Kai and Dean share what it means to be a Brotherboy–indigenous Australians assigned female at birth but who have a boy spirit and live as males. More than a label, Brotherboy is also an affectionate term that reflects kinship. According to Lisa O’Brien of the Anwernekenhe National HIV Alliance, Kai and Dean are the first Brotherboys to tell their stories at this level of publicity.
For Brotherboys, gender identity and cultural identity go hand-in-hand. “Culture means the most to me, a lot of Aboriginal people feel the same way,” Kai said. “Acceptance in my own community is vital. I thought I might have to sacrifice my culture just to be happy in my body, but that’s not the case.”
Brotherboys face racism, discrimination and isolation in both non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities but are finding support through a growing network of Brotherboys and Sistergirls online.
Kai and Dean offer their advice to other Brotherboys: “Stay true to your culture, stay strong, be true to you, don’t be ashamed, shame has no place in our culture.”
“It’s just been amazing, seeing the Brotherboys have a voice for the first time.” –Lisa O’Brien