Thursday, November 3, 2011

Understanding Ryan

So I normally don't post about the hard things, the serious stuff. But I started this post a while back and keep coming back to it and decided its time to finish it

This is my brother, Ryan

Ryan was born Danielle.

When Ryan was a teenager ( and was still Danielle) they were outted by a teacher to my parents for being a lesbian.  Well to ease the blow Danielle said they were bisexual, not a lesbian.  My parents took it the best they could. Danielle was in a dark place for years due to depression and my parents didn't want to push the envelop. They supported her, we all supported her. Even when it came out that nope, not bisexual, she really was a lesbian.  Ok thats fine, whatever as long as she was happy. And so Ryan went thru his teenage years as Danielle, the rebellious, depressed lesbian with a back bone of steel ( even fighting the school board for gay rights). Off to college and for the first 2 years he was still Danielle. Then one day in spring of 2010 I got a phone call from my sister that changed my world.
Me- "Hey Dani whats up"
Danielle- " Shannon I need to tell you something I need you to hear me out"
Me-" ok???"
Danielle-" Do you know what transgender means"
Me- Yes....
Danielle- *Dead silence*
Me- OMG are you telling me your transgender?
It was a interesting phone call. After lots of tears on my part, both happy and sad but mostly shock. Danielle told me that she was transgender, had know for a while, and had been going by the name Ryan. Then she asked me this

 " Shannon do you hate me?" 

I spoke from the heart and told her no, I didn't hate her. I didn't understand, but I would never hate her. It would take me a while but I would come to adjust. Although not as devote as I should be, I am a christian, and hearing this was hard.

I was raised to be tolerant, to be understanding, and to not judge something I didn't understand. And this, well I definitely didn't understand this.  Ryan asked that we start calling him by his preferred name, as well as calling him a him. He said he had thought long and hard about this and this was the life he wanted, even though he knew it would be a hard road. 

I researched, and talked to people, and asked questions. And finally got a general understanding for what this meant. It didn't mean my little sister was gone forever. Ryan was still the same person they had always been, just in a different way. He was still the same pain in the butt who chased my boyfriends around with a hammer,the same kid I tortured by dressing up as a cow during a play for our parents, the same kid who liked to eat french dressing on spaghetti. Nothing had changed. Do I still have questions. Yes, a ton of them.

What do I tell childhood friends who ask me how Michelle and Danielle are? I tell them they are doing great. Because its the truth

 How do I explain to Ethan that his Uncle Ryan was born Aunt Danielle when he sees pictures from my childhood? I'm not going to lie to my child, I'm just going to tell him the truth and help him understand just like I had to do. I believe hate is something that has to be taught.

So now its been a year and a half and I can finally, honestly say that I'm ok with this. Would this be the life I had chosen for my brother? No but thats because this isn't a easy life, and I don't want to see him hurt by people who judge something they don't understand. Regardless I love my brother, every crazy part of him and over time have see how much happier he is.
No more depression, no more anger. He is free of all of it because he is finally himself.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you for writing this! I like that you're honest and real in your posts.


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