Family Reunion

July 26, 2011

Erin’s party/family reunion was this past weekend at my parent’s lake house.  Guests included 7 cousins, 5 uncles, 5 aunts, 1 baby cousin once removed, my sibling, both of my parents, and 17 miscellaneous family friends.  Before arriving I was only aware that 8 (including my parents, my sibling, and a couple of family friends) out of the 38 guests knew about my trans identity, which meant I was entering a space where most of my extended family and family friends had no idea.  So…how did it go?


THIS is a cartoon figure of me (quiet accurate I might say) climbing a metaphorical mountain of family doubt, worry, and anxiety. SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS!!!

*TOTAL SUCCESS.  LIKE WAY BETTER THAN I WAS EXPECTING. SO HAPPY I CRIED KIND OF STUFF. MY FAMILY IS COMPLETELY SUPPORTIVE!!  Most all of my extended family is alright with my transition.  I got more invitations to come visit far away family in this one weekend than I’ve gotten ever in my life!  Aunts were telling me directly that they read my blog and they support and they love me for who I am, uncles were inviting me to come party at their beach houses (which is their indirect way of showing support), cousins were asking about the process and calling me Peter and using male pronouns (although, most of my family still used my birth name and feminine pronouns.  My cousins reverted back to it when we were around other members of the family.  I felt like correcting people all weekend would have been exhausting and would have been taking away Erin’s attention, so I let it be.  I was content knowing that everybody knew, and everybody was accepting, and everybody will one day in the very near future call me Peter).  It was 100% way better than I could have ever imagined.  Of course there were a couple exceptions…

The first being an uncle on my mother’s side of the family.  It was weird with him.  I mean, I never actually discussed it with him, mostly because he avoided talking to me/looking at me/being in the same room with me all weekend.  When I forced him into a good-bye hug, he awkwardly and adamantly grabbed my hand to shake it and then turned his back.  Like it made him sick to touch me or something.  I could be misinterpreting this…I’d like to think that maybe he shook my hand to give me some kind of manly induction or something weird like that, but that doesn’t explain the not talking.  I mean, he couldn’t even bring himself to say good-bye after the weird handshake.  Makes me a little sad, but really 1 disapproval out of my entire extended family is something I can live with…of course, I’d like to try to make things work between us, I don’t at all think its hopeless, just a little weird right now.

The second and only other exception was, of course, my mom.  My interactions with her were rough the entire weekend.  I guess I was hoping that after my initial arrival and everybody treating me so kindly that she could at least put aside our differences for Erin’s party and see that I’m not an embarrassment, that she doesn’t need to feel ashamed of me.  Maybe I’m just shooting in the dark right now, but I feel like she acts differently around other people because she doesn’t want people to think that she approves (because it is clear that she definitely does not) so she over compensates by being way more disapproving than normal.  She ended up kicking me out of the house on Friday night, the reason being that I was going to sleep in the wrong bed.  We have a family friend who lives with my parents and sibling in Mount Pleasant, and apparently he has a specified bed at the lake house.  For the record, that same bed was my specified bed for 10 years before it became his, so naturally when I was going to bed I was drawn to it.  Mom said that I wasn’t allowed to sleep there, I explained that I already talked it out with the friend who was still down at the dock swimming and that we had the sleeping situation all figured out, and asked her why she was so upset.  It made her even more angry that I was raising questions about the motivation behind her rage, so she just told me to get out.  I suspect that she was simply misplacing emotions.  It hurts me when she kicks me out, which is way more often than I’d like to admit, but I think it hurts her more.  I can’t understand why she continues to do it.  When I arrived the next morning, on Saturday, for Erin’s party, I was surprised to learn that after I left the previous night my mom began to cry.  I’m not sure what it was about, but at least now I know that this is affecting her, before I thought she just didn’t care.  I know she cares.  I know she hurts.  And I know she is struggling.  What I don’t know is how to help her if she won’t give me a chance.  Saturday wasn’t much different from Friday, I tried to tell my mom about the new job I just got (I guess I thought she would be happy or proud or that it would invoke some sort of positive emotion in her) but she just brushed it off and began talking to my aunt who works for the same company as me.  She made it very clear that she didn’t care at all about my personal successes.  Saturday night she yelled at me again for sleeping in the wrong bed, but it didn’t escalate because unlike Friday night this time there were other people in the room.  I woke up on Sunday said good-bye, didn’t get one back, didn’t even get a hug back, she couldn’t wait to get me out of her house.

I will never be hopeless about the relationship I have with my mom.  There is so much potential there.  It is going to take a lot of time and a lot of talking and a lot of struggle, but I’m not going anywhere and I think she knows that.  In 5 months I will come home with irreversible changes, by Christmas I won’t resemble anything like what I’ve looked like for the past 21 years, and there will be no way around it.  I hope we have enough time and drive to figure stuff out before then.

*Side-note: while searching for a picture to put here, I typed in “happy family” to google images (don’t be judgey), I guess I was curious to see what our (American society) interpretation of a happy family is…the answer:


…because the only way to be happy in America is to be white, heterosexual, and have 1-2 blonde-haired children.  C’mon corporate, gimme something more realistic. 


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