Transphobia from strangers is painful. But from one’s own family is infinitely worse.
For trans people who go through physical transitions, their bodies sometimes have marks or scars afterward.
Redditor shirtproblems found himself in a maddening situation with his sister because of his surgery scars. He took to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to suss out whether his anger was warranted.
“AITA for getting mad at my sister for not wanting me shirtless at her pool?”
The drama started at a family party:
“My sister and her husband invited me over to their pool today for a little BBQ. I assumed it would just be me, my sister, her husband, my nephews, and my parents.”
“But turns out they also invited her husband’s side of the family.”
Once our original poster, or OP, was getting ready to swim, he was approached by his sister:
“When it was time to get in the pool, I changed into my swim trunks and removed my shirt. But my sister stopped me before I came out of their house and asked to keep my shirt on because of my scars.”
“She was referring to the scars from when I had my top (chest) surgery. I’m a trans guy. Had started transitioning 8 yrs ago and my surgery was 4 years ago.”
“My scars have already faded and they’re pretty well hidden under my pecs. You’d have to look really close to even notice.”
OP was taken aback and hurt by his sister’s reasoning:
“I’ve been to their pool many times and she’s never said anything before so I was surprised. Every other guy including my dad were all shirtless in the pool.”
“When I asked what the prob was with my scars she said she was uncomfortable with her in laws knowing I’m trans. My feelings were hurt but I was mainly pissed.
“She said she didn’t want her in laws to look at her differently if they found out about me.”
“She told me not to make a big deal and to go with it.”
OP’s mood was ruined from then on:
“When she left, I went back inside to change because I wasn’t gonna go in the pool with a shirt on. I only had the one I came wearing because I didn’t expect her to ask me this.”
“My mood was soured after that and I didn’t wanna be around her so I decided to leave. When I said bye to everyone they were all confused since I was only there less than an hour.”
“My dad pulled me aside and asked why I was leaving early.”
And OP’s family ended up taking OP’s side:
“I told him to ask my sister and left. An hour later my sister called me upset because she and my dad got into a fight.”
“My parents were furious about what she told me and they ended up leaving early too. Now she’s angry at me for ruining the bbq and said I didn’t have to cause all this drama if I only did what she asked.”
OP wonders if he should have just gone with his sister’s request to keep the peace:
“What she said hurt me and I was no longer in a mood to be around her or anyone else, but I didn’t mean for all that to happen.”
“Am I the a**hole for getting mad at her and basically ruining their day?”
Redditors decided where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit was overwhelmingly on the side of OP, saying that his sister was nothing short of transphobic in that moment.
“NTA, no way. Showing your scars and explaining why you have them on the spot would have been much easier for everyone. Your sister ruined her own bbq. I bet her in-laws have many questions in their minds now too.”~Yarragh
“NTA. You were right to call out that transphobic behaviour. ‘Didn’t want her in laws to look at her differently’ makes it sound like she was saying she was ashamed to have a trans brother.”
“I’m glad your parents stood up for you though! That was awesome of them.”~Verity_Fox
“Never in my life would I have thought I’d attribute the words “class act” to anyone, yet here I am, realizing OP has shown me exactly what that embodies.”
“Despite being blindsided by such a disrespectful request, you found the best way out of a horrible situation. You didn’t ‘make a scene.’ You didn’t even throw her under the bus when your dad questioned you, thus denying her any way to claim you exaggerated or escalated what was said.”
“You even saved her from the setup she was inadvertently creating to be an even bigger disaster. If you did wear a shirt in the pool, something you never do, others would have asked why or told you to take it off. Your sister would have panicked and tried to divert or interject, and it only would have gone downhill from there.”
“She dug her own grave when she placed her in-laws’ possible negative reaction above her own brother. Also, I love how supportive the rest of your family has been. Your dad is so adorably wholesome it’s making me tear up.”~DragonCelica
“NTA. I have several FTM friends and former students. Getting to go shirtless at a pool or the beach is like a rite of passage.”
“It means you feel comfortable that you are ‘passing.’ I guess you could call it a ‘rite of passing’ then. I can imagine how deeply it hurt you, both that your sister wasn’t supportive (and, frankly, overjoyed) that you feel good about going shirtless, and that she is obviously ashamed of who you are.”
“You were right to leave, and I almost cheered out loud when I read that your parents left too, in solidarity with you.”~NJ2CAthrowaway
All agree that sister has nobody to blame but herself.
