They are siblings just like any other, sharing likes and dislikes, things for computers and love for animals — Thomas and Nyr Medina-Castrejon, the teenagers next door.
But something sets them apart. Seventeen-year-old Thomas and 13-year-old Nyr are both transgender.
Their story was published in the Philly Inquirer,profiling their gender identities and how they evolved and adapted themselves.
The Philly Inquirer reported that, according to Norman Spack, a specialist in pediatric endocrinology, a case like theirs is extremely rare. While numbers on the prevalence of transgender individuals in the United States are far from definitive, the most-cited statistic comes from UCLA demographer Gary Gates, who estimated in 2011 that 0.3 percent of American adults (about 700,000 people) are transgender.
Thomas told the paper the following.
“There were days when I was 6 or 7 where I would have what I called ‘boy days.’ I had a favorite boy outfit, like something a farmer would wear — baggy pants and a big checked cotton shirt. I felt stronger, more robust on those days. I played with other girls, but I knew I wasn’t like them. I hated shopping and I didn’t like princesses or dolls. I felt isolated.”
It was when Thomas saw a video on transgender people when he was 14 that he realized his gender identity.
“It resonated for me. For a long time, I had pretended to be a boy. I just didn’t know I was one.”
A video also was the trigger for Nyr. She said the following.
“I think it’s always been there for me, but I didn’t recognize it until I was watching a video with a transgender character. Something clicked, and I thought, ‘Oh, yes, I’m like that.’ “
The article also described how their parents, Emma and Cesar, now separated, reacted to their kids identities. Emma was forthcoming and cooperative, while Cesar was a little hesitant.
“It was the ultimate shock. I’m very traditional and my logic is a fixed idea of what is a man and what is a woman. But regardless of what I feel, this is not about me. It is about my children and the way they choose to live their lives.”
Emma, who un-schools her kids, said the following.
“Thomas gave me many clues that something was going on and I could see that it wasn’t going away… So when he insisted on cutting his hair short and confided, ‘I want to look more like a boy,’ I wasn’t surprised. I took the time to digest it, to educate myself and change the way I spoke and felt… I told him, ‘Nothing has changed. You still like animals and reading and folk music and eating steak. It’s still you.’ “
But she was a little skeptical in acknowledging that Nyr, too, was transgender. She said the following.
“When she first told me, I thought it was just a game, maybe that she was following her brother. I didn’t want to believe it because it was so scary. You hear about how much rejection there is out in the world. You hear about so many being murdered. That’s not what you want for your child. After a while, I had to accept that this was for real.”
On Sunday evening, Thomas reacted by writing a post on Facebook.
He disagreed with the title “Transgender adolescents, brother and sister, seek their true selves” and said that they are comfortable with their own selves, and not seeking any. He also alleges that the paper was being stereotypical when it said “Nyr is happily twirling in a pretty purple dress.” He claims that he never refused to acknowledge his name on the birth certificate, and that it was a private matter. Further, he says that the article uses cisexist language, calls them an anomaly, refers to “family dynamics” as a reason for them being transgender, tries to find a cause of transness, and blames it for depression and so on.
The Washington Post reported that what bothered Thomas was not that their struggles were made public (after all, they agreed to cooperate for the article), but rather that transness was posed “as the root cause of all the suffering that trans people go through.”
The siblings clearly want to be treated like everyone else, and it’s time that the media gives up its patronizing attitude and reports in a sensitive manner.
[Image via Facebook]