Dear Marlena, I’m going crazy cuz idk what I am. I always thought I was fine being a girl but now idk. I hate having a female body, but I like being feminine and wearing girl clothes. I started dressing as a boy and find wearing a binder really helpful, but I’m not passing and I feel like I look ugly as either gender now. It doesn’t feel right calling myself a boy, but I want a boy’s body so badly. Nothing feels right and I’m losing my mind over this! Plz help me figure what I am! -L Dear L, I’m glad that you took this giant leap to start to get some questions answered! Gender Identity and sexuality can be looked at as fluid scale. In other words, some days you may feel more masculine than feminine and visa versa. I’m not an expert but I know when you are going through puberty, your body releases hormones called testosterone and estrogen. During this time, your body makes big changes. Feeling like you are born into the wrong body (female-to-male, male-to-female) is referred to as being transgender. Likewise, gender-free people are those who may not identify as either male or female. What’s important to remember is that transgender or gender-free people are just as capable as anyone else. They are doctors, lawyers, mothers/fathers or athletes. Throughout your life journey you may encounter people who are discriminatory or uncomfortable with who you are, however, you are incredible and I thank you for reaching out. If you would like more resources on transgender identity you may want to check out these links www.thetrevorproject.org, http://www.sunserve.org/. Another great resource is http://kidshealth.org/teen/. I hope that you find these resources to be helpful! If you have any more questions feel free to give us a call at 2-1-1. They are always there to talk L, don’t stop being you!- Marlena P.S. You may also find it helpful to check with the GSA, Gay and Lesbian Alliance in your school. Marlena
Dear Marlena, I am 16 yrs old and moved to South Florida from Colombia two years ago. My issue is that my parents act as if they still live there and are so strict.
Dear Marlena, I want to be skinny like my best friend but nothing I do seems to work and I’ve tried A LOT of diets. I know I’m not eating right and my parents are starting to notice. I think I have an eating disorder but I don’t want to freak them out if I tell them. What do I do? Thanks, Mary Dear Mary, I’m so glad you took your first step to getting help. My short answer to this important question will not be the whole answer, so I do hope you speak to someone soon, as it’s very important to me and those that love you that you stay healthy. I know by you reaching out to me that you want to better yourself so if you aren’t comfortable sharing yet, you can start by speaking anonymously to a counselor at 2-1-1. They will give you some referrals to get you on track and talk with you a bit about what you are going through. It will also be the first step for you to begin opening up about the subject of anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders are more common than you may know. In fact, 1 or 2 out of every 100 students will struggle with one in the U.S. this year. Learning to be comfortable with your body is a process. Be patient, you can learn to like your body, understand your eating behaviors, and figure out the relationship between feelings and eating — all the tools you need to feel in control and to like and accept yourself for who you are. If you want to talk to someone about eating disorders but are unable or not ready to talk to a parent or close family member, try reaching out to a friend, teacher, school nurse or counselor, coach, neighbor, your doctor, or another trusted adult. You can always call 2-1-1 as well. Best of Luck, Marlena P.S. I’ve found a helpful website that may help with some more information: http://renfrew.contextdevel.com/resources/educational-materials/videos
Dear Marlena, Right now, it feels like my life sucks. I’m homeschooled so I have no social interaction, outside of my family, with anyone unless my parents say I can go out. There are times when they’re completely cool with me being out, like the week of Halloween I went out with my cousins on three separate ‘school nights’ until about 2 but then there times when I don’t get to do anything. Of course this usually happens when I am behind in my school work or ‘have an attitude’. Both of these problems have been a reoccurring theme and it’s gotten to the point where I don’t really care either way. I get that they’re trying to help but I’m almost always in trouble for one of the two. But other then those two issues, I don’t have any real problems. I don’t get into trouble, I’m not secretly dating someone, I don’t do drugs, I don’t generally lie to them so why can’t they be a little more lax? I get that they’re trying to help but… It doesn’t feel like it anymore and it’s gotten to the point that I wonder if I really do have an attitude problem or of they’re just making a big deal out of nothing. I’m almost counting down the days until college and I don’t want to be. I would love if they weren’t always mad at me, they’re never mad at my siblings. How do I deal with this? Signed, Sarah Dear Sarah, It’s frustrating when you and your parents don’t get along, especially when you are around each other so much! Feeling like your folks are always on your case isn’t a good