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Thread: Dancing around the elephant...

  1. #1
    Senior Member Ceera's Avatar
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    Dancing around the elephant...

    I had a lovely post-holiday visit from my sister on Tuesday. Yet throughout the day, my sister deftly 'danced around the elephant in the room', talking about all sorts of things, while carefully avoiding her talking about my transgender situation. This is the same sister who got upset at finding my Ceera Facebook page, and subsequently outed me to most of our family (her husband, her 4 adult kids, and her kids' spouses). The kids and their spouses all accepted me, her husband hates me, and my sister is still coming to grips with my situation, and though she is supportive she is not ready to 'meet Ceera' yet. She clearly still loves me unconditionally, and she says she wants me to be happy. But she just isn't ready, yet, to embrace the idea that her big brother is becoming her big sister. She seriously is trying to learn about transgender stuff and to understand and accept the new me, but it will take time. This her first in-person visit with me since I told her I knew that the family now knows I am transgender.

    She was with us for six hours, most of it in my home, which I share with my 22 year old daughter and with an MtF Trans woman (Rebeca) who rents a room from us. I was careful to be in male mode, being considerate of the fact that that she still isn't ready to meet me as Ceera yet. But my fingernails are always done in feminine style and polish, and I wear stud earrings in my pierced ears. She made no comments about my very feminine nails or my earrings.

    Almost as soon as she arrived, she ended up meeting Rebeca, who had planned to already be out of the house by then, but was running late. My sister was quite cordial and accepting to her. My sister never misgendered Rebeca, nor did she question Rebeca's gender identity or even refer to her as transgender, despite the fact that Rebeca doesn't have the feminine voice or facial structure to pass very well as a cisgender woman. My sister did ask how I had met Rebeca, and I said it was through a local support group for transgender people, which I had joined. That still elicited no comments from her about my situation.

    We had been unable to exchange Christmas gifts until her visit yesterday. I was told they were doing a very scaled back' Christmas this year, ansd so y daughter and I celebrated with other friends and family. But by now I had already seen Facebook photos of all my sister's other immediate family members who had been there the previous year (except my daughter and I), this year sharing a meal which included a whole roast pig, and exchanging Christmas gifts, and playing with her grandchildren (twins from her eldest daughter). Did not look like they scaled back at all, aside from excluding us. Being excluded had hurt me, but I said nothing about that, and I allowed her to talk about how their 'scaled back' holiday had gone.

    But as she continued talking to us about her Christmas, it became clear that the reason I was excluded this time was much less because of anything directly about me, and much more to do with my brother in law's ill health. He has diabetes, he is grossly overweight, and he has been in the hospital twice in the last year for sepsis infections. All of this I already knew. But what I had not known was that both infections had almost killed him, and that the prognosis now is that he will never really recover from this last illness. The bit with the roast pig? Something he wanted to do 'just once in his life', and frankly, this might be the last year he would be capable of it. My sister said he damned near gave himself a stroke cooking it over a portable outdoor fire pit that he set up at the end of his daughter's carport, only partially protected from falling snow by a tarp over the end of the carport. They only stayed long enough to cook and eat the meal, and after dinner to open packages and briefly play with the grand kids and get pictures of that, and especially of him with is grandchildren, then my sister and her husband went home quite early. The stress of him also having to deal with me being there, given how much he hates me, seriously might have been too much for him, in his condition. Right now, my sister is uncertain how much longer he will live. So, I think I can forgive them for not inviting us to join them this time. This Christmas needed to center on my brother in law. It might be his last one.

    While we were exchanging Christmas gifts, my sister also got a perfectly valid excuse to cut her visit short, had she wanted to do so. Her second oldest daughter had been taken to the emergency room after 12 hours of vomiting! But that daughter's husband was taking good care of my unfortunate niece, and so my sister remained with us, while keeping abreast of the situation via messages and phone calls.

    We took my sister out to brunch at a local restaurant with my daughter and I. Had a lovely meal, and more general conversations.

