Family dynamics and getting along with siblings can often be difficult without major changes thrown into the mix, especially at 15 years old.
This tension is often compounded when major life changes happen, like discovering the sibling you grew up thinking was your brother is, in fact, your sister.
Reddit user Curious-Food asked the folks at the "Am I The A**hole" (AITA) subReddit for some help with some unexpected tension in his relationship with his sister.
"Me (15 male) my sister (15 female). This is a throwaway account because my sister knows my main."
It seems like he is trying very hard to support his sister in her transition and show her that he loves her.
"My sister has been transitioning for about a year at this point. I have tried my best to be supportive of her in any way I can, for eg. I call her by her new name and I have introduced her to some of my female friends cause I guess she'll need their support."
His way of showing his support seems to have unintentionally left his sister feeling alienated instead.
"However, my sister has recently been very upset with me because I no longer share my private info with her. So for example, I don't tell her my crushes. I also refuse to roughhouse with her. This is something my parents support (when I was younger, my dad used to get upset if I roughhoused with my girl cousins)."
His treating her like he would any other girl apparently left her feeling like they don't have as deep of a connection anymore.
"This has also extended to my friends. Now that she is a girl, we no longer feel comfortable telling her about how hot a friend looks, etc. what I don't understand about her being upset is that when she was a boy, she would not have said those things to a girl either!"
Knowing his sister is upset left the Original Poster frustrated and upset too.
He doesn't understand why his sister is feeling hurt.
"I do think she is being hypocritical. My closest female friend (who is now close to my sis) has told me that she thinks I am punishing my sis. I think that is bs, cause it is not as if I tell those things to any other girl."
He finished with a plea for other viewpoints, wanting to know if the situation really is his fault.
"So aita [Am I The A-hole] for no longer being comfortable with telling my sis somethings?"
Redditors can respond to posts with one of several judgements and these are automatically tallied by a bot.
The possible judgements are as follows:
NTA - Not The A**hole, YTA - You're The A**hole, ESH - Everyone Sucks Here, NAH - No A**holes Here
Redditors nearly unanimously agreed that neither sibling was in the wrong in this situation, they just needed to talk to each other.
"NAH: you're treating her like you would any other girl. You should talk to her about this though because from her perspective you're pulling away and she might see that as you secretly hating her for being herself." -x25e0
A few also offered further advice on how to improve their relationship, recommending direct communication to clear up any misunderstandings.
"NAH. It's a transitional period of change where everyone needs to get used to the new dynamics. It's probably fear of not being as close to you as she used to be that scares her and is looking for something familiar to help her through this process."
"Given how young you both are I would expect this to be a difficult time and that you will both need to find a time to talk about it and how things are changing and you will probably need time to get a new base line relationship, potentially not any worse than before but different." -wishingIwasfunnier
"This! NAH. She's afraid and adjusting, and you don't feel you could relate to her as you could when she was pre transition, which is strange because she is still the same person, but that can be hard for cis people to understand. Be gentle with her, but I think you should still be as open as you were before." -linc_oof
"NAH for all the reasons everyone else has stated. However, something that might help. You aren't doing two things with her that you used to because you aren't comfortable doing them with girls."
"She sees this as not comfortable with her. It might help to put some effort into finding a couple new activities to do together and prioritizing them."
"Maybe there is a game you could play together? Or you could learn to/improve in the kitchen together (a skill you will very much appreciate when you move out)? Or literally anything? Since you are pulling back in some areas of your relationship, it would probably help to push forward in others." - not_rebecca
Others offered reassurance that things do get easier and that everyone has an adjustment period when a loved one transitions.
"NAH. As someone who has been in your sister's shoes, this is a weird time for everybody. I would have a sit down chat with her and let her know you love her dearly."
"That being said, you suddenly have a 15 year old sister and you didn't know you had a sister before. It's a new dynamic which is weird when it's the same person."
"You're not so much pulling away as trying to figure out what having a sister is like. She's had all this time knowing how to have a brother. You now get to learn about having a sister."
"You two will get through this with a good strong relationship. Just please don't be that super overprotective brother. Please 😉" -CuddlyTBoy
"This is spot on from the other side as well. While my sister came out and started transitioning when we were all much older (I was 24 and she was 18), I had grown up with two younger brothers and didn't really know how to have a sister."
"It's been four years now, and everyone has adjusted. It's been nice for both my sister and I in other ways, since growing up I thought I was the only queer kid."
"She and I now bond and joke about all things WLW [Women Loving Women]. It's a totally different relationship, but it is still great and we are closer than ever." -Paloma_91
Communication is key in any relationship, and it is doubly so when that relationship is changing. It can be too easy to accidentally hurt a loved one while trying to help them, and clear communication can clear up misunderstandings and actually deepen the relationship.
It is wonderful that OP and his family are so supportive of his sister, and taking that attitude of love and support into trying to solve this situation will help immensely.
Nobody was in the wrong this time and a good, honest conversation about what both siblings need will likely help clear things up.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the TIFU link below.*
The book Raising the Transgender Child: A Complete Guide for Parents, Families, and Caregivers is available here.