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My Teen Changes Their Queer Identity Every Week and I Can’t Take It Anymore
I need some help gaining perspective on my 15-year-old child’s whiplash approach to gender and sexuality. For the last three years, they have been on a journey with regard to their sexuality, declaring and changing identities one every few weeks or months, even when those identities have been both contradictory (how can one be both asexual and polyamorous?) and hypothetical (my kid isn’t dating and hasn’t dated). They are committed to being anything but cisgender and hetero, and that identity—whatever it turns out to be—appears from their actions and words to be the central part of their sense of self. They spent a lot of time on queer wikis, looking up new possible identities. They avidly “ship” fictional characters into same-sex couples, express anger/disappointment when shows/books have hetero couples, and talk constantly about LGBTQIA issues, representation, etc.
I have been, and want to be, supportive. My kid deserves to be loved and celebrated for who they are, and however their identity settles out is fine with me. But I am also struggling with these rapid changes. In the last two weeks, my kid has changed their name once and pronouns twice, colored their hair, worn exaggeratedly feminine eye makeup, pinned their hair up to look masculine, purchased a bikini and a dress and then asked me to buy them a binder (because they think it would be “fun” to look like a boy sometimes). At this point, it feels like they’re trying on identities like costumes, and that makes me very uncomfortable. None of it feels authentic—it seems more like a bid to stand out in a crowd or perhaps to find the limits of my acceptance.
I have worked so hard to make sure my kids know they are loved unconditionally, but if this kid is looking for a boundary, maybe I should set one? I literally squirmed when I wrote that sentence; setting a random limit on acceptance goes against everything I believe. But at the same time, I am so, so tired of hearing about their identity day after day after day and of trying to keep up with the changes. They’re a great, smart, interesting kid for a dozen different reasons; their gender/sexuality is just one aspect of their personality. Would it be wrong of me to say, in essence, “I love you, and will never not love you. When you figure out your identity let me know, and in the meantime can we maybe stop talking about it all the time?” Also, as the world opens up and my kid spends more time outside of our home, can I/should I ask them to be more thoughtful in how they present themselves? It seems to me that trans and nonbinary people cannot simply change their identities and expression for “fun,” so my kid’s behavior feels a little bit like cosplaying in a way that could be hurtful. Or do I just keep keeping my mouth shut, do my best to remember this week’s identity, and pray that this phase ends soon?
—Tired and Confused
My Teen Changes Their Queer Identity Every Week
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