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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by caffeinated View Post
    Well... I don't know that this is a "sexual" matter - it is an identity matter.

    That said, the age of the child and fact that it's not a super close family member make this a bit hard to navigate. I think your best bet at this point is just to show her a whole lot of love when they visit. Be fun, maybe try to get her away from the rest of the family to do something or help you with something. Maybe have a conversation about how it's hard to be that age when adults don't understand something about you but that it gets better when you're older (I'm sure we ALL have a story about this even if it's not related to gender identity). She'll go home remembering that you're relaxed, cool, and supportive, even if you never bring up gender specifically.. And then maybe down the road you'll be a person she remembers and comes to when things get hard (or maybe not).

    Definitely hard waters to navigate
    I like this approach.

    I'd do as caffeinated said... be warm, fun, kind, supportive without addressing the issue. If child brings it up, try to take it in stride and just reassure child that you're there if they ever need an ear or a hug. But try not to counsel or get too involved. As a parent, I'd be annoyed at a relative that interjected themselves into what may be a sensitive situation.

    The parents could well be addressing this issue on their own, within their family, in some way in which you are not aware. We deal with identity issues on a daily-- sometimes hourly--basis in my house given that we have a transracial adoption. It requires a constant dialogue and conversation, and occasionally counseling.... but it is our business and not exactly something I advertise to the world, even to relatives. My theory is always that it is my daughter's story, she owns it, not us or anyone else.

    It's funny... my son, who is 2.5, obviously wants to do everything his big sister does. That includes wearing princess dresses and painting his nails. I let him, who cares? Most of my family is MORTIFIED by it.

    These same people are fine with my daughter being black, but yet the concept of my son being interested in girl stuff causes a level of alarm that shocks me. Double standard much? Whatev! People need to relax. I will love the kid whether he is gay, straight, bi, trans, white, purple, black, or hot pink with leopard spots.

    At least we have made *some* headway in terms of race, but my heart goes out to the LGBT community who clearly seem to just be at the beginning of their journey. Especially hard for children who may not have the support they need.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


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  2. #42
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    Thanks everyone.

    The challenge is really finding a balance where I'm respecting everyone's feelings as much as possible. I don't want to butt in where I don't belong and piss the parents off, but I also don't want to hurt Child's feelings by insisting upon using terms which are emotionally painful for her. Especially if she asks me not to.

    And I agree with wendy that's it's really a shame that our culture is so gender segregated. My son was raised with a lot more flexibility like FG's, and it is amazing how much that sort of thing freaks some people out.

    Though a fair number of my extended family members are also bigots in other ways When one of my aunts adopted two little boys from India after being unable to conceive, one of my grandmothers made all sorts of nasty comments about those "little brown babies" vs. her "real grandchildren."

    On the plus side, I'm really grateful that I wasn't raised like that.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  3. #43
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    Wayside, you are awesome for considering how you want to approach this issue, and how open you are to letting this child be...I have a friend with a possibly transgendered child, and its a hard road for kids in school. An oasis of acceptance, and just being a supportive person in the childs life is huge. Whether this is a phase, or true gender identity will reveal itself in time, but your positive support of the person this child is will never be forgotten.


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  4. #44
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    Thanks Griffyn. I can sympathize with the family not wanting to dive full steam ahead into transitioning completely right off the bat, since that is a big change that I'm sure takes lots of thought and planning. But the "dont talk about it" attitude and complete shutting down of anything girly does really bother me.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  5. #45
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    The unfortunate possibility is that the immediate family will always deny a gender issue, and it will never be allowed to be addressed in any way until the child grows up, and leaves the home. If the attitudes in that part of the family are the way you suspect, and the child is the way you suspect, then there is nothing that can be done. Giving acceptance to the child is wonderful, but if the siutation is the way you think and there is ever a hint of you accepting this, then you may be exiled from the child.

    Don't forget that California just became the first (I think the first) to outlaw the homosexual-to-straight conversion therapy, and I'm sure that there are many parents who thought that was a terrible ruling. Bigotry, prejudice and intolerance are going to exist for a long time, and many people may hide how they feel, but they still have those attitudes inside.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  6. #46
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    I'd say just be mindful and watch what is going on. Stay out of it as much as you can but be supportive if you feel the need to be. One of the easiest ways to burn bridges between family members or friends as the case may be is by getting involved in how they raise their children and it is often difficult if not impossible to repair those bridges regardless of intent or right/wrong.
    SPACE FOR RENT


