A Little Taboo: Questioning Gender Identity

Since queer sexual orientation and gender identity is gradually being accepted, I’d thought I’d share my emotions for the past few weeks.

I’ve been questioning the constructs for about two to three years? I’m not quite curious about my sexuality as it doesn’t really matter in this part of my life. However, I have been questioning my gender because I haven’t been feeling like mine. In fact, I’ve tried to cut my hair short but due to my hair type, I cannot make it the way I wanted. I had a nervous breakdown about it because “If I can’t express who I am, then what’s the point of living?”. I think that rippled into a series of other nervous breakdowns about their individual topics. The latest being whether I can handle life’s challenges if I’m so upset at the moment.

Now, I’m not sure what my gender identity is, believe me I tried, but I’ve been trying to express it. It’s very difficult since I’m doing a complete 180°, I’m more comfortable in the opposite genders’ clothing and uniforms are so restricting. I haven’t told anyone much about my pronouns and stuff because I’ve told some people, and only two of them use them.

So I’ve got two questions (if you take time to read):

1. How can I express my gender in the limited places I can?
2. How do I stop my breakdowns?

To the person who does read my story and answer my questions, I appreciate you very much and thank you in advance for caring enough to concoct solutions. Thank you again. Warm love and regards from Jay.


Dear @JayHyjinx,

Thank you for sharing your feelings and experiences with us. It sounds like you’ve been questioning your gender identity for some time now, and that this process has been difficult and overwhelming for you. I want you to know that we are here to support you as you navigate this journey.

I would like to affirm that it is okay to take your time in exploring and understanding yourself. Many of us go through similar periods of ambiguity at some point of time in our lives as well. You mentioned feeling like you’re doing a complete 180°, which I imagine can be confusing and disorienting. I want to assure you that there is no rush to figure things out, and that it is okay to experiment with different expressions of your gender identity until you find what feels most authentic to you.

I understand that you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the limited places in which you can express your gender identity. It can be difficult to find spaces that are accepting and supportive, but please know that you deserve to express yourself authentically and feel comfortable in your own skin. While it may feel challenging at first, there are ways to explore your gender expression that feel safe and affirming. You can start by experimenting with clothing and accessories that align with your gender identity in the privacy of your own home. You mentioned that you’ve tried cutting your hair short, but it didn’t turn out the way you wanted. I’m sorry to hear that. If you feel comfortable, you could consider finding a stylist who is experienced in cutting hair for different gender expressions. Meanwhile, you could experiment with different hairstyles or accessories that make you feel more comfortable and confident. You could also consider seeking out safe spaces, such as online communities or support groups, where you can connect with others who are also exploring their gender identity and receive encouragement and guidance. I encourage you to do some further reading on the topic as well - you could include the term ‘gender identity development’ as a keyword in your search.

At the same time, I want to address the tendency to overgeneralise when faced with challenges or setbacks. You mentioned having a nervous breakdown because you couldn’t express who you are through your hair, and feeling like there is no point in living if you can’t express yourself. While I can imagine that these feelings can be intense and overwhelming, it’s important to remember that your gender identity is one aspect of your identity, and that you are a multifaceted individual with varied strengths and interests. This is not to say that your gender identity is not important, but your life bears value and meaning beyond just your gender expression. While recognising that exploring your gender identity is a process that takes time and patience, we could also explore other ways to express yourself through other outlets of interest to you. Something else that could be useful when experiencing such thoughts would be thought reframing – this involves replacing distressing thoughts with more helpful ones. You can try out this guided exercise to help you do this (1).

If you find yourself struggling with intense emotions, it may be helpful to develop coping strategies to manage these feelings. This could include practicing self-care, seeking support from loved ones, or speaking to a mental health professional. You could try out this exercise to guide you in identifying and building up a network of trust and support (2). Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone, and that there are people who care about you and want to support you. I’d also like for you to examine the way in which you speak to yourself - in such times, it is all the more important for you to extend patience and kindness towards yourself. I’m linking a self-compassion exercise for you to try out here (3).

In summary, it’s okay to feel uncertain about your gender identity, and it’s important to take your time in exploring and understanding yourself. At the same time, it’s important to recognise that your gender identity is just one aspect of your identity, and that your life has value and meaning beyond your gender identity as well. If you find yourself struggling with intense emotions, there are coping strategies and support systems available to you. Please feel free to follow-up with any further questions you may have. We are here to support you as you navigate this journey and wish you well!

(1) https://mindline.sg/youth?wysa_tool_id=find_perspective
(2) Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Workplace Mental Health | mindline.sg
(3) Mental Support & Wellbeing Resources in Singapore to Improve Workplace Mental Health | mindline.sg


Thank you so much @YuanYang , this is a very thorough reply :heartpulse: I’ll keep that in mind and I’ll look through the sources here (and others I’ve gotten for mental health)