feeling, especially when you don’t have much opportunity to vent. You said that they do let you go out sometimes but other times you don’t really know what they expect from you. Consider talking to them about all of this. It seems like things are a little too inconsistent for your liking. Maybe it would be a good idea to sit down with them and see if you can come up with a social and school schedule; something like a reward for doing well and not “having an attitude”. Consider asking your other siblings how they deal what you could do to improve the relationship. They may be able to share their insight too. Communication might be able to open things up for your guys to see where you both are coming from. If you think that’s a good idea, try and it and see how it goes. I hope that gives you a helpful starting-point. You can also always give us a call and talk to a teen helpline counselor about what’s going on. Just letting it out helps at times; whenever you feel like having someone listen, call 211’s Teen Hotline at (954) 567-TEEN or just dial 2-1-1. Best of Luck, Marlena P.S. I’ve found a helpful website to check out on stress and other topics too: http://kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=Chris_Evert_Childrens_Hospital&lic=306&article_set=81452
Dear Marlena, These boys at school keep on calling me names and telling other boys lies about me I went to the principle many times but he’s just starting to think that I’m the problem, if I argue with them I’m also considered the problem, I also try to ignore them but sometimes words hurt even if they are not true so what should I do? Signed, J. Hi J., I can hear how stuck you must feel and how frustrating it can be that despite your best efforts, you aren’t being fully heard. There are other ways to deal with name calling and lies, which is a form of bullying, if the principal isn’t handling it. Talk to other adults in positions of authority to help stop the behavior also consider talking to a parent or a relative, your teachers, or coach. One of the most painful aspects of bullying and teasing like this is that it can be relentless. It’s good to hear you’ve been doing your best to walk away, as this shows maturity and is not a cowardly act. Walk tall and hold your head up high. Using this type of body language sends a message that you’re not vulnerable. Sooner or later the name calling will probably lessen as the bullies get bored with trying to bother you. You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest. Joining a class, club, afterschool program or gym is a great way to make new friends and feel great about yourself. The confidence you gain will help you ignore the mean kids. Most importantly, talk about it. It may also help to talk to someone else such as your guidance counselor or friend about your feelings— anyone who can give you the support you need. Talking can be a good outlet for the fears and frustrations that can build when you’re being called bad names. Some action you can take: Did you know you can also anonymously report bullying at your school here: http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/siu/siunew/tips.asp and please remember to mention the details that will be helpful to stop the behavior happening at your school. For more information on visit: http://www.browardprevention.org/anti-bullying/ Best of luck and if you ever need to talk, just call us anytime here at 2-1-1. Marlena
Dear Marlena, I am at a new school and a bully is picking on me. I don’t know anyone at this school and don’t have very many friends that can stand up for me. Should I fight back? Signed, Jet Dear Jet, Thank you for writing and sharing your concern. This is a subject that many youth face every day both in and out of school. Bullying is when a person is picked on over and over again by an individual or group with more power, either in terms of physical strength or social standing. There is no easy answer to this question but standing up to bullies doesn’t mean you have to have a physical fight with them. It could result in many things getting out of control, putting everyone in danger. In fact, most of the time, you don’t have to fight. There are almost always more effective ways to deal with bullies, ways that are better for you. You may be getting pressure from your friends to fight or think that fighting back will teach the bully a lesson or could be the best way out, but that’s never a good reason to fight. There are better ways to take action, please talk to an adult or your teacher about the situation so you aren’t going through this alone. The school has set up a confidential bullying, fighting, and crime hotline at 754-321-0911 and a Confidential text messaging at service –SBBC[space] and message to CRIMES (274637). You can contact 2-1-1 if you want to talk about what to do too. They are there 24/7 to talk and can offer help. More info can be found at: http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/siu/tips/studenttips.asp Marlena
Dear Marlena, I’m 16 and am looking for my first summer job…but keep getting rejected! I feel like giving up but I really want to start making my own money. What can I do?
Dear Marlena, I’m 18, a freshman in college. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 5 months. We’ve recently started being more sexual towards each other and trying things out but were both still virgins.