I am not writing this article because of the recent political election because this is not something that should only be addressed when there is a widespread fear. I am writing this because it is transgender awareness week. I am writing this because people I love deserve to be recognized for who they are. In a world that has been bringing awareness in complex and negative ways, I want to simplify why it is important to accept people for who people are.
Although I can never understand how freeing and wonderful it can be to finally be yourself after years of pretending, I do know this:
My sister's life really began when she stopped pretending to be my brother.
Looking back at when we were younger, I now see that my sister was never my brother. I now understand why; when she still identified as a boy, she got angry at me when I cut her long curls off. I realize that when she was playing with my cousins, it wasn't just because she was being a good sibling, but because she was able to be one of the girls, even if she was the only one who saw herself that way. On the outside, she may have spent part of her life as a boy, but she has always been a girl. When she stopped putting on the big brother act, switched to the role of sister, and truly began to show people her genuine self, I saw her change for the better. Instead of locking herself in her room all the time, she began to reach out to people more, she wanted to be social, and she wanted to be part of the world. This is the way it should be. People should want to be included.
She has gained an incredible confidence that I had only previously seen as joking narcissism.
Sure, she has always boasted about how beautiful and perfect she was, but it wasn't until she transitioned that she started to believe it. Although everybody will always have some self-confidence issues, it's clear that when she says she's super cute, she really means it. And she should. My sister deserves every right to feel beautiful, the same way that you and I do. Just because she hasn't looked like herself her entire life doesn't mean that her self-worth isn't valuable. Nobody has the right to tell her that her confidence and sense of self is false. She is no longer pretending to be somebody she is not, she is just trying to be herself, and that's all the more reason to celebrate her for who she is.
When I painted her nails for the first time, she was ecstatic, even though I couldn't care less.
I don't care about painting my nails, it's almost like a chore. When my sister asked me to paint her nails for the first time, I had never seen somebody get so excited about something that I thought was so trivial. She wouldn't stop smiling. I still remember sitting on my bed with her eyes glued on what I was doing. I remember thinking that she was being a nuisance; I regret that now because I realize that it was a huge part of her knowing that I accepted her and supported her happiness. The only thing that people are really asking you to do is to support their happiness.
When we walk into the store and receive "hello ladies" as a greeting, it means something.
When I walk into a store and get called a lady or go to a women's dressing room, I think nothing of it. I don't care if I'm called a lady, I've been called one my entire life. However, when my sister receives that greeting, I don't think she can help but smile. That's one of the first things I noticed when I started going out with my sister. It's happiness. It's such a simple piece of happiness that people who were born feeling like themselves will never be able to experience. It's something that non-trans people take for granted every day, but it can mean so much to somebody who is transgender. Nobody has the right to tell her that her identity isn't real because nobody would go to such great lengths just to have the random person at the mall call them lady.
I could supply an endless list of reasons why my sister, and all people who are transgender, deserve support, love, and acceptance, but I hope that this starts to help you see that she is a human just like everybody else. There is nothing wrong with her. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Her happiness is what is important, and her happiness does not affect yours. If you know somebody who is transgender know that they really aren't asking for much, and what they are asking for is something that you can provide: love, a safe space, and hope.
If you are somebody who is transgender, whether other people know it or not, your feelings and your identity are valid. Do not let anybody take that away from you. Celebrate yourself.
If you would like to know more about transgender people or is someone in need of additional resources:
I'm sending love, now and always.