My Sister Became My Brother
I considered myself open-minded and accepting of other people's choices in life. I had three siblings - two brothers and a sister. One of my brothers was gay, and my sister was a lesbian. When I was in my late teens and early adulthood, I had a lot of exposure to gay culture, and I felt very comfortable with that group, and was very supportive of my friends and family members who identified as queer.
But when I found out (accidentally, through one of those marvelous coincidences the internet can create) that my sister was now identifying as transgender, and was in the process of physically changing herself into a man, I couldn't handle it. It didn't make any sense to me. She had never indicated any interest in men, and she was in fact a vocal man-hater for many years. She never expressed any of the feelings of being born with the wrong body that so many transgender folks experience. I just couldn't believe that this wasn't the result of too much therapy, of some bizarre influence, or just what I perceived as her desperate need to be different.
It didn't help that my sister and I had always had a difficult relationship. She was quite cruel to me when we were young (we are two years apart) and even in young adulthood we struggled to maintain any kind of friendship. When she came home for a recent holiday - her first trip home in many years - seeing her felt more like she just wanted to shove her new identity in our faces in a confrontational manner. Here was this person telling me that she's a man, when I know genetically she isn't. And she hasn't expressed any interest in me as a person for years; so why is she here forcing her new identity on me?
Obviously, her decision to change her gender and her visit home brought up a lot of unresolved anger and resentment about our connection as siblings. It was easier for me to use her transgender state as a scapegoat and blame all the anger on her decision, rather than to deal with it head on.
I'm trying to change that. I'm reading a lot about gender issues and I'm very interested in talking to other people who have transgender siblings. I'm learning to respect her decision and to understand the biological and emotional issues behind it. I have a long way to go until I fully embrace and accept transgender folks, but I'm working on it. And I'll get there eventually.