More family stuff – specifically my brother

I come from a family of five kids. My oldest brother and I have always had an interesting relationship. At times loving and supportive but usually – historically-  there is/was a tension and antagonism. He has always played a very harsh Devils advocate with me often to the point of tears leaving me feeling so incredibly unheard unseen and not understood. He does/ did this with no other sibling and even my ex  gf felt more respected by him then I. So for the last eight months or so this has been changing. He listens to me, asks me questions like he has always done with everyone but me, laughs at my jokes, stops talking if we both start talking at the same time or if he is talking and I am trying to interject.  None of this has happened previous to the last eight months or so. I feel respected and I have to admit it feels good. And it leaves me boggled now every time I see him. I ask myself: 1) is he responding to my more grounded confidence? Or 2) did he struggle with me as a gender non conforming female more than he struggles with me as a trans masculine person? Or 3) is this some form of male privilege – now that I present more maled on so many levels does he respect me more because he has a higher respect for males. I am one of three AFAB siblings with two AMAB sibs. My oldest sister who I am very close to has a distant and usually tense relationship with this brother while my other sister has always been closer to him. This other sister has made more mainstream choices then me and my other sister save a ten yr relationship with a woman. (Her partner died and now she is married to a man and has two kids). I say all this because it’s complex. He respects this one sister without a doubt and definitely relates the most with her life choices then me and my other sister. So is his stuff with me respecting males more or at least significantly more than gender non conforming butch lesbians? Or is something else at play? It is perplexing. And one of those boons that I both really enjoy and struggle with.

Then there is my sister that I am very close to. She has been visiting the past week and a half. I took time off to spend time with her and her family. I asked her tonight if the reason we have spent less time together this trip is due to my transition. She acknowledged it is part of it. She isn’t sure if she is grieving her sister or struggling with being “soul mate close” to a “male”. She is essentially struggling with her notions of gender and how she has gendered our relationship. She is struggling to stay connected to the non gendered essence of our connection which she acknowledges hasn’t changed and let go of the outward gendered changes in me (voice, confidence, smell, appearance, body etc). She wholeheartedly knows the connection is there and that she can still talk to me about anything and I still respond to her with the same support, insight, inquisitiveness, compassion… And still she is creating more space or needing more space. It is painful to me. I believe her when she says she just needs time to adjust. That we will make it through this. Likewise I am afraid. To lose this relationship would be a devastation that I cannot comprehend. A death.  Is this what those closest to us feel as we transition? They say it is like losing someone. But at the same time not really cause here we are. I do not want to lose her. I would give up a thousand experiences as with my brother to maintain my connection with my sister. And I will not give up me.

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