Friday, June 17, 2011

Reconnecting with a brother

If you have read my blog at all you know I have an older brother and a younger brother. My older brother and I have been close forever but my younger brother and I have had occasional difficulties and had not spoken since 2005. I have mentioned that my mother was kind of a sports fanatic which is not unusual if you grow up in the area of Boston, Massachusetts. Even if I was not much of a boy I did grow-up a sports fan. It rubbed off from my mother, brothers, and parents.

The circumstances around my younger brother and I not speaking are complicated. Some of it is residual from our mutual childhoods. To be quite honest it was not a cup of tea being my brother. When a brother younger than you by 2 years has to protect you from bullies and protect you from yourself when the suicide attempts were thwarted it can result in resentment or even hurt them psychologically and if there is one quality that young transsexuals have it is single mindedness. We are selfish because our need to be the girl we should be makes us selfish. We are often oblivious to the pain we cause those we are closest to in our family and that includes those that truly support and help us.

Having moved away from New England and the sports fervor that resonates throughout the area when a professional team is fighting for a championship I rarely watch the teams. In New England it is the Boston Red Sox, The New England Patriots, The Boston Celtics, and last and certainly least the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League. My brothers both played hockey and have always been huge fans. Even though I grew up in Boston I was a Montreal Canadian fan because the uniforms were pretty and Rocket Richard, the flying Frenchman, was just so handsome.

On Wednesday evening my older brother Ray decided to play mediator when the Boston Bruins played the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup and the defacto team hockey championship of the world. The National Hockey League is truly an International League with both teams made of players from Sweden, Canada, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, the United States, Germany, Norway, and Finland.

When the Bruins took a 2-0 game lead I received a call from my older brother in Montana and he convinced me to watch the game and before I knew what was going on my younger brother was conferenced in and I managed to watch the hockey game and reconnect with my younger brother and it suddenly dawned on me how much I truly missed him. I learned early on in life to just not think about people that hurt you or seem to dislike you. It is much easier to ignore them than try and deal with them. Those of us born Transsexual learn this safety mechanism early on or we would go nuts because hate is often all too obvious. It really hurts when it happens later in life and I did what I usually did which was withdraw from him.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like growing up with me as your sibling. I pushed back a lot and as my older brother once said "sometimes it is not easy having you as a sister" and this was long before my completion of my journey. A six year old brother should not be the one to find his older sibling in a drug induced stupor as I tried my first attempt at suicide. How horrible that must have been.

What do two young boys tell their friends about a sibling like me?

Wednesday started about as cool as the ice surface in Canada but we started talking as the Bruins were winning the Stanley Cup but eventually well before the game was over and the hardware was presented to the Bruins we were thawing the ice that existed between my younger brother and me. I missed him a lot. When I moved back from California in the 80's we played a lot of golf and we of course had our mother who in retrospect realized there were issues but kept us together or at least talking.

He was the one that controlled my mother's estate after her death and had shipped me the boxes containing the letters between my mom and Dr. Benjamin, letters between Harry and me, letters to my mom, and all my medical records which were and are important to me. It was rough when our mother died but the day after her funeral I was shunned by that side of the family. I admit it hurt because his kids and I were close and it all changed. They knew nothing of my past but they both know everything now. All I know is I was not invited to my nephew's wedding and that hurt. I have talked only with my brother.

I felt I owed him an apology and when we talked for two hours this morning on the phone I did tell him I was sorry for what I put him through and I was kind of shocked when he said he should be the one apologizing. It suddenly hit me about 30 minutes into our conversation that he had read all those letters I had received and my first thought was how since he had zero foreign language skills?

The rest of this reconnection process will be up to me and I am not really very good at what I have to do. I always feel weird when I know people know and I know they know and they know I know they know. I was always close to my niece and we are going to talk this evening. My nephew will be more difficult because he is ├╝ber conservative and the Aunt that took him to Metallica, Aerosmith, and other concerts may be a freak.  We will see.

I did learn from my younger brother how embarrassing it was for them to have me as their sibling and brother and he said something quite ironic but funny.

"Why couldn't you just have been born a girl?"

Well yeah!!! My thoughts exactly but unfortunately that was not how it was. I tried to explain, quite poorly I admit, that that single fact was what I struggled with every day of my childhood and if I want to be honest I still struggle with at times. Why is a horrible word in certain circumstances and this is a big one. I felt cheated as a child and I have felt cheated my entire life. I have always felt I was denied the life I should have had had by some unforgiving freak of nature event or worse yet by some omnipotent being that could not freaking get my birth sex correct.  How hard can boy-girl be for someone that is supposedly omnipotent?

