On the 1st day of Christmas my grandchild gave to me...
December 11, 2011 11:58 PM   Subscribe

I am transitioning (ftm) and haven't told my extended family. My grandmother is extremely distraught by my mother's passing last year. We are seeing each other for the first time in 6 months at a holiday dinner this month. How do I balance my needs with her needs and minimize drama?

My mother passed away in January of last year (metastasised breast cancer, diagnosed at 36 and passed away at 47). Her mother (my grandmother) has taken her passing extremely hard and is still very distraught almost a year later. She is likely depressed and keeps making statements such as "why couldn't it have been me? I've lived a full life". She also places emphasis on my mother's gender by bringing up that she lost her only daughter (she has two sons).

I began my transition in November of last year (name, pronouns, presentation) but did not come out to my mother before she passed. I started testosterone in May and I am very male in appearance at this point: deep voice, facial hair coming in (though rather pubescent looking), very broad shoulders. I bind and I have short hair in a typically masculine cut. I am not stereotypically masculine in interests (which is likely to be a sore point) but I have been quite visibly queer off and on since I was 16 (and consistently for the past 3 years, I am now 22). Oh yeah, and I'm into men so I can't even use the "now I'm straight" angle.

When I saw my grandparents at my mom's funeral in June, one of my mom's extended family complimented my grandmother on having "such a handsome grandson" which visibly flustered her and she snapped "that's my granddaughter".

I am also my mom's eldest though thankfully I have both a brother and a sister so it's less bad than her "only granddaughter" transitioning. Still, I'm certain the combination of being my mom's child, my mom's eldest and my mom's daughter makes my grandmother particularly sensitive to my choices.

Oh yeah, and my middle name was a tribute to both my grandmothers (they have the same name). I have now changed it to something distinctly male.

Now comes the fun part: My siblings and I are going there for Christmas dinner (grandparents, 2 uncles, 1 aunt and 2 male cousins) on December 30th. I have not told them about my transition and I have no idea how to go about it.

We have absolutely no out LGB family members and definitely no T so I have no precedent to follow. I also have no allies that I can trust on this side (I do not want to put my siblings in this position; my brother is still very hesitant about it all but my sister has been cautiously supportive). My aunt in particular is a really obnoxious busy body who can get really bossy and has a flawed sense of personal boundaries. One of my cousins has a unique sense of style (goth) and has for the past decade so maaaybe that will help me?

They are from rural-ish Quebec so I have significant cultural boundaries to cross. None have a university education so they are unlikely to be receptive to an argument grounded in gender theory or scientific fact. No idea how religious they are but my mother was the most liberal of the lot (and she'd "cry [herself] to sleep because [I wore] men's pants").

I am not willing to compromise on any of my presentation as it is extremely triggering to me to try to "play female". I didn't bother last year in December and nobody commented (they were all busy with my mother's health) except my grandfather who said "so you dress like a boy now?". I told him it was in style.

What do I do to minimize conflict and be considerate to my grandmother during this time?

The options I see:
a) Come out prior to the holiday dinner so as to not shock them on the day of, deal with upsetting everyone and answering tons of questions at dinner
b) Don't come out and try to play it off as personal style while answering to my birth name all evening
c) Other?

My main reservation to postponing coming out is that I will have to eventually - I can't keep pretending that I have a cold and that I'm wearing shoulder pads or something. I'm only going to get more masculine appearing as time goes on. However, I am not opposed to eventually coming out via email later instead. (I know there will never be a good time but there may be a more considerate time.)

Thanks for any advice/insights on how to handle this. (And I apologize for the disjointed paragraphs, I tried to include as much information as possible.)
posted by buteo to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it is great that you are being so considerate of your grandmother at her time of need and it is rather selfless of you to put your own needs for recognition and respect aside for her. But now is the time to stand up for yourself. So while I can appreciate the desire to minimize conflict and be considerate you can't do that forever or you will begin to find that a good and considerate time to come out never arrives.

You know all of this though. The best way is to come out before the event and give your siblings a heads up. An email will suffice for your siblings, but for grams I would try to meet her the day before and chat. She will have questions and concerns or just might be a horrible bigot. At that point you will have all the information you need to know whether or not you should spend this holiday with her.

