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Support for Siblings

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becky:
My brother of 50 years has recently "come out" to family and friends, and wants to live the rest of his life as his true self--a woman.  I want to be supportive of his choice, but I am feeling angry and sad.  I recently lost my only other brother to cancer, and feel as if I am losing my other brother.  I cannot think of him as a sister.  I have searched for books and articles, but find that most are written for parents or spouses.  There is very little information to help siblings deal with transitions.  I have looked into PFLAG, but do not think their issues would be the same as mine, as well as the inconvenience-- since I live in a small rural community, I would have to travel to get to the nearest PFLAg support group.

I would like to know how others have dealt with their feelings and a new life with a trans sibling.
Becky

Terri-Gene:
Hello Becky, I can relate to what you are going through but from the opposite end of the situation.  I myself have 4 younger brothers who have had simular thughts and feelings about myself as you have about your brother. One of my own brothers has not spoken to me or called me for any reason in more then 20 years, one I have not communicated with in 7 years, one who has had no relationship with me for at least that long, but did call me to inquire about my condition during medical difficulties, and one who expressed to me that he loved me regardless, but has not communicated with me for at least two years now and has moved, changing his phone number without advising me beforehand.  None of them had ever actually sat down with me and tried to understand why I was as I was and did as I did.

speaking from the <not allowed> side of the issue, it would help if you simply sat down with your new sister and simply got to know her as she is now and not as you remember her as him.  You already know many of her likes and dislikes and how she reacts to certain stimulus, but you may be surprised at the depth of her feelings and her vulnurabilities which may have been hidden, not only from you, but from everyone.

Books and support groups have their place, but nothing on this earth will be more effective then simply sitting down with her about not only her feelings, but your own.  If it turns out that you find things to like in the new woman, then you can be of invaluable assistance to her in terms of understanding, love and support, and at the same time learn much about yourself and your own relationship with the world.

such things are not easy to accept and there is always concern for the social consiquences and what it means to you personnally, but if you truely love you sibling, and wish her the best, then getting to know her and understand her as she is, not as she represented herself in the past, is truely important to the both of you.

I hope you make the effort and find a new person to love and take pride in.  It is in a very real sense, a death and rebirth of an individual, complete with a new childhood, adolicence and adulthood.  She will need help through these stages that she will face and for a time will need protection from herself, and mature guidence, just as any child growing up in an adult world.

Terri

stephanie_craxford:
Hello Becky.

Welcome to Susan's, Terri is quite right, and hit the nail on the head, so to speak, communication is the key to your relationship with your brother.  I can somewhat relate to your plight, my wife' brother (we are in our 50's) sat down with her to discuss my transsexuality, and my transition, and he is the first one who has said that he doesn't want to visit us any more because of it (he didn't visit that much to start with).  However this devastated my wife for days, until she realised that she has to get on with her/our life, with or with out the support of her brother.  He was an important part of her life but now he's gone, everyone looses.

I think is really comes down to two choices; you stay in the relationship with your new sister, or you don't.  I don't think that there can be a halfway solution.  One thing to ask yourself is how would you treat one of your children if he or she came to you and said they were different, gay, lesbian, <not allowed>.  Would you still love and support them?  I think the answer would be yes.

As Terri said, talk to your sister, find out about her, lover her and support her, you know what it's like to loose a sibling.  Your brother has changed on the outside, but the essence of his soul has not, in fact her feelings, thoughts, convictions are probably still the same as you knew.

Remember that this is hard for you both, but to solve the issues you must face them, talk, then talk, then talk some more.  As you've discovered, support for brothers, sisters, and children of <not allowed> people is really hard to find, even this site is limited to a few general statements, so be sure to keep us posted on how things progress.

Take care

Steph

stephanie:
Becky,

One thing to understand is that this is how your sister has been all her life, so you're not really losing anything.  When people come out and wish to transition, they're not changing who they are, they're changing what they look like.  I would agree with everyone's replies in that you should sit down and talk with her.  Please understand that by coming out to you, your brother was reaching out for your help.  If she felt she could do it on her own, she probably wouldn't have bothered.

