Something Old…

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My niece is getting married next month. She is my only niece on my side of the family. I have oodles on my husband’s side. We aren’t overly close. There’s no bad  blood. It just worked out that way and doesn’t really factor into this post much except that her bridal shower is the setting for this post.

The shower took place about 2 weeks ago. It was very small- my sister-in-law hosted it at a restaurant. The guest list consisted of my mother, sister, daughter-in-law, niece and her fiancé, a bridesmaid and a family friend. To the best of my knowledge, with maybe the exception of the bridesmaid, everyone there knew about Kris being transgender. (Kris was not there)The family friend was my brother’s best friend’s wife. We go back to teen years. Our kids played together when they were younger so she knew Kris as Kerri. She had actually seen me with Kris a few times in the last two years.

At some point the conversation turned to an anecdote from when Kris was around 7. He had gone to spend the night at my parents’ house and them proceeded to stay for a week. I’m not sure how this came up. What I do know is that my mother referred to Kris as she/her/hers for the entire conversation. My sister sat mute by her side, making no attempt to correct her. I responded by recapping most of my mother’s remarks but with the correct pronouns. My mother replied with feminine pronouns. Kris came up on another occasion and my mother, once again, pointedly used the wrong pronouns. My sister- the boldest, most obnoxious, outgoing person I know- said nothing. I corrected yet again. My mother came back with more feminine pronouns.

You might ask why I didn’t confront my mother about this afterwards. It’s a good question. It really is! I gave it some thought. I knew what my mother would say if I asked her what was going on. She would say she didn’t even realize that she did it. I know she knows she did it. She knows I know she knows she did it. (Yes, it is turning into that Friends’ episode with Phoebe, Rachel and Joey- “They don’t know that we know they know…” If you’re a fan, you know which one I’m talking about.) What am I going to do? Beat a confession out of her?

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I have openly shared my theory that the family* uses the proper pronouns only when they are with one or all of us** and this adds to my growing pile of supporting evidence. I’ve shared it WITH them. They do so much squirming and justifying….it’s as if they read the “signs you are lying” article just minutes before I bring up the pronoun subject.

It’s the intention behind the use of the wrong pronouns that is an issue. (The wrong pronouns are an issue, too. Trust me on that one!) Why would she use the wrong pronouns? (Other than habit.) Because she doesn’t want to be seen as possibly supporting Kris? Because she’s embarrassed by Kris? I can tell you one reason she is NOT—–because she forgot. How do you forget when the person who responds corrects you with the he/his/him at least 8 times following your remarks?

And my sister sitting next to my mother, without a voice. If my mother’s words were a slap, my sister’s silence spoke VOLUMES. How could I view her behavior as supportive? Her silence seemed to support my mother’s misgendering Kris.  

Love? Support? Acceptance? Yeah, not feeling it right now. I don’t care about it for myself but for Kris, who is really struggling right now? I’m furious. He definitely doesn’t need this. What he really needs is some sign that they really do care. It’s been 3 years. Either they are with Kris or they are not. They know how they feel. (This is family- unconditional love and all that, right?)

 

family*- my parents, my siblings, nieces, nephews….

us**- my children, husband- us 7.

 

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22 thoughts on “Something Old…

  1. I’m with you on this. Absolutely! Kris needs to feel accepted and validated. It may be beyond your mother’s possibility (at the moment) to understand and accept his “difference.” I think, with your help and your sister’s help, she will be able to make the transition.

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  2. Wow, that made me furious just reading it. I can’t imagine how torn up inside you must feel. Idiots. I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this. They are your family so I guess you have to deal with them. That’s the hard part about family sometimes…you can’t just write them off as easily as you could a friend who acted in a similar manner. The not admitting it is frustrating too, maybe the most frustrating part of all. It would almost be easier if they just fessed up and said they were having a hard time with it…as they obviously are. I’m really sorry to hear that Kris is having a rough time right now. Hopefully things will look up for him soon. Good luck with your family….

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    1. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I’m not sure what I will be doing. With my oldest son getting married this year, it is natural for us to maybe want to break off and do our own family thing.

      Someone recently said something that struck me. She said that if her family sincerely loved her before she came out, they would still love her afterwards and if they didn’t love her afterwards, they must not have really loved her before. I think she raises a good point. Why is it taking my family 3 years to figure this out? Oh well.

      We’ll get Kris all figured out. 🙂

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      1. Kat, I think you just highlighted the core flaw here in your last comment. You said “We’ll getr Kris all figured out.” And that is the salient issue and sets it stark: You DO have Kris “all figured out”…it is THEY who do not, have not, and at this point, refuse to/will not..

        I think that shifts the ground of thought, at least for me…when I run into people who are genuinely confused due to lack of knowing, then I share myself, my heart, and my knowledge with them. If they are of proper heart, they immediately are set at ease and happy, for I have put into their hands the needed tools to continue in a whole relationship with me.

