Michele O'Mara

TransParent: At My Son's Wedding

Filed By Michele O'Mara | February 16, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: rehearsal dinner, transgender parent, visibility, wedding

Michele,

My son and his fiancée are getting married in June. I'm an MTF transsexual whose been living full-time for nearly 5 years. Both my son and his fiancée are generally accepting and often invite me to social occasions with their friends. His fiancée comes from a well-to-do family and the wedding reception will be at their country club. Since transitioning, I've met her father and mother, and it's quite clear they are very status-oriented.

My son approached me several weeks back and told me that his fiancée asked that I not reveal my relationship to him and his fiancée at the wedding or reception. I'm not a part of the ceremonies, but I am paying for the rehearsal dinner. My initial reaction was disappointment, but I did understand that this is her (and his) day and wanted to respect their wishes. I've been planning to go along with it...

Yesterday, my son told me that I wasn't going to be invited to the bridal shower either. I was disappointed and it made me realize that I hadn't come to grips with my hurt feelings. I want to do what's best for all of us, but I also believe that I need to be as "out there" as possible because I wouldn't have had the life I do if it weren't for the courage of my trans brothers and sisters who've gone before me.

I have lots of thoughts going through my mind about how to handle the situation. Should I just go with the flow and be there for them, but essentially invisible? Should I call them out on it so they'll understand how they've made me feel and then just go with it? Should I just attend the wedding itself, and skip the rehearsal dinner and reception? Or, should I tell them that if they want to invite me, I won't go along with the charade?

Troubled TransParent

Thank you for sharing your dilemma with me. I really sense the heartache in this decision. I suspect there is heartache for your son too.

Who are these requests regarding your (non)participation designed to please? Your son or your future daughter-in-law? Her parents? When he asks you to not make your relationship known, from whom is it he is seeking to withhold this information and for what and whose benefit?

Seems to me that this is a good teaching moment. Not about transgender issues though, about relationships, namely family relationships. I suspect your son is experiencing shame about the "differences" in your family, and he may be fearing the judgment of strangers and he may fear his new in-laws judgment of you. It's hard to tell who he is protecting, and whose need is being met by asking you to lay low. It's possible he wants to protect you, even if his efforts end up hurting you more. We humans are imperfect like that.

Other possibilities that strike me about what might be going on are that his non-traditional family brings up shame for him that he has not figured out how to address. This is a great opportunity to explore that (though probably at greater length after the wedding when stress levels resume to a more predictable baseline level.)

While your gender transition is obviously influencing this situation for your son, it strikes me as more an issue about how he's (not) managing his feelings, standing up to his fiancée and expressing what is important to him (i.e. having you visible at his wedding), his potential shame, his fears of his own rejection by her family, and possibly a whole set of other worries unrelated to you that when your gender piece is placed on top of those other worries, he fears that last straw will surely break the proverbial camel's back.

Talk to him about how he's feeling and what his fears are about your wedding involvement and (in)visibility. There's too much room for misunderstanding without adequate communication about what's really going on here. Weddings are so stressful, and much like holidays, they begin to establish a hierarchy of important relationships. You are wise to be concerned about the precedent being established here. Get more information about what these requests mean, and whether or not they are actually his - or if he is relaying them for someone else (like his in-laws or fiancee) before you decide how to respond.

Talk to him. Share with him your understanding of his feelings and your desire to support him in making this day special. Share with him your concern that he picked up shame about his family and the differences. Tell him that you love him and you want what is best for him.

Most of this is about him. He's the one in the hot seat, but this next part is your task. Teach him how to treat you. Gently, respectfully, and with compassion let him know what will work and will not work. If you cannot celebrate his wedding from the shadows where you are not acknowledged or included, I would be honest with him. Give him the opportunity to learn - not about transgender issues at this point - that's not what this is about. Rather about your relationship. It's about his ability to stand up for what's important to him. It's about your ability to stand up for what is important to you.

At the end of the day, I get the feeling you both have a similar struggle. Weddings are a team sport. He's not the only one making decisions. Get more information. Be compassionately direct with him about your feelings. Teach him how to treat you. Show him how to be true to himself by modeling this behavior.


