Two years ago the trans sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock, Mia Henderson, was shot and killed.
At that time Bullock sent out a tweet calling his sister by her former name and gender, publicly offering not much more. Last week he sat down with Nick Wright on the national radio show "The Herd" and opened up more about having a trans sister. This observation jumped out at me as particularly important [gender pronouns were changed to reflect Henderson's true gender]:
"A lot of people joke and do all these type of things about those type of people. But me, it touches me, because I had a [sister], I had a person who was that way. So never will I laugh, never will I do any type of those things about people who go through those different ways in life. [She] was just strong. That was pretty much the thing I got from [her]. [She] left me with that and that's how I go about my life."
If Henderson had not come out to her brother and lived her life openly, would Bullock be on national radio talking about trans acceptance? No chance. His quote above pretty much says, "I have come to accept trans people because I loved my sibling." That Bullock opened his heart and mind to his sister, and is now talking about the issue in such a positive way, is a testament to him, his sister, and the power of coming out and being out.
To be sure, there are still issues about how Bullock identifies his sister [again, the gender Bullock used has been changed in editorial brackets above], and frankly that has been echoed in the sports media's reporting of last week's interview. Everywhere I look there are editorial references to Bullock's sister by her former name and gender. Even Wright, conducting the interview, routinely referred to Henderson's former gender.
Yet there seems to be more of a lack of awareness than a lack of acceptance. People still don't fully understand how to talk about trans issues. That will continue to improve with time.
So let's not lose sight of Bullock's message of love and acceptance. It's yet still another reminder about the power of coming out and being out. If Henderson had not come out and lived her life authentically, Bullock likely would not feel the way he does about trans people, and he said as much.