So. Um. Hi.
I always feel super awkward posting on new forums. Especially with super long posts like this is going to be. Doesn't help that this has always been a part of me that I've been too scared to go near.
I don't know what I am. I'm born female and for the most part I feel female. I refer to myself as a women, I support women's rights. But... I don't know. My body's never felt like a part of me. It's just an ugly case that carries me around in exchange for being fed and such. When I first started writing I used a male pen name, but that felt wrong as well. Like I was lying. I don't know how to approach this part of me. I don't know how to handle it, how to come to grips with it. I don't know if I'm a women or duo-gendered. Bi-gendered? Is there a term for this?
In addition, I'm not straight. I know that much. But I don't know what I am. I guess bi-curious is the term but that's always sounded so pithy. (No offense to anyone who labels themselves as such.) Maybe I'm bi. Maybe I'm a lesbian. Maybe I'm asexual. I don't know. I've had men approach me looking for relationships more times than I'd like. The last time I was open to the idea, but it just... it didn't stick. The idea of having a boyfriend felt wrong and alien and weird. Maybe it's just that he lived in California and I live in western Canada. I've always been attracted to girls. Hell, I can even remember my first crush. I was nine, I think. I didn't recognize it for a crush at the time but by God she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I loved her. I really did. I was stunned by how beautiful she was, struck by how kind she was. She showed me warmth and love when so many others wouldn't. And I remember the first time a boy touched me. My skin was crawling for days.
A few people know. My brother knows but I don't think he's comfortable with it. Every time I try to talk to him about it he brushes me off and leaves or pretends he didn't hear me. I know he loves me, but he's one of the few people I've always felt like I can talk to about anything. The fact that I can't talk to him about this just makes it feel worse. My Mum knows and she promises to love me no matter what. Two of my closest friends know and accept it, but we don't talk about it. One of them's bi herself. I wish I could live as openly as she does. I don't see her anymore, though.
My father knows. Accepts it. I thought that would help. I really did. I have... a lot of daddy issues. In a lot of ways, he's kind of a metaphor for my relationship with God. He lives far away and has for almost all of my life. He promises he loves me but he doesn't talk to me much. When I talk to him he usually ends up trying to keep up a relationship but letting it slip and acting like it's my fault. I loved him a lot when I was a kid but now any time I try to speak to him it ends up in an emotional breakdown and a deleted email.
Two years ago I gathered up my emotional courage for months and forced myself to write an email to him telling him that I'm not straight. I half-expected him to disown me for it. Most of my religion comes from my father, who is an Anglican pastor in the Armed Forces. I can't remember what the rank is called. So in a way, emailing him about it to see if he would accept it was testing the waters to see if God would accept it. And he did accept it. "God has blessed me with a beautiful daughter," he wrote. "And if God has made that daughter gay then so be it." I cried for hours. Hell, I'm crying now just remembering it.
So... I had my father's approval. I had convinced myself that it would help, it would make it all better and I'd finally be able to accept myself for who I am. But the stigma's still there. I don't know why. I'm afraid to come out in general. I don't know what of, though. I know all my friends and family will accept me for it. I'm blessed enough to live in a very open-minded community. I've never considered homosexuality to be a sin. God loves me, I'm sure of that.
Why am I afraid of this? Why don't I understand it? My sexuality is so big and so scary and so confusing. I don't know how to approach it.
So... I guess what I'm trying to say is...
Please, help me. I'm tired of being scared. I just want to love myself.
You are so lucky for having so much acceptance and love around you. I think maybe the big picture issue for you, though, is your gender identity as opposed to your sexuality. It sounds like you have issues with your own body and this is not as uncommon as you may think. Maybe you feel inside like a man and you love women because of that. I am by no means an expert on the subject - I'm just saying what I got from your post.
There is a well-populated Transgender section with lots of great links listed further down the site. Scroll on down and see if you can get some guidance. There are also many people who have posted on this site who have similar feelings. You can always PM them and talk with someone who relates to exactly how you feel.
Talking to an experienced therapist may also really help you sort out what you are going through.
Please try not to be scared. You are simply going through a process of trying to get to know who you are. Stay focused on figuring it out rather than judging yourself or being scared. It will eventually all make sense to you - and it sounds like you have a loving support system who will accept whoever you figure out that you are.
You might be genderqueer. Google it. Yes, being bigender or dual-gender is a thing. Google that too. :P And search for those terms on YouTube to find loads of videos of people discussing it.
Did using a male pen name feel like you were lying because it didn't feel accurate to who you are, or because it didn't feel accurate to who everyone perceives you to be? Was it a sense of 'But I don't feel like a guy', or 'But I have a female body and I live my life as a girl and I've been seen as a girl all my life and everyone still sees me as a girl so really I can't be a guy and have no right to call myself a guy'? My impression is you've spent a very long time living for other people, which is why your own identity terrifies you. Focus on getting to know yourself as you really are, separate from other people's perceptions and expectations of you.
Talk to lots of Trans and queer people! You're already starting to do that, but this board is not the best place to do it - not by a long shot - because it's pretty dead here. (You may think that what you see here qualifies as a decent amount of activity; it doesn't. :P ) We're not all cookie-cutter; for many of us, the only thing we have in common is that we're Trans and/or queer. We cross every demographic group and have a lot of different perspectives to offer. Get as many perspectives on things as you can so you can make well-informed decisions. Hope to chat with you at http://ftmichael.transboys.info/yayforqueers.html !
Take your time with these links; getting through them is not a race, and going through them slowly is a better idea anyway. Go through them in whatever order you want; I've just listed them by URL length so they're easier to read.
If you get a database error on any of the T-Vox links, just click the little View Source tab and it'll show you the raw contents of the page.
Must-reads if you can get hold of them - you may be able to find them at your local library or through inter-library loan, or get a cheaper used copy online:
* Luna by Julie Anne Peters (YA fiction)
* Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger (YA fiction)
* Becoming a Visible Man by Jamison Green
* the Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper
* Just Add Hormones by Matt Kailey (author of the above-mentioned Tranifesto)
* Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, edited by S. Bear Bergman and Kate Bornstein
* Trans Forming Families, edited by Mary Boenke (third edition, 2008) - available from PFLAG's Transgender Network - http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=413 - for $10 US
* The Our Trans Children leaflet (sixth edition) - available from PFLAG's Transgender Network - http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=413 for $2 US, or you can save and print it yourself for free. The booklet is their only source of revenue, so if you can pay for it, please do!
* TransGeneration - http://amazon.com/TransGeneration-Raci-Ignacio/dp/B000CRR3I8 (Ignore what Lucas says in the first episode about hormones being "very dangerous" - they're not, not if you get them through a competent doctor and have regular - which usually means annual - bloodwork.)
(The books, aside from Trans Forming Families, can be ordered on Amazon or you can get the ISBNs from Amazon and bring them to any bookshop to order them. The DVD can be ordered on Amazon also, as you see from the link.)