My Former Brother

My former brother declared on Fecebook that humans can change sex.
I invited him on Heterodorx, the podcast I co-host with Corinna Cohn, to explain how.
He declined in a long email, in which he chastised me once again for my insensitivity to The Trans Community. He asserted men can become women. He referred to such women as “former men.”

Corinna wrote him an email in response that was a cutting, glorious thing. Corinna is the only man who has ever stood up for me to my former brother (or father, to whom my former brother bears much resemblance). He signed his email, “Former Man.”

After this exchange I decided to personally, privately disown my former brother. I have heard that other brothers defend or encourage their little sisters; mine has always done the opposite. Whenever I found myself bullied or attacked, he blamed me. Perhaps he blamed me for his own troubles too, since my role as the youngest in my family seemed to be scapegoat. When I first got viciously canceled for saying women don’t have penises, he sent me a long email urging me to apologize to everyone I “hurt.” 

Following his logic, I reasoned that if men can become women — if history and biological reality can be fundamentally rewritten by will, identity, or “dysphoria” — then I could identify out of being his sister. I have Sibling Dysphoria. Having him as a brother never felt right; it felt horrible. From a very young age I knew I was born in the wrong family. My True, Authentic Self is not the sister of this man. From that point onward, I identified him as not-my-brother.

That was over a year-and-a-half ago. Last week, after numerous tests including a colonoscopy following months of symptoms, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The number-one risk factor for Crohn’s disease is having an immediate family member with Crohn’s disease: a parent or sibling. My former brother has Crohn’s disease.

Maybe I should have removed any relation to him from my medical records, to affirm my True Identity. Medical forms have countless genders patients can choose from, which physicians are required to affirm; why shouldn’t they affirm my unrelated-to-asshole-with-Crohn’s-disease identity? Lord knows I’ve felt suicidal in the absence of its affirmation, such as during my entire childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. 

But regardless of whether I received that life-saving affirmation, I would have Crohn’s Disease anyway. Just like the “transman” who showed up at the hospital in pain was pregnant anyway. Because “former women” are still women, “former men” are still men, and my former brother is still my brother, no matter how much I hate it.

Feeling the need to state sibling preference is not a comfortable thing to do, and my history has been filled with pain.