How do I get other people to accept my true gender identity?

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a 15-year-old junior high school student and I’m looking for advice on gender identity.

At school, I wear a skirt as part of my uniform, but honestly I’d rather wear pants. A lot of people tell me I’m “like a boy” and give me strange looks because I have a short haircut. I’m also in love with a girl.

When I did some research into how I feel, I learned about gender dysphoria, which means some people feel like a boy on the inside even though they are physically a girl.

I also learned that what I think is normal is different from what the people around me think is normal. I’m not sure how I should go about my life from now on. I’m afraid this will affect my future.

I’ve told friends I trust about all this, but I haven’t told my parents yet. When should I have my “coming out”? How can I get others to accept me?

Please help me.

—K, Niigata Prefecture

Dear K:

I completely understand why you’d want those around you to understand that who you are on the inside isn’t being reflected on the outside. This is an important thing that will affect your life from here on out.

The concept of “coming out” is telling others who you really are. But, I think before you do that, it’s more important that you come to truly accept yourself.

You wrote that you found that your “normal” doesn’t match the “normal” of those around you. The first thing you should do is get rid of such ideas. Just what is “normal” anyway? Everyone is different. Being different is to be expected.

For people to get along, I believe it’s very important that we accept each other’s differences and not deny their existence. The first big step is to accept yourself for who you are and love yourself just as you are.

If you can do that, you’ll be unfazed even if there are people who don’t accept you. When you come across people who do accept you, then you’ll have all the more love and gratitude for them.

I think you’re wonderfully mature for your 15 years, dealing with your own concerns in such a straightforward manner. Please have faith in yourself and face the future, believing that the time will come when no one has to struggle with being who they are.

—Masami Ohinata, university president