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Michele, while I think your answer is very right about the son standing up for what he thinks is important (and not passively giving in to his partner's requests/demands) and finding out where the source of the anxiety is coming from—directly from the son or from the fiancée or her family. I still think you're avoiding the core question: are you ashamed to have me at your wedding? Are you ashamed of me as your parent? The OP IS being made invisible and when you say, "teach him how to treat you" what does that actually mean? Yes, they can come up with a pat explanation which temporarily works for the wedding but ultimately, she is being made a non-parent and a non-family member and it's hard to escape the pain of that.

I find a lot of older transitioners allow themselves to be marginalized from their family or to have their parental position minimized out of guilt and shame for what they've "done to their children". They also have insecurities as to the legitimacy of their current gender and being able to assume the privileges due to their gender identity (ie. attending a bridal shower if you're mtf). This is very much a trans issue and before one can teach their son/daughter how to treat them, they may have to come to terms about how they're punishing themselves to even get to that point (especially without bitterness or rancor). Sometimes you need to push people in your world to get past their insecurities about dealing with a trans person in their family. The more you give in to their anxiety, the more invisible you become.

I don't feel like beating around the bush, so I'll be concise:

Don't attend under those conditions. Don't attend the wedding at all.

What the son thinks is irrelevant; clearly he's made his judgment on who he has to care more about, the prejudices of his in-laws and fiancee, or his own flesh and blood.

Who raised him? Who fucking poured years of her life and resources into making sure he could grow up healthy to marry someone else?

This is not a lesson on communication; it's a lesson on ingratitude and a moment of true for this mother to realize what her place in the son's life is.

I don't feel like beating around the bush, so I'll be concise:

Don't attend under those conditions. Don't attend the wedding at all.

Bingo. I agree. You don't have to celebrate your child being a dick to his mother.

Not attending the wedding is basically a passive-aggressive way of punishing your son (which doesn't bode well for the future of her connection with her son and daughter-in-law) and gives the in-laws exactly what they want—erasure of a trans person.

The in-laws need to see their precious world will not come crashing down if a trans-parent is at the celebration. They need to relate to her as a person to whom they have a future connection with, not an issue. Once someone is successfully erased from family celebrations, it just makes it that much easier to erase her again the next time. Ideally, the son needs to make it clear their parent's participation is not an option or negotiable nor subject to rules. If the son is too conflicted himself (which might be the source of it) or is too weak to get to that point, then maybe there needs to be a family counseling session with a professional. Going into a marriage with this hanging over their head and an inability to deal with it doesn't bode well for the married couple's future of dealing with conflict.

Many comments are targeting the son, whom by the way was presumably taught what he knows and how he behaves from the environment in which he was raised.

In my work with hundreds of families which include a transparent, I have observed that young adult males have the greatest difficulty with parental gender transitions. Many young men outright and fully reject their parent, feeling betrayed, deceived, embarrassed, protective of the transitioning parent's spouse, and sometimes they even feel as if their own masculinity is threatened.

To reduce this issue to a simple show for the wedding or don't show, demand respect or walk away, or any other black-and-white conclusion is to miss the much larger picture.

Many of my clients spend their pre-transition, early parenting years angry, detached, distracted and uncomfortable - and for obvious reasons. And many have a lot of regrets about not transitioning sooner because of this. As would be expected, this affects their relationships with their children. Some fathers over-compensate for their gender conflicts by leaning into masculinity in ways that are turn out to be very inauthentic and create images for their children that are then hard to erase or make sense of when a transition occurs for them later in life.

Let's face it, when a parent transitions it is complicated. I would imagine this kiddo was 15 to-20 years old when he learned about the mtf transition of his father. Anyone remember what that age range between 15-20 is like?

What would that really be like? Is it as simple as accept or don't accept? Say he was 15 - is it realistic to think that in 5 years he can have this sorted out? Say he was 20, is it realistic to think he could have this sorted out?

A child without family issues has enough to manage growing into young adulthood, and to add on top of that the need to 1) grieve his father who is disappearing as he knew him, 2) make sense of how this affects his own identity, 3) trust that he can rely on his world being as he thinks it is (to have a parent say who I have been is not who I am is a ground-shaking experience), 4) negotiate his own shame, likely without much guidance, 5) sort through all of the usual parent-child issues that are developmentally predictable at this life stage (without a transitioning parent)and 6) do this while adding to this picture his bride to be and her family - well I say that's complicated.

