A man has revealed how watching his identical twin brother transition to become a woman gave him the strength to come out as gay.
Branden Miguel and Jada Tahiry, 27, originally from New Orleans, were born identical twin boys – Branden and Bryan – but after Bryan made the decision to transition, they are now brother and sister.
Branden said witnessing the positive reaction to his sibling’s transition gave him the courage to accept his own sexuality, and tell his family and friends he is gay.
Since making the decision to transition three years ago, Jada has had two surgeries, a breast augmentation and gluteoplasty – which sees fat taken from the stomach and inserted into the hips and buttocks.
She is currently considering whether to have gender reassignment surgery, and a procedure to reduce her Adam’s apple.
Jada, who now lives in the Bronx in New York, said: ‘We are an hour and 27 minutes apart, but we are always going to be the same person.’
The pair have always had an incredibly close relationship, and prior to Jada’s transition, gained some notoriety through their online comedy videos, performing as a duet – ‘Your Favorite Twinz’.
Both now say their changes have been positive, with Branden talking openly about his sexuality for the first time in a recent interview.
Branden, who now lives in Brooklyn, explained how his sibling’s courage rubbed off on him, and gave him the strength to come out to his mother at age 23.
He said: ‘After the transition, I really saw how comfortable Jada was, so it made me want to be even more comfortable.’
‘Once I saw her doing it I was like “Oh, I can do it too.”‘
Jada said she has wanted to transition from the age of 14. She finally made the decision to start living as a woman on March 9, 2015.
‘A lot of people weren’t a fan of it when I first started transitioning,’ Jada explained.
‘Even people that were in my own community, they were like “she is ugly, she is tall, she is dark”.
‘My mom, I remember she told me one day, “You are the daughter I never had”, and I think that just made me feel good inside.’
Even Branden himself was hesitant when he first learned his brother had chosen to transition.
‘I wasn’t supportive,’ said Branden. ‘When Jada transitioned I felt like I didn’t have an identical twin.
‘But the moment I started to see her more fully blossom and grow, then I was like, she’s happy, I’m happy.
‘We’re twins and if I don’t support it then other people will feel like that they don’t have to either.’
The twins say that even after the transition, they still feel like the same person ‘living in different bodies’.
The twins’ cousin, Sabrina Cates, says, transition aside, the pair have remained incredibly close throughout their life thanks to their special connection.
‘Sometimes you can see twins, they will go their separate ways,’ she said. ‘They will be like, we are adults.
‘But they have kept that connection, from being very young and being close to each other.’
Asked whether he would consider transitioning, Branden said: ‘I wouldn’t consider it because that’s Jada’s thing. My thing is being me.’
And although the transition has been a positive experience for Jada, she has had to face some challenges.
She says she had to try to change her name twice, after being denied for ‘not having a good reason’ the first time when she filed in Atlanta.
Jada, who’s birth name was Bryan, even says she lost a job because someone refused to call her by her chosen name.
In 2017, she eventually managed to get her name and gender marker changed after filing again in New York.
But Jada said she always believed in who she was, and has urged others to use that belief in themselves to give them the momentum they need when dealing with setbacks.
‘My message to any transgender person is to believe in who you are. We live in a world which is so much fakeness and hate. People need to see reality.’
Branden added: ‘Be yourself and still love yourself.’