaux, St. Jude, St. Philomena, St. Maria Goretti, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha. I think St. Kateri particularly will be of help to you, along with St. Therese.

Adolescence is a hard time for most people, much less when you are confused over gender issues. You are not alone. Continue to turn to God in prayer for graces and for the strength to follow His will in your life. May He bless you and guide you.

Divine Mercy Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.

:hug1: I’m sorry you have been going through such a hard time, but I think you are right to seek help.

I was into gymnastics for years but didn’t want to be anything but a girl, so don’t give up your gymnastics. When I later had to give up my gymnastics due to a disability, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever had to do.

Actually, when I was in gymnastics, it made me feel quite feminine. I would wear very feminine outfits, leotards, tights. I would be with a group of other girls.

I’d recommend counseling, but great care would need to be taken to get the right counselor, because some counselors today don’t have the same moral compass as Catholics.

Do you realize this feeling has been around a very long time? It’s really nothing new. Even Freud commented on it. He referred to it as “penis envy” and even had a hypothesis as to when it started, and why.

I know that Catholic Social Services offers some Catholic counselors.

I would prefer you not go through this alone. There are others who have faced this scenario. You are also not the first to feel this way and probably won’t be the last.

As to counseling, if you don’t go with Catholic Social Services, there are other counselors available, but again, one would need to be clear upfront that one wants someone who would go along with a Catholic perspective, not encourage you to go along with these impulses.

Often, if you have health insurance, it will cover at least a few counseling visits.

Good luck with whatever you end up doing, and God bless!

Thanks so much everyone. I’ve never really opened up about this, besides telling people I’m a tomboy when someone asks. Yeah, it’s not that gymnastics makes me feel like a boy, I think it really just messes with your body image, delayed puberty and all. Also, I do competitive trampoline, so it’s co-ed. Actually, there’s this one kid I met there. He’s only 10, but he’s so much fun and he’s one of the only people who just takes me as I am, and that makes a world of difference to me. I’d go as far as saying he’s one of my best friends. I actually used to be pretty girly, but as gymnastics got more serious, I started to put pressure on myself to keep a child’s body. Then it turned into trying to have a boy’s body. Then I just wanted to be a boy. It’s messed up, but that’s just how it is. Thanks so much for all your help again, it means a lot.

I once saw a movie, believe it was a true story, on a gymnast, forget which one. It was SO hard on those who took all that seriously. They didn’t want her to gain any weight, since she wouldn’t be able to fly through the air as easily.

She underwent a bunch of emotional and mental issues as a result of all that they put her through.

For people who are strong in gymnastics, I think it’s hard, in a similar way that it’s hard for actors. Actors have it so hard. They are in the public spotlight, and they just have really difficult lives as a result of their work.

I guess acting would be okay, but somehow, it sometimes gets to a point where it seems to do something to the person.

Possibly gymnastics could be the same way who people who get into it where gymastics are everything, even above one’s own physical, mental, or emotional health and well being.

Gymnastics can be great exercise, good for a social life, and plain fun. When it stops being fun, that’s time for concern.

If gymnastics are in a balance, where it allows you to keep a womanly shape, not forcing you to be flat chested, like a boy, then it’d be okay. However, if it pressures you to a point you are starting to lose your mind, maybe best…not to quit, but to reevaluate its impact, not permit it to overrun everything, be destructive instead of constructive.

Keep life in a balance.

Oh, and thanks for trusting us enough to come to us and speak to us about this issue. It takes a lot of courage.

I went through a phase where I wrestled with what it really meant to be a woman, and I hit both extremes at one point or another. Sometimes, I dressed like a guy to the point people thought I was one!

Later, I went through the other extreme where I would only wear skirts.

Now, I’ve come to a more central position on the issue of gender.

I still do things that are traditionally “men’s” roles, but equally, I live alone, almost have to, that or pay someone all the time.

We have some tomboys on the forum, and I guess it works for them.

Some tomboys even fall in love, get married, have kids.

Yeah, I agree. My coaches and teammates are really like my second family, and they would never put pressure on me to change myself. It’s not them, actually, it’s me. In trampoline (even competitive trampoline), your body shape doesn’t matter too much, unless you’re REALLY over/underweight. You could have a woman’s, man’s, or child’s body, and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. But before I was in trampoline gymnastics, I was in artistic. It was just recreational artistic, but the pressure kinda rubbed off on me. Again, nobody told me to lose weight or starve myself or anything, and I never really did, but even since I was little, I’ve always felt fat. I’m not really, or at least I don’t think so. My brother calls me a skeleton, my neighbour says I need to gain weight, and my friends all think I’m skinny. I guess I am, but I’m still bigger than a lot of my teammates. Actually, in trampoline, it’s BETTER to be heavy enough to push down the tramp, so you can go higher, instead of being so tiny that you go really low. But I’m still insecure. Especially since I’m one of the older kids in my group, and the most “mature”, if you know what I mean. I’m actually quite small and flat compared to most kids my age, but compared to the 8-12 year olds I train with…well you get my point. I know I’m being unfair to myself by comparing myself to 10-year-old boys and 9-year-old girls, but it’s hard not to. Especially when you have to wear short-shorts and tight t-shirts to practice. Anyway, this is turning into a novel, so I better stop writing, before I max out the character limit! Thanks again, everyone (:.

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