I wish you the best.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:32 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think that I would come out to a few people before you head over there. The person who doesn't know who you think is most likely to be supportive, and the person who is the most likely to gossip. The plan would be that the gossip tells most everyone for you, and everyone discusses it among themselves, managed marginally by the supportive one, and yourself. That should hopefully get some of the shock and negative reaction done and out of the way where you don't have to see it, and you can see everyone more composed at the gathering.

Advice from a friend - Stand firm on your name. It's a lot easier to do everything at once. Be prepared for people to be horrible, and be prepared for people who were once horrible to change their minds.

Back to me, you're being really considerate, but don't forget to think about yourself too. Good luck.
posted by Garm at 12:36 AM on December 12, 2011

I think you should call each member of your family individually, on the phone, before this family event. Yes, they will react very badly. But it at least gives them the chance to accept you, which is something you can give them.

This is probably going to come out sounding offensive and bigoted, just please bear with me while I try to get inside the head of your family:

I think the operative phrase is "I've decided to try living life as a man." For someone who doesn't accept or know about LGBTQness, this will make much more sense than "I've always been a man inside." It leaves open the possibility that you're doing it as an experiment, or because you feel men have advantages in the workplace, or because it's in style. Yes it's a lie, but it may just be the most expedient path to some kind of acceptance.

Also, for someone who doesn't accept the existence of LGBTQness, it is probably actually a good thing that you're into dudes. After all, they still think of you as a woman. It leaves open the possibility that you will have biological children, which probably very important to them. So bring pictures of a dude friend and play up that angle I guess.

I hope that doesn't sound too awful. I certainly do wish you the best.
posted by miyabo at 1:21 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Hey there, sounds like a tough situation, but I think it could be okkkkay.

Ideally in situations like this, you wanna drop a couple of truth bombs, and then get the hell out of dodge so people can start to digest and process themselves before they have to confront you, in the flesh as it were. Additionally, follow up contact should be a) quite public, so people are on their best behaviours, b) of limited duration so neither you nor family are pushed to the limits, and c) easily escapable, so if said limits are reached, you can escape a bad situation quickly and easily.

It sounds like you have kind of a combination of that, but I would really try to insure that for your own wellbeing that c) is well and truly covered. Be prepared to leave if things get awful; there's no point torturing yourself. Can you organise a back-up Christmas plan with friends or something? And really do think about bringing up beforehand.

One last piece of advice: don't try and "explain" it to your relatives. Total waste of time, at least at this stage. What you should think about right now - at least in my opinion - is expectation setting. Email to some family members or something (they can tell the others, it'll get around), and be like, "I have made the change to male. I know this is hard for everyone - it's been hard for me, too - but I want everyone at Christmas Lunch to call me Gary (or whatever), and I DON'T want to discuss it; I just want to enjoy Christmas with my family. Thanks for your understanding, Gary."

I know you're reluctant, but a few familial allies will go a long way to helping you by having some of those stupid conversations you will want to avoid. Nonetheless, gird your loins; there will no doubt be a few hard conversation before, during, and after this Christmas lunch.
posted by smoke at 2:03 AM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

You'll know better than me (naturally), but maybe they already know? When your grandfather is bringing up that you're dressing like a boy, a person you don't know identifies you as a man, and you're shaving.... Maybe this is a bit of body dysmorphia, in that you can still see feminine aspects in the mirror but the masculine aspects are what everyone else sees at this point (kinda like a person who loses a lot of weight still sees an overweight person in the mirror). Or as another, different example, maybe this is like when a person comes out of the closet and announces that they are gay -- they worry about rejection but other people have been patiently waiting for the announcement because they've known for years.

I think you should tell them a few days before the dinner. The dinner will be awkward because you've had A Big Announcement and everyone will either have uptight feelings about it, or be bending over backwards trying to make you know that they are ok with it. But at least it will be done. Doing it a few days before gives them all time to talk to each other and figure out what they think and how they want to respond. It gives them the time to get their thoughts together so that they can say and do the right things instead of blurting out the first thing that pops in their heads. If it turns out badly, it gives time for you to put together another plan for Christmas.

