I grew up as the littlest sister in a family of three. My older sibling Aren came along a couple of years before me, and I looked up to Aren in every way. I had the typical little sister syndrome. I wanted to act, look and be like Aren. Aren played softball so I did. Aren agreed with the Democratic Party so I did, and so on.
When Aren went to high school, and I was still in Junior High, Aren left the house before me, and because of after school activities, Aren came home after me. So every day, I would raid Aren’s closet. And I would wear Aren’s jeans and shirts to school. I remember being three inches shorter and a little stouter, but sliding those clothes on after Aren left each day and off again before Aren came home.
In college, when I met my husband, neither of us dressed very fashionably. I wore flannel or plaid shirts most days with cargo pants, while he had tape holding his glasses together. Over the years, he started wearing glasses without tape, and I discovered that I liked heels and pink, a lot. And now, we both tease each other constantly about the tomboy he met, and the complete nerd I met. I’d never put much thought into what changed inside of me, although my husband often asks me what made me stop dressing in flannel.
That is until recently, when Aren came to visit my family, and I finally confessed to Aren that when Aren was at school, I stole Aren’s clothes. And I explained to Aren how much I do and have always looked up to Aren. Then, in an instant, my whole view of myself changed. I had the realization that for most of my life until my 20s, I based my own gender identity on my transgender older sibling’s. I spent my life dressing and looking to fashion advice from Aren, and Aren didn’t identify as female.
And so, somewhere in our 20s, Aren realized that Aren didn’t identify as female, and I realized that I did. Here we were, each on our own, allowed to finally decide for ourselves what we felt like inside. Aren’s insides screamed one thing, and mine screamed very loudly, “Pink, I love pink! Put me in pink heels, please!”
***This story was originally posted anonymously on the blog Genderqueer Chicago. At that time, I changed my sibling's name to protect my sibling's identity. I, of course, asked permission of both my sibling and Genderqueer Chicago before reposting this story here today.***