How Caitlyn Helped Me Understand My Trans Sister

by Kate Braner
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About a year ago, my dad phoned me and asked if it was a good time to talk.  To be clear, my father and I don’t have the best relationship.

So when he said he wanted to “talk,” I knew it had to be something serious.

“It’s about your younger sister,” he said.

He went on to explain one of my younger twin sisters would be transitioning into a male during the next few years.

I had a thousand questions, but I was mostly concerned with trying to figure out how I could talk with my sister.

It had been at least five years since we’d had a conversation.

The thing about half-siblings who live in a different state with a parent who isn’t yours is it’s pretty difficult to keep up a relationship.

It wasn't that I didn’t want to have a relationship with my sisters; it just wasn’t easy enough to do it, especially with our nine-year age difference.

My sister going through the transition always seemed depressed and disconnected from the world around her; she found solace in playing video games or watching the Red Sox play.

She didn’t seem to have many friends, aside from the ones she made each year at a summer camp in Oregon.

After the phone call I had with my father, who, to his credit, explained the situation to the best of his ability and seemed incredibly supportive, I researched the transgender community.

I wanted to understand what it meant to be transgender and what kind of health effects transitioning may have on someone later in life.

(The truth is there isn’t much end-of-life research out there, as this is still a fairly new concept.)

I also researched how to interact with someone who makes the decision to transition.

The overall consensus was you should treat the person who is making the transition exactly how you treated him or her throughout his or her entire life.

The person will remain the same, even if the wrapping is different.

Because of that, I never ended up reaching out to my sister, and I still haven’t.

I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t want her to think I was reaching out based on the information I was given (even though that was the catalyst, it wasn’t really the reason).

This year, Caitlyn Jenner did an incredible interview with Diane Sawyer. Going into watching the interview, I had a pretty negative mindset.

Would the media sensationalize Caitlyn and make her look like a total trainwreck, further setting back society's views of the transgender community?

I couldn’t be sure, and I was afraid for what my younger sister might go through as she transitioned into him over the next few years. Boy, was I wrong.

Watching the interview, I had a lot of my questions answered.

I had flashbacks to my sister insisting she was a boy at the young age of 3, wanting to wear pants and baseball hats instead of dresses and skirts.

At the time, I thought she was just being difficult, but Caitlyn made me realize she was trying to be herself.

I also sadly realized her depression might have been a direct result of being unable to explain the way she felt to the people around her.

This week, the world finally met Caitlyn Jenner -- a beautiful, happy woman with a past and baggage just like anyone else.

There's criticism the media is only paying close attention to Caitlyn because of who she was in her former life.

Yes, the media has taken to the story because of who Caitlyn was before she was her, but I’m really happy it has.

It has brought more awareness and understanding to the world, and for that, I am grateful.

I’m so proud of my sister for making the choice she has. I can’t wait to reach out, hear her story and eventually meet him.