Hi my name is Caitlin,
I have two siblings one who is younger, Hannah. Hannah is thirteen and we get along ok.
My other sister Madeleine is 16 and a half. I recently saw a text on her phone from a friend that said that Madeleine now identifies as non binary. She hasn’t come out to my family yet. But I find this difficult to deal with. Madeleine often accuses me of being homophobic and transphobic because she has been wearing the boys school uniform for the past two years. I feel as if people aren’t prepared to understand how I feel to be loosing a sibling sort of. When we were younger we would often talk about how we going to have kids one day and we would all be Aunties and all live happily ever after. Now I can’t see this happening.
As most fifteen year olds in my situation would feel, I feel embarrassed. Other kids often make rude remarks such as “is she your sister“ or “I thought she was a boy.” This upsets me and I feel like no one understands.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for coming to us here on the forums to share what's on your mind. I have a sister namedMadeleine as well! Reading your post, a few things occurred to me, if you don't mind my sharing them:
- As your sister grapples with this identity, remember that it is not a performance or an act, but simply her learning more about and expressing her true self. You are both about the same age, and understanding this part of her identity is an important but scary part of your sister's journey into young adulthood. As upsetting and confusing as this may be for you, try to remember that it is her life and that your first responsibility is to her health and happiness, no matter how she ends up identifying.
- Listen to your sister when she tells you she feels you are being homophobic or transphobic. Take these as an opportunity to learn more about her identity and how to make her feel more loved and welcome. As you grow older, I think you will both be grateful that you cemented this relationship in your teen years. Although the world is slowly growing more tolerant of trans and non-binary identities, your sibling will need you to go to bat for her and be a source of strength down the line.
- You will always be her sister, even if at some point she ceases to be yours. While the imagined future you talked about
- I absolutely see how the comments the other kids make are hurtful to you. Of course they are hurtful to your sister, but as you say they sting for you as well. This will require some wisdom and strength that usually isn't required until you're much older, but if you can rise to the challenge of understanding and then defending your sister's identity now, you will solidify your status as her friend and ally. You say you have a lovely vision in your head of you all being aunties together. I think taking this approach will make it much more likely that this vision of close siblinghood comes true, even if it has to be modified slightly– think about living happily ever after as aunties and an uncle, rather than not living happily ever after at all.
- Finally, this likely goes without saying, but please remember that your sibling's gender identity is not yours to disclose, and that she may or may not "come out" in her own time. As far as she knows you have not seen this text that was not meant for you, so be patient and kind. She will open up to you in good time. Until then, all you can do is keep being the best sister you can be.
I know I wasn’t meant to see the message but I can’t “unsee” it. Madeleine has no idea I know.
I do try really hard to be nice but I just get so much abuse for simply having a different view. I accept that Madeleine has a different view to me but that shouldn’t make my view wrong.
Thank you for your advice, I’ll keep trying to be nice.
Welcome to the forums and congrats on trying to seek some guidance on this matter. This shows that you really care for your sibling.
I have a friend who recently came out as transgender. He is now happier to have all his friends know who he truly is. As a friend, I wanted to make him feel as comfortable as possible as I knew coming out is a very uncomfortable and vulnerable situation to be in. I am a gay teen and I recently came out, so I know the pain it can cause if the people around me do not accept me for who I am. Therefore, I knew I had to make sure that my friend felt as if he could confide in me no matter what.
I say this because, you are Madeleine's sister; you are one of your sibling's closest family member/friend. As a sister to Madeleine, it is almost your responsibility to be there for for them. So I say to just be kind and accepting of who your sibling is. They are amazing and still the same person they were before you saw that text.
And as uncut_gems stated, do not "out" your sibling to anyone. This is imperative, so your sibling can decide to come out if they wish, on their time and on their terms.
Also, everyone has a different view or opinion, and no view is incorrect or correct. However, sometimes there may be the right thing to do, regardless of opinion, which is to be accepting of everyone, no matter who they are.
Hope you can figure this out!
First, I want to acknowledge that your grief of losing a sibling is valid and of course, everyone has a right to an opinion. It is also important to recognize how your words may hurt someone such as your sibling. When you say 'I don't like the idea of gender neutral toilets', what your sibling may hear is 'my identity is being erased and my existence doesn't matter' I challenge you to find compassion for your sibling and understand the scrutiny they may cop simply for being who they are.
I also challenge you to question your own ideas and opinions and why you believe them. Despite opinions, trans and non-binary folks exist and they need support around them. Your embarrassment is not yours to hold. It belongs to a society that have continuously denied the lgbtq community of their identity.
Whilst your sibling grapples with their identity, I think it would be helpful to gain knowledge around this subject, because when they do come out, they are going to need the support.
I hope this helps.