By Martha Hewett @martha_hewett
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Videographer / director: Adam Gray
Producer: Martha Hewett, Ruby Coote, James Thorne
Editor: Beth Angus
Nataisha and Jakeb Smiley, aged nine, came across a Barcroft TV documentary featuring Jada Tahiry and Branden Miguel in their series My Trans Life. After seeing the film and reaching out, Branden and Jada have become close to the Smiley family.
Despite being much younger, Nataisha and Jakeb find comfort in knowing their situations are similar, in that both Nataisha and Jakeb, and Branden and Jada, were born as brothers but are now brother and sister.
Nataisha, born Logan, first told her family she wanted to be a girl when she was five-years-old. Since then, she has lived as Nataisha and identifies as female.
Allison, Nataisha’s mother, told Barcroft TV: “My reaction was confusion, a lot of confusion. But Nataisha has become a different child.
“She knew what she was talking about, we have applauded her for her strength with it and we support her.”
After meeting Jada and Branden, Nataisha and Jakeb felt encouraged by their shared experience and asked them to be their godparents.
“Jada and Branden remind me so much of Nataisha and Jakeb, despite being adults. The way they support each other and their close bond is so similar,” Allison said.
Nick, Allison’s husband, added: “Branden and Jada and Jakeb and Nataisha have found a way to identify with each other. I think it has helped all of them become more confident in themselves.”
Branden and Jada, who live in New York, have travelled to New Jersey to spend more time with the Smiley’s.
“The last time we met Nataisha and Jakeb, it was amazing. We had an immediate connection,” Jada said.
Nataisha has found reassurance in knowing another trans woman and looks to Jada for guidance.
“When I met Jada, I was excited because she was another transgender person,” Nataisha said.
“We like being with Jada and Branden because they are like us – strong and confident,” Jakeb added.
However, Nataisha’s journey hasn’t been easy. Due to the backlash surrounding Nataisha’s transition, Allison and Nick decided to take the twins and their elder brother, Noah, out of school and home-school them instead.
“We got to the point where we had to remove Nataisha from school because she was scared. She was made to do her homework in the principal’s office because she teachers were uncomfortable with her.
“I decided I couldn’t make her go anymore. The school was mad about it at first but my child comes first,” Allison said.
On processing Nataisha’s transition, Allison and Nick admit there were challenges.
“The grieving process was really hard because we gave birth to these beautiful children and they were healthy, so when she transitioned it was kind of like a loss.
“But Nataisha has become a different child. Before the transition she as really quiet and when she spoke it was with frustration and anger, but now she’s really opened up and has become a much happier child,” Allison explained.
Nick added: “Watching Nataisha become step away from Logan was hard at first and I didn’t really know how to handle it, but watching her blossom as Nataisha – I couldn’t see life going back to how it was because she is a beautiful individual.”
Jada and Branden want to help and guide Nataisha and Jakeb through this journey, as Branden identifies with Jakeb’s position of having your twin brother become your sister.
“Being here with Nataisha and Jakeb is heart-warming because it’s like looking at our little selves.
“We are a big age difference, we come from a different background and we are a different race but we can identify with one another and it’s a blessing,” Branden said.
“Meeting Jada has helped me not get bullied or get hurt. She will protect me from bullies at all times,” Nataisha added.
In regards to surgery, both Nick and Allison have decided it is something for Nataisha to think about when she is of age.
“As of right now, we will do the aspects where it would be easier for her to transition such as the puberty blocker, but when it comes to the actual transition it is something she will have to decide.
“I don’t think a parent should decide as it is her personal body. If she chooses to go forward with that then it is her decision and we will support it,” Allison said.
Nick added, “The decision will be strictly upon her wants and needs.”