I think to overlook the facts about her son, and what his experience has been, what he is simply capable of managing, and how he is feeling is to be quite short-sited and single-minded.

There are too many missing pieces to this story for me to draw such final and harsh conclusions about demanding visibility or withdrawal support and attendance at the wedding.

I worked with a woman who had transitioned after literally just disappearing from her family when her sons were teens. She didn't explain anything, she just left. Years later she transitioned and when the boys and her ex-wife learned the truth they resumed contact and ultimately invited her to one of the son's wedding. She financially supported part of the wedding and stood in the back, leaving before the reception. Sometimes things make sense when you have all of the story.

If I could rewrite this script for this family, this transitioning parent would have lived in a world where she could have been true to herself from the start, where she could have started her family as a mother, not a father. She would be a glowing mother of the groom, helping her son get married. It's sad to me that she can't have this experience. I would wish for her to be fully embraced and supported for her courage to be true, no matter how long it took to get there, and I would wish for her son to feel proud of her, and to stand up for her and say, "this is one of the most important people in my life and I am who I am today in large-part because of her." Alas, I don't get to write this script. I just get to comment on it now that it's being played out.

We all know that relationships are complicated. No one but those within them can really know what's best...

What I support is love, compassion, understanding, acceptance, and patience. It doesn't feel good to be rejected, and it also doesn't feel good to reject (especially someone we love).

The issue which isn't being discussed is what the attitude is of the groom's other mom (the cis-mom). Contrary to what you've said, Michelle, I would say far more often the issues children have with trans parents most commonly come from the ex-partner of the trans person. There is often lingering hurt from the breakup of the marriage, betrayal of not feeling as if they really knew their life partner would transition and, often in the case of wives of people who transition mtf, feelings of anger and mistrust towards men. These are often played out onto the children and the kids are used as a tool to get back at the transitioner.

No mention is made of her part in the family dynamic or the wedding nor as to whether the mother has remarried and how their step-partner reacts to the transitioner. These can all have a profound influence on such events and, often, the son is in the position of having to "protect" one parent (the cis-mom) from what he perceives as public scrutiny of the transitioning parent.

From the letter, we don't really know how old the son is. He could very well have already been an adult when his parent transitioned, so I think it's conjecture to speak about his developmental phase. I agree with you that ultimatums are not a good way to deal with complex family situations and that all these issues are highly dependent on the culture of the family (eg religious or traditional?) and, ultimately, the connectedness between parent and child. The son certainly seems to have made a prior effort to include his trans-parent in knowing his fiancee, that's a good first indication they have a relationship.

I would also say far more typically, transitioning parents don't just leave, they're intimidated/bullied into leaving and often refused custody or have highly restrictive custody arrangements. I know of a number of MTF transitioners who literally, have to present as male to see their children at all). I know a number of older transitioners who lost custody of their children for 6-7 years when the children were younger only to have one or more of the kids (as young adults) move back in with them.

Michelle, another reality is, some people never have their relationship with a transitioner sorted out until you ask it of them. They will often try to create their own "easiest path" towards dealing with a transitioner which includes 'tolerance/acceptance' (a pretty low-level of processing the change) and tend to not develop further intimacy in the relationship until issues like this come up. This can be an opportunity for the transitioner to ask this of her son.

I disagree weddings are all about the bride and groom... most often larger weddings are about families connecting, meeting up and acknowledging the connection between the wedding partners. Often, the bride and groom don't even have the greatest input as to their wedding nor who is invited. No mention is made about that in this situation.

I am not suggesting my choice in such a situation would be right for someone else. So take what you wish from this with that condition in mind.

I would not attend the Wedding, or Rehearsal unless I was free to attend the entire event without restriction and regard as the other parents. If I said I would pay for the Rehearsal dinner I would still do so even if I did not attend it. If I was asked I would be clear and to the point that I was who I am, and if that is not accepted then I have no place in their event. Some might think this is an extreme view and I have people who are family who do not speak to me anymore in my life. So take what you will in connection to that. However I am not going to be treated as a something less than a person because I have lived through the correction of a condition that makes someone else uncomfortable. It is my view if you accept being subjugated to a secondary role in the family you will always be so. I would rather know up front that is how people view me instead of the pretense of something else.

