Ask Fiona: My daughter doesn't identify as a female
I am concerned about my 13-year-old daughter.
She says she doesn't identify as female at all and wishes she was born a boy.
I'm concerned she is being influenced by people in internet chat rooms.
She has bought something to bind her breasts with online.
She has never been a 'girly' girl, but I never expected this.
I have told her she cannot do anything until she is 18 and hopefully, by then, she will have grown out of it.
But is this 'just a phase'?
FIONA SAYS: I don't know your daughter, so I can't say whether this is a phase, but she must have concerns about her assigned gender to be looking for such chat rooms in the first place.
Hard though it may be for you to accept, I believe it would be a good idea for her to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
If your own GP doesn't have the experience to help (or is hostile) then there are other options, such as the school nurse, social services or the local mental health unit.
Any of these could refer you to one of the specialist Gender Identity Development Services – which can be found in Belfast, London, Leeds, Exeter and Glasgow.
I would strongly recommend you get hold of Your Body, Your Health – health choices made easy for trans men, trans masculine and non-binary people, a new publication from the Men's Health Forum (www.menshealthforum.org.uk).
Many more people are openly questioning their identity these days, but if you feel you need support, Mermaids (mermaidsuk.org.uk) would be worth talking to.
Whatever your child decides now, or in the future, nothing can change the fact that you're their mother, so do continue to give your love and support.
I need a hip replacement
I'm shocked to hear that I may need a hip replacement – I'm only 56.
I thought this was something done much later in life and I was so stunned I didn't really ask my GP the questions I should have asked.
I'm being referred to a consultant and should be seen shortly after Christmas, but I'd like to find out more before I go for the appointment.
I don't want to just go online as I don't know which sources of information to trust.
FIONA SAYS: Don't give up on your GP as your main source of advice and information, even though they're busy, most doctors would be more than happy to see you again.
They realise patients are often too confused to ask questions when first told something life changing, like the need for surgery, so do please make another appointment.
Arthritis Research UK (www.arthritisresearchuk.org) has lots of useful information and advice – including a leaflet you could download, print and take with you.
You could make notes on it with anything you want to know more about.
When you see your consultant, consider taking a friend with you to perhaps take notes that will help you, afterwards, to remember what's been said.
I'm embarrassed about starting a new relationship
I WAS married for over 30 years and miss my husband hugely, but recently I've thought about beginning a relationship with someone else.
I've been widowed for four years now and, in the last three years of his life, my husband was too sick for a physical relationship.
My husband was the only man I've ever been with, so I'm really anxious and a bit embarrassed to go to my GP.
FIONA SAYS: You don't mention whether there is a particular person you're interested in, but if you know him or he's a stranger, you should take precautions against infections.
Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, particularly amongst older people, so it's best to use precautions.
While I can appreciate you're lonely, please think carefully if you're planning to embark on any new relationship – they can carry risks, emotionally and physically.
Why won't his wife agree to a divorce?
THE MAN I live with left his wife and children to be with me and although we've been together for five years now, she won't divorce him.
He doesn't want to push things as he's afraid she'll make it difficult for him to see his children.
He feels guilty about leaving her and guilty because he can't make a more definite commitment to me.
He drops everything if ever his kids want him – and I understand that, it's only right.
He also drops everything to be with them if she just wants an evening out.
I suppose I feel a little guilty too, but that just makes me cross.
I can't understand why, after all this time she won't just let him go.
FIONA SAYS: If the shoe was on the other foot, think how you'd feel.
Your husband has left you for another woman and you'd probably feel very hurt and angry for a long time.
That anger might make you take advantage of the situation by forcing your former partner to do things he might not want to do, just because you can.
Refusing a divorce is possibly an attempt at revenge and as they've been apart for so long a divorce would be almost a formality, one of them has to instigate it.
Your partner doesn't want to do that because he doesn't want to risk problems with his children and so you're all trapped in this sad situation which doesn't help anyone.
No one can move on and make a fresh start.
As far as access to the children is concerned, visitation arrangements are made these days in the best interests of the children, so your partner shouldn't worry.
Encourage him to see a solicitor to discuss things and try to resolve matters.
If he has been seeing them and supporting them for the past five years, it is unlikely the courts would deny him access now, but he should take legal advice to be sure.
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