If you need an angle, maybe play down your independent spirit and play up the "I need your love and support, grandma." You're still one of hers, and the child of her recently-deceased child. She needs a child to love, and you are a child that needs love (not in age but in relation). I think it could turn out that she becomes your biggest cheerleader.
posted by Houstonian at 2:14 AM on December 12, 2011

Well. This is a lot for everybody, mostly you! I like the idea of pre-wiring the event by forming alliances (however uneasy) in advance. You've got to recruit your sister and/or brother to stand by you, metaphorically, during dinner. And as Houstonian says, you and Gran have the loss of your mom in common, your mom was her daughter, after all. I like the idea of going to Gran directly and explaining in 2 sentences what's going on, and invoking whatever you have to (your mom) in order to get her to agree that a Nice Day is the most important thing this year, especially after so much grief.

I think you need to know (judging from your well-written and well-reasoned and kind post) that on the other side, you will be OK! You are going to have to kind of put your head down and push through the next few weeks. You are going to have to swallow your reactive impulses and Rise Above, possibly go deaf to a snide comment or two. Worst worst worst case: This will become a Topic of Discussion at dinner, you will get super-pissed off at someone, it will be all kinds of awkward. Just stand up and say, Here's to my mom, whom I miss, and thanks all, see you next year! Then leave with a smile and the knowledge that you are true to yourself. Give yourself a reward on the other side (on the 3rd, I'm taking myself shopping, or traveling, or to a nice dinner...)
posted by thinkpiece at 4:28 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also have no allies that I can trust on this side (I do not want to put my siblings in this position; my brother is still very hesitant about it all but my sister has been cautiously supportive)

You need allies of some kind; make sure you have friends or other family on call during the holiday so you'll have someone to process with if things go badly. It's not clear how much your brother and sister know, but since they seem to know something, they're already in a position to help somewhat. It would be wise to use them. I'd also have the number of the nearest PFLAG Canada chapter handy. Calling them to talk might be useful as well.

You definitely need an alternative plan in case things go so badly you don't want to stay. Start working on that now - motel, friends, a way back home, whatever.

I've often seen advice suggesting glbt people avoid coming out during large family holiday gatherings, which can be stressful enough in themselves and might not be the gentlest situation on the person coming out. Since your transition is obviously underway, that may no longer be an option, so preparing some of your relatives ahead of time (or as much ahead of time as you've got this close to the holiday) is probably the wisest move. I'd start now, probably with my goth cousin, via email or phone, and then think hard about telling a couple of other folks, too. Seriously, you haven't left them much time to adjust, but the more folks who know going in the better. Be very clear about whether you want the folks you enlist to tell others or whether you'd prefer they leave that to you, but recognize they may tell other family anyway.

Certainly enlist your brother and sister to do what they can; in particular, I'd ask them for help if the obnoxious aunt with no personal boundaries got crazy in my direction. That's the very least you should expect from them.

Good luck! I respect what you're about to do so much; make sure you go into the situation with as much support as possible behind you.
posted by mediareport at 6:07 AM on December 12, 2011

PFLAG's Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends booklet is aimed at relatives of folks transitioning and is available as a free pdf; it might be worth having a few copies around. This list of PFLAG suggestions (pdf) includes writing a thoughtful, loving letter with "plenty of time to talk in person later" as a good option.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't understand.

You have no allies, which means these people don't respect or truly love you, yet you are going to put yourself through hell anyway over them? For what reason??

If someone had tapped me on the shoulder at your age and let me in on the secret that ditching an incompatible family of origin would be a significant improvement in my life and well-being, that it would save me YEARS of pain, debilitating heartache, unacceptable mistreatment, and therapy - WOW! What a favor that would have been!!

My differences with my family are political and lifestyle based, much less dramatic than yours, but much of your descriptions sound similar to my experience. If these people don't have your back, why are you bothering?? It sounds like a lot of fucking drama to no good result. It's not your job to overcome the bigotry in your family. Stop making yourself the poster child for that cause. You won't win. Not really. You have reached the point of Diminishing Returns with you family of origin. I'm sorry.

But also very very happy for you! What an amazing time in your life! It will feel great not to have to compromise yourself ever again! Be yourself! Form a new and more solid support system in your life. Find true allies you can count on. Life is short, don't waste a moment of your life in a roomfull of people who don't respect and cherish you as you really are is all I'm saying.