Go to the wedding if you feel you must. Do not force yourself on them as far as the reception, rehearsal, shower, etc. go.

It's important you do not become the focus of THEIR day.

You know how they feel.

Remember it.

There will most likely be some further healing with more time -- if not -- that's the price we pay for being ourselves. Some folks can't handle what we do. That's not our fault. But, it's important to understand it. Some of us NEVER re-establish good relationships with our kin.

the important thing is to continue living our lives, moving forward, becoming our truth.

That has nothing to do with anyone else, and they may never quite understand it.

Angela Brightfeather | February 16, 2010 11:41 PM

This person needs to call a meeting together of all those making the decisions for her and she needs to allow them to explain themselves clearly. This needs to be done before the wedding,and their fears need to be layed out on the table.

That is number 1 to do. Number 2 is to address those fears, some of which you will be able to wor around and others you won't. Personally, I would simply state about the fars they do have.....that this is so important a thing for you also, that you don't even care if they want to make a few jokes about it in front of others if that makes them feel better. This is for one day and with a bunch of people who you probably will never be seeing again. Be magnanamous and for one day offer yourself up and your pride for your son. It's not like you haven't done this before and don't know how to do it. Any display of pride about being Trans only invites the unwanted. Go to the shower and float it as a "test baloon" where any damage can be limited, but if it goes well, you will most likely make new friends who will support you on the wedding day, simply by greeting you as a friend and having exchanges with you, "just like a real human being". If you were not invited to help buy the dress, you know exactly where the problem is coming from.

Lastly, understand what is on the line here and it's not your relationship with anyone that will be at that wedding. You will never, ever have a more wonderful relationship or love anyone any more than you will your grandchildren. Take my word for it, I have 8 of them and in my waining years, I cannot even imagine living without them. They will truly be the special love of your life when you see them at the window waiting for you to pull in the driveway and they run up to you and hug your legs, or they gather around you when you are sitting on the floor with them and watching Saturday morning cartoons on the TV.

How you handle this today about the wedding, has a great deal to do with how much your son and his wife will allow you to become close with your grandchildren in the future. If they don't accept you now, then your grandchildren and their feelings will be kept at a distance from you and that would be an insurmountable pain for you in the end. Don't let that happen. It means to much to all of you as a family. Don't let your son or his wife replace you without a fight. If that is inconvenient for them, too bad. You have to think about your grandchildren and what you and they will be missing. Don't be the ne that they think there is "something wierd about".

Maybe I'm too much strict (or maybe I'm a heartless bastard) but if she's not good enough to attend and be accepted as part of the family she shouldn't attend at all, never mind paying for the rehearsal dinner.

I love my very catholic mom and aunt (a second mom for me) but when I decided to marry my fiancée (a Texan MTF girl) their only choice was between 100% acceptance of my wife or cutting our relationship (I'm happy to say that they didn't have to think about it as they love my wife).

In my personal experience if you allow others to treat you like a doormat they will never stop doing it and if/when you start resisting this same people will be surprised and offended.

Luciano

PS: sorry for my English, it's not my first language

One word - elope.

And volunteer to pay for the elopement away from both sets of parents.

If the daughter insists on Transparent being invisible, then her son must insist that her parents also be invisible. Period.

As a gay father I have had similar situations, although not to this degree. This is a very complex situation that can easily become emotion driven. While this IS the bride and groom's day, it is also establishing a pattern of behavior that you will have to live with the rest of your life. If you do not address the situation now and respectfully and tactfully let the children know your value as a human being is not to be compromised, you risk the strong likelihood that you will be marginalized forever. It would be better to NOT attend or finance the wedding if they do not understand your position. You are just as important as the parents of the bride. Although it is tempting to "give in", please understand the long term consequences of that decision. Unfortunately, a rift in your relationship with your family seems inevitable. However, if you stand firm and addres the situation now, the healing process may begin sooner. My heart goes out to you.

Just as anyone else would be when invited to the function(s) of a wedding: Be a courteous guest.

And, remember, guests bring gifts.

They don't pay for anything.

