Family drama at the lake

Published 1:09 pm Monday, July 1, 2024

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OK, Aunty Pam, I need your help QUICK.
I’m one of eight siblings from a big Southern family. We get together on July 4th every five years for a big family reunion. We stay at one of my brothers’ houses up on the lake and have a great time. My husband always comes along, and he gets along with everybody and looks forward to it.
All that changed when my middle brother, ‘Gerald’ finally came out of the closet (my sister and I suspected he was gay for years) and blew us all away when he sent us a mass email saying he was transitioning into a woman. I can handle that, and I really don’t care what he does as long as he’s happy. He sent us all a recent photo, and he’s grown his hair out and is wearing makeup. I’m going to be honest and say he doesn’t make a good-looking woman, especially because he’s 6’2 and has a huge beer belly.
The problem is my husband, Mike. First, he was shocked, then when he saw Gerald’s photo, he laughed and said some pretty awful things. He is still up for going to our reunion, though, but then last night Gerald sent everybody a text saying he doesn’t answer to Gerald anymore, that his new name is Amelia, and Mike blew a gasket.
He said he wasn’t going to call “some giant good old boy” Amelia, and if Gerald can’t accept that, then Mike said he’s staying home. I said it was just for a couple of days, and he said he doesn’t care, that Gerald can’t expect everybody to change their personal beliefs just because he’s changing his gender.
In the meantime, I’m just trying to keep the peace. Everybody else seems to be OK with it except Mike, and I hate that I have to stay home because Mike doesn’t want to go. Any ideas?

Amelia’s Big Sis

Dear Sis,

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As a 6’1 woman who always receives odd stares regardless of what bathroom I use, I sympathize with Gerald and congratulate him for embracing his personal truth. These sorts of things are never done on a ‘la-de-da’ whim. And I can assure you that ‘Amelia’ has encountered 100 ‘Mikes’ since she embarked on this journey, so Mike’s behavior ain’t going to be anything new to her.
Having said that, as well as getting the vibe that Mike simply does not accept or support the transgender community, it might be worth having a private chat with Amelia, sharing the scenario that is occurring with the hopes that she realizes this is both sudden and difficult for her bro-in-law and perhaps not feel affronted if he can’t (or seemingly won’t) call her by her new name. After all, there will be a whole gaggle of family there, and surely it won’t be that noticeable if Mike decides to hang out in front of the TV watching bass tournaments… A bit of compromise on both sides is needed, and if that doesn’t work, a few shots of Jäegermeister together should clear the air.
And by the way, Aunty Pam must know what you meant by saying that you ‘hate to stay home because Mike doesn’t want to go?’ What are you, June Cleaver? For heaven’s sake, you’re not attached at the hip—I’m assuming you can drive and have access to a car? Staying home sends exactly the opposite message to the new little sister you said, just a couple of paragraphs ago, that you support and want to see happy.
July 4th is about drinking Bud on the tailgate of your truck, terrifying livestock with fireworks and, oh yeah, celebrating FREEDOM. Worth keeping in mind.

Cheers, dears!!
Aunty Pam