Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How Would You Answer?

I don’t know if you are like me and read Dear Amy every day and today there was a person asking about a trans relative…
Ask Amy: Extended family wonders how to embrace transgender member
Chicago Tribune
By Amy Dickinson
January 23, 2018

Dear Amy: I am one of six adult siblings. We gather once or twice a year in a low-key kind of way to stay connected and catch up.

My brother “Tom,” his wife and three adult children stopped attending these events a couple of years ago. This left us perplexed.

Recently Tom’s son (my nephew) shared with the family that he was gender-transitioning to being a woman.
We will soon be having another gathering and Laura may be joining us. I am at a loss as to how to greet her when she walks through the door (after giving her a big hug, of course).
Amy, you always seem to have the right words for any occasion. Please help!

— Grateful Aunty
Her answer was,
Dear Aunty: Keep in mind that “Laura” is likely as nervous (or more nervous) than you are.

She will be part of your family for the rest of her life, and so don’t force yourself (or her) to cover too much ground in this one meeting.

No awkward string of words is really necessary when you can deliver a hearty hug. Make eye contact with your niece, and say, “Welcome back, Laura. I’ve missed you!” After that, you will find ways to resume your relationship, which was presumably well-established before her absence. Don’t worry about igniting an instant connection, but let her reveal her own story as she chooses, through time. You will all adjust.
How would you answer?

I know Amy was right-on with “Keep in mind that ‘Laura’ is likely as nervous (or more nervous) than you are.” I was nervous as all hell when I went to my first family function.

So what would you advise?

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