I would have to say that this comment makes the most sense:

It's important you do not become the focus of THEIR day.

The fact is, it's their wedding day and they probably don't want to spend it explaining to everyone YOUR situation. For all you know, the in-laws might to totally cool with you, but what about that second cousin that they haven't seen in years and likely won't see again for many more? Should they really be forced into explaining everything to that person on their special day? Probably not.

I would be upset about the bridal shower. If you're going to put your foot down about something, that should be it.

I've been through a few family weddings since transitioning, though as a sister or cousin, not a parent.

The first concern to me as a trans relative/guest is that I don't become the center of attention. A wedding is about the happy couple, not the guests, and the focus should stay on them, even if it means I need to bow out of a situation I might want to be a part of, such as a bridal shower.

While attending a bridal shower might be great fun for me (and maybe even a bit self-validating), it also carries with it the very real danger that the buzz afterward won't be about the bride, but about that transwoman who was there. The bride doesn't need that, and neither do I.

The best time to work out your ongoing relationship with the newlyweds is after the ceremonies and celebrations are over, and there's time to sit down and really get to know the new member of your family in a situation that isn't overshadowed by the often barely-controlled mania that comes with putting together and holding a wedding.

Weddings are a time when any trans invitee, particularly someone who is visibly trans, should be ready and willing to do whatever is within their power to ensure that the attention stays on the happy couple, not themselves.

It's not a matter of disrespect, it's simply acknowledging the reality that a wedding day belongs to the couple getting married, not to the guests attending. There will be time enough to ask for and, if need be, demand respect afterward, and it's far more credible to ask for respect when you're offering it as well.

Hell and No.

Part of accepting a trans-person (or gay person, for that matter) is accepting them no matter what, even if someone else might be uncomfortable. That means no conditions. That means no exceptions. That means no hiding. That means no worrying about whose day it is (which I've never understood).

You know how they COULD be dealing with this? They COULD be talking to her parents/family beforehand to make sure there's no sudden surprises. They COULD be accepting the possibility of a reaction during the day and be prepared to shrug their shoulders, saying "That's his parent." They COULD be telling the people they think might have a problem to stuff it. They COULD be leveling penalties on the ones who have a problem rather than the innocent party.

Or, if they have that much of a problem with her, they could be honest about it instead of playing nice when it's easy.

For heaven's sake, a wedding is supposed to be about celebrating family. Don't aid their scheme to celebrate everything but you.

I went to my son's wedding in California a year ago last October and it was an interesting situation. They were okay with me and my son was happy for me to meet the family, which I did around Christmas time, 10 months before the wedding.

In April, I had a trans girlfriend and they told me I couldn't bring her, which angered me. Her and I broke long before the wedding, so it became a moot point.

At the wedding, my son introduced me to other members of his bride's family and said, "This is my father, Monica." I wore a nice black dress for the wedding and my ex and I paid for the rehearsal dinner. If I was told I was not allowed to let anyone know I was Robert's father, I would have not gone and not paid for the dinner.

Oh, my son married into a Mexican-American family, and as far as I could tell, they all accepted me.

Rikki Swedhin | February 17, 2010 12:35 PM

I transitioned between our second and third child's weddings. I delayed that transition just a bit as I thought that that it was important for my daughter (wedding #2) to have her father walk her down the aisle. I'm glad that I did. When the last of the kids got married, I had transitioned and was told in no uncertain terms was I had better show up and be an active part in their wedding in my femme role. If anyone couldn't handle my transitioned self, then THEY could stay home! How lucky I am! Granchildren?? I have four with a fifth on the way and am well accepted in their lives and would not have it any other way!

Your dilema about the wedding goes on much further than when the "I do's" are said and the cake is cut. How much of their lives are they wanting you to be a part of AFTER the wedding if they are asking you to be a wallflower now? Have they both not learned to deal with your femme side and this is something that will probably come between them later in life? You need to have a big sit down and talk ASAP and get this out on the table to resolve the issues, now! Yes, the wedding is about the happy couple and you shouldn't be a focal point, but you shouldn't be less than a shadow in the corner either. You are the boy's father, always were and always will be, male or female, and hopefully you are going to be a part of their lives long after the confetti and rice is cleaned up, so you need to find out how this is going to happen after the wedding long before it happens.

