You can pick your friends, so the saying goes, but not your family.
I have two elder sisters. Both have at times been wonderful, but at other times can be extremely pig-headed, opinionated, and annoying as hell. The eldest I've been out to for ages, in fact I went shopping with her in Manchester when I met her at Sparkle last year. My other sister has been estranged for a decade, it's a long story but some very welcome family reconciliation is under way.
Elder sis decided now was the time to tell middle sis about me. I asked her not to because I wanted to pick my time to tell all. In practice that was going to be in the summer sometime, middle sis's youngsters are coming to stay with our parents for a while. My protestations were not accepted, and despite my getting rather annoyed and suggesting that our relationship would be inevitably compromised by such a going against my wishes, she insisted she was going to do it anyway when she visited middle sis at Easter.
So I did the only thing I could, I asked my mother to tell middle sis on my terms, as she has an open communication channel and I don't. My mother wrote a very well-crafted email, and off it went.
Earlier today my mother read middle sis's reply to me. Better than expected, she came across as understanding rather than hostile. A paragraph about how surprising it was because I was such a boy when I was younger. I guess the idea of my trying to conform to expectations hadn't occurred to her, 'cos I sure as hell didn't really want to be a boy at the time.
As expected though, something upsetting. Middle sis is something of a Daily Mail reader. Really, at one time she even had it delivered. So the line in which she questioned the diagnosis was not entirely unexpected. But I found the wording she used to be slightly upsetting, questioning whether a second opinion had been sought for such a "fashionable diagnosis".
Sigh. I am not blaming my sister for this, I'm sure she'll take on board my explanation of the reality. That a GD diagnosis is not easy to get, you have to convince not one but three psychiatrists, one locally and two at the GIC, and the diagnosis process happens over at least a year for NHS patients. And that far from being fashionable, it's one of the most deeply unfashionable branches of NHS medicine. She's not stupid, even though at times I have despaired at her actions.
What I find upsetting is that a lifetime of veering to the right of the political spectrum and consuming the media from that quadrant has conditioned her to believe that when her brother comes to her with a medical condition that is life-changing in every way possible, she should question whether it is the fad of a bunch of fashionable trendy quacks.
Her politics are not the issue though. Both dangerous idiots and good people come equally from left, right, and centre of the political spectrum. Believing what she reads in the papers isn't really her fault and isn't the issue either. I guess my annoyance as always comes down to the awful quality of the information presented through those channels. If you want a small example of how the drip,drip,drip of transphobic stories in the media affect real trans people, here's mine.
It could have been a lot worse. I can work with that, explain it to her a bit better. If she'd gone off the deep end things would have been a lot messier and my mother would have been rather upset, as it is there's hope. My relations with elder sis have grown decidedly frostier, but it looks as though this might have broken some ice with middle sis, which can only be a good thing.
There's something. A lot of coming out stories end with an ostracism, it might just work out that I get a reconciliation from this one. Which I'd say could be a result, wouldn't you?