Sam is My Sister

By Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine Staff

Based on one family’s real-life experiences, this heartwarming story of a girl named Sam and the brothers who affirm and support her will resonate with readers everywhere.

Evan loves being a big brother to Sam and Finn. They do everything together—go fishing, climb trees and play astronauts. But lately, Evan notices that he and Sam don’t look like brothers anymore. Sam wants to have long hair and even asks to wear a dress on the first day of school. As time goes by, Evan and Finn come to understand why Sam wants to look like a girl—because Sam is a girl. Sam is transgender. And just like always, Sam loves to dream with Evan and Finn about going to the moon together.

Sam is My Sister

A note from the author Ashley Rhodes-Corter:

This book is based on true experiences. Sam, Evan, and Finn (whose names have been changed) are my three children. They consented to sharing our story and were an integral part of the writing process. My husband, Erick, and I served as foster parents for five years and have cared for more than twenty-five children. Sam, who was assigned male at birth, was placed in our home as a baby shortly before our son Evan was born. About a year later, we were able to adopt Sam, and not long afterward, we discovered I was pregnant with Finn.

Toddler Sam was drawn to princesses, purple, pink, and loved all things sparkly. During pretend play, Sam would always choose to be “Mommy” or “Sister.” We didn’t think much of this, as we believe kids should be free to explore their imaginations and play with whatever toys they like.

Sam’s preferences for books and toys traditionally associated with girls became more consistent, insistent, and persistent than ever in preschool. Even Sam’s teachers felt this was not a phase. By kindergarten, Sam was adamant about what she wanted to wear, what she wanted to be called, and how she wanted to be seen in the world.
As gender variance is discussed more in mainstream culture, children are finding their voices much sooner than in previous generations. One day, when we read aloud a wonderful book about a young transgender girl, Sam’s face lit up. “Mommy, that’s ME! I’m transgender!” This was a breakthrough moment. I had never seen Sam so happy.

Being both a clinical social worker and passionate mother, I dove into research and consulted many experts to find out how to best support Sam. Evan and Finn didn’t fully understand why Sam wanted dresses and long hair, but they were able to put their love for Sam first. When Sam was called “she” or “her” at home or in public, she beamed. Her shift in mood and disposition was palpable and undeniable to family and Sam’s teachers.

No two individuals, stories, or transitions are the same. Right now, Sam’s transition simply means wanting new clothes and accessories, longer hair, and pronouns that feel more authentic (she/her/hers). We share this part of our lives because visibility matters and helps to dispel dangerous myths, stereotypes, and misinformation. All children should be taught kindness, acceptance, and compassion. May this book be a beacon of hope and light, and a testament to the power of unconditional love.

Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 33

This article was originally published in the Family & Pets Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.