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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    When Relatives Refuse To Call a Trans Sister By Her Feminine Name

    It's not easy for any of us to be on the receiving end of a family member not wanting to use the correct name or title for us. It can hurt, steal our joy, and create an environment of tension over what should be happy moments. So, when your trans sister is met with this kind of cruel misunderstanding or lack of respect from family members, it can be particularly difficult. Here are some ways to bridge the gap between love and misunderstanding.

    The highest form of respect we can give is to {\em listen} to her story. Sit down together and allow her the time and space to explain why she has chosen a different name, why it matters deeply to her, and what it means. Share in her joy and her struggles, without judgment or criticism. Your understanding will go a long way for her in terms of acceptance and validation.

    While you may not understand everything about her experience, you can {\em acknowledge} that it is real. Respect is something that must be earned through relationship, not through forcing agreement or conformity. Give her respect by supporting her as she navigates her own journey.

    We all want to feel loved, so {\em show signs of love and kindness}. This does not always have to be verbal, gesture-based actions such as hugs and kisses can go a long way. Affirmations such as calling her by her chosen name and pronouns to her face, inviting her to spend time together, posting selfies together and celebrating her successes, as well as supporting her in moments of difficulty - all of these ordinary, loving acts of kindness can mean a lot.

    Try to {\em shift the focus away from the name-change}. Real challenges need real solutions, not just a name change. Instead, try to focus on how to tackle common emotional stress points that affect the entire family, and look for ways to include everyone without having to compromise on anyone's values.

    In times of difficulty, seek {\em professionals} who can assist all parties in bridging the gaps between understanding and disagreement. A mediated, safe space where all voices can be respected and heard is a great way to come to resolutions in ways that emphasize respect and love over bigotry and misunderstanding.

    Every family situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. But if we remember that love is a powerful force and that meaningful conversations can lead to positive change, then there is still hope in a time of difficulty and disconnect. These choices require commitment and effort but we make only stand the gain in closeness and trust. And that, surely, is worth it.

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