It’s that time of year again, folks— the air is getting chilly, the trees are beginning to shed their leaves, and Starbucks is changing its menu from pumpkin-flavored coffee to peppermint-flavored. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably planning to hop on a plane, train, or automobile to travel back to your hometown and move “quality time with family” to the top of your trans agenda. For a lot of transgender people who have come out to their families, however, the holidays can be a time of stress. Relating to family is hard sometimes, especially in the midst of gender transition. That’s why I’m bringing you this guide of my top four tricks for surviving the holidays at home.
1. Remember your Pronoun Privilege
Being gendered correctly is a basic sign of respect that everyone is entitled to, and as a trans person you likely have had the experience of needing to fight tooth and nail for even this rudimentary acknowledgment of your humanity. Unfortunately, going home to family might heighten the likelihood of being increasingly misgendered. And sure, repeated misgendering can be incredibly demoralizing and mentally draining, even up to the point of becoming dehumanizing. In certain circumstances it can feel like a violent attack on your very identity, a negation of your gender but also of your dignity. But it is important to remember— and I cannot stress this enough— that correcting others on your pronouns might make a cis person feel bad. They might even feel guilty; can you imagine? So please be aware of the privilege you hold over your cisgender relatives with the power to make them feel responsible for their own actions. Consider avoiding placing them in such an uncomfortable position by not correcting them at all; after all, their comfort is what’s important. Maybe you should just get a few more pronoun pins to add to the three you’re already wearing. No? What about tattooing your pronouns on your forehead?
2. Put your Best Foot Forward
Please, I’m begging you, represent trans people well at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas party. Please, reader, do it for me. Because you’re likely the only transgender person your family is ever going to meet, so the responsibility to be spokesperson for the entire trans community rests on your shoulders. And let’s be honest, do you think your family is going to do research on transgender issues? Why, to better understand your experiences and the challenges you face? Pft. As if. So please represent me and the rest of us transgender degenerates well! Make sure you’re up to date on the latest anti-trans bills in all 50 state legislatures. Don’t forget to read up on the most recent deranged, transphobic rant to go viral online, and prepare your ten-point rebuttal in case a family member brings it up. And please, for the love of God, don’t let anyone bring up Caitlyn Jenner. Got it? Good, now go represent the community and make all of us proud!
3. Remember Who the Real Victims Are
At some point during your relaxing vacation, a relative will probably let you know, “Your transition has just been really hard on me.” (They might throw in a deep, mournful sigh and say sadly, “For the whole family, you know?”) Is your knee jerk reaction to think something along the lines of, “Wow, how weird of you to center your feelings; how weird to frame my transition as a difficulty for those I love, rather than celebrate that I have the courage and the freedom to finally be my true self”? Of course it is, you selfish transgender. You think you’re the victim just because you get misgendered or harassed on a daily basis? You think that just because you’ve lost friends simply for being yourself, you’re some kind of martyr? You think you have it so hard, just because the medical establishment sets up hurtle after unnecessary hurtle to gatekeep you from the hormones and surgery you need, only for you to finally end up on a months or years long waiting list for healthcare with a price tag of tens of thousands? Just because you’re afraid of getting assaulted every time you use a public bathroom, or because the media openly debates whether you have basic humanity on a daily basis, you think you’re the victim? I can see why this self pitying narrative might seem tempting. But please remember that now that you’ve transitioned, your weird uncle has at least one more slur he’s not allowed to say at the Thanksgiving dinner table. So keep in mind who the real victims are here.
4. Reward your True Allies
But how, you ask, can you tell which cisgender relatives are real allies to the trans community? Don’t worry, they’ll remind you! After you correct them on your pronouns or repeat once again that you don’t go by that name anymore, they’ll be sure to tell you, “Ugh, I’m trying!” This will probably be accompanied by a dramatic sigh, a huff, or an eye roll that will make the true allies even easier to spot. Be sure to reward them for their hard work and dedication to the transgender community. Maybe get them a cookie! They deserve it.
I hope that this guide is helpful to all my transgender siblings going home for the holidays. And if you’re like me and actually do have a few amazing and supportive cis people in your life, I invite you to join me in being grateful for them. Or don’t! I’m not your dad.
This is a work of satire. If you’re struggling with mental health you can reach the Trans Lifeline at (877)-565-8860.