As you transition genders, I think you should also transition your idea of family. I'm tapping you on the shoulder and letting you know you don't have to throw yourself under a bus for people who can't muster the ability to treat you or themselves with COMMON DECENCY. You can choose to only associate with people who embody the principles of COMMON DECENCY and your life will be just fine! In fact, it will be even better! You can choose who you share yourself with. You have this absolute right. You do!

Were I you at 22, but knowing what I know now at almost 42 (including the struggling and other life experiences) I would call my grandmother and grandfather and tell them the truth. I would clue in my siblings. If I was shown support, I would go to Christmas with the group. If the response was not supportive, I would make other plans. I would maintain relationships with anyone that was my ally. I would fade on the relationships with those that didn't cherish me, and I would allow myself the opportunity to set boundaries and choose only loving supportive interactions in my life.

If you have no allies in this group, then you have no allies. Give everyone an opportunity to embrace you on your journey. If they don't embrace you, YOU WILL BE OK WITHOUT THEM. I PROMISE.

You are not a failure or a freak if you can't make it work with your family of origin. Trust me on this. A thousand times, I swear to you, this is true!

Sure give them a chance, but don't bang your head against the wall. And "fading" on people who are unsupportive - or worse, cruel - doesn't have to be an act of anger or hatred. No! Of course you don't hate anyone. It's that your time and presence are valuable and you shouldn't waste effort or emotion where you are not receiving the same back.

I've gone on and on here. I have no idea what might happen with your family and I'm not advocating that you should cut them off or anything dramatic like that. Based on your statement that you have no allies in your family, I am volunteering that you have options in life, and that your duty to your own well-being trumps your duty to your family of origin or anyone else who might mistreat you. And I would tell you this no matter the source of the issue, the fact that you are transitioning matters naught. You stated you have no allies in your family. You know what? You shouldn't need "allies" in a family setting. And the second you feel attacked and like you'll need "allies" to "defend" you from your family? Yeah, that's the moment I give you or anyone else the right to opt into a healthier setting. Seriously.

posted by jbenben at 7:53 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think everyone else advice is pretty good, telling them as soon as possible and getting whatever support you can.

When I was telling my family I wrote a short coming out letter, just so I got the script clear in my head, some people I just read out the letter, other I let them read it. I also had a copy of True Selves if they wanted to know more but not from me.

Even people who are accepting take time to get the name and pronouns correct. They have so much muscle memory calling you by your former name, so you need to be understanding when they get it wrong at least in the beginning.

Best of luck but you sound like you got you head screwed on, so I'm sure you be fine

and on preview also what jbenben said
posted by Z303 at 7:57 AM on December 12, 2011

As a tribal elder with a gay daughter who tends toward the boi side of things and a set-in-their-ways Catholic family -- please think twice (or seven) times before you cut off your family. Life is long and people can and do change. This is a terribly difficult issue for people, particularly those from a far-off land, generationally-speaking.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:12 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

My sister is transsexual (mtf) and the coming out was a long process---it is far, far from being something that you just tell someone and then it's done. There were some people we thought would react badly who did not, others who spent many years being non-supportive and then came around, some who were not told directly but figured it out, and so on. I too would caution against 'I told them and they were not supportive so that's it forever.'

As for the immediate situation, I would second the idea to tell someone who is likely to share. That takes some of the pressure off you and gives you a potential ally. Some people may indeed react badly. That's hurtful and it sucks, but there is not much you can do about it, I'm afraid :-)
posted by JoannaC at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Your biggest concern is Gran. I would certainly call her up and tell her ahead of time. She's the matriarch so if she's in the loop it will help with everyone else. Also, you put her in a favoured position by letting her know before most of your other relatives. She will appreciate this even if she's freaked about the whole thing. She may surprise you. When dropping my own bombshells I found that the senior citizens in my life were much more open minded than I expected. Even if she isn't though, at least you've laid some groundwork. As for the rest of them, let word filter out if possible (through bro and sis - give them a push - and you could also let Gran know you'd be OK with her spreading the word).

Who cares about your Aunt. If you know she's nosy and has poor boundaries so does everyone else. If she acts up it may even win you sympathy. Hopefully cousin and sibs will step up.

Use your new name and just be calm and persistent in correcting them. Some will accidentally screw up for a while and others may screw up on purpose but it will eventually stick.