    Then we came home again, and continued catching up with each other. She made it clear that she wanted to come down and visit us more often, and we said she is certainly welcome. Then, just before she was going to leave, she use the bathroom in my master suite. That meant she had to walk past a door-mounted shoe rack with 30+ pairs of high heels and other women's shoes, two dressers with several purses scattered on top of them, an into the bathroom, where women's cosmetics and perfumes were on the counter and my rack of over 100 pairs of pierced earrings was on the wall. Lots of other feminine stuff in that area as well. And she said nothing about those feminine things.

    It's okay. I can wait.

    But if she waits too long to be ready to talk about my feminine side, she'll need to be seeking her big sister, and not her brother any more. Because I think my transition is going to continue now, whether she is ready for it or not.
    Last edited by Ceera; 01-03-2018 at 09:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Silver Member Becky Blue's Avatar
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    Ceera, good to hear there was a good reason to not invite you to the party and a positive time with your sister as silence is a lot better than rejection. Baby steps..
    A.K.A Rebecca & Bec

  3. #3
    Gold Member Rachael Leigh's Avatar
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    Ceera, I can’t certainly relate to your situation and mine not only includes my sister but my parents as well.
    For me I doubt they will ever want to see Rachael and I don’t quite know what that means as I become more feminine once
    I’m on HRT. Families are tough and I love mine to death I just wish they could see past the visible part and realize we are the same person
    Best of luck to you Rachael

  4. #4
    Aspiring Member Sami Brown's Avatar
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    Your resolve to continue on your journey, despite the family difficulties, is admirable. Although I am sure it tears at you, I think you are behaving in a rational, level-headed manner. Kudos to you!

    I think the fact that you are easing your sister into your reality is going to pay dividends in the long run. Nobody likes having something shoved down her throat. I think the two of you are lucky to have each other as siblings.

    Good luck for your new year!

    Sami
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  5. #5
    Silver Member Rogina B's Avatar
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    I think you could have taken a better position..Not impressed by your post at all.

  6. #6
    Aspiring Artist Kelly DeWinter's Avatar
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    Ceera;

    I have to admire you with the class and dignity that you are handling "the elephant" . Your determination to continue your course in life and not allow your sister to influence your decisions is commendable too. Looking forward to hearing more. I'm very happy for you.
    Kelly DeWinter
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  7. #7
    Member Brookes4242's Avatar
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    I'm sorry Rogina, I can't agree with you at all. She didn't hide who she is, she took into account the feelings her sister who is coming to grips with a dramatic change in both of their lives. Sometimes a delicate touch is required and I admire her awareness of the affect of her changes on those that have known her throughout her life. Her sister knows, her sister has seen and hopefully, will accept her new (to her) sister. It cannot be only about us; relationships matter and a lifetime of living with a set of facts is not easily set aside. Ceera, good for you. I'm happy to see that you have compassion for your sister and are willing to integrate her into your life in a deliberate manner.

  8. #8
    Silver Member Devi SM's Avatar
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    I reach a point in my life where Vanessa cannot still in the closet more time.
    It's hard and sad to see that the family can turn into the best enemy and it really scares me. I have three married kids, so 3 daughters in law and one grand son of 8 years old.
    It really puts me sad to think that I could loose my family but for the other side I'm feeling more and more suffocated every day.
    I admire you Ceera for your resolution. Please keep and be you. You will be freeing more people just with your life...
    See my daily posts and pics on tumblr, just look for @sexyvane,
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  9. #9
    Just do it already! DaisyLawrence's Avatar
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    Your sister has other things to worry about in life. If you want to talk elephants then talk elephants. She was probably just waiting for you to start the conversation when you were ready. It takes 2 to tango.

  10. #10
    Silver Member Bobbi46's Avatar
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    Ceera
    You handled the situation beautifully I do not agree with what daisy says each situation has to be dealt with individually and the way you did was right and proper, yes its very difficult for families to accept and I think things sometimes have to be taken slowly rather than like a bull in a china shop or an elephant trampling over everything with total disregard.
    You are doing so very well take it your own pace and work through it slowly and carefully, you will get there time is not of the essence so why hurry to nail the situation? none at all go at your own pace, bets wishes
    Bobbi
    I started life a lost man now I am a found woman

  11. #11
    Silver Member Rogina B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyLawrence View Post
    Your sister has other things to worry about in life. If you want to talk elephants then talk elephants. She was probably just waiting for you to start the conversation when you were ready. It takes 2 to tango.
    Along with exactly that, she wanted to "hide the TG room mate"..Was in "brotherly " mode of dress,and never spoke about,nor stood up for herself. A closet,a rack,or a roomfull,of female stuff only means you are a "collector" with a hobby. You want to live an out life,like your room mate..It isn't about voice or appearance it is about standing up for yourself and being confident in your right to exist. This is the type of thread that many on here shouldn't voice an opinion as they haven't lived it and most likely never will be out to family.

