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I have no idea what to do about Thanksgiving.


Million
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I don't know where this belongs. I thought perhaps the Grief forum, but it's also family issues and lgbt-related issues, so I'm just putting it here.

My father died in July, after a really long and painful battle with cancer. It wasn't unexpected, or anything, but it's still... yeah. He and I were really close- like, our personalities clashed a lot and we fought over everything, but we never, ever doubted that we loved each other.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is going to be the first holiday without him. It was sort of our holiday. We made dinner together (except for the turkey, which my mom made), cleaned the house, watched Harry Potter, etc etc. He wasn't home a ton, and when he was home I usually wasn't, so it was one of the only days we consistently spent with each other. So already I know it's going to be an incredibly painful day to have to be without him. I'm theoretically spending this Thanksgiving with my mom and siblings, but that might not end up happening. I have an apartment and go to college in a different state, and I haven't seen or spoken to any member of my family except my brother since my dad's funeral. I mean, we text, but we haven't actually spoken on the phone or Skyped or anything. That's important because I'm transgender, and in August I started hormones.

I've been out as transgender since about a year and a half since I left for college, and my mom... hasn't really taken it well. By that, I mean she cried when I came out to her and wouldn't let me come home for a week. When I got approved to start hormones, she didn't speak to me for two weeks (this was while I was visiting in May, so it was actual silent treatment, not just not texting each other or whatever). The only progress she's made in almost three years has been to start addressing letters to M.D. (my old initials) instead of to my birth first name.

I haven't yet told my mom I've started hormones, and it's not exactly something I can hide if I don't tell her before Thanksgiving. My voice has changed a huge amount, as has my face and kind of my body. Also I'm going to be due for a shot over that weekend, and I'd rather her know why I'm sticking a needle in my leg instead of assuming I'm on heroin or something. I don't want to just show up at the door and suddenly have a deep voice and stubble- she would absolutely freak out. I'm thinking about calling her to talk about bus tickets or something, and just being like, "yeah, it's probably 'cause I'm almost three months on testosterone" when she asks about my voice.

I'm terrified that when I tell her I'm on hormones, she's not going to let me come back for Thanksgiving, and then I don't know what I'll do. I've been invited to spend it with my surrogate sister and with my girlfriend, but being around someone else's happy family while I'm not allowed to be around my grieving one would be horribly painful. If I'm allowed to come back, the weekend is going to be strained and awkward and probably there's going to be at least one huge, blow-out fight between my mom and I over this, which is exactly what neither of us needs. The best option would be to spend it alone in my apartment, but I'm sure you can all understand why that's awful as well. I don't know what to do to survive it.

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Hi Million, and welcome. Sorry it took so long for you to get an answer.

Did you notice that despite your title, you actually had several ideas of what to do over Thanksgiving; you just talked yourself out of each of them in turn?

So, let's start with the last phrase: whichever way you choose, you're going to survive it. Which is very freeing, if you think about it: no matter how many people are annoyed at you, you'll be okay. Awkward has a very low mortality rate.

Which brings us to: what do you want to do? You didn't give a great deal of information about your relationship with your mother, but there were some pregnant spaces between the lines ... What I noticed, though, is that despite having had some obvious difficulty with each successive stage of the process you're going through, she didn't actually cut you off completely. You have to remember that the change you're contemplating is a difficult one for her to accept (I was going to say "too", but I don't really know how difficult a gender change is for the person going through it; I've never had any lengthy discussions with someone who has done it.) She bathed you as a baby, dressed you as a child ... This would be a major change for any parent, even one with the best relationship to their child.

So I noticed that not only did no one from your family call you, but you didn't call them. I can only speculate (uselessly) on the reasons for that, but it did seem significant that part of the current problem (your voice and appearance have changed) could have been mitigated if they had been aware of it happening. Sure, now it's harder, but it's not going to get any easier, so maybe it has to happen, at least if you want to keep contact with your family.

Grieving for your father, well, I'm not sure I can help with that; you may just have to go through it. My mother died in November of '08, and I still miss her. Dad soldiers on, but you can tell he's not sure why. It's not an easy process, but it can't really be avoided, even if the rest of your family can be. Personally, I think it will help you all to be together, but I don't get a vote.

So, I don't know what your mother will do if you ask to go home, and neither do you until you ask her. I do hope you try, though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well I handled a difficult family situation with direct communication.

My mom's husband's family is well to do and prejudice. My mom does all holidays with them--she is one of them.

My adult daughter who is married and has children with a man of a different race wanted to come to a family function up at their place, and she wanted to bring him. She doesn't know that aspect of the family history, because she didn't grow up with them like I did, and I've never told her.

I called the matriarch of the family on the phone--old Gramma, who I don't see or talk to much anymore. I chatted a few moments and got to the point--I told her that my daughter wanted to bring ________ up to her place for the family function, and how would she feel about that? She very graciously said "Why that would be just fine." (What else was she going to say?) But out of respect, she needed to be asked. On the day of the function, there may have been some discomfort with having him there, but they were very polite.

Maybe you could just call your mom, exchange a few pleasantries, and say something like, Mom, I want to be there with you all for this first Thanksgiving without Dad, but I have gone through changes. I know this is tough for you and I wanted to know if you would be ok with seeing me that day. or something like that.. Your mom might appreciate the opportunity to let the information soak a little, might appreciate the opportunity to accept or decline. Her conscience will likely have her accept, and she may be uncomfortable but polite like my stepdads family was, or, maybe better, or maybe worse, who knows? But if you call ahead of time, it will show that you have consideration for her feelings, which is good for family relations.

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