Dear Annie: I am a healthy, strong teenager who goes to a great school. I have a roof over my head and food on the table, but there is one problem: I'm transgender, and my parents refuse to accept me. I came out to them about three years ago as gay, before I fully understood what was going on in my head. They told me how strongly they felt it was wrong and that they would not accept me. A year later, when I realized that what I was feeling was a desire to just be one of the guys, I knew I couldn't tell them.
I started going by a new name at school, presenting myself as a male there and trying my best to hide it from them, but as all things do at this time in your life, it found its way to my parents. They confronted me about it and told me how upset they were, and ever since, they have been making sure I know that at home, I will never be a boy. Sometimes I have dreams in which they finally accept me, and when I wake up and realize I've been dreaming, I start crying. This has worsened the depression I have struggled with for about half my life, and meeting with my therapist isn't helping very much. I don't know what to do. — Disconcerted in Distress
Dear Disconcerted in Distress: I am so sorry to hear you're struggling with depression. Though your parents might not be able to offer you the understanding and acceptance you seek, there are trusted adults who can. I strongly encourage you to reach out to The Trevor Project, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ youths. Call its hotline (866-488-7386) anytime to speak to a counselor about what you're experiencing. He or she can also connect you to resources in your area. For more information (or to chat with a counselor online, if you prefer instant messaging to a phone call), visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org. As lonely as things might feel right now, I promise that you are not alone.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Not Ready," the 21-year-old man whose 18-year-old girlfriend is pushing for engagement. I agree with your advice to him and would like to speak to him directly, so I hope he's reading:
"Not Ready," gently explain to your girlfriend that "anger" is just one letter from "danger" and that it is not a way to start a lifetime relationship. It is hard enough as it is to make a marriage work when you marry before actually growing up. I got married when we were both 18. I felt that I knew what I was doing, but I was way too young. The marriage lasted for 10 years, but as we grew up, we grew apart. Not even children can keep you together, nor should they. They are the ones who suffer the most. If you have money problems now, rest assured it will only get worse. You say she won't get a job, is lazy, makes messes and doesn't clean up. She sounds totally depressed. Have her go to the doctor. But please, put the brakes on any thought of engagement. You will be glad you did. — Should Have Waited
Dear Should Have Waited: I'm sorry your young marriage was so tough on you, but I'm glad you feel comfortable sharing your experience now. I hope it gives "Not Ready" the confidence he needs to stand up to his girlfriend and resist the pressure to marry before he's ready. Thanks for writing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]