I'm not sure what the ultimate solution should look like, but I know that I refuse to accept any conditions in any situation that require me to be dishonest about who I am and, in this case, what my relationship to the groom is.

Also, I agree with Matt's suggestion. The trans parent in this case is not the problem. The problem is the fears of the groom and, probably, others, about the reactions of other guests to the trans parent. Those people need to address their own fears and realize it is never okay to require someone to be untrue to themselves in order to protect their own feelings. They then need to find a way to talk to those who may attend and who may have a problem with the trans parent and tell them that they will be expected to be respectful and polite to everyone who attends. Discourtesy by anyone at a wedding is never acceptable. It may be that a formal introduction of the trans parent at the beginning of the reception by the bride and groom would give the other guests the message that they have no shame about having a trans parent/parent-in-law and that courtesy towards her is expected. She should then be placed next to the bride and groom in the reception line, as would any parent. Those who choose not to go through the line because of her presence are welcome to leave. That is not making the parent the center of attention and detracting from the bride and groom. That is simply giving the parent the respect and position she deserves.

I want to be understanding and Zen-like on this one, and I agree with Rebecca that a wedding is crazy-making and that anything that takes focus from the couple can be distracting. But...

It just leaves such a bad taste. If a relative wanted me to be in/at their wedding but didn't want me to bring my husband, or wanted me to lie about who he was or in any other way closet myself, I just wouldn't go. Because an invitation with those conditions means that they don't really want me there. They want some me-like person minus the parts of me they are ashamed of. They should go find that person and invite them instead. Because when you invite me, you invite me, not some version of me as you wish me to be.

I'm not saying that I'd broadcast my queerness to the high heavens. It's not my day and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to do that about any aspect of who I am. But I'm not going to lie either. That's the advice I'd give TransParent: tell your son that you'll be stealth, but that if someone asks you directly why you're there, you're not going to lie. And that if lying about who you are is a condition of being able to attend his wedding, then you cannot attend. Then leave the choice to him. And respect it.

Unless you find out this is all coming from the bride's parents. In that case, I'd go and make sure to introduce myself to every single one of their friends as the "future tranny granny" and plant a big wet one on 'em. Status-y types like that piss me off to no end and I'd just LOVE getting their collective panties in a bunch. ;-)

Like some others, I too am going to be blunt. This is her son. Not "some" relative. It's very easy when not emotionally invested to give advise based on principal. But the truth is this is a day that once missed can not be undone.

And who ever said that our children can't and don't make mistakes? Trust me, they do and this one's a doosie. But he is still her child and if she want's to go, she should go.

It's easy for us to read a blog and sit back from the comfort of our computers dolling out advise, but it is Troubled TransParent that will pay the consequences. This is probably one of the most important days of her son's life. I say...go as a guest. Hell, go as an absolute stranger and stand in the back and disown your son afterward if you have to. But at least you will have seen him get married and you'll have that memory with you the rest of your life.

Stay home and you won't have your son or the memory.

If I were the author of the letter, I would probably still go to the wedding (unless I wanted to take the drastic step of cutting him out of my life entirely), but that's the only event I'd attend. I'd also sure as hell take back the offer to pay for the rehearsal dinner...

I'm going to talk to what has happened in my life. My son got married when I just started to transition, I wasn't out yet but was feminizing my wordrobe. They asked us to pay for the wedding and the party afterwards because the soon to be wife's family couldn't afford it. Like we could?? We said sure and took a loan out. About a year or so later, I came out and they said that I'm welcomed into their house but dressed as a man. If I'm dressed as a woman and when they have children I would not be able to be around them. She told us that she has an uncle in San Fransico who is Gay and he is aloud at family functions but not with his partner. Guess what, now it has been over 10 years and they are still married and they have a 6 year old boy which we have not met or seen him in person. We have not spoken with him in that amount of time.
So, if you go along with their charade then you will be back in the closet. My suggestion to you is close the bank and depart. She will not accept you and it will only get worse. This is my opinion.
I have a daughter who got married and she had a couple of stipulations for her future husband. He had to accept me. Guess what, I was in their wedding, we had the shower and we all went shopping for her wedding gown and mine and my partners (her mom). I have a grandson that calls me grandma sheila. He was the one who made the name. He was from a previous marriage and is now elevan. It can work but putting someone in the closet and telling them not to be recognized will not work. It won't get any better.