        BUT: when I encounter people who literally DO NOT want to know? I simply disengage…they are happy, I am happy and that is that.

        At work, there are people who are distancing themselves from me…but the fact of the matter is that all along I was just a supporting player in the drama of their lives and I no longer serve their narrative. I do not miss them, and they don’t miss me…cus I was never really there.

        With blood relatives…I have 2 lest that are my direct blood relatives, my mom and my brother. I have not seen my brother since my sister’s funeral a few years back, nor have I talked to him since then…not due to any harsh reason, we are just not close and fine being cordial and very friendly when we see each other. We were not close in childhood (obvious reasons).

        If he responds the first way? It may be a chance to actually begin to be closer which would be nice, but is not a priority for me If not? Well nothing has changed.

        With my mom: we are in regular relationship, but it was not until this year that I had anything for her feelings-wise that was more than just sad memories of conflict, harsh words, and the occasional flying fist (hers). There is no question that she loves me…she just had a lot of frustration and anger when raising me (and a lot of fear too, I understand in hindsight).

        If mom receives me, well and good. If she doesn’t, then I am going to force her choice: tell me if she wants to see me, or tell me to stay away. Either one I am good with, because I now carry my own atmosphere with me, and need no one but myself, Them, and my darling in order to breathe, and really as long as I have Them I am fine in the ultimate sense.

        I learned something from last year, at my work: I spent a whole year trying to win approval from 2 men who were not going to give any, and didn’t have any to give even if they would have! Thus, I was completely set up for failure, regardless of how good I was doing.

        I learned slow, but I learn good. I simply stopped…trying to get their approval, trying to impress them. IN a life sense, they are irrelevant to me, completely. If they task me with something, I do my best and move on. If it is good enough, m’eh. If it isn’t, m’eh.

        Your dilemma is that you need to decide how much you derive out of maintaining this relationship with these individuals whom you currently are connected to by blood more than any other factor. It is no longer about them in any way…it is about you. If you get a sense of propriety and fulfillment out of this sacrifice, a sense that you are honoring some inner standard, or even honoring Them? Then you should continue, and even more, and do so joyously with absolutely not a shred of sorrow or emotional distraught.

        And if you, like I, are fighting a totally losing battle? Where the only option is to become the living extension of their own mental definition of you? Well my dearest sister, I think you need to in the nicest and firmest way say F that, move on, and continue to pour out your amazing love and fabulous self on more fruitful ground.

        I think you are one of the most amazing people I have run onto, and I am so thankful that They in Their love and provision for me have put you into my life. Far from trying to make you into something I want, I am feeling who you are remake me into someone better!!

        Your amount of time spent with these people is like gravity…it is simply a drag that will not disappear. But that is different than actual bond…actual love…actual cherishing…actual devotion…etc.

        Kat, I am crazy about you and would give anything to have you physically present in my life, to do all that stuff girlfriends do…I would pay just about any price to have that be…if I feel that way, how much more…etc.

        Tough choices…yep. But, for my own life, I think of that old song “I can see clearly now”, and I am feeling such a relief as I let toxic people go, and a few of them I have made them go…

        I love you always, and will support you always best I can, whether you choose to stay, or go.

        Charissa

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      2. Thank you for everything you said.

        I know where this is headed and I can easily see the truth in your words because I have known this for a long time.

        By getting Kris where he needs to be, I mean that only in the sense of getting him on solid ground. His meds are not doing the job. His anxiety seems to be short circuiting. I’m not sure about his hormones right now. His focus needs to be there- not on relatives who can’t give him the time of day.

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  3. Dear Kat…I want you to know that this has burdened me for you, more than the usual good feeling of you there and your heart and life, comfortable and substantial on my heart, like a favorite backpack that has traveled miles and days and territories…when I think of you normal I feel your love, your life like twin straps round my heart, and formed to fit so I can carry it with no strain and balanced on the frame and my hips…

    …but this, well, to tell you the truth, this hurt me. I took it personally, and thus my counsel is sh** regarding what to do.

    I know what I would do…I am a Cancer, so I would either flat out confront them and blow the whole thing right up, right in the moment, and call out your sister directly on how her cowardice and self-centered actions are a repudiation of your life and bond as sisters…about how you know people who aren’t even flesh and blood who would cut off their right arms to be blood with you

    (Rissa jumps up and down *OH!OH! CHOOSE ME! PICK ME!!! pleeeaaasssseeeee!!!!!!*)

    and that you are truly wounded that she is so wrapped up in her own self and life that she would be rejecting Kris so deeply by placing her own comfort and desire for a problem-free life over the actual becoming of another person who faces obstacles the likes of which she can literally never know…and that even YOU Kat can never experience, in spite of how close and how deeply you care, because you simply are not trans and thus will not ever (thank the Lord!) experience the absurd Kafka-esque horror of dysphoria…and since even you cannot experience it there is no way she can even begin to know that for Kris (and all of us) dysphoria is like a backpack too, except this one has shards of metal, glass, spikes, cruel needles and nails driven all the way thru the frame and straps and back wall, and it is a pack that must be worn always, and can never be laid down, never taken off…

