By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
Happy Holidays! Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for gift buying and giving, shopping, decorating, baking cookies, and doing general preparations for events, especially those events which include family. If you are involved in these kinds of family festivities, I am happy for you and I hope that you don’t run out of time, money and energy running yourself ragged trying to get every little thing done.
I wish you the best for the holiday seasons, but sadly, not all of us are involved in this merriment and mayhem, especially in events where family is involved. Some of us are left outside the family, not by our own choice, but because of the choices of family members to exclude us. Sometimes, when you are a little different, like being an LGBT person, you may be left off the party/presents list. You may be left out of family events even though you were included in years past. All the wonderful, happy times with your mother and father, your brothers and sisters, your spouse and your children and your extended family were once something that you had without fail every year. Now, they may just be a distant memory. Because you are different, you may now be “out of the family.” It doesn’t seem fair, but it happens. Why do people exclude you? Why do people think the way they do? Here’s my opinion on why the transgender exclusion may exist. [pullquote]Society sets up social mores and, as transgender people, we run up against the gender constructs. Society currently says that there is male and there is female and never the twain shall meet.[/pullquote]
Society sets up social mores and, as transgender people, we run up against the gender constructs. Society currently says that there is male and there is female and never the twain shall meet. We know that this is not always so. We know that there are many variations besides just 100 percent male or 100 percent female. All of us are really a blend of both male and female, the difference being that gender ratios vary from person to person. Still, society dictates that we are either one or the other, and the dictation begins at birth when our gender is decided by our genitals. Whatever your genitals are is what is used to determine your gender. Again, we know that this is not always so, but society teaches that this is the way to gender. Most people buy this without thinking about it or questioning it. The reality of the existence of transpeople not only questions it, but also says that it’s not necessarily so.
A few years back in one of my UniTy transgender support group meetings, we had a therapist as a guest speaker. During the question and answer period, I asked the therapist what to do when family members do not accept you and do not seem to want to even try to accept you. I asked for strategies on how to reach these people. The therapist paused and said that there’s nothing you can do. All you can do is wait and maybe someday they will change their minds. It may happen and it may not ever happen. For now, all you can do is wait and hope.
So, this might be a “wait” year for you and you may not get an invite to a family event. What shall you do? You are on the outside, looking in. Yes, these may be lonely times, these holiday family times, but you may have other holiday events to attend, with friends or coworkers. Don’t forget that they are your family too!
Keep yourself busy on the family event days. You may be alone that day, but that day is yours and you may do anything you wish with it. Seize that day! Maybe you can finally read that book that you wanted to read, watch that movie that you wanted to watch, listen to some favorite songs that you haven’t heard in a while, and prepare yourself a nice meal. Do something that makes you happy. A wise friend once told me that she always surrounds herself with things that make her happy so that when the bad times come she has her happy things around her to get through that bad phase. I think that is a great idea.
Yes, you will get through the holidays and maybe someday, minds will change and you just may get back on the list to that family event.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has three grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.