I am a recent college graduate. I came out to my mom as transgender once I got a job, moved in with great roommates and felt safer in the world. She was shocked and not nice about it when I first told her. But to her credit, she did her research and came around pretty quickly. She’s even been supportive of me recently. The problem: She intends to vote for political candidates who want to deny me and other trans people basic rights and take back the few legal protections we do have. I’ve tried to explain to her that her votes will harm me, but she doesn’t care. And that hurts. Any advice?
I get that your mother’s politics feel like a personal rejection, but try to be patient with her. She sounds like a quick study: fast to recognize that her love for you is greater than her abstract discomfort at having a transgender child. It may take an election cycle (or two) for her to connect that love with political support for other trans people.
That’s how it was with my parents when I came out. And in time, they were great allies. Many parents need a minute to process our identities, just like we do. No promises, though. Because I also have friends whose (inevitably estranged) parents have never been able to connect the dots between the children they love and the rights they deserve.
Remember too: Your mother is not only a mother. She is entitled to her own vote. But for the sake of your relationship, I hope she soon comes to value the equal protection of all people. If there’s a support group nearby, like PFLAG, for parents and friends of L.G.B.T.Q. people, steer her there. She may find comfort and wisdom in that community. (And for the record, I think you’re doing a great job!)
Divvying Up the Inheritance
In the ’70s, I bought a beautiful photograph by William Eggleston for not much money. My parents admired it, so I gave it to them. Now that my father has died, 10 years after my mother, I assumed the photo would come back to me. It’s appreciated tremendously in value. After their house, it’s probably the most valuable asset in my parents’ estate. But my siblings feel differently. They think they have a right to share in the value of the Eggleston I bought. This strikes me as selfish. You?
The good news? You have exquisite taste in art. And you were generous to your parents. But if you really gave the picture to them, 40-plus years ago, it’s now part of their estate. Unless they bequeathed it to you in their wills, its value will be divided among their beneficiaries like the rest of their personal property.
When we give something away, it’s not ours anymore. If you can afford it, your siblings probably won’t object to your taking the photograph and a smaller portion of your parents’ other assets. An estate lawyer can help you divide things fairly, crediting the value of the photograph against your share of the estate.
To Gather, or Not to Gather?
My grandparents, who are in their 80s, are coming up on a big wedding anniversary. They invited me (four days out) to a celebratory brunch at an indoor restaurant, noting the tables will be “appropriately spaced.” My grandparents have been careful during the pandemic, but they think this is a risk worth taking for the occasion. Other relatives who have not been so vigilant about precautions are also going. I’ve been careful, but I haven’t isolated for two weeks. If I’d known about the party, I would like to have done that to protect my grandparents. What do I do?
There used to be little downside in going to badly conceived parties. Not anymore! Tell your grandparents, in a loving way, that their risk assessment is seriously flawed. Neither you, nor your less careful relatives, should gather with octogenarians for indoor dining while coronavirus cases surge in most states. It’s too dangerous!
Now, this decision may not sit well with your family members. (Physical separation has been one of the true heartaches of this pandemic.) But I’d rather be unpopular and have everyone survive until Christmas. Still, you can’t control anyone’s behavior but yours. Skip the party, with sincere apologies, and offer to celebrate with your grandparents privately, at home, 14 days after all of you have resumed strict safety protocols.
How Sweet …
Since March, my family has been patronizing several local restaurants with weekly takeout orders to help them survive the pandemic. One of them regularly includes free desserts that we didn’t order and don’t want. How do we decline these generous gifts without hurting anyone’s feelings?
Use your words, Poppy! Why would a restaurateur resent a regular patron for declining free food? Say, “We really appreciate the free desserts you’ve been sending, but can you leave them out from now on?” You may need to repeat this request when you order. The free desserts may be a general marketing strategy of the grateful restaurant, and not aimed at you specifically.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.
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