A Bond Between Brothers—exclusive story from our new book
The holiday season is just around the corner and we know it can be easy to get stressed or caught up in all the planning. Have no fear! We’re here to calm your pre-holiday nerves with an exclusive story from our new book, Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps.
In 2012, two brothers, Luke and Josh Klipp, sat down to talk about their relationship over the years. This story has never been broadcast and is only available in Ties That Bind.
Ties that Bind includes the best stories we’ve collected over the last 10 years. And nothing says ‘the holiday season’ more than “love” and “gratitude.” (besides overeating and one of your relatives asleep on the couch).
We hope the Klipp brothers’ incredible story reminds you to take a second to look around and feel grateful for the company you keep.
Josh Klipp, 39, talks to his brother Luke Klipp, 34.
Josh is a transgender male.
Josh Klipp: There are four of us. We have an older sister and a younger brother, and you and I are in the middle. We had a very tense relationship growing up–I didn’t get what it was about at the time, but I was just insanely jealous of you. I was really jealous of the opportunities that presented themselves to you that I didn’t get, like playing football. God, what I would’ve given to play football! [Laughs.]
When we lived just outside of Detroit, in the blue house on Allen Street, there was a giant playground across the street with a baseball diamond. There was this pickup game happening, and I wanted you to play. And I was so mad at you because here you were, strong, broad shouldered–the boy–and you just weren’t interested! I just felt like you had everything I’d wished I had, and you weren’t using it the way I would have if I were you.
I remember once when I was home for the weekend from college, there was a dance at the high school. I was giving you all kinds of crap about asking Katie to go, because I wished that I could have asked a girl to a dance when I was in high school–and here you had a girl who liked you! But finally, you just told me to shut up. Then you said, “I think I’m gay…” And I felt like such an a-hole, because I was doing to you what I didn’t want done to me–pressuring you to be a way that you’re not.
From that point on, I was like, Okay, how can I support you? How can I be the best sibling to you that I can be now that I know? It just flipped the whole script.
Luke Klipp: You became my ally and my closest support–especially as I came out to Mom and Dad. And then, later, you told me, “Luke, I think I want to be a boy.” And I remember thinking, That sounds right.
Josh: A friend of mine was getting married down in Big Sur, and you had come with me. I decided that this would be the weekend to try out my new name. But it was miserable. I was stumbling over my name all day. I felt scared and trapped, like people were looking at me. I remember just wanting one moment of something familiar. And so I said to you, “Can you say my old name just once?”
Luke: I wanted to be able to keep you safe. And I wanted people to accept you just as you were.
You know, for almost my entire life I’ve perceived that you’ve got things figured out and that you’ve got a clear direction that you’re driving toward. That’s something I’ve always envied.
Josh: You think that I have things all figured out, but it’s not even close. I feel at ease with you. I feel like I can make a mistake and you’re still going to forgive me. And you make me think about thing in ways I haven’t before.
You’re engaged now, and I’m engaged now. But you and I are a team. I remember when I was maybe sixteen, Mom said to me, “you should be nicer to your brother because someday you might need him to fix your car.” And I thought, I don’t think Luke is ever going to be able to fix my car! [Laughs.] But Mom meant it’s important to have each other around, and she’s right.
Luke: I’ve always respected and admired you–your tenacity, your ferocity, and your willingness to put everything on the line for your vision, whatever that is.
Do you still envy that I was born a boy and you weren’t?
Josh: No. What really changed that for me was what you said to me when I was transitioning–”and no offense to Dad,” which is how you prefaced it–that I taught you everything you know about being a man. I couldn’t have a better brother, and I couldn’t be more proud of you and what a great man you are.
Recorded in San Francisco, California, on December 2, 2012.
For a limited time, you can order your copy of Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps, from Greenlight Bookstore and have it personalized as a gift by StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay!
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