  12. #12
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    First of all, Rogina, I think you're being extremely harsh. Although I've never gone through the transition I can imagine the chaos it can bring to your life and I don't think there's anything wrong with Ceera taking it slow for those closest to her to come to grips. Not everything in life has to be shoved down people's throats. She's giving her sister time to come to her and talk about it instead of bombarding her when she's not yet ready. Give her a break, we're supposed to be here for support after all. Good for you Ceera!

  13. #13
    Yendis Sidney's Avatar
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    There is a wide spectrum of us here, from underdressers to those who have already transitioned, SO, spouses and many in between. When ever I read stoys of people coming out to family I hear an almost unanimous "take baby steps for
    acceptance". People are being critical of the way Ceera handled the situation when she is doing exactly what the majority who post here tell people coming out to family to do. WE ALL need to be supportive of each other. Not giving criticism without knowing all the facts. Ceera good luck with your family and your future.

  14. #14
    happy to be her Sarah Charles's Avatar
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    Ceera,

    I understand Rogina wanting you to more strongly take your stance and making sure your sister understands you are dealing with your gender is as much a life saving process as the medical treatment for her husband is for him. We often go through life putting our own needs and the status of other Trans people in jeopardy as we cater to the long-standing norms that keep us in the closet. It sounds like Rebeca was planning to leave on her own out of respect for your situation If you had asked her to leave, that would be an indication you were ashamed of her. On the other hand I also understand those who feel you were passive in deference to her issues and might have done so to show your support for her, regardless. It seems appropriate that she she her brother on the first visit after learning you are Trans, it can provide a bridge to more apparent changes in the next meeting. We change slowly, but when people only see us once or twice a year, the differences can be jarring.

    Your commitment to continue transition is yours, not hers. It seems that eventually you will need to have that conversation and make her aware you want to include her in the process. Transition isn't limited just to those who are at the center of it, but it impacts all of those around you as well. She needs to know it isn't intended to be added to the real stresses in her life, but she needs to know her older sister will be there to help deal with that stress.

    The key is how you ended up feeling about it. If you feel your middle-path was the best approach, and it seems you do, then you did the right thing.
    Sarah
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Ceera's Avatar
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    Right now I am at a stage in my transition where I am en-femme 95% or so of the time when out for a social evening, like a dance or nightclub outing, 70% or so of the time for dining out or seeing a movie, or mall shopping, and maybe 50% of the rest of the time when out of the house, doing mundane tasks like grocery shopping or walking my dog. When at home, and not planning to go out of the house, I only dress about 20% or so of the time - mostly to save on the expense of makeup, and to save wear and tear on my wig and other feminine dressing materials. Receiving my sister in my home as a male was merely following the same dressing pattern I would have followed had she not been there that day, though I was also being considerate of her feelings by not deliberately forcing the issue at this time. If I was already living full time as a woman, I would not have 'dressed down to male' for the visit.

    Coming up to her visit, I really wasn't quite sure what to expect from my sister. We have deeply loved each other all our lives. Yet that close bond has also made it much harder to accept that the form and gender of the person she has loved for so long will undergo such a radical change. I seriously doubt she would ever abandon me. But we also grew up with a father who we both knew would have been incapable of dealing with seeing me as anything but straight. So the shock of knowing I was as I really am, and that for all these years, despite our closeness, she had never guessed I was 'that way', was quite profound for her.

    She had outed me only because her husband caught her in the initial "OMG! What have I just found out?" upset state that came moments after she first saw pictures on-line of me en-femme, and he demanded to know what had her so upset. Once he knew - as he had never liked me, but this tipped him past the brink to fully loathing me, and he immediately insisted he would no longer allow me in their home - keeping it from their kids was impossible. It wasn't her being vindictive towards me. They had to explain why I would not be at family gatherings at their home any more. The next Christmas celebration, the year before this most recent one, was held at her eldest daughter's home specifically so I could attend.

