I’m seeking some advice about my 16 year old daughter who up until about 18 months ago was a very happy, outgoing confident young person. Now she is is quiet, withdrawn and rarely leaves her room. She had always been a very “girly girl” and has never disclosed to me that she questions her gender identity however recently she has cut her hair short and has started dressing like a boy. I also discovered that she has started self harming. I have asked her whether she is questioning her gender identity but she gets angry with me and won’t talk about it. She has also told me that she won’t self harm anymore but I’m not confident that this is so. Unfortunately we live in a rural area where there is a lot of narrow minded and homophobic/transphobic people . Her class mates openly espouse these opinions without any consequences for their behaviour. Her friends have started to distance themselves from her, I assume because she has started to look differently to how they do. This breaks my heart as I know how cruel teens can be. I have tried to encourage her to get some professional help but she refuses to let me. Even if I did seek help for her, there are limited mental health supports for young people in our area with long waiting lists. I’m completely supportive of my child and only want her to be happy and confident to live her life the way she wants but it’s heart breaking to see her so unhappy and struggling with life, especially when she was such a joyful vivacious child. I will support her no matter what but don’t know how to start when she won’t open up to me.
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