My younger sister is transgender. It was early January when she told me, and I had just returned back to DC from my holiday trip home in Los Angeles. That Christmas she requested androgynous clothing. “Like a skirt,” she told me. So when I received an early morning text from her saying she had something to tell me, I was ready.
Her text read: I think I am transgender. Please don’t call me. I am not ready to talk about it on the phone. Nobody else in the family knows. Anyway, I have to go to school now.
That was all I got that day. I did call - no, she didn’t answer (she’s a woman of her word), and yes I was flooded with emotion, even though I was “ready.”
I was 8 when Ruth was born and when my parents told me that, according to the doctors, she was going to be a “boy,” I wept. My 3rd grade BFF Charlotte said, “Doctors aren’t always right, you know.”
I have so much to say about my sister, the pride I feel when talking about her and her journey, and if I am being totally honest, a tinge of grief as I let go of my expectations for her and instead embraced her truth. As it turns out, the truth is Ruth is the sister I had always wanted.
It’s pride month, and I was asked to share my story, about my sister Ruth. But, this is not my story to tell. It’s hers. So I’ll step aside.
Poppy world, meet Ruth, my baby sister. This is her story.
Words cannot describe the joy I felt playing Mademoiselle Elsita Eldorado in Lou Ziegler’s Evening in Berlin my sophomore year of high school. Everything about her was alluring to me, from her elegant movement to her cryptic, intelligent speech. In truth, I wanted nothing more than to be her.
I felt the most authentic on stage I had ever felt. When I did my first dress rehearsal wearing her dress and her gaudy, eerie makeup, I found myself narcissistically staring in the mirror, dressed in full costume for about 15 minutes. My imagination ran wild as my brain was finally clicking into place.
I spent the next six months feverishly trying to cover up my own masculinity: shaving my legs, admiring and purchasing more androgynous clothing, following trans models online, and digging deeper into trans history in America. I vilified the masculinity I was born with and cried at the idea over how immutable my body was. I knew after that point that I didn’t feel comfortable being a man.
To this day, 2 years of into transitioning, I struggle to feel comfortable and happy in my body amidst a turbulent political climate where now it’s once again legal to be denied healthcare solely on the basis of being transgender, something that I know I’m not alone in. I am unbelievably lucky to be surrounded by the love and support of my family and peers, but not all trans people share the same luck as me. We see our trans siblings everywhere, and want to do our best to support everyone as we make our way through these uncertain times. I am honored to be part of this web of brothers and sisters. Our family stands up for one another, and while we all face daily internal conflict and outright discrimination, we know when to put our struggle on hold as we demand for justice for others. Today, I demand justice for our sisters Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton. Today, we chant Black Trans Lives Matter.
I am proud of Poppy for taking a strong stance on this issue, and I love that 25% of their proceeds for their pride product, True Colors, is going directly towards The Okra Project. Join us in demanding justice, with a little flowers on the side :)