To recognize and celebrate Pride Month, The Cricket Nation is amplifying the voices of employees who are connected to the LGBTQ+ community. In this piece, Cricket Wireless Lead Marketing Manager Shannon Upchurch, whose siblings are both members of the LGBTQ+ community, opens up to share her personal experience.
I was in 6th grade when I found a pair of hosiery and some makeup in my brother's closet. As a young girl, I had no idea what to do about it. Therefore, I did the only thing that came to mind – I told my mom.
There were other signs growing up. My brother preferred to play with me and my sister instead of the other boys in the neighborhood. He always played Charlie's Angels with us and would put a piece of tissue paper in his Afro as if to mimic Farrah Faucet's hair. He played with our Barbies. My parents put him in Indian Guides, Cub Scouts and wrestling. You know...all the things boys are expected to do at that age. My brother wasn't interested in any of it. He only wanted to be around us.
Back in 2006, while sitting in my apartment in New Jersey, I asked my brother when he knew. He said for as long as he can remember, he's known he was in the wrong body. He told my mom when he was younger, and she dismissed it and got angry at him. He felt her disappointment at the tender age of 2.
After that conversation in my apartment, I knew I had to do my part. Although I had previously accepted it, I still didn't acknowledge Her. But something clicked.
It took me several years to come to grips with it. My brother, Christopher, is now my sister, Chrystal. She lives and thrives in Columbus, Ohio, where she has the life she's always wanted. My parents and I embrace and love her. Why? Because Chrystal's heart is still the same. Chrystal is still Christopher.
Chrystal knew long ago who she is and has stayed true to that. It was NOT a glamorous road for any one of us. But I now buy birthday cards that say, “For My Sister," and it means the world to her.
If you know someone who is going through something similar, what can you do? In my experience, the best thing you can do is learn to accept and acknowledge it. I have accepted and acknowledged, and so have my parents. Above all else, love one another.