Ask Amy: Family reunion presents concerns for a trans youth
But I'm petrified about how my relatives are going to handle the change.
I've already told my sister to back off and follow Ash’s lead.
But I can see this going badly for Ash.
Any advice on how to be supportive without stirring the pot?
– Good Gay Uncle
Dear Uncle: I’m unsure of why you are “petrified” by these relatives, but I assume that you are at the very least concerned for “Ash” regarding the reactions of extended relatives who haven’t been in personal contact for a while.
The way to be supportive is to greet Ash with enthusiasm and treat them with an attitude of friendship and respect at this gathering.
Speaking as an involved aunt, I believe that one advantage of this position in the family is that you have known the younger person’s parents (at least one of them) since childhood. You can convey just enough familiarity to decode some family traits, and just enough distance to offer perspective and non-judgmental friendship.
Tell Ash, “I faced some of my own challenges coming out as a young person. I’m here for you.” Ask if Ash feels safe at home (listen carefully to the answer) and make sure to exchange contact information.
If being kind, friendly, and compassionate toward a young family member is “stirring the pot” in your family, then Ash might be experiencing abuse – at home or elsewhere.