“NTA As a fellow trans afab person, I would be heartbroken if my sister said this to me. I’m yet to have top surgery but when I initially came out my older sister was awful about it.”
“She said she would never call me her brother, never use my new name and never use different pronouns. It broke my heart.”
“It’s so good though that your parents stuck up for you, and it’s her own fault that she had an argument with your dad. She’s the AH and clearly has some internalized transphobia.”~dickless0wonder
“NTA! Your sister ruined her party ALL BY HERSELF. She worried about her in-laws thinking badly of her b/c you’re YOU. That’s a dick move right there.”
“I’m so sorry she chose appearances over honesty. I would have left, too. I’m glad your parents are supporting you. Sis needs to go take a look in a mirror to see who’s responsible here.”~PolkadotUnicornium
“FYI if ever it comes up and you don’t feel like explaining your scars, guys who have gynecomastia and needed them reduced will have the same scars.
Bonus in that you won’t even be lying about it, as you are a man who had moobs and had them reduced. NTA your sister is transphobic.”~kinnoth
“NTA. Your sister was definitely the a**hole in this case. If her in laws have a problem with trans people, she might want to think about what kind of people they are instead alienating her family.”
“If she wasn’t sure how her in laws would react, then she should’ve talked with either you or them so the whole thing could’ve happened in a controlled environment instead of suddenly telling you to wear a shirt to the pool.”
“Which is stupid anyway because then they’re just going to ask why you’re in the pool with your shirt on. But the BBQ being ruined was in no way because you were an a**hole.”
“I think most people would’ve left at that point.”~WR31T6
Asking a trans person to hide their identity is inherently transphobic.
“NTA. Like you said, the scars were barely noticeable so unless they looked closely and asked, the conversation wouldn’t be brought up anyway. Your sister, instead of being supportive, was trying to make sure your identity was a dirty little secret to hide from the in laws.”
“She caused the drama in the first place, not you, not your father, she did. Apparently all she cared about was making sure her ‘image’ wasn’t tarnished in front of her in laws and would rather you sacrifice feeling comfortable at a party then to support you.”
“If her in laws didn’t like it, she could have told them to get over it.”
“You shouldn’t be asked to hide your identity. Period. End of discussion.”~Charlotte_Rose1993
“Ok so a male cousin of mine had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. No one ever suggested he cover his scars.”
“A coworker of mine has a scar on her throat from having her thyroid removed, no one expects her to cover it up. In a few weeks I’m having a laparoscopy and I’m 100% sure I won’t stop wearing bikinis to cover the scars from that.”
“You had a medical procedure and you are not required to wear a shirt to make others comfortable.”
“NTA NTA NTA NTA NTA NTA”
“Also, I’m confused by your sisters logic if she/her in-laws are really that (transphobic) conservative; it’s only women’s breast tissue that’s ‘offensive’ and you’re obviously a bloke so 🤷🏽♀️”
“Keep living your best life, from an internet ally 🏳️🌈”~User_Not_Found_78457
“NTA-You did not ruin the day she did with her insensitive request. If she didn’t want to make a big deal out of it then she should have had a conversation with you before hand. You took the initiative to remove yourself from the situation instead of fighting with her.”
“Your dad asked you what was going on and you told the truth. How does she know how her in-laws would have reacted? If she is married, how do they not already know? They will find out eventually and have to deal with the knowledge then.”~Victor-Grimm
“NTA she caused the issue, not you. You didn’t make a scene. No one would notice your scars and if they did they would probably never even think they were from having top surgery, cis men can have surgery for gynocomastia or even breast cancer that could cause similar scars. I’m glad your parents stood up for you.”
“At some point in time her in laws are going to find out that you are trans, someone will let it slip or they will see some childhood pictures or something and then your sister is going to look like a liar for hiding it from them.”
“She is building her own house of cards and when it tumbles down she will probably blame you for it because she is incredibly insecure. She didn’t want her in laws to look at HER differently.”
“No concern for you. Had she said that her in laws were transphobic and she was trying to spare your feelings I’d understand, but she was only concerned about herself.”
“I’m sorry you have to deal with this.”~montanagrizfan
This request from the OP’s sister showed a worrying disregard for OP’s identity and struggles as a trans person.
Hopefully OP’s sister can realize that she was in the wrong, apologize and begin mending the relationship she unwound.