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Transgender Teen Body Image Issues

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Sign at the Trans March

Sign Seen at the Trans March

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Body image issues are a big problem for many teens. Some worry they are too fat. Others think they are too skinny. Some want to be taller, others smaller. But what happens if you have such feelings AND you also feel like you were born into a body that doesn't match the person you know you are inside? This is the case for a lot of trans teens who have to deal with everyday body image issues, as well as those specifically related to being transgender.

For Ridley, a transgender man, there is a difference between body image issues related to weight and those related to gender identity. As he writes on Advocates for Youth's Youth Resource website:

"I have body image issues. Like many other members of the transmasculine (TG-M) community I have a great deal of discomfort with my physical body's femaleness. I am uncomfortable with having breasts, little body hair and a higher voice. It just doesn't seem right to me for how I feel about myself. But is that the same thing as body image issues as they are typically discussed in our society? I'd say no; it's pretty clear my body image issues are directly related to gender dysphoria. Like many other people, I want to lose weight. And the honest answer, simply put, is because I think it would help me pass better than I do currently. Binding (non-surgical means for making one's chest appear flat) would be a lot easier if I had a smaller chest as a result of a weight loss. I am actually thinner than I often appear as a result of binding and layering clothing to further mask my female body. I feel that if body image was more of an issue for me than gender dysphoria is that I might consider not binding or dressing to accentuate thinness."

For some transgender individuals, body image issues will be helped when they transition (AKA: go through the process of changing genders). But for teens, who may not be able to transition in they way they would like, either because of laws that prevent them from doing so, or because they aren't yet out about being trans, the situation can be particularly tough. Sometimes talking to a GLBT-friendly professional about what you are going through can help.

We live in a world that has really strict (though often unwritten) rules about what is considered attractive. Being pounded with these messages every day is enough to give anyone a complex. But when you add to that the message that there is something inherently wrong with the way you want your body to look, it is not surprising that a lot of trans teens develop body image issues.

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