An interview with researcher, Susan McHale about the impact of gender and culture on how siblings view each other. Susan explores the way that individualistic cultures foster sibling competitiveness and resentment of favoritism. She describes how in some Mexican American families siblings may support the unfair advantage of one successful sibling who then reflects well on them all. She also describes how gender socialization of girls as caregivers is protective to their younger siblings. She cites research that shows how having an older brother is more likely to result in exposure of the younger siblings to risky behaviors as compared to having an older sister. She reiterates the importance of the sibling relationship as a source of longstanding and as yet poorly studied influence on people’s lives. Indeed, one study suggests that adults with positive sibling relationships at age 65 are more likely to be happy and physically healthy.
An interview with Jean Vermette about her experience of recognizing that she was female, and taking the risk to share it with the people she loved. She ultimately chose to undergo sexual reassignment surgery and wrote a book, Je Me Souviens (I will remember) about her experience of MtF genital surgery. Jean spoke movingly about how her need to feel whole was so strong that she was willing to risk the loss of sexual responsiveness. Jean described the process as an example of the universal spiritual story of death and rebirth, and the sense of loss of her male self that was a necessary part of embracing her female identity.
An interview with author and gender studies professor, Helen Boyd about being married to a trans woman. Helen describes her early courtship to a man who “occasionally cross-dressed” and how this evolved into loving her partner through transition into becoming a woman. She accepted the experience as an invitation to explore her own relationship to gender from being a young tomboy, to pressures to conform to traditional ideas about femininity as she grew up. Helen explores what it is like to be perceived now as a lesbian because she is married to a woman, and how she and Betty have each worked to honor each other’s sexual and gender needs through the process of transition.
An interview with the founder and president of the first camp for trans youth, Nick Teich. Nick describes many challenges that trans youth face as they grow up, particularly as they enter puberty and begin to develop secondary sex characteristics of the sex that feels wrong to them. The camp is for ages 8 to 15 and is designed to offer a safe place where kids can express the gender that feels right to them, among others doing the same. He tells stories of campers who benefited tremendously from meeting other kids like them for the first time in their lives. Nick also describes some of the medical options available to kids to delay puberty until they are old enough to decide whether to transition.
An interview with the director of the Maine Transgender Network, Alex Roan. Alex defines the terms transgender, transsexual and cross-dresser, clarifying the difference between sex, gender, gender expression and sexual orientation. He describes his own story of experiencing the gap between his sex and his gender , and his experience of transition from female to male. He gives poignant examples of experiencing male privilege from the “other side.” He also describes common issues that trans people struggle with, especially coping with the reactions of family and friends.