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My Brother and I Are Transgender

I’m R and I’m transgender. I’m also the youngest kid in my family. I’m quiet, and my older sibling, L, is not. We are both a lot alike and very different.

I didn’t have a name for how I felt; I just knew I was really unhappy the older I got. I hated the changes puberty was causing. I wanted it to stop. But, I’m quiet and I didn’t say anything. I doubled down on skirts, on leggings, on purses, whatever I could do to be more girly. My mom loved it, so I kept doing it, but I grew more unhappy. I lied about my favorite anime characters, saying I liked girl characters when I was drawn to male characters.

And then, a couple years into this struggle, when I finally had a name for who I was – I am transgender.

L came out to my parents as being transgender and I felt screwed over.

If I disclosed now, my parents would think I was copying him.

So, I dressed even more girly and grew more depressed.

L was immediately accepted. His entire wardrobe of girl’s clothes went to me or were tossed. He got boys underwear, boys jeans, everything a geeky little guy could ask for. I still hammed it up, letting my mom put makeup on me, do my hair, whatever I could do to embrace being female,

It was awful.

I did it anyway, lasting a year and a half into L’s social transition before my mom helped break through my barrier. She guessed, but unlike L’s instant transition, my mom wanted made me to wait an agonizing six months to come out, even though I, too, got a new wardrobe and haircuts that grew increasingly short.

I came out to my extended family as gay first.

It wasn’t quite right, the gay label as a girl, but it let me be out, partially, at least.

Trying to figure out who I was and my sexuality at the same time was torture. I told myself that I must like girls in that way, but I didn’t.

I want someone to partner with, but I was also figuring out that I was asexual. The asexual part was the easiest. I really needed an easy thing at that point.

I tore myself up over being trans, being gay. I felt so alone.

I was more depressed than ever. I still got called by my girl name and it made me sick each time I heard it and saw it.

My mom saw the despair, and four months after coming out to her, I took my new name and came out to my whole family and friends.

My brother and I never said a word to each other during the years we were suffering and trying to figure out what was wrong. We share a room, and both of us are blown away that each night for years we lay in our beds and agonized silently. If one of us would have taken the leap and shared, we could have suffered less.

We knew our parents were LGBT allies and supported one of my mom’s students who was also transgender.

We were scared.

Scared to say the words aloud to ourselves. To each other. To our parents. To the world.

We saw the agony that my mom’s student was in, that moving hours away to an LGBT friendly place was the only way to live openly.

That’s why trans visibility is so important.

Acceptance is essential.

trans visibility day

My brother L and I are transgender. We are at peace with that knowledge because we are accepted for who we are. We are supported. We will, in the future, medically transition.

We are the lucky ones.

A Letter I Can’t Send – It Gets Better

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have waited a long time to write this. High school, college, my first job, my first apartment.

Your firstborn is finally an adult.

We’ve addressed the issues before. Usually at the kitchen table, or as you stand in my doorway while I cry in my bedroom. I have yelled. I have called you assholes, terrible parents.

I blamed you for fucking me up.

You did fuck me up.

But.

I am an adult now, so it isn’t your job to parent me any more. To teach me acceptance of self. To tell me I am beautiful; perfect the way I am. To tell me I deserve only the best. To tell me that guy who broke my heart is crazy for letting me get away. To tell me I am a catch. A good person. A talented artist. A fountain of possibility. A woman with an amazing life ahead of her.

You weren’t there for me when I was bullied in middle school and high school. You wrote it off as “being a kid” or “well, that’s high school,” but I was a kid. I was in high school. That’s all I knew. I didn’t have your hindsight.

When I found the note in the garbage during science class, the one that was written about me by two girls in the class, you weren’t the ones who held me and told me it would be okay.

You didn’t acknowledge the pain that I felt when I read those words – ‘she’s such a stupid bitch. I wish she’d just like jump off a cliff.’