I recently told one of my sisters about my transsexuality.  Even though I was fairly certain she would take it well, I was very nervous and not sure about how to bring it up.  Finally I just said it and was amazed by how well she took it.  I felt very reassured that she would be one of my strongest supporters, especially since the rest of my family will most likely not take the news well.

It's important for MtF's to have a strong support circle, but I also understand where you're coming from.  It difficult to realize how this person, whom you've known your entire life, could have been hiding something so important her entire life and never shown it.  You feel like your brother is turning 180 degrees and changing everything.  Please keep an open mind with this, because she's been keeping this inside for a very long time, and that alone has probably taken its toll.  I want to stress that you're not losing anything, you're simply seeing things from a brand new perspective, and that's always unnerving.  But she's not changing who she is, simply changing her appearance.

Wish you and your brother all the best.

The other Steph

becky:
Thanks to all who have replied to my quest.  I appreciate your perspectives on this. Supporting my sibling (can't think of him as a sister yet--it may take a while!) is not the issue.  We have always been close, and there was no question in my mind that I would love him and support him no matter what. My dad is in his 80's, and is supportive as well, even though I know what turmoil he must be going through, as a retired Presbyterian minister!! But he says, Dani is his child no matter what, and he would rather see him happy as a woman than to lose him to suicide.  Daddy has also said that he had the same feeling when Dani told him of his choice as he did when he learned of my other brother's terminal cancer. He was losing another son.

I am in closer contact with my sibling now in the last few months than we have been for a long time.  Weekly, lengthy phone conversations, because I know he is lonely.  He has moved out of his home, his wife of 25 years is divorcing him, his older daughter is not speaking to him, and is only allowing him to come to her wedding if he cuts his hair and does not dress "weird".  He will not be giving her away--her maternal uncle will. Dani is allowed to attend the wedding, but is not invited to the reception.

My anger is not directed at my sibling.  My anger is for the whole situation.  I have always known my brother was "different', and for a time I thought he was gay.  So I was neither shocked or surprised when he told me of his choice to become a woman.  My sadness is for what he has been hiding (or thoght he was hiding) all these years, and for my lovely sister-in-law who thought she had the perfect marriage because her spouse was so empathetic and kind.

My problem right now with my sibling is the weird conversations!  I do not want to hear the details about his growing breasts or his shrinking genitals, but that is what I am getting every week when he calls me or I call him, even though I have told him this is not what I want to hear.  He constantly turns the conversation back to that.  I understand that is what he is totally focused on right now, and it is exciting to him, but I don't want to know the details. Nor can I share his enthusiasm.  When I was "growing up" and when my daughter was turning into a young woman, THAT was not the whole focus of our lives.  I keep telling Dani that WOMEN talk about other things MOST of the time!!!  It takes me several days to recover emotionally and mentally from our conversations. 

Loving my sibling and supporting his decision will never be a problem.  I need to know how to make the adjustment from the person I thought he was all our lives to who he is becoming now. He was a cute little precious boy, a wacky funny amusing weird teenager, a serious intent loving father.  Although I always wanted a sister, 50 years is a long time to have my brother and suddenly have to make the swap!

I am also having some problems dealing with this on a spiritual and theological level.  This is not how we were raised.  We were raised, however, to be tolerant, but to believe that God did not EVER make mistakes.  Seems like I am having to rethink that--this evidently was a big one!  I am probably not even supposed to be talking about God in this forum, but this issue is a big one for me.  My brother and his wife were members of a very conservative church, and raised their daughter with very conservative beliefs.  Part of this was my brother trying to deny who he really was and trying to conform to the "right" way.  Now his family all think he is a  deviant sinner and is going to hell if he does not reform.  He has gotten scathing emails from members of his former church ( he was asked by his minister to leave) about his "deviant" behavior.  They all think if they pray hard enough he will change back to who he was before.  My prayer for him is that he can find peace and happiness and acceptance.

Do any of your siblings have any input for me on how they coped with your transitions?  Shutting out someone you have loved all your life is NOT an option.  My heart hurts for those of you who have lost so much with your own choices.  I wish you the best.
Becky

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