    In our e-mail conversations over the past year she had been friendly and mostly accepting, and she had commented bout attending a workshop on 'transgender people in the workplace' specifically to try to understand me better. And that workshop helped her a lot, as not only was she able to talk to a trans woman about her feelings on finding out her own brother was trans, but also she got to meet and talk with a LGBTQ-rights advocate who knew me as Ceera, and who assured her that Ceera was quite happy and doing well in her community, and being accepted as a woman. She had said she loves me completely and that she wants me to be happy. But at the same time she is still getting used to the idea and isn't ready to see me yet in person as Ceera. She does, however, follow my Ceera Facebook page, which is quite active, so she sees all the fun I am having while going out as a woman.

    And yet... Thanksgiving at her home it didn't surprise me to be left out, but I was also excluded from Christmas at her daughter's home, and didn't yet know it was mainly due to her husband's ill health. Her kids all accept me, and that eldest daughter has said to me before that I am always welcome in her home and around her kids, as a female as much as I was as a male. So... what had changed? I didn't know.

    Add in to this the fact that my sister is in the last stages of distributing, to me and to herself, the funds from the sale of our parents home. Legally, she could keep every penny. The house was legally in her name many years before my parents died - because at one point my parents had considered moving into a retirement home, and they couldn't own property if they wanted to be eligible to go there. But we both knew and agreed that it was our parents intent that when they were gone, their estate, including that house, would be split equally between my sister and I. But their wills didn't, and couldn't, say so, as the house already was in my sister's name. Well, we had agreed in principle on how it would be split, she disbursed about 10% of my share to me last year to help with my expenses after I lost my job. Since then she has been dealing with exactly how much needs to be set aside to pay the capital gains taxes before giving me the remainder of my share. But with her husband's recent medical bills, for all I knew, she might have been reconsidering what my share would come to. And my own circumstances will be much better off if she keeps to our original plans. If I were to grossly offend her, she could cut me off from the rest of that money, and I would not have a legal leg to stand on in asking for more. I did not think it at all likely, but I had a small fear that it could happen.

    Rebecca's plan to be elsewhere during my sister's visit wasn't at my request. She is a community college school teacher, and was planning to spend the day in her office at the school, preparing for her next semester's course work for her students. She would have done so regardless of my sister's visit that day. I mentioned her primarily because my sister meeting Rebeca and my sister asking how Rebeca and I met gave my sister a huge opening, had she been willing and ready to discuss the topic of transgender issues. She didn't take that opportunity.

    I live two hours away from her side of my family. Acceptance from her husband or exclusion from their family events doesn't have any impact at all on my own freedom to live the vast majority of my life as I please. Could I have been more forceful about pressing her to talk about my transgender situation? Of course I could have. But I also know the main barrier right now to me attending family events is her husband, not her own misgivings or feelings about me. Even before knowing just how ill he has become, I already didn't expect him to live more than a few more years. So as the old saying goes, "Sometimes the best revenge is knowing you'll outlive them." I can live with my brother in law hating me. I know I will outlive his hate by many, many years, and that once he is gone, family life will go better for me.
    Last edited by Ceera; 01-04-2018 at 04:32 PM.

  16. #16
    Isn't Life Grand? AllieSF's Avatar
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    Ceera, thanks for the extended explanation. Truthfully, to me it was not necessary. However, to someone like Rogina, it appears that you can never do enough! She is not in your shoes, you are not in her's. You live your life as best possible full of errors and successes. Others can't live your life for you and should not be demeaning you (as in, you didn't do enough). They have no right to do so. Continue on your path at your speed, learn from your mistakes, we all make them, except for maybe Rogina. You appear to be well on the road to being yourself full time. When that day comes, have a great celebration for your courage and dedication. You deserve it.