You told me they were being stupid and childish. You told me to brush it off.

You found the suicide note that I penned at 11 years old. You were going through my stuff. I was so mad at you. You sent me to therapy, and we never spoke of it again.

When I was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, you didn’t help me shoulder the burden. You didn’t cry with me. You didn’t buy any books on the topic. You didn’t do the Walk for Mental Health charity 5k that I KNOW happened several years ago.

Why didn’t you do that?

Why?

When I overdosed in college and you came to pick me up, you silently drove me home to your house, two hours away, where I stayed the entire weekend to “get away from everything.” On Sunday night, you asked if I was okay.

Sure.

I’m okay. Two days ago I tried to kill myself, again, but you know, sure, okay, I’m fine.

And then you put me on a bus back to school.

And we never spoke of that weekend again.

I stayed in therapy.

When I gained all of that weight, because of the PCOS, and I was sad, miserable, and feeling less than worthy of anything, you bribed me with a new car to lose 20 lbs. You didn’t tell me I was pretty. You didn’t tell me size was just a number. You didn’t tell me to go out and have fun with my friends, to not care about what I looked like, to know that it was the inside the counted the most.

You told me you’d buy me a car, and when I starved myself for two months, you handed me the keys.

You never told me it would get better.

But then there was your second child.

I know now that parents have favorites. Do you love all three of us? Of course you do. If something were to happen to any one of us, would it break you? I would hope. But when all three of your kids stand in front of you, you know who your favorite is.

He is your favorite child.

He grew up bubbly, fun, surrounded by friends. Smart, adorable, well-behaved. Charming.

I hated him from the beginning. Remember the time I spilled hot soup on him when he was three? Remember the time I yanked a huge chunk of hair out of his head when he was seven?

I was, undoubtedly, your angry child.

But somewhere along the path of growing up, he became my favorite too. When you guys didn’t care about my broken heart, he did.

When I needed help with stats, he always knew the answers.

When I was in my darkest moments, fearing the end, I remembered that while I idolized him more than he looked up to me, I had a little brother to take care of.

He encouraged me when you didn’t. He took me seriously when you brushed me off. He laughed at my jokes. He asked to spend time with me. He got to know me beyond being his sister and your daughter.

All the while, he shined. Confident, secure, compassionate; he encompassed everything you’d look for in another human being. He made for great company.

He is gay.

You didn’t bribe him to change. You didn’t encourage him to shy away from his friends because he was getting used to his new skin. You just didn’t.

He was still beautiful. He was still talented. He was still smart. No matter what he “was” – he was still your son. My brother. And you loved him for exactly who he was, exactly who he is, just as you did before, just as you always will.

The acceptance was instant. It was non-negotiable.

He was surrounded by your love – the same love I lacked when it came to my yearning for your acceptance. Your non-negotiable support.

I resented you. I resented him.

In the wake of the recent suicides within the LBGQT community, I am so thankful that my little brother was one of the few who was enveloped in love and support from the very beginning.

That he became so much more that could define him other than his orientation.

That his life was so filled with possibility, he never wanted it to end.

You did not grace me with an abundance of love at the times I needed it the most. Perhaps it was because I was your first – your oldest – your first “go” at all things parenting. Perhaps you had no idea what to do, so you chose to do nothing. I know that as a child, I was different. I had different needs. As an adult, I can understand that. And I can empathize.

But thank you for being exactly the type of parents my little brother needed.

If you had been different, if things had been different…well, I don’t know how to even write the words that follow. I can’t write them.

All I know is that I am grateful for him – the one person that in my darkest hour will tell me, “Caroline…it gets better.”

My little brother.

High School Reflections 10 Years Later

High school was not good to me.

I was the girl people didn’t want to be around. I was too “weird” for the goth crew, but too “goth” for everyone else. I had the dyed black hair and dark clothing, but I stuck to mostly satin, lace, and velvet skirts and long dresses. I was “Romanti-Goth” where the rest of the goth crew was “Manson-Goth,” and the rest of the school wasn’t goth at all.