Congratulations on coming out to the whole family. This is a huge thing and this random internet stranger thinks you are awesome for taking it on.
posted by Cuke at 10:36 AM on December 12, 2011

And if you decide this year isn't the year to do it, you are just as awesome :)
posted by Cuke at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice so far folks.

Unfortunately the reading materials suggested (for family) aren't very useful in this situation because my family speaks only French. I have yet to be able to find a concise brochure to give them as supplemental reading, which would be awesome if anybody knows of any offhand. I checked the PFLAG sites and they have nothing on trans people available in French.

Houstonian, you'd be surprised how dense family can be. Very few people are raised with any knowledge of what transsexuality is, let alone the implication that it may be one of their own family. I also haven't seen them (grandparents, aunt/uncles, cousins) since the physical changes kicked in.

Miyabo, I cannot follow that advice. Even reading it as a suggestion is incredibly triggering to me and makes me feel very... "gross" inside. Would you be able to proceed to associate with people who treat you as not only the wrong gender but the wrong orientation - thus eclipsing a large portion of your identity, associations, work and behaviour? I'm not going to give them false hope that I'll become "normal" later, nor am I going to bring pictures of a friend and play up the biological children issue!

To those who mentioned that I can cut off my family, I am well aware. However, I would like to give them a chance to react to this in a non-bigoted way before I do cut them out. When I say I have no allies, I mean I have no pre-established connections with anyone that make me able to count on them having my back in this situation. I was not raised close to my family so this is unsurprising.

My grandmother lives 1.5 hours from my city, at least 1 hour from the closest city. This is not an easily escapable situation and my siblings and I are carpooling up (I don't have my license) so if I leave, I am likely to have to take them with me and ruin their evening as well. I will discuss this with them beforehand so that they know what's going down just in case, but I'd consider it a last result.
posted by buteo at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2011

I checked the PFLAG sites and they have nothing on trans people available in French.

The whole site's available in French, so I find it hard to believe they don't have printed transgender material in French as well. But do call them to make sure, sometimes a human in the office is better than a web page. Here's the parent resource page in French.
posted by mediareport at 10:54 AM on December 12, 2011

This google search:transgenre famille filetype:pdf gets lots of hits, though most of them seem more aimed at education for school/public service workers.

The CCGLM has a library and will help with research. The library is open Wed/Friday. More here.

You could also try contacting the GRIS about resources. They are pretty awesome and have full time workers.
posted by Cuke at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2011

Response by poster: Mediareport, I know the site is available entirely in French but their only trans-related information is about transphobia. I was surprised as well! (This is the case for a remarkable amount of websites that have extensive trans information in English.)

Cuke, thanks for those links. Unfortunately most of the PDFs it brings up are just lip service to trans people instead of actually providing information or resources for people who identify as trans dealing with coming out. I'll keep digging!

I did find this PDF which is fairly recent and geared towards friends/family. I'm not sure if it's too technical and will go over their heads but it's worth a try. (Linking it here in case anyone has a similar problem later on.)
posted by buteo at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2011

I asked my friend who is currently transitioning ftm if he had any thoughts - here is what he said:

Oh man, I'm not sure that I can answer this because this is extremely new to me. I know that I probably held off doing this because of my mother and grandmother. Looking back, I sort of wish I started earlier so I would probably tell this person to be honest and up front. He is who he is and if people can't accept it, it's their problem, not his. As hard as it is, it's the best thing I would say.
posted by YukonQuirm at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2011

After your updates and perusing your user history to get a better sense of your family dynamic, I have a suggestion...

You say your Grandmother is depressed? I believe you and your two siblings should drive to Grandparent's house this week or early next week to visit, help your Grandmother decorate, and or take her out Christmas shopping. She will appreciate the company and the help.

When she sees you, she'll know something is going on for you, obviously. Whenever she starts asking questions, that is the moment you explain things to her with your siblings by your side.

You'll have handled this the right way and in person, no matter the outcome. This will give your Grandmother some time to process and ask questions before the big family event. You'll know soon enough what the temperature is, so to speak. Doing it this way you won't be putting your Grandparents or siblings on the spot in front of the rest of the family on Christmas.

