Thinking About Siblings of Transgender Children

Today I am thinking about siblings of transgender children. In our family, we have four children, three of whom identify as cisgender (sex assigned at birth) as far as we know. In the recent past, I was in a Clubhouse room and Jazz Jenning’s brother joined the conversation. He shared that in retrospect, he realizes he was bullied because of being her supportive brother. When he was going through it, he assumed it was because he was an athlete.

Tonight, I attended a player meeting for one of my athletes and the coach suggested he join the Christian Athlete’s Club. I looked at him, thought for a minute, and said, “his sibling is transgender, I don’t know where our family fits in that club.” Stunned, he stared at me. The coach is also a teacher and his child plays on our team. I shared this interaction with my child and he replied, “nobody knows at school; I am not embarrassed but I don’t want to be bullied because of it.” He is right, I made a tremendous mistake.

As we drove home my child told me not to worry about it, but I did. I am thinking about siblings of transgender children. I worried and was sad and mad. My missteps in that interaction were many. I should have never shared my transgender child’s gender identity and should not have placed her sibling in that position. The fact of the matter is, when I hear about a religious club in a school, I really am not sure where we fit. Part of me was hoping that the coach/teacher would have responded, “we love/welcome everyone.” Was my desire to push up against perceived conservatism endangering my children? I don’t know, time will tell. The next minute I think, where do we live where public schools have religious clubs? I don’t remember this when I was growing up, times have changed.

Our transgender children face so many adversities and challenges and it is essential to remember that your cisgender children do too. I struggle with the notion that our family complexion must be kept in the closet. Honestly, I understand why it does and need to respect the wishes of each of my children. When your transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming child is out, in many cases so are their siblings. Social-emotional support for everyone needs to be in place.

My readers, how do you handle these situations? My children in this story will never be in the same school together because of an age difference, but how do you handle siblings who are in school, and one is out and the other is struggling? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please drop a note in the comments or email me privately.

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