All in the transfamily: Three sets of trans siblings make headlines

Though you’d never know it from the incessant, daily onslaught of “Hey, look mom, I’m trans!” stories in the media, is it possible the garden variety tales of 3-year-old trans children could be starting to get a bit…old hat?

How does a magazine or newspaper editor get out ahead of this and keep the trans angle fresh and new?

Well, we did recently have the 52-year-old father of 7 who has come out as a 6-year-old girl, featured on a Canadian documentary about transgender heroes and lauded by a Canadian politician as instrumental in passing a gender ID law in Canada. That story is still making the rounds, with several permutations that include “Stefonknee’s” sex life with his adoptive “parents” and his propensity for “play therapy” with other young children.

But all these stories about trans kids (of all ages!)–honestly, how many more do we need? It’s time to move on to something new–like multiple members of the same family coming out as trans.

So far, I’ve learned of three such families. Undoubtedly, there are more out there to be discovered.

Cincinnati family transplanted to the UK : Brother and sister swap sexes

First, let’s have a look at the McGarritys, whose teen son and daughter declared themselves trans within a month of each other. Good Housekeeping (which broke the story) is as mainstream American as you can get. It’s the housewive’s mag that has been on grocery store checkout racks since I was a wee lass myself, the go-to publication for recipes, home entertainment tips, and wholesome parenting advice

Housekeeping isn’t typically known for sizzling news scoops, but they hit it out of the park this time, with the heartwarming tale of internalized homophobia not one, but two trans kids in the same fam! The story of the McGarrity family was subsequently picked up by the UK Sun, Huffington Post, and Metro.

As always, it’s a tale of “gender nonconforming kids” who found it easier to “transition” than to live as non-stereotypical members of their own sex.  As a younger child, “Russie” (who now identifies as female and goes by “Rai”), didn’t like football. He preferred pink chiffon, makeup, and playing dress up.

On an “easy” day, Russ would be greeted at school by a football player’s taunt: “Hey, fag, you’re gay.” On bad days, there were interactions with school administrators who didn’t seem equipped to understand or support a student who didn’t fit expected gender norms.

And teen daughter Aly (now Gavin) was conversely not attracted to typical girl stuff:

Low-key Aly seemed to be thriving as a junior high tomboy who loved sports, baggy jeans, and T-shirts. She had good friends and earned good grades. But for years, she had been quietly struggling, desperate to spare her parents any additional worries as they worked to support her brother.

It was Russ who finally got her to talk about it. “I heard you like girls,” he said one evening when their parents were out with friends. “Is that true?”

“Well, it’s deeper than that,” Aly replied. Quiet and studious, she had been researching gender identity online. Now, just a few weeks shy of her 15th birthday, she sat down with Russ to describe some things she had learned, including the term other teens were using on YouTube for feelings that sounded a lot like hers: transgender — experiencing psychological gender differently from the gender observed at birth.

Ah yes, the University of YouTube—where teenage experts convince a girl who likes girls and who eschews stereotypically female clothes and hairstyles that she’s actually a boy.

The kids come out as trans, one at a time, a month apart. The rest of the article is “reported” as you’d expect. The 41% stat is trotted out (as seems to be obligatory in all these stories), in the usual inaccurate way, with the usual implicit assumption that “transition” will be the cure for thoughts of self harm. (I’ve come to see that this scare tactic is what allows journalists to feel they are excused from raising even the mildest skeptical questions when “reporting” these stories.)

Both teens have begun medical transition, and via social media, Rai is helping other kids to realize that deciding they’re trans is a way out of gender nonconformity :

60,000 YouTube channel subscribers. Vlogging as Raiden Quinn, she had logged more than 6.5 million views with her edgy humor and genuine commentary on life as a transgender woman. (Part of that process was undergoing a painful facial feminization surgery.)

The Owens family: Dad is a trans woman, 9 and 10-year-old siblings also trans

In Marionville, Missouri, Heidi Owens is on a mission to secure bathroom rights for her two young (9 and 10-year-old) trans kids, Karri and DeeDee. The unisex bathroom provided by the children’s elementary school wasn’t enough (as it never seems to be in these cases). Karri and DeeDee’s father is also trans-identified, going by the name Krystel Rose. The couple have 5 children.

Heidi Owens says in the linked article that she intends to take her case to the Supreme Court, if that’s what it will take to win. The ACLU has taken an interest in the case, with Sarah Rossi, the director of policy and advocacy for the ACLU of Missouri, quoted multiple times in this article, as well as this one, calling the school’s policy of providing only a unisex bathroom “blatant discrimination.” The school’s attorney, Tom Mickes, is not in agreement, appearing to come down on the side of girls’ rights to privacy:

According to Mickes, MCE [Missouri Consultants for Education] created its policy model to counter recommendations from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that include allowing transgender students who identify as being female to shower with biologically-born females.

Female students have a well-developed legal right to be secure in their body integrity. They have the right not to be naked in front of a male,” Mickes said. “We are going to provide alternatives, but showering with them is not one of the options.”

Though multiple news accounts about the plight of the Owens family don’t tell us this, a quick Google search reveals that Mrs. Owens was fundraising online for Karri’s medical treatments related to autism a few years ago (prior to the child being referred to as “transgender” male), both in a gofundme-like page and in Twitter appeals. (Heidi Owens’ Twitter feed, evidently unused since 2011, contains some other concerning information which I won’t go into here.) As I wrote about recently, a diagnosis of autism seems to be no barrier to people declaring children to be transgender.


Pennsylvania trans siblings inspired by Caitlyn Jenner

A brother and sister in their early 20s made the news in Erie, PA last June, making their joint public announcement just a few days after Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner became a media sensation.

The siblings, who both ID as transgender, tell their story with an odd mix of pronouns:

One huge motivator for Corey to stop hiding is his younger sister, who is also transgender. She came out first, about five years ago.

Stephanie Hepler, a 23-year-old Guys Mills resident, now goes by Stephan and prefers male pronoun.

“It’s not any different than if two siblings said they were gay. To me, it’s just one of those weird  anomalies that happen every so often,” Stephan said in a phone interview. “With moral support yes, we’re there for each other,” he said.

“She’s what ultimately helped me come out. Because of her courage, and her will to do what she believed was right and be the true her,” Corey said.

Corey, who identifies as a trans woman (“Janelle”) but still goes by male pronouns, clearly wanted the siblings’ story to be better known: he posted it to the Today Show’s Facebook page  the same day it appeared on the Erie News Now site.

What inspired Corey to go public about himself and his sister?

Another story that helped Corey make the decision is Bruce Jenner’s transformation.

“That was one of the biggest parts for me coming out. He’s a former Olympian, he’s been on a reality show. Why can’t I?” Corey said.

Why, indeed?

But until Corey gets that reality show?

As far as other future goals, Corey also plans to run for the mayor of Girard.