I hope you find some literature in French to assist you, but don't let that stop you.

Good luck. I'll be watching this thread for an update. I hope it goes well for all of you!
posted by jbenben at 2:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am not trans, but I am a lesbian from a family of conservative Christian Republican Texans. My only advice is that this does not need to be an ultimatum with your family or with cutting off ties. Just as your coming out is a process, their acceptance of you is a process. You don't have any control over their process or its timeline. I know how badly that sucks, but try to remember that it's not really about you personally. It could be horrible, it could be wonderful, it will most likely be somewhere between the two. Try not to treat ignorance as disrespect, but certainly don't tolerate any disrespect.

I've been out to my family for 16 years. It was awful for a while, then it got better, then it got confusing, now I think it's getting better again. In the meantime, I have a community of friends that I consider my family also. They love me unconditionally.

I admire you and I think that you are really, really brave! If you need to have someone to call on December 30th to remind you how awesome and brave you are and commiserate about how family can be, I will give you my number! I really mean that. Take care of yourself and remember that you are a strong man and you can get through one day of family drama. And then you can re-evaluate those relationships.
posted by kamikazegopher at 3:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think you're being extremely considerate of your grandmother's feelings here (and that PDF you linked in your last comment looks good and thorough), but you also (as you mention) have to think of your own mental health in this situation as well. That, above all, is really the most important.

I think that coming out previous to such a major holiday event is probably the best way to go (if you absolutely can't avoid going), particularly as it will give you much needed information on how your grandmother and other family members will react.

In re-reading your tags, it seems like you are pinpointing what your grandmother is probably experiencing the most which is the death of your mother. It's possible that all her feelings and abilities to think about anything other than her loss will be colored by this. But it is your right to say, "hey, remember when so-and-so at mom's funeral thought I was your grandson? Here's something I'd like you to read about why I'm your grandson buteo and not your granddaughter birthname." It sounds like your gut is right in that you want to come out now instead of at the supper.

(I also found a link to Coccinelle, a French actress and entertainer who went on to be an activist up until her death in 2006 (she was born in 1931).)
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2011

"I didn't bother last year in December and nobody commented (they were all busy with my mother's health) except my grandfather who said "so you dress like a boy now?". I told him it was in style."
Be more aware of these small, casual moments to start to come out to your family.
Your grandfather opened the door to a conversation, so next time take advantage of that and start a discussion. "well yes, Grandpa, I do dress like a boy now--and here is why..."

Also, another vote for a pre-holiday phone call to key family members, especially Grandma.
posted by calgirl at 10:16 PM on December 12, 2011

I think one good reason to tell people ahead of time is that if anyone has any really super spectacularly bad reaction, you can choose not to come home for Christmas. It's better to decide that ahead of time than force your siblings to leave early because you feel like you need to get the hell out of there.

I wish you luck.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2011

Response by poster: Post-holiday follow up time! Sorry this took so long.

I asked my paternal uncle for advice as he has more experience interacting with that demographic. He told me he had bonded with my grandmother while they cared for my mother towards the end of her life and offered to tell my grandmother for me. I accepted this offer. I have no idea what he told her, but he told me she reacted fine and was still excited to see me.

Fastforward to the dinner and it was obvious that she hadn't told anybody anything. Once we walked in, she leaned to my grandfather and said "hasn't [birth name] changed a lot?" My busybody aunt took this opportunity to make it all about her and her children by exclaiming that we had all changed and then argued with me about my age for several minutes. My siblings flip-flopped between pronouns/names because they were confused but nobody asked any questions. All in all, it was disappointing.

I ended up changing my name on Facebook afterwards. The same aunt sent me a message about starting off the new year with a bang and "goodbye [birth name], hello [chosen name]!" which was weird but I guess it was supportive.

So yeah, I have no idea what they know but nobody has contacted me to ask questions. I'm rather bummed by this as I would've liked to have this done and over with. I'm not sure if my uncle told my grandmother everything or if she just didn't know how to tell family or what, so I don't know if me taking more control would've been helpful. On the bright side, I am not close to any of my extended family so it has little day to day impact.

Thank you all for the advice and (most of all) support! It made it a little easier to even contemplate doing this, for which I am very grateful.
posted by buteo at 6:41 PM on January 11, 2012

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