The Columbine Massacre had just happened and was fresh on everyone’s mind. In my school, your average goth was popular enough to get through, and they had each other. I, on the other hand, was alone.

I vividly remember the day someone spit at my feet while I was walking through the halls. Yeah, it was like that.

It didn’t help that I didn’t have the high school mentality. I wouldn’t say I was above it, I just wasn’t into it. I was a mentally-ill loner who enjoyed role-play games and people older than me. I wasn’t into dating around, parties, or the latest group of girly giggles.

Even my boyfriend was eight years older. My husband, who was my next boyfriend, is six years older. Your average teenager repulsed me, so high school was hell. It wasn’t something I enjoyed; it was something I struggled to survive.

My mental health issues became obvious in high school. Most of that time is a blur, but I do remember going and seeing my guidance counselor, looking for a push in the right direction.

Luckily, a licensed therapist was in the school every Thursday for cases like mine. I only saw her seven times at school before I had to start therapy at her at her office, but that was enough to know she was the one. She was the one I could spill my guts to, the one who would be there for me. She gave me her cell phone number in case of emergencies. She saw in me what no one else at the time saw – I was special and in need of help.

At the time, diagnoses like “bipolar” were thrown around, but they never fit. The only thing she knew for sure was that I was getting lost inside my head, and our sessions were my only chance to get help.

There was one other key figure in my high school survival. We’ll call her Mrs. M.

She was my 9th grade English teacher (and then later, 10th grade Journalism 1 and 12th grade Brit Lit). Right away, we clicked. She was the type of teacher to give me a passing grade when I accidentally answered the quiz question with the key event in Chapter 4 and not Chapter 3, when the whole point of the quiz was to determine whether I’d read up to Chapter 3 or not. I had, in fact, finished the book. Yeah, I was one of those English students. And she was one of those teachers. She spent the four years of my high school life doing her damnedest to make sure I made it through and survived. She was always there for me, no matter the problem.

When I was in 9th grade, I made my first website – it was filled with my dark, depressive poetry and even darker thoughts. My mom somehow came across it and had a cow. She immediately sent the link to Mrs. M for her thoughts on it. In true Mrs. M fashion, she informed me and my mom that it was very well-written. How much I needed help was obvious without the site. Why did it surprise my mom? I’ll always wonder.

Shortly after starting my blog, I went back to the school to visit Mrs. M. I wanted to fill her in on my life and my family. I was also excited to say the words that burst out of me. “I’m writing!” I knew she, of all people, would be proud of me.

I knew she, of all people, would look past the darker times and see the beauty of my written word.

Epilogue

I am officially 1 year clean. I’m happy, no more depression or self harm :). I’m leaving my stories up so people who went through the same as me (especially you girls) can see that they are not alone. I would tell them to not wait it out, thinking its a phase. One day I came to the realization that cutting was getting me no where. It became useless, but this may not happen to everyone. Please get help even if you think it’s minor. A tsunami starts as a ripple.

By-Shiloisalwaysalone

The Story That Lead Me To Me

I’ve been reading people’s stories on The Band and decided it might help me to share mine. Most of the stories I’ve seen included violence, fortunately mine doesn’t.

I was raped at the age of 15.

I am now 16.

He was my boyfriend of two years. I still don’t remember everything from that night, but I feel that it is time to let go of what I do remember.

We were at his house and he decided to watch a horror movie on his laptop, so we were lying on his bed watching this movie. I rolled over and gave him a kiss, then I rolled back over on my side to continue watching the movie. He tugged on my sweatshirt and said, “I wasn’t done with you yet.”

I thought he was just teasing.

When I rolled to face him, he grabbed onto my waist. I knew then what he wanted. I told him that I wasn’t ready. I told him no.

