My transgender sibling, born in the wrong body
I would like to tell you about my littlest sibling. I will be using both male and female pronouns, this will help paint a picture of this transition. I am writing about this because I love him very much, and I would like to raise awareness, even my own little community, about what it means to be transgender. Although, he could share first hand what it is truly about, I'd like to share this story from my perspective. My little sister was born 21 years ago. Her given name was McKenzie Heather Essa. She was four years younger than me, and I was smitten. She had white blonde hair and light green eyes. But she was blessed with her daddy's olive skin. When McKenzie was a toddler she was ferocious! One of my favorite stories is when she broke out of the house and went running for the park, shedding items of clothing as she went. By the time she was about three or four, she started to have strong opinions about her clothing. She hated girl clothes. This became a Sunday tradition, hysterical tantrums when my mom forced her into a frilly dress. By the time she was 4 or 5, she started introducing herself as "Bob" or "Tom." We thought it was so funny and adorable. Our little tom boy! She loved to wear jeans and I can still picture her white blonde hair poking out of her cowboy hat. When it came to make believe, McKenzie always wanted to be an outlaw, or a cop, or some sort of male character. As she got older, she continued to be a "tom boy." She played with the boys, she played like a boy. Female clothing was always traumatic for her to be in. By the time she was about ten, she had a big group of boys that she fit in with. As she got older, we were amazed that she never grew out of her "tom boy" phase. It seemed to be becoming who she was. She never took a romantic interest in boys. To my knowledge, she's never even kissed one. In her teen years, she started to bring girls around. It seemed that she liked them more than a friend. She eventually came out as a lesbian. It was never a big shock or reveal to our family, it just made sense. I admit it was traumatic to see her cut off her beautiful hair into a boy haircut (she was truly blessed with the most luscious hair out of all the kids). Ironically enough she had the biggest boobs too. We would always sigh as she would wear multiple sports bras to flatten them. I admit, selfishly it was difficult to have a gay sibling. I felt the judgement from our religious community. I knew what a difficult life she would have ahead of her, gaining acceptance from the people around her. That being said, deep down I envied her courage and ability to be so true to herself, despite the way people treated her. She was always such a rockstar, never lacking confidence. Despite her journey for self discovery, she was president of the Gay Club at Gilbert High School. She was even homecoming royalty! I remember cheering her on, as she was driven around the track at the homecoming game. She was wearing a suit and she was runner up for homecoming queen. HOMECOMING QUEEN! I felt bad as she would get yelled at by faculty at Gilbert High, because they thought a boy was using the women's restroom. But she wasn't allowed in the mens either. She was stuck, somewhere in between. Never truly feeling like she belonged. As she grew older, she still seemed to struggle with her identity. She didn't feel like a girl. I noticed as she tried to deepen her voice. I noticed how uncomfortable she felt in any sort of female clothing (she started to borrow my dads). It was more than same sex attraction, she didn't feel like a girl on the inside. As she gained awareness of a term called "transgender" I think it finally clicked for her. I WAS BORN IN THE WRONG BODY! I'm not a lesbian, I'm a straight male! This is when everything really started to change for her, and my family. She started going to a support group for Transgender people. She committed to transitioning. What does transitioning really mean? I think it varies person to person. I don't even think she is 100% sure how far she will take this. But she started asking her family to use male pronouns. (Something I still struggle with). I tend to switch back and forth. This has always been my baby sister! He started going by Ken instead of McKenzie. I admit this was the part I was the most afraid of. I thought, please don't change your name... please don't change your name. I wasn't sure if I could handle that. But whenever I felt scared or discouraged I tried to remember how much harder this was for him. I've always tried to be loving and supportive. In true Ken fashion, he has remained confident and strong. He has even starting acting with the help of an agent. And has a role on an upcoming TV show with some of the cast from Arrested Development. The question I get asked most often is, will he get reconstructive surgery. I know he is committed to removing his breasts. But he is unsure about any further surgery. I know he is trying to save as much money as possible. I think he still has a lot of self discovery to do. I admire him for getting counseling and seeking support. I want him to know how much we love him and how we will always support him no matter what. I want people to open their eyes. Whether they are religious conservatives or extreme liberals. It doesn't matter. This is real. It is real to my brother. It isn't going away. It can't be ignored. He can't pray his way out of it. This is who he is and I hope people can love and accept him.