For a Happy Holiday Season, Avoid Jerks in your Family

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Holiday times are, ironically, misery for many t-girls. Not me, but I write today to inspire those who are still struggling with the issue.

A typical pattern is that there’s a big family gathering. The t-girl is there too, feeling awkward. Some of the teenage boys band together and snicker, smirk, make remarks and are generally rude to her. The senior members of the family have a sort of bland patronizing and slightly bemused attitude about the t-girl being a t-girl, and the boys being assholes. As the general people talk to her or about her, they use her old name or refer to her with male pronouns. Some smirk, some manage not to, but it’s all tense and awkward. The t-girl hates every moment of being there and wishes she’d stayed home. The next year, she does want to stay home but a parent pressures her to go, by saying “it’s family” as if that’s some magic incantation. Actually, it IS. It gets her to go, and the cycle repeats itself.

How I deal with things like this? I make sure I have my own logical house in order and I can articulate the issues. Then, if someone treats me in a way I consider inappropriate, I call them out on it gently but candidly, and if there’s anything to debate then I take them on. It might seem scary but it’s not.

After I just came out as a t-girl, and I felt and looked awkward, I was walking into a Walgreens in Reno when some nearby teenage guys figured out I’m a t-girl and they stood snickering and making remarks. So, I stopped, turned, walked towards them and engaged them in a candid shakedown of their assumptions. By the time I walked away, they were no longer misbehaving and they’d probably learned something too.

I know t-girl issues way better than clueless hostile folks do so in any debate, the odds are that I’ll do just fine.

After the conversation, assuming I’ve explained things and they understand, or had every opportunity to do so, if someone is still unreasonable then they have no excuse any more. Now they’re not ignorant, they’re unreasonable.

I can’t make them change but I don’t have to put up with it. I stop associating with them. If they’re hosting an event, I decline to attend. If their presence at an event would make it a net negative for me, then I don’t attend and I make it clear as to why. I might even then host my own event, and invite those who are reasonable towards me. This all takes some fortitude but it’s worth it. And even if I’m the only person present at my Christmas party, then it’s a party with 100% reasonable people and t-girl friendly people present, and I can enjoy it as who I truly am.

Often, making this sort of stand has good consequences. Self-respect, for one.

Those who initially were resistant might just come around. For example, I have a close friend about 30 years my senior, who lives in Sunnyvale, CA. For many years, he was a father figure to me and we became more and more close, but this was with me trying to live in a male role albeit with all the personality and character traits that make me who I am — me, the me with a female brain structure, regardless of gender roles.

So, he liked me and grew to love me as a person and he informally adopted me and signed his emails “Love, Dad.” After I came out to him as a t-girl, I explained the issues to him in person, carefully and nicely. He said he understood the logic but emotionally he couldn’t accept it (whatever that meant). So the emails from then on ended very differently: No more “Love” and no more “Dad.” So I was effectively disowned. I tried to reason with him but he and I were both clear that he understood the issues, he just didn’t like them. So, okay.

I basically checked out. He’d send me a bland email now and then, and I’d reply or vice versa. We were no longer close. A few years later, he sent a slightly nicer email and I took the opportunity to explain how I’d experienced his actions and how hurtful they’d been and that this is why I checked out and have been so distant. More emails flew back and forth, harmony was restored, and now his emails once again sincerely end with “Love, Dad.”

My mom was initially a similar hard case, and although I explained at length, she was not receptive at all, and it was a very combative dynamic, until eventually I checked out. Things were, at best, bland and distant … for many months. Finally, she came around and now two years later, she and I are close, she announces me to everyone as her daughter and she’s now proud of my courage, although this included me standing up to her.

In another situation, I came out and lived by my own standards in a large family setting where holidays were a big, public affair. Unbeknownst to me, there was a trans guy in the family also, albeit in stealth mode. Me coming out might have helped pave the way to make his coming out easier too.

So now, it’s late December in 2015, and I’m enjoying the Holidays. I am an atheist so my celebration involves Christmas trees, fun, joy, and all the happy pagan things that make it a joyous event for me. There isn’t any Bible-reading going on but a t-girl friend and I are reading Atlas Shrugged out loud to each other, a little every day, which is a lot of fun. On December 22nd, we celebrated Winter Solstice and I’m likely to go on celebrating the Holidays for another few days yet. That very much includes the commercialization of Christmas. In fact, that’s one of the best aspects. I love the colorful and nice-smelling and nice-tasting things, the wonderful presents to buy, the energy, and so on. Here’s a picture of last night’s celebration: fresh tropical fruit, some yummy cake, and good reading material.

soltice

On Christmas eve, I plan to visit my mom and bring a t-girl friend along too. My Holiday season is a nice-to-me one because I refuse to socialize with those who are mean to me. It’s a recipe that works well, for me.

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