Today we returned from visiting our family in France again, and just to give some idea of the degree of effort my in-laws are putting into coming to terms with their unexpected acquisition of a trans-daughter-in-law, I will give a quick inventory of the presents I have had from them over the last two visits…
1 – Numerous feminine tops
2 – Several chiffony scarves
3 – Eyeshadows and lipstick
4 – Holders for makeup
5 – Two handbags
6 – One clutch
7 – A manual splicer for 8mm film… not especially girly, I grant you, but quite possibly useful for the “Imago” film project.
Having said all that, though, the pace of social transition with my French family has been slow and cautious, my parents-in-law being understandably hesitant to break the full news of Cal and me to the older and more conservative members of the family, which is pretty close-knit. We are still having to go by our old names out there at family gatherings, which is a serious test of patience now, though with very few exceptions those people who have been allowed into the know have been positive and kind about it (which leads me to think I was onto something in my earlier post from France, that by assuming prejudice in others we can needlessly and ironically contribute to perpetuating it). And I am fairly certain my grandmother-in-law has twigged the truth of the matter anyway, as she gave me a pale pink handbag just before we set off this morning.
All told, our one-bedroom attic flat is now deluged in accessories, but the thought in this case counts for everything.
My only hope now is that they will adjust equally well to Cal’s transition, but as he states this will be a grieving process for many of them. At least there has been no condemnation or judgement, which counts for a great deal in a world where it is by no means uncommon for a trans person to find themselves estranged from their family, and left homeless and destitute (as Cal inadvertently reminds me while searching online for someone to donate a binder to, and finding no shortage of needy cases…).