Thursday, September 2, 2010

Questions and family

I’m told my mother is dying.

The reasons are a combination of her age, 83, and complications from injuries she suffered in an auto accident that happened last July 17th. She’s been in hospital since then, most of the time in the critical care unit.

On top of the profound grief I am experiencing, even before her death actually happens, I have to deal with so much more because of my trans status. The pain of my continuing dysphoria over my inappropriately equipped body underlies all of my emotions. The feelings of discouragement, depression and deceasing sense of self worth due to my continuing unemployment – 20 months and counting – and my uncertain financial future.

And then, on top of all that . . . what about the funeral?

What pictures from her life will be displayed – Will some be displayed that show me as a boy, a past that I would rather not be reminded of and one that I’d really rather not have displayed to the public?

What will the obituary say? Will I have to argue with my family to use my real name instead of the one assigned me when I was born? Even if I win that argument, how will they use it? “Surviving are a daughter and two sons, Louise, Emelye and Martin?” or will the obituary tell the truth?

“Surviving are two daughters and a son, Louise, Emelye and Martin.”

How will people address me at the funeral? How many times will I be misgendered and/or called by my old name? How should I deal with the people that do so? Will someone actually have the stupidity and gall to suggest my transition contributed to her passing? If they do, how should I deal with that? What if a family member actually says that?

The questions keep coming and I don’t know the best way to answer most of them. I’ll find a solution to some of them, I’m sure, but how can I know that they will be the best ones? Can I prevail against the wishes of my sister and brother if they disagree with my needs regarding posting pictures and an accurate obituary? Can I rely on my sense and emotional discernment to be able to tell the difference between honest errors about my name/pronouns and spiteful attacks while I’m emotionally engaged with the loss and grief I have to bear? If I fail, do I remove myself from the entire proceedings? How can I deal with not being there, not being able to say good bye to her within the framework of the specific ceremony designed to help me do that?

Fortunately I have time to think of these things although I don’t know how much. More immediate issues are pressing as well. How do I pay for the trip to Connecticut and where will I stay when I get there? Will I be able to sleep at my sister’s house or will her husband continue to find my presence so offensive that I’ll have to pay for a motel?

We’ll see.

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