Extended family wonders how to embrace transgender member
Dear Amy: I am one of six adult siblings. We gather once or twice a year in a low-key kind of way to stay connected and catch up.
My brother "Tom," his wife and three adult children stopped attending these events a couple of years ago. This left us perplexed.
Recently Tom's son (my nephew) shared with the family that he was gender-transitioning to being a woman.
We reached out to my brother and our new niece, "Laura," in our individual ways, with messages of support and acceptance. My brother followed up with an email explaining that this was the reason for the recent absences, as they took time to process it and to support Laura, who wasn't yet ready to share her changes with the broader family.
We will soon be having another gathering and Laura may be joining us. I am at a loss as to how to greet her when she walks through the door (after giving her a big hug, of course).
I want to say something that acknowledges this important step in her journey, but I do not want to say anything that might seem insensitive or awkward.
Amy, you always seem to have the right words for any occasion. Please help!
-- Grateful Aunty
Dear Aunty: Keep in mind that "Laura" is likely as nervous (or more nervous) than you are.
She will be part of your family for the rest of her life, and so don't force yourself (or her) to cover too much ground in this one meeting.