What the Holiday Season and “Family” Members; What Happens to Trans People
By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw */TRT Columnist—
It’s the holiday season again and tis the season to be jolly, well, in many cases it may be, but not in all cases. This time of year can be a trying time of year, especially if you are a transgender person. After a hot summer and a refreshing fall, the weather in New England, anyway, turns rather gloomy. The skies are often cloudy and grey and it seems to precipitate more frequently during this time of year. It can be cold, wet, and dreary. It’s as if nature has gone to sleep and the feeling of the quality of life has been decimated. The lack of sun and the grey, rainy, snowy, icy days can be depressing alone.
Add to that the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance in November when we bring awareness of transgender people who have perished the past year. We may also hold memories of transgender friends who have passed in previous years. This will definitely add to the depressing time. The coup de grace, though, is the holiday season, especially the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/etc., which are family holidays centered on family gatherings.
When you are excluded from holiday family gatherings the depression that comes along is exacerbated too. Have you ever spent a family holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas alone? If you have, then you may understand the heartbreaking feeling these days can bring you. If you’ve never been excluded, it may feel like the whole world is celebrating together but you are all alone and not wanted nor loved at all.
Why might you be excluded from these holiday family gatherings? There may be various reasons for it, but I want to concentrate on the ones dealing with a lack of acceptance and support. Why don’t people accept and support you when you transition to live authentically? I can’t say for sure, but I think it may be a combination of them not having an open mind, not knowing and practicing unconditional love, and/or being afraid of what others might say or think.
Too many times I’ve heard of stories where the transgender person was not invited to family gatherings or that a cisgender person is told by their family not to bring their transgender significant other to the family gatherings. This puts everyone in a tough spot and there are going to be bad feelings. What can you do? Actually, nothing can really be done but to wait—year after year—until a time comes when you may finally be invited to holiday family gatherings. It is my opinion that you, as the rejected family member, might think about taking the high road and try not to lash out at the family, even if you want to or if it might feel good to do so. The fact is that they don’t want you at their gatherings this time. It is also my opinion that the rejected member might consider expressing deep disappointment of the exclusion to the excluder and to express hope for an invite for future holidays. Yes, it can be tough to take the high road but, really, what else can you do?
It’s ironic that these are family holidays, which are meant to bring families together don’t accomplish just that. Instead, just being a family member is not always enough to deserve an invite for the holidays. Nevertheless, always keep the door open. You never know who, what, when, where, or why something might reach them and change their minds.
I wish everyone the best this holiday season. Please be jolly as much as you can and please keep love and hope in your heart. Someday it might all change and maybe you will be welcomed to family holiday gatherings in the future. If you are presently welcomed to holiday family gatherings, please enjoy them but don’t forget to be grateful and please remember that too many transgender people are not welcomed in their families for the holidays.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.