Kind of along the lines of my feeling on the matter. If you allow yourself to be treated as second class, be subject to restrictions on who you are, it will never end. Once you start down that path it will never change. I would rather part ways then and get the hurt over with than take it in installments forever.

Some years ago, when my brother died, I was taking care of my mom, and was a big part of the wake. My mom had not told any of the relatives about my coming out, about my surgery, etc.

When I learned that, I insisted we call all the relatives and friends and tell them first. As I said, the wake was to remember my late brother -- NOT to have people asking ME questions, being a distraction.

Mother refused. At that point I said I would not attend. She relented, we called. Some folks did not attend, others did. Even though there were some questions, they were held to a minimum. I was able to mourn, as were others.

Now, I know a wedding is very different, but I believe it's important for "transparent" to honor the requests of the newly married couple first. Isn't that what a loving parent would do?

It is NOT a matter of pride. It is not about you -- it's about them.

As far as the future goes -- what happens at the wedding is not a sure sign of anything. People change, things change.

Some folks will NEVER accept. Others will. Just remember, YOU have no control over THEM. If you have money, they may well stay "close" as long as you are of use to them. Do you think that's better?

Some folks think it a "phase" (like having SRS - Sexual Reassignment Surgery - can be reversed) - in any case, many people take some time to "wrap their heads around" something this different. It messes with all their memories, changes how their past is seen - by them.

You can stay supportive, be available, and share exactly how you feel -- both before and after the wedding.

Try not to guilt trip -- after all, you don't want to be that kind of "additional mom".

Try to remember how much trouble so many in the Lesbian and Gay communities have understanding, and accepting, transsexuality.

Also, give yourself time. A lot of this stuff becomes less important as your life unfolds.

If it's still the same as it was before, you're not living to the fullest.

As you well know, it's not about "dressing up".

I'm a little surprised to see all the defense of the son and daughter-in-law. These two aren't little kids, and it may be their "special day", but if her money's good enough to pay for their reception then they need to grow right the hell up about it.

Miss Manners actually disagrees with the idea that weddings are only about the couple. They're community events, she'd say, and the comfort of all the guests is important. There are no days where one person gets everything they want, not even children on their birthdays.

Obviously these people should get together and talk. But the end solution should be something that respects everyone and doesn't pretend like the issue is about the wedding day being "perfect" as any one person defines it. If the kids want the day to be all about them, then they shouldn't invite anyone else along.

In the mother's position, I would probably sit the son down and say "I get that this is your day, I want to be a part of it, but you need to understand where I am coming from. What you're doing, requiring that I be treated differently from all the other guests, let alone all the other parents, is incredibly hurtful, and it could have long term impact on my ability to participate in your life. I don't want this, and hopefully you don't want this, but our emotions are involved so it may yet happen. So let's compromise. You can place one restriction on my attendance applicable to others in my position. If you want me to deny my parentage, fine, but I get to come to the shower. If the shower is the problem, then I get to tell people at the wedding how proud I am of my son. If that's impossible for you to handle, your one restriction needs to be not having me attend at all. It's your choice, but understand that even as you grow into adulthood and start your new life with your wonderful bride, there are still limits on the degree to which you can control my life. I am still your parent, and you are still my son, no matter what you decide."

I dunno, I am not a parent so I don't know how that would sound from their side... but as someone around marrying age, I wouldn't want any of my parents to be a pushover. Having to act like a parent to my own parents was one of the worst parts of my childhood. It's really easy to lose the respect and pride that are necessary to show one's parents off to other people when they're not acting like adults, just eager-to-please children.

PS: Trans parent sounds so much better than transparent, don't you think?

I agree with Joanna. If one does not set up an appropriately respectful relationship with the bride and/or her family, it will set a pattern that will cause hurt for years to come. It is a kind of slippery slope. It is best to set boundaries now. I think that the bride and her family may be capable of adjusting if they know the trans parent will not cave to their demands. Perhaps, there is a creative an alternative that is not hurtful. I just can not think of one.

I wish you all the best.