Why I hate the term half-sister.

 

My sister Georgia and I are, in most ways, just like any other siblings.

As kids, we fought like most siblings do…

Georgia still recalls the time I put bubble gum in her hair. I remember going to put my favourite video, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in the VCR only to find someone with tiny hands had pulled all the tape out of the video and left a devastating trail of it scattered across the living room.

We played like most siblings do.

I’d dress my younger sister up for Halloween and take her trick or treating around the neighbourhood. We’d climb on the roof of the shed and do bombies into our pool (sorry Mum). I taught her to ride a bike without training wheels at the age of three (yes three – she was freakishly strong).

And we supported each other like most siblings do.

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Jasmine with her sister. Image supplied.

When our parents fought we hugged each other tight and promised it would be ok. When my boyfriend, who I foolishly thought was "the one", broke up with me over the phone (after I CALLED HIM to find out where he’d disappeared to), my sister let me cry on the phone to her every single night for weeks (ok maybe it was months).

But we are different to some siblings in one sense. We have different dads. My Mum had my brother and I during her first marriage to my Dad. My sister came along after my Mum married a second time to her father.

Despite having different dads, our parents never used the term "half-sister"and neither did we. But that didn’t stop others from using it. And I’m here to tell you why it sucks.

As a kid, when I would refer to my sister, I was often corrected by other kids. "You mean your half-sister?" they would say. Half. It’s a small word but it would hurt like hell. The inference was that my sister wasn’t my "full" sister so I should stop claiming she was. It made me feel that my relationship with my sister wasn’t normal, that my family wasn’t normal and that my love for my sister wasn’t as strong as their love for their sisters.

We all know kids can be mean, sometimes deliberately and sometimes not. Kids seem to have an uncanny ability to grab hold of any difference and use it to make others feel bad. On a scale of difference, I know this ranks fairly low. Other kids certainly had bigger things to contend with than me.

But the thing is, this didn’t stop at childhood. I’m about to turn 30 and other adults still occasionally correct me when I refer to my sister as just that. "She’s your half-sister right?” they’ll say, as if it’s something that needs clarifying.

Jasmine holds her baby sister. Image supplied.

And guess what, it still hurts. Sometimes I grin and bear it and say: “Oh I guess genetically speaking, we’re half-sisters,” but sometimes I get angry and snap: “Well we don’t use terms like that in my family.”

Because if I don’t refer to my sister in that way, I’m not sure why others feel the need to. To me, the term sister is more than just a word to describe our genetic links. It is a special bond between the two of us.

Georgia knows me better than anyone. She is my best friend. My confidant. My ally. The person I trust most in the world. We may have different dads but we are siblings in all the ways that count. Our bond is more than half strong, so please stop calling her my "half-sister".

Jasmine Raisbeck is a journalist and TV producer. Formerly a producer on The Project on Channel 10, Jasmine now works as a communications specialist and content creator for a not-for-profit.

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