DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My grandson is currently going through the preliminary phases of becoming a woman. I admit I was surprised when he told me he was in line for the surgery, but I always knew, from when he was a child, that he had a strong feminine side. As a matter of fact, I more than once got into trouble with his dad when I gave him gifts he considered more suitable for a girl.
I want my grandson to be happy, but we had a falling out recently when he yelled at me for still referring to him as “him/he” and not “her/she”. I love him and want to remain an active part of his life, but I told him I am still adjusting and that it will take a little time before I get used to using both his new name and the correct pronouns. I realize even as I’m writing this that I keep using the masculine pronoun when I describe my grandchild, but it seems awkward to keep typing him/her and he/she, especially since at this point, the transition isn’t complete.
I may be an old dog, but I can still learn new tricks. How do I make it up to my grandchild? --- WANT TO STAY IN MY GRANDCHILD’S LIFE
DEAR WANT TO STAY IN MY GRANDCHILD’S LIFE: As far as our culture has come in its understanding of gender issues, a lot of us are still trying to get up to speed in a rapidly evolving world.
It may be that your granddaughter has experienced harsh backlash around the decision to transition, and is in need of the kind of support you want to offer.
I think it would be worth it to reach out to her again, this time using her preferred pronouns and her new name. Written communication could make it easier to catch any potential SNAFUs before you hit send or put it in the mail.
I’d include a plea for more time and some patience from her as you work through your own adjustments to such a major life change.