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Confused and afraid


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I hate talking about my feelings and I never do this type of thing, but here we go. Sometimes I feel like I don't trust myself enough to know who I am or what gender I am. I'm 20, born female, and I've been out as gay for quite a while. For a while I've just been of the mindset that I don't really believe gender is real so I don't feel the need to feel not like a woman because who's to say what a woman is? I've tried to just reject that and be me even though I never really identified with femininity a whole lot. Lately, though, I've been feeling more dysphoria and being more bothered by people using she/her pronouns. When people ask, I say she/they pronouns, but she sounds weird and uncomfortable, but they is scary and confronts me with a huge stressor of mine. Before I thought pronouns were just a word but lately it just constantly reminds me of my turmoil. Regardless, gender is on my mind all the time and it interplays with a lot of insecurities and social anxieties. I tend to downplay my feelings a lot or gaslight myself into thinking they're not real, but also sometimes I dramaticize things ,so I don't really know how much of this is my identity vs. just a phase or something I'm stressing about for no reason. I have trouble talking about gender stuff even though I have a lot of queer friends because I really don't want to come off as sensitive or vulnerable, which are also traits I associate with womanhood because of internalized mysogyny. I hate being treated like a woman but I don't know if that's just because women are treated so shittily in our society. Ever since I was a kid I've said stuff about being an "it" or a tomboy or just hating dresses and skirts. I have a pretty upbeat personality and probably act femme but what does that even mean? In early high school I thought I was transmasc but didn't tell anyone. I pushed it to the back of my mind for a while until I talked to some people about it after quarentine. I have since talked to more people about gender stuff but am still super nervous and stressed about it and hesitant to let people know. It's weird because I am out as a she/they but I do not feel out or like I really got that right. I think I might be nonbinary but I don't want to go through living in a world where so many people don't understand or accept you. I also am super uncomfortable correcting people with pronouns and sometimes I think that's the only reason I'm not they/them.

live in a quite accepting community but the university I go to seems like just a thousand copies of the same male and female archetype that all look the same. I usually dress pretty masc but I have long hair, so I think people are probably confused by me or think I'm weird. I like going out to parties or meeting new people, but something about it seems so inherently gendered. Maybe it's because people are sort of performing their personalities, and gender is important to a lot of people. I know if I did transition or come out it would be hard, but people would be accepting and it would be okay, but also I've lived in the same town my whole life and I constantly see people I know from high school or childhood. It's been really hard to change or grow being around where you've always been and around people who knew old versions of you. I know I'd want to wait until i move but it just feels like such an all or nothing decision

I guess my point of all of this is to ask how do you get to know yourself in a way to figure out your gender with certainty and not feel so much fear about it. I don't really know where to go from here and I never tryuly understood introspection or self discovery. I think I have a lot of insecurity and self hate taht often prevents me from wanting to address these deep rooted things. Everything feels stressful and bad, there's so many other stressful things in my life right now but I spend so much mental energy thinking about all this and hating myself for it. Talking about this is really hard and it makes me less inclined to figure myself out but I know it would improve my quality of life.

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Welcome to the Forums.  My first bit of direction for you is to find an actual counselor who deals with Gender counseling and get going with them.  Pennsylvania actually has some of the best in the U.S.   Something we have found here on The Forums is that if you are in any way questioning your gender, or are bothered by your feelings about it, you are NOT Cis gender, you are Trans, and there is no shame to attach to it from those of us here who live with it daily.  Back a step, check around and find your closest LGBTQ Community Center and join the peer led support and social groups that it sponsors, you will find that Trans and Enby (Non Binary) come in more shapes and sizes, behaviors, and such than you can imagine, but they are all wonderful people who mostly get together for real friendship and more than a bit of humor about out situations.

Keep reading here in the older stuff on the Forums and somewhere you can find some of my first stuff where it was a big confusing world even for me as a later life person. 

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Thanks for sharing @leopardmoth . I'm especially proud of you because you've made it clear it's difficult for you to talk about. I wish to affirm that from what you've written, you have evidently done a lot of deep introspection about yourself and who you are in society. You are right about your observations, in my opinion - "normalized" gender is quite subjective, and indeed it can be difficult to sort through how much you feel is imposed on you and everyone else to get to the core of who you are. It may seem discouraging to tell you this, but it's natural to feel anxious, angry, and frustrated by all of these thoughts - the bright side is that you are having a normal reaction to such deep questioning and observing, especially when your tendency is to keep it to yourself. What's helped me immensely is talking about it - writing and sharing here, opening up to other queer and ally friends, and speaking with the gender therapist I began seeing a few months ago. There may not be a clear cut answer to "who am I" for some time to come. That's normal too because gender is a fluid experience, I dare say, for most people (although many never think about questioning why society is the way it is). Keep in mind you're not alone. Please keep writing and sharing with us. I think you have the intuition to know that your efforts will pay off. 

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