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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    I'd say just be mindful and watch what is going on. Stay out of it as much as you can but be supportive if you feel the need to be. One of the easiest ways to burn bridges between family members or friends as the case may be is by getting involved in how they raise their children and it is often difficult if not impossible to repair those bridges regardless of intent or right/wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by JanM View Post
    The unfortunate possibility is that the immediate family will always deny a gender issue, and it will never be allowed to be addressed in any way until the child grows up, and leaves the home. If the attitudes in that part of the family are the way you suspect, and the child is the way you suspect, then there is nothing that can be done. Giving acceptance to the child is wonderful, but if the siutation is the way you think and there is ever a hint of you accepting this, then you may be exiled from the child.
    Thanks Jan and Lex. That's sort of what I was thinking, and it's a large part of why I'm not planning on being aggressive about this. Better for the parents to just keep thinking I'm that harmless but kooky Weird Auntie Wayside that they like to ignore
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  8. #48
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    My BFF and former SO has a nephew who from an early age appeared to be gay. I met the child when he was about six and the possibility was amazingly apparent. The parents- my friend's sister- are conservative Christians. My friend knew that the child and the parents were going to have a tough time feeling comfortable with homosexuality. My friend chose the road of being the good, supportive uncle. He never rocked the boat, or made people uncomfortable, but he definitely planted seeds so that his siter would at least recognize some signs. He was a positive role model. The child, now grown, is definitely gay and the parents have had a tough time coming to terms with it, but the relationship has remained relatively unscathed. My friend always treated his nephew like he was okay and accepted.

    Sometimes there isn't much you can do, but sometimes a little goes a long way.


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  9. #49
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    At nine, she is only a few years away from puberty, which can be absolutely hellish for a transgendered child--their body completely betrays them and developing the sexual characteristics of the "wrong" gender can lead to deep depression and suicide. Kids who grow up in supportive families are often put on hormone blockers until they are old enough to truly make an educated choice about gender reassignment surgery, in order to avoid the trauma of going through puberty.

    It sounds like you may be her only ally in the family. I would make a point to let her know that you're there for her. It may behoove you to also read up on transgendered kids so you know which might be on the horizon...I know I have a book around here somewhere that I would be happy to send to you. Terribly interesting read and I would be happy to share, if I can find it.


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  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside View Post
    Thanks Jan and Lex. That's sort of what I was thinking, and it's a large part of why I'm not planning on being aggressive about this. Better for the parents to just keep thinking I'm that harmless but kooky Weird Auntie Wayside that they like to ignore
    I think at this point, this may be your best bet. If your family functions are anything like ours, it's not that uncommon to see an adult an chld speaking about something together. No one is actually listening. Just talk to her. If you can manage to treat her like a person and not a kid with an issue, that's how she'll remember you. And that may be just what she needs.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


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  11. #51
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    Thanks frisky! I'm glad to hear that it's possible to be helpful and supportive without totally freaking the parents out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    It may behoove you to also read up on transgendered kids so you know which might be on the horizon...I know I have a book around here somewhere that I would be happy to send to you. Terribly interesting read and I would be happy to share, if I can find it.
    And I'd be happy to read more I live in a pretty socially liberal area, though, so if you give me title, I can check and see if it's something the library system has available. If not, I'd be glad to pay for postage. Thanks!
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by GypsyQ View Post
    I think at this point, this may be your best bet. If your family functions are anything like ours, it's not that uncommon to see an adult an chld speaking about something together. No one is actually listening. Just talk to her. If you can manage to treat her like a person and not a kid with an issue, that's how she'll remember you. And that may be just what she needs.
    Thank you GypsyQ. You have a good point - at family functions I think a lot of parents are just happy to have their own children out of their hair for a little while.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside View Post
    And I'd be happy to read more I live in a pretty socially liberal area, though, so if you give me title, I can check and see if it's something the library system has available. If not, I'd be glad to pay for postage. Thanks!
    Ah-ha. This is the book I have. I will look for it this weekend, if you're not able to snag it at the library.


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  14. #54
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    Wayside, you live relatively near me... and I realize the parents dont. But if they need some resources and connections in handling all this I have some very sensitive people to refer them to close at hand. BTW, you are hands down the best auntie.


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  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simkie View Post
    Ah-ha. This is the book I have. I will look for it this weekend, if you're not able to snag it at the library.
    Thanks! It looks like the library system does have a copy. Checked out atm, but it's due back mid month. Hooray for the internet! (And Simkie, of course!)
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffyn View Post
    Wayside, you live relatively near me... and I realize the parents dont. But if they need some resources and connections in handling all this I have some very sensitive people to refer them to close at hand. BTW, you are hands down the best auntie.
    Thanks so much. I don't think they're ready to get help, but it's nice to know that there are people out there who can help if they decide to start listening to their child. I'll keep this in mind for them, and I'll remember you if I have any questions, since this is pretty new to me, too. <hugs>
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



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