    …until we find transition options, proper hormone correcting drugs, and a name that we fit into like regular people do…

    …and as to your mom? I know I would simply look her in the eye and tell her that she has hurt you so deeply that you are not even able to find words, and it is not so much her disagreement that hurts…but her willingness to value her own comfort and ignorance over your heart, and that her actions and lack thereof towards Kris are the same as doing those things to you…

    …and how the very worst, most soul-shattering thing is that it leads you to the yawning gulf of the reality that her love for you and for your children is all a sham and a function of her own ego and not selfless…

    …and then I most likely would tell them that I would be unable to interact with them again until this matter was addressed openly and honestly…with them flat out making a case against transgender phenomenon using science, history, technology, psychology, and theology…and that you will do the same…which basically will leave them bringing a toothpick to a knife fight while you wield Excaliber…

    …yeah, that is a Cancer for you…

    In any case Kat…just keep reminding yourself that the issue is not Kris himself, or you…the issue is that they are furious that he (and you by proxy) would dare be different from their EXPECTATIONS of how he be, who he be, and what he does to conform to their soul bondage they force on him…and there are some tough decisions to make.

    I posted a while back about how I am gaining the courage and confidence to simply cut toxic people out of my life. If I must interact with them, I use politeness and courteousness as my shield and they will never get within sniffing distance of my heart, even if they crawled a thousand miles over shards of broken glass naked to plead with me.

    Toxic person: someone who objectifies you by seeing you as a supporting actor in the classic drama of their own wonderful like…a narcissistic and one dimensional person whose soul is a black hole devouring anything that gets close.

    No my friend…I have no wise counsel for you…I am a Cancer, and I scuttle, along the tide and midst the rocks…and I am suspicious…

    Now…go back: read the whole thing again thru your Rissa glasses, and know that I would carry this all for you if I could.

    This is Rissa, crying for you.
    This is Rissa, raging for you
    This is Rissa…loving you

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    1. Oh Rissa, no need to chop off your right arm….and I know you would! I hope you know how much that means to me.

      I read your reply and one would have expected me to cry (as I do so often) but there were no tears. Only sadness.

      I have spoken with my family about this before. My style is different but I believe I made my point. As I have probably mentioned- I know these people. 😦

      And my mother is a Capricorn. While John is also a Capricorn and we are very much compatible, the same characteristics in my mother confuse me. She will not talk. I have always known this.

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  4. I am sorry! Why can’t our families realize they don’t get to not support our children? They are family…this is not a choice of whether or not to support….they support our kids. End.of.story. I am so sorry.

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    1. It seems like a no-brainer to me. I would never treat their children the way they treat Kris. (And goodness knows if I tried my sister would rip me to shreds!)

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  5. (((hugs)))

    I’m paddling along way behind you on the same creek. While I jump-started Jeremy with the pronoun change, they’re already quite happy with it.

    Emma’s concerned about slipping up and would rather Jeremy went with ze but is fine with the change.

    My Mom, Emma, and I went out this spring and Emma and I were talking about a time when the kids were little and we ran into someone who was either a cross-dresser or trans. They were quite tall and dressed in a fancy gown and heels. Emma’s question at the time was, “Mommy? Why is that man wearing a dress?” My answer was “Because he wants to.” which satisfied both kids. My Mom, upon hearing this, said, “You could have just told them he was weird.” And they’ve commented negatively a few times when teenagers have come out… because the kids should have stayed quiet since they’ll just outgrow that.

    I can’t see my family making a single effort to use they as a pronoun. I know they will argue that everyone has a gender and that Jeremy has to be a boy because the doctor said so when they were born and that they’re just confused and weird. And they’re going to argue that Jeremy is screwing up their life by this “behaviour” because who’s going to want to hire someone like *that*. Let’s crank that suicide risk up a little higher, shall we :/

    I’m glad I’ve got friends who are already referring to Jeremy as they and our UU church with permission forms containing gender options and a space for preferred pronouns (and gender neutral sleeping arrangements) because I know we’re going to need them.

    And your mother and sisters need a remedial course on what love is. Or alternately you can smack them with a dictionary.

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    1. My husband’s family is notorious for ramping up the judgment piece- questioning Kris’s choice in clothing and accessories (in direct opposition of their supposed support).

      I suspect that my family’s definition of love doesn’t match mine at this point. I still have a baby shower to host with all of them their- both sides- yippee!

      The hardest part is that the lack of support is unspoken- and it’s really hard to address something based on….well, nothing.

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