The holiday season is a time for family get-togethers. Christmas day I spent with my mum’s side of the family, Boxing day with my dad’s side, and last Saturday with family friends. They’ve been friends with my parents since they were at school and I’ve grown up with their son as a ‘cousin’, so they feel like family. At all of these gatherings I found myself looking around the table and doing a mental count of family members I’m likely to lose if I were to tell them I’m not a girl.
There were certain moments that stuck out for both good and bad reasons on all evenings.
On Christmas Day I wore a t-shirt with a button-up over it. The t-shirt was patterned heavily and disguised my binder pretty well. After our meal, I was in the kitchen getting a drink with my cousin when she turned to me and asked quietly “Are you wearing a binder?”. I took a long drink, steadied myself. “Why?” I asked back. “Just wondering” she replied, “so, why do you wear it? Do you just want to look more androgynous?” I told her that I don’t know, but it makes me feel comfortable and I’m figuring stuff out. That I feel like I’m old because other people know when they’re a kid and I didn’t. That I feel like I’m faking my gender for attention. There was a pause.
“I don’t think you’re faking”
I hugged her.
“You do whatever makes you feel comfortable. And if you ever want to use a different name, just say. I don’t care, you’re still the same person”
My dad commented on the size of my boots, and asked if they were men’s. When I said yes he laughed, joked that “She wears men’s shoes as well as men’s clothes”.
I couldn’t help but think that if I was a boy wearing dresses he’d be far less accepting.
My uncle said that it was funny, you could see the divide in the room with the presents. All the women got toiletries, all the men got alcohol and chocolate. I gestured to my pile and nudged him. “I’ve got both” I said. “Not many bath things in there though” he replied. He was right, the majority of my gifts weren’t pink or girly at all. That made me happy.
I’m pretty sure that my cousin and her mum would be fine with me. My sister too. My grandparents and dad…not so much. My other aunt I’m unsure on.
We played the game where you have a post-it note on your forehead and have to guess the person after dinner (I can’t remember its name). Because there were so many of us (I think there were 16 people) it was hard to remember the questions you’d asked when it got back around to you. There were several instances of people forgetting the answers to the questions and thinking that their person was the opposite sex, which led to comments “not unless she’s just come out of hospital” and “not the last I heard”. It made me uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant in an offensive way.
My dad asked my great-aunt about her uncle and why he’s so different to the rest of us in terms of the way he speaks and how cultured he is. She was telling us his story and said that he told her years ago “I’m not gay, you know”.
“Not that it matters at all. A person’s a person and it doesn’t matter who you love as long as you’re happy”. I love her so much.
This side of the family I found hard to predict, although I’m 90% sure they’d all be completely accepting (but would probably make jokes because that’s the kind of banter that occurs when we all get together).
I haven’t had a job in almost a month now so I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my Etsy. When my aunt asked what kind of things I make and I showed her, she pointed at the trans flag and made a comment along the lines of “You’ll do well if you can get into that market. It’s a big thing in America” which made my skin crawl. I don’t think she meant it to be hurtful, but to me it just sounded like she was calling it a trend. She was telling me about how she watches I Am Jazz and that it makes her so happy that such a young child is able to transition and be happy…but then she came out with
“You can’t tell she was born male. She has a friend though that started to transition when they were older so you can tell that he was”
Yikes. Again, its coming from a place of ignorance, not hate.
My cousin’s friend has only had girlfriends but is bisexual, so the family were saying how its him looking for attention. My cousin stood up for him and said that he believes him which the adults sneered at slightly. Then I said that I’ve never had any relationship and asked what that makes me. They then conceded that history doesn’t mean anything (though I was internally laughing because my history totally represents my orientation).
Looking around this table I saw no split (other than my dad). They’re all accepting of people in conversation so I hope that would hold up to real situations. I get the impression that they wouldn’t be openly judgemental at least.
Overall my Christmas was pretty good and I had a lovely time seeing family that I don’t often see throughout the year. I don’t know how accurate my read of my family is, but I like to think that I’d keep the majority of them if I decide to come out.