I guess this post would have been more timely about a week or two ago as people prepared for their respective festivities. Families and relations are hard to negotiate sometimes even on the best of occassions, but throwing trans into the mix!?! It is not like you can say “Merry Christmas everyone my partner is getting a sex change!” Not everyone will necessarily be over the moon. That is of course, if you actually want or need to tell people.
Everyone has family and friends with varying reactions and one can never really know how someone is going to react. Sometimes the most open person can have the most problems with it and someone unlikely can be totally supportive.
If your parents, siblings and other family already know your partner you will of course have to tell them. In some ways although it is nice to have support it is totally irrelevant what your family thinks. If you have a close relationship with anyone (family or friends) who have a problem with it they are going to have a problem. I don’t think it is a case of they are either with you or against you. Don’t make it an us VS them thing if there are major issues. It can be terribly devisive and make other family members feel like they have to choose a side.
Some family may be unsupportive and you may lose close family and friends. My girlfriends Aunt and Uncle are religious and have decided that she is not to see her cousins (all boys). She was “the favourite” cousin and has now been effectively cut out. She doesn’t care that much at the moment but I do wonder how it will affect the cousins.
Some people write a letter to their whole family to let everyone know at once. I get the impression that this is something that parents tend to do for trans children. Some people pick a time and talk to specific family members and slowly let it out. I guess some people just drop off the face of the earth and so don’t have to deal with this stuff.
My family is generally openly supportive towards my partner. They accept her and so on and so forth. Does this mean that they don’t have issues? No, at least two of my close family members have issues and see my partner as someone who is not a “real” woman. They would never be nasty to her. They do like her. Sometimes it feels as if they are trying to force the reality of the old person onto now in order to make a point that the past exisited.
My aunt told another family member who had never met my girlfriend and I was and still am very, very angry about it. My dad specifically said not to say anything but she did it anyway.
Pronouns and names have generally never been a problem for my family but for her family it has been. Her dad is ill and it makes his memory bad. He constantly refers to my partner by her old name and pronoun. It is very distressing for her and she doesn’t like to be around him. It is painful for all concerned as he loves his daughter a lot and misses her but the illness creates a barrier.
I’ve hear that children tend to be very accepting of the changes but it doesn’t mean it won’t affect them. It just means that they will be accepting. A friend of mine has children who miss their “daddy” as “new mummy” is different. Less fun, more anxious and more involved with herself. I know of siblings who miss their old sister/brother. And of course, partners who miss the person they fell in love with.