I’m afraid our family reunion will go badly for this teen

Dear Amy: Every year my extended family meets for a summer reunion.

Two of us are gay. Starting when he was quite young, we assumed that my nephew was also gay. No one talked about it, it was just assumed he’d figure it out and it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Two years ago, when he was 16, he started growing and dyeing his hair and wearing nail polish but still referred to himself as “he.” We assumed he was either doing the teenager thing or was about to tell us he was gay.

Well, we were wrong. He’s not heterosexual (no shock) but has decided he’s trans and now goes by the gender-neutral name “Ash.”

Now Ash is making baby steps into the world as a trans person.

To say my family is less than supportive is an understatement.  This includes Ash’s parents. Gay they’re OK with, but I guess trans is a bridge too far.

Our annual get-together is coming up, and my plan is to wait and see how Ash refers to themself and take it from there. I’m petrified about how my relatives are going to handle the change.

I’ve already told my sister to back off and follow Ash’s lead.

But I can see this going badly for Ash.

Any advice on how to be supportive without stirring the pot?

Good Gay Uncle

Dear Uncle: I’m unsure of why you are “petrified” by these relatives, but I assume that you are at the very least concerned for Ash regarding the reactions of extended relatives who haven’t been in personal contact for a while.

The way to be supportive is to greet Ash with enthusiasm and treat them with an attitude of friendship and respect at this gathering.

Speaking as an involved aunt, I believe that one advantage of this position in the family is that you have known the younger person’s parents (at least one of them) since childhood. You can convey just enough familiarity to decode some family traits, and just enough distance to offer perspective and non-judgmental friendship.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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