DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I have been trying to reassure my transgender cousin that she will be welcome at our grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary dinner being put together by our parents. Still, she thinks the older relatives will react badly, and that she has already been through enough with some of her old “friends” and coworkers, who just don’t get why she took the steps she did.
Our grandparents, my immediate family, and several of the other cousins and their families are all supportive, and she knows and appreciates that. It’s the other members of the older generation she thinks will flip, even though they know about her decision. For most of my grandparents’ generation’s relatives, it will be the first time they’ve seen her since the transition, and while I admit they can be old school conservative, we also come from a big Italian family tradition where everyone’s usually made to feel welcome.
How do we convince my cousin we’ve got her back, and that after an initial adjustment, so will at least some of the old-timers? --- WE’RE BEHIND HER
DEAR WE’RE BEHIND HER: Sadly, I think your cousin is being realistic about how she may be received by some family members. While her decision to transition may be more generally accepted these days, it was certainly not something most people had much experience with even a generation ago.
The open reception and support of your grandparents and other close family members can help set the tone, and hopefully, make things more comfortable for both your cousin and the older family members, who may need a little time to get used to the new realities, both within your family and in our society. If you can convince your cousin of that, perhaps she’ll feel more confident about stepping into the wider family circle.