Get Real! I Hate Being a Girl. What’s Wrong?

Heather Corinna

Heather Corinna brings Scarleteen's popular sexual health advice column to Rewire! This week, Heather talks to a young woman who doesn't like being a girl.

abnormal asks:

I’m a 13 year old girl and HATE being a GIRL. I have the mind strength
hands feet and hairiness of a boy but still have the body of a girl
complete with boobs. Is there something wrong with me wanting to be a

Heather answers:

There are a couple of common reasons why someone might hate being a
girl: you might hate it for one of them, or you might hate it for all
of them. Regardless, you get to feel however you feel and there’s
nothing patently abnormal or wrong about being uncomfortable with your
own sex or your gender, be it for a little while, or even full-stop.

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The most common reason, by far, why girls can hate being girls is
because the world that we live in is generally constructed in such a
way that women are positioned to be lesser and/or feel lesser. (In
fact, it’s a pretty good illustration of that when anyone talks about
having the "strength" of a man, since men and women, by sex alone, are
equally strong: our physical strength just often can have different
centers of gravity…but not always!) Many of us are told — either
outright, or just by the messages we see and hear more subtly — that
it’s better to be a boy than a girl, better to be male than female.
There are also specific burdens most girls and women in culture carry
which boys and men do not (and vice-versa).

Too, a lot of the time, when we go through puberty — and this can
be the case for both boys and girls — and our bodies start to become
more gendered, and our sex becomes more obvious, it’s typical to feel
uncomfortable with the extra attention our bodies and our identities as
defined by biological sex can get, especially if certain or traditional
gender roles ascribed to us aren’t roles we like, want or are
comfortable with. A common term for a person, of any sex or gender, who
doesn’t feel comfortable with their gender is gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria is especially common at the age you’re at right now,
so this might be something that will change and feel better with time.

A less common reason someone biologically sexed as a girl may be
less comfortable being a girl, or want to be a boy is because that
person may be intersex or transgendered: in those cases, gender
dysphoria may not go away in time or feel better over time if that
person is trying to be a gender that they either simply are not, or do
not feel they are.

An intersex person isn’t biologically female (XX) or male (XY) but
instead, has a different combination of chromosomes, like XXY, XO, XXX,
XYY or other variations Sometimes, a given variation of chromosomes
can result in an intersex person feeling more like the "opposite" sex,
but at other times, an intersex person may not feel male OR female:
too, sometimes, intersex people don’t feel any different at all. Some
intersexed people will need medical treatment: others will not. Some
will look different in some ways than other people, most others will
not. A person can get a test from their doctor to determine if they are
intersex or not.

Transgender is a term for people who are usually (though some can
also be intersex: one doesn’t have to be XX or XY to be transgender)
biologically male or female — XX or XY — but who do not feel like the
gender that "matches" that sex, but like the opposite gender. There are
an awful lot of theories as to why some people (and it’s tough to
estimate how many people are, but it’s usually estimated at a maximum
of one in every 2,000 people, and a minimum of one in every 10,000
people) are transgender, so right now, no one has any one reason why,
but what we can say for sure is that some people ARE transgender and
gender dysphoric, and probably not just because of cultural gender
roles or sexism (though that can certainly make being transgender even
more uncomfortable).

I want to also mention that things like hands, feet, hairiness and
the makeup of our mind and personality aren’t just or at all determined
by our biological sex. Certainly, for instance, overall, men as a group
tend to have more body hair than women as a group, but at the same
time, there are some women who are hairier than men and some men who
are virtually hairless, and both of these variations are normal. And
what our mind is like — the way we think, what we think about, what we
like, what skills we have — really is not, so far as data has shown us
so far — about our gender or biological sex, period.

The real issue right now with you as I see it is that you’re feeling
really uncomfortable in your own skin, and obviously, that can cause
some real stress, suffering and agony.

So, what I’d suggest is just thinking about these things a little,
seeing which of them ring true for you, and then seeking out some good
support or counseling if you still feel so uncomfortable and/or like
you don’t want to wait this out a little bit and see how you feel in
time. There are some counselors who specialize in gender issues and
dysphoria, but this is also something you could address with a lot of
general counselors, or if you have a doctor or nurse who you like and

You might also want to hop over to your local bookstore or library
and check out some books on gender identity and/or intersex/transgender
to help you get a better read on how you’re feeling exactly so that you
can figure out what exactly you need most right now to help you feel
better. Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook is one I’d very
enthusiastically recommend (and Kate is transgender herself, so she
gets it, big time). Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling’s work with biological sex
and gender is also really illuminating, and you can read all about it
in her book, Sexing the Body. You might also look into some
books about dealing with puberty, since, as I mentioned, it’s really
typical to feel this way when your body and brain are changing
uncontrollably every fifteen minutes.

I do hope that you know that no matter what the case is here,
whatever gender identity feels best to you, and feels the most true to
you is okay.

What’s most important isn’t having a gender identity that "matches"
your biological sex, or one which everyone else thinks is best, but
having one that feels best to YOU and most authentic for you. So, I’d
advise you in exploring your feelings on this to do what you can to
accept that whoever you are is whoever you are, and to put your heart
and energy in finding out who that is, even if you don’t think it’s
what others would agree is right. It’s really no one’s place to decide
on gender and gender roles for anyone but ourselves, and none of us can
ever determine what the ‘right" identity or set of feelings about
gender is for anyone else.


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