Of course most of us realize now this was some weird hormonal wash that somehow failed to connect with our physical sex correctly and thus we were born transsexual. If there is an omnipotent being I would like some answers but then being born transsexual pales in comparison to many other birth defects so if there is an omnipotent being they may be just as clueless as most of us are. I still feel cheated though.

At some point in the near future I will venture north to Massachusetts and deal with this part of my family because I love my younger brother and I never realized how much I missed him. I have always been good at moving bad stuff to that "Way Back When Vault" or the other as important one called the  "I Refuse to Deal with it Vault" which I am an expert at manipulating or at least I thought I was.

I know it was not easy for anyone in my family and maybe this is a little kick in the shin to remind me.


Anonymous said...

Liz, this is one the most poignant essays I have ever read on issues that surround our lives. You are correct our single mindedness and our own pain so often blinds us to how we affect the lives of those we love and love us. Congratulations.


Anonymous said...

That's a lot to deal with, no question. I can only imagine how you feel between wanting to reconnect with people who are important in your life yet in doing so having to go through the whole self-outing routine. I already hate that! After most of a lifetime in your correct sex, you must hate it even more.

I wish you strength in this venture!

Elizabeth said...

There is no "outing" involved. Everyone already knew or currently knows.

Anonymous said...

OK. Still wish you strength. Hope it's all good!

Rory Grant said...

I read your Blog regularly - though I don't comment (I just don't know enough about the realities of being a transsexual or the intensity of what's involved). From a purely reuniting of kin perspective, regardless of what the root problems were. That was heartwarming and very well written.


abby said...

on occasion I read a post that I sense has certain elements of personal truth and vulnerability in it. I respect that. often they are the posts I can relate to in some ways and often help me in others. thankyou.

I hope you're well

Anonymous said...

You have a fine taste in whiskey Rory Grant. We are not so hard to understand if you accept that we are female. It's then a matter of the usual convolutions of a female you need to understand. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Hi Liz.

I too have a younger brother, although in truth he is my half brother, having been concieved by my Mother's second marriage. Also being 17 years my junior, be was barely six years old when I "disappeared" from his life only to re-appear a year or so later as the sister he now knows and loves, and in reality has ever known.


Anonymous said...

Good for Ray. Hope the calls with the nephew and niece went well.

> if there is one quality that young transsexuals have it is
> single mindedness. We are selfish because our need to be the
> girl we should be makes us selfish. We are often oblivious to
> the pain we cause those we are closest to in our family and that
> includes those that truly support and help us.

Sheesh, paint us evil, why don't you. It takes me a lot of effort to be single-minded, when it is required, although I certainly can be. Was I single-minded about transitioning? Sometimes I was very scared, and sometimes that made me slow, but the undercurrent never wavered. But I did well academically at school, despite incessant bullying too, so I'm not at all sure that fits single-mindedness. You even tutored others, so were you single-minded, or just determined? As for selfish; well, I've always thought of others, so I don't think that's true either.

Maybe you are just feeling, at this time, that you've been selfish in some respect? But, ask yourself, what else could you have done? After all, you did try to depart their lives, quite seriously, more than once, and they brought you back. And now they reached out again.

> Those of us born Transsexual learn this safety mechanism
> early on or we would go nuts because hate is often all too
> obvious. It really hurts when it happens later in life and I did
> what I usually did which was withdraw from him.

I withdraw in advance, for fear of the hurt on either side. But then you know that.

Elizabeth said...

I believe it is being selfish that helps us survive once we know help is available old friend. There is nothing evil about being selfish or maybe single-minded is a better term.

When I talked with the kids a friend and I have helped and with the two today I would say they are single-minded about reaching the goal of surgery. It is that purposeful part of Type VI that leads to an early transition.

Elizabeth said...


Yes I do know you tend to withdraw but sometimes you have to realize friendships survive political disagreement because politics should never be personal.

Anonymous said...

In my experience it's when people like us feel there is no hope and no way out or forward that motivates drastic measures like ending a life that has become unbearable. I think too many of us find ourselves in that situation at some point in our lives. I know I hurt people who loved me when I got to that state.It's when the way forward can be visualised that we work towards the only escape with a single mindedness that is almost unparalelled, I've observed it and been through it myself. We make sacrifices that many would say are bordering on insanity.

I cut myself off from friends and family permenantly and 30 years later I am still "dead" to them. That happens for everyone for various reasons not just us.