by Lyle Schwemley
The drive home from college was a boring, hour-long, straight shot east. There was nothing to see except for semi-trucks and cows. I turned my music all the way up, blaring Five Finger Death Punch’s “Bulletproof.” I thought about how I would come out to my brother. I wanted to explain to him how the gender spectrum worked. More importantly, I wanted to tell him that I was bigender.
Coming out to my brother was important to me because he had always looked up to me. He had always been my baby brother. As the oldest child by six years, I’ve always felt very protective of him. He was my responsibility when my parents fell short. They didn’t ever really discuss LGBT topics with him, which I didn’t ever blame them for, because what parent knows how to talk about that with a young child? Since I was a part of the community, I felt that it was my responsibility to help him understand these things before an uninformed person tried to. I knew he might need some things explained in more simple terms than how I understood it. He certainly wasn’t homophobic or transphobic.
He was a good kid. I was pretty sure he’d take it well when I came out to him.
Finally, I pulled into my old driveway, turned off the car, and just sat there for a moment, letting my tension dissipate some. I unbuckled my seatbelt and grabbed my bag from the back seat. I walked slowly to the front door and opened it.
“Hi, baby!” my mom said. She gave me a hug and instructed me to put my things in my room. After talking to her a bit, she suggested my brother and I go for a walk.
“Mark!” she shouted. He poked his head out from behind his door.
“Yes?” he asked.
“Go for a walk with your sister,” she told him. He went back into his room and came out with shoes on.
“Hi,” he said to me.
“Hey,” I greeted him, smiling.
“Be back by sundown,” my mother instructed. We nodded. I opened the door and exited the house, feeling the Oklahoma air on my face. It was late winter, and still cold.
“Where do you want to go?” I asked my brother. He shrugged, and we started walking.
“How’s school going?” I asked him. He shrugged. “Friends?” He shook his head. Well, small talk isn’t getting me anywhere, I thought.
“So, you know my friend Ashley? The transgender one?” I asked.
He looked at me and nodded.
“Her gender is different than the one she was assigned when she was a baby. There are a lot of people like that.”
We trudged along in cool evening air.
“I know,” he replied.
“Well, there are also people who are neither a boy or a girl. And there are people who are both. And then some people’s genders change over time,” I explained.
“How is that possible?” he asked, bewildered.
“Look at the sky.” I pointed at the moon. “You can see the moon but the sun is still up. Somedays, you can’t see the sun at all. Then, of course, there’s night.”
“Gender is a lot like that, too. It’s a spectrum, not from black to grey to white, but the whole entire color spectrum. It’s vast and complicated and everyone experiences it differently.”
“Oh, okay.” He smiled up at me.
“So…I’m a girl, but I’m also a boy. Sometimes I’m just a girl, and other times I’m just a boy. Sometimes I’m both. It’s called bigender.”
He didn’t say anything.
“What do you think?” I asked him. I hoped he wouldn’t think less of me.
“I think you’re a boy and a girl. What else would I think?”
My heart swelled with pride and joy. I couldn’t help but remember how I reacted to gay and trans things when I was 12. He was a much better person than I was at that age. I also couldn’t help but think that I was a part of the reason for his acceptance of me.
We kept walking, and found a giant dirt mound. We climbed up and proclaimed ourselves the kings of the neighborhood. He called me his brother. And then we walked home and had dinner.
Lyle Schwemley is from the Bible Belt of the US, the Land Of No Unisex Bathrooms Except In This One Coffee Shop. He is going to a small university in Oklahoma to get an English degree. In his free time, he can be found scanning Netflix for LGBT+ shows, cooing at his two goldfish House and Wilson, or leading the Dark Brotherhood of Skyrim.
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