I did, I said no…

(sorry this is really hard for me to share).

He put more pressure on me so I wouldn’t be able to get away, though I tried. I truly tried to get away.

I will never say that I gave up fighting him, because I didn’t. But, I clenched my eyes shut. I felt him start to pull my pants down so I started kicking. That didn’t stop him. Then…

Then it happened.

My virginity was taken from me.

I’ve had nightmares ever since.

I didn’t leave him after it happened. I felt like I was too weak to be on my own. I also kept having sex with him because I was so scared that if I didn’t, he would do it again…and he ruined the little bit of self-esteem I had.

So, since I felt so low about myself, I kept doing it because I felt like I deserved it.

Like I said before, I’m fortunate that my situation wasn’t violent.

I am sixteen years old, almost seventeen, and I am currently in a relationship with my seventeen year old Navy boyfriend. I came into this relationship scared to death to let myself love someone again.

But, my boyfriend taught me that what I went through was tragic and devastating, but I am beautiful and have my whole life ahead of me. He has turned my life around completely and made me realize that I have to learn to love myself before I could be happy and love someone else.

I still have nightmares whenever I sleep. I still go through periods when I blame myself. I still have severe depression, but everyday is a new day.

I guess, part of me is still seeking for help and advise on how to keep fighting after a rape. Being raped has made me who I am today.

Yes, I wish it hadn’t happen, but at the same time, I’m glad that it did because it has made me become the strong, beautiful young lady I am.

Dear Depression,

Well, isn’t that the most creative title you’ve ever set your eyes on?  It doesn’t matter, though; I’ve a great many things that need to be said, and damn it all, I’m going to say them regardless of how impressive my title is

In any case, hello again, Depression.  Have you missed me?

It’s been a while since you were a real force in my life.  A while since you were anything more than the reason I take a pill every day when I wake up.  You’re pretty damned harmless now, I have to say, but don’t get me wrong; I can still remember quite vividly what you did to me from the time I was thirteen until a few months ago, when I finally got help.

You’re a clever bastard, I have to say.  You almost got me, I guess as a sort of revenge for not being able to take my mother down when she was my age.  Disguising yourself as regular teenaged angst from thirteen to sixteen, and then going all-out and turning me into a nearly catatonic husk of a person from seventeen to twenty.  Pretty damned smart of you.  We both know that you nearly tricked me into killing myself on more than a few occasions, and that your suffocating influence is what lead me to giving up all of my friends, alienating my family and hiding away from the world for a good three years.  You’re damned good at what you do,  but you’re just not good enough.

You see, Depression, I won.

I beat you.  It’s over.  One pill, and you can’t put your hands around my throat any more.  One pill, and I emerge from my home with the biggest fucking smile you’ve ever seen.  My friends, who are seriously the best fucking friends a girl could ask for, were waiting for me when I came out from the shadow of my disorder.  My grandmother broke down and cried when she learned that I was able to kick your ass out of my life.  For the first time in ages, I’m happy.  I’m happy, I’m doing the things I love to do, I’m spending time with the people who make my life truly amazing, and I’m enjoying every moment of this life that you tried to steal from me.

I don’t know who I’d be, or where I’d be if you hadn’t come into my life at such an early age.  Maybe I’d have graduated instead of getting my GED.  Maybe I’d be in love.  Maybe I’d live somewhere that I can only dream about right now.  Maybe I’d be dead.  It’s useless, really, to think of all the ways that I would be different were I not one of your victims.  You came into my life, just as you came into the lives of all the relatives I inherited you from, and you’re always going to be here, lurking in the shadows and waiting for a day I forget to take my medication.  You’ll be there when I have a child of my own and I worry that she’s going to be pulled into your toxic embrace.  You’ll be there every morning when I pop the top from my bottle of meds, that lingering reminder of what I used to be, and what I could be again if I allowed it.

But for now, my dear Depression, I can take comfort in one thing.

I won.