DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Since transitioning, my sister has frequently dressed head-to-toe in black, like an old-fashioned widow. She showed pre-transition photos of herself to my six-year-old daughter, and said that this was her late husband. She apparently claimed to still have his remains, and took my daughter to a cemetery to help select a spot for his grave.
Am I wrong to think this is disrespectful to real widows and widowers? Do I need to set the record straight with my daughter right now? My daughter may or may not remember her “uncle,” but I don’t expect she will figure this out on her own any time soon, as my sister has substantially changed her appearance and voice. --- NOT SURE IF THIS IS THE WAY TO GO
DEAR NOT SURE IF THIS IS THE WAY TO GO: I’m curious about whether or not your sister offers the same story of loss to other people, or if she’s doing so in the case of your daughter in an attempt to find a way to make her transition more understandable to a young child. That she tends to dress in mourning, presumably even when not around your daughter, makes me think identifying herself as a widow isn’t so much a sign of intentional disrespect to those who have lost a spouse as it’s part of her transitioning journey.
However, like you, I’m concerned that your sister’s representation could backfire down the road, when your daughter’s older and introduced to a different personal history, which is not at all unlikely to eventually happen. Addressing the situation as you see fit with your daughter now may save hurt and confusion in the future.