After a gloriously sunny Canada Day long weekend it's back to the regular grind for Major Gal. I've got some great memories to share from a wonderful weekend in Toronto. The city celebrated Pride and the celebrations came to a close yesterday, with the annual Pride Parade. This is actually a great way to shift into something I've been wanting to share with you guys for quite a while, but haven't known how to start.
I've always been open about my family and how lucky I am to be the older sister to three younger sisters. A few months ago my sister Chelsea came to me to say that she'd never felt like she was in the right body. Chelsea is now Devin - he's transitioning from female to male. I have a brother. This weekend I met Devin and his boyfriend Tyler at the trans events Friday night. I was happy that Devin wanted me to be a part of his celebrations. I brought my sweetheart friend Julie and we all danced outside with huge smiles on our faces.
I've always seen everyone as equal. Working downtown as a single, gorgeous young woman, my mom was always surrounded by creative people - not all of whom were straight. I learned at an early age that some boys like girls, some boys like boys, some girls like boys and some girls like girls and some people like everybody. I grew up promising myself that if my children ever came to me with questions about their sexuality that I would be open, welcoming and loving no matter what. Love is the most important thing. I accept everyone as they are. When Chelsea came out just before she turned 15 I was shocked, but I was supportive. At 15 I knew that I liked boys so I didn't think she was mistaken or just trying to get attention. She could tell what kind of feelings she had and she knew who they were directed at. I told her that if later she figured out that she wasn't a lesbian, it's okay to change her mind. I didn't want her to think that in telling people she was gay, she was stuck with a label. Our dad is really great because he has the biggest heart. He has always wanted us to have love - he doesn't care who we love. Okay well, there was that one older guy I dated when I was 16 that my dad threatened after I broke up with him, but otherwise my dad is very accepting! And I never heard from that guy again LOL!
When Devin told me he was becoming a man it brought up feelings I didn't know I could feel. I felt like a hypocrite. I was always so accepting, but this had never happened to anyone I knew and now it was happening to my little sister. I mourned my sister. There was an entire life of Chelsea Eileen that I felt like I had to erase now that Chelsea was living as Devin. I'm usually pretty good at holding it together, but this was entirely new for me. Devin is still the same person and I'm still learning. For example, when I refer to Devin as a young child, am I supposed to say "Devin" or "Chelsea?" He's Devin now, but he was Chelsea for 21 years. It's a learning process and I'm not perfect. I slip up on pronouns, but I'm trying really hard to be exactly the same sister I was before: loving, supportive and protective. I don't imagine Devin's journey will be without bumps, but I'll be here every step of the way.
Before my mom died a friend of ours wrote her a letter about a dream she had. In the letter she said that our family was on the beach. Jesus walked over to meet us. He bent down and picked my sisters up in his arms. They were laughing and smiling. He walked back and picked up my dad and then carried him to where my sisters were waiting. When he got back to me, he held my hand and walked beside me. It wasn't my dream but I can see it all so clearly in my mind. I think about that letter all the time. Cindy, the woman who wrote my mom the letter said she didn't know what any of it meant. My mom was in the hospital when she showed me the letter and she asked, "Well, do you know what it means to me?" I told her I didn't understand. She looked at me with her sweet blue eyes and said, "You're going to be the strong one. You're not going to need anyone to carry you through this."
Initially, I was heartbroken over Devin's decision and I had so much guilt over what that said about me. Was I homophobic? Was I a complete hypocrite always talking about equal rights but not wanting any of it to apply to my personal life? Was I a close-minded asshole? I always believed that people can honestly feel they are born into the wrong bodies. I don't think it's an illness or mental disorder, but I also don't believe God makes mistakes. It was tough for me. Just like I'll never fully accept that my mother died so young, I'll never be at ease with Devin being born in the wrong body. Why did he have to go through so many years feeling like he had a secret and not knowing why he was never really happy? Didn't he deserve happiness from the beginning? Shouldn't he have been a boy from conception?
I had so many emotions and was so confused over who I would share the news with. I wasn't keeping a secret, but I was respecting Devin's privacy. He wasn't fully out at that point and I really needed to understand how I was feeling. I didn't want to talk to people about it because I was afraid that some of the people I trust most in the world would judge my brother and therefore make me really angry with them. I don't think it was a "decision" with consequences, just like I don't think people choose to be gay.
When Devin told me I just cried. And cried. But this isn't about me. This is about my brother and how freggin' proud I am of him. Of being who he knows he is. Of showing such bravery in his job. Of having faith that our family will accept him (shit, even I'm scared that some of them will be jerks about it). Initially though, I had a really hard time with the news and that made me feel even worse.
I was shocked. I was sad. I was scared. Scared of what transitioning meant for Devin. Scared of what our family would say. Scared that maybe he was rushing into things. Scared that I was losing part of my identity. Nothing about me would change as a result of my brother's sexual identity or orientation, but suddenly I didn't have three sisters. I had two sisters and a brother. I know it's such a small thing, but it opened up a world of emotional pain for me. This will never be my journey. I will never know how hard it is for Devin to go through hormone therapy and begin puberty at 21 AGAIN. I won't know what it's like to avoid using public washrooms because it's not as simple as using the ladies' room anymore. I don't know what it's like to hand over your identification to the clerk at the LCBO and get looks of judgement because you have a girl's name and look like a boy. My brother makes me proud.
I'm a straight woman. I enjoy some freedoms others don't and I walk through life pretty easily. I'm very proud of my family. Of who we are all and how we're living honest lives. The bravery my brother has has shown me that he's grown so much and I don't always need to protect him. Devin was in kindergarten when our mom died, and I've always been very protective of my siblings. I would honestly give up my life for any one of them. I used to wonder how I could love my own kids more one day because I feel like my heart is so full where Jenna, Devin and Chandler are. I know there's infinite space in my heart though and I'll grow as much as I need to keep giving love to those around me. I love easily and I love in the biggest way possible. If I let people in, it's because I truly believe they deserve a spot in my heart.
This weekend I saw a city open its arms to so many beautiful people. I saw fireworks in celebration of this amazing country's birthday. I saw my brother surrounded by people who accept everything about him without even knowing his name or his story. I'm proud of all of this and Devin, I'm really proud of you.
Here's a picture of all three of the pups on my balcony yesterday. Aren't they adorable? I'm also a proud single fur mama and fur auntie :)