  17. #17
    Silver Member Tina_gm's Avatar
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    Just a thought, but maybe your sister just wanted her holiday visit to be about the holiday. You have obviously spoken to your sister at some length and she has knowledge. Honestly though, for many, what is it that they really want to talk about with a subject that they really have no understanding of? I know we want people to talk in great depth about it and us, but often times, other than seeking certain knowledge which your sister does already have, life is just life for them and our being gender variant to whatever degree, even transitioning. they really can only accept that it is that, which your sister seems to be now doing. Remember for most people, it often will never be a comfortable situation for them. That is where you see what true love is, when someone who is in a uncomfortable awkward situation yet still wants to have you in their life despite that. At some point I suppose you can maybe drop her some line or call and just give her a brief update on your expected timeline, just so she can be prepared for it when it does happen.
    Chickens should be allowed to cross the road without having their motives questioned

  18. #18
    Emerging Diva Nikki A.'s Avatar
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    Under the circumstances I think Ceera did the right thing. Right now her sister has her plate full with her husband, so why put more on her plate.
    She didn't hide her things but didn't add any fuel to the fire also.

  19. #19
    Silver Member Rogina B's Avatar
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    Tolerance,acceptance,and inclusion..Three different things. Without discussion,Ceera will never move along that path. "Elephant in the room" is dodging it..

  20. #20
    formerly: aBoyNamedSue IamWren's Avatar
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    Good god, Regina, why don’t you get off your sanctimonious, self righteous high horse for a minute and see things from the perspective of one human being to another and not your version of trans activism.

    There is a time and a place for everything and I think Ceera showed enormous character in her handling of the situation. Ceera has posted time and time again her experiences going out among the public. It is pretty clear she is living a life that embraces her authentic self.

    At a time when her sister’s husband is facing a life-threatening illness is not the time to get a superiority complex about her transness. It would do you some good to take notes on Ceera’s empathy toward her sister and the diplomatic way she handled the entire visit.

    S.
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  21. #21
    Junior Member Aunty_Hazel's Avatar
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    Ceera,
    I think you handled things well. It sounds like your sister may soon need your support more than ever, and I think you did well to put her needs before yours on this occasion.
    In the future I hope she will do you the same courtesy, and be there for you as you have made the effort to be there for her.

  22. #22
    Platinum Member Beverley Sims's Avatar
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    I can understand about Christmas and as your sister spent a reasonable amount of time with you and wants to spend more it appears things are on the up and up.

    Don't push it and things may work out for you later.
    Work on your elegance,
    and beauty will follow.

  23. #23
    Aspiring Member GretchenM's Avatar
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    Hi Ceera,

    Wow! You handled a situation so well when it could have gone south in so many ways. Very, very admirable and, I must add, a very womanly approach to a really complex and difficult dynamic. A great lesson in being tolerant and accepting toward others which is what we want from them. So very sorry about your brother-in-law and his situation. He may not like you, but he is still your relative by marriage. Great attitude on your part.

    As for Rogina, I completely agree with Sue. Get off your high horse and express a little compassion and empathy. You are entitled to your opinion, but the put downs of Ceera and, by extension, many others here are not at all helpful or supportive of the struggles we all have to deal with in situations like Ceera faced and handled so beautifully. Not everything trans needs to be turned into a war that damages or destroys families all for the benefit of one person's expression of their rights. That is really selfish on your part, in my opinion.

  24. #24
    Silver Member Rogina B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GretchenM View Post
    So very sorry about your brother-in-law and his situation. He may not like you, but he is still your relative by marriage.

    As for Rogina, I completely agree with Sue. Get off your high horse and express a little compassion and empathy. You are entitled to your opinion,
    It takes a discussion in order to move acceptance forward. That did not happen at all and there was opportunity from what I gather from the post. Sister was seeking something but nothing was discussed. Too often people are afraid to speak up for themselves and then feel they are a victim of their circumstances afterwards.

  25. #25
    Silver Member Tina_gm's Avatar
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    Rogina, I think in this circumstance, timing is key here. It is not that it won't happen, and it is not that the sister is completely shunning the situation. She knows and is not avoiding Ceera. Sometimes we have to have life not be about us and our gender issues. Life goes on with or without it. Her sister had other things going on. Ceera handled it correctly for this particular situation. There will be other opportunities, her sister is more or less making that certain by her wish to remain solidly in Ceera's life.
    Chickens should be allowed to cross the road without having their motives questioned

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