cutting off my grandparents

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futurefaeking
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cutting off my grandparents

Unread post by futurefaeking »

I'm almost 17 and will be leaving for college next fall. While I'm there, I plan to go on T, get top surgery, date around. However, I've been worried recently about how I'm going to deal with my grandparents while I transition.

I've never had a good relationship with them, tbh. They're very emotionally distant and like to throw money at things instead of putting in effort to get to know me or my sister. For example, when we were younger, we never really saw them, and so my parents suggested that they take us out for ice cream once a week as a fun bonding activity. Instead of actually sitting with us or talking to us (which was the point in the first place) they started dropping off the ice cream while we were both still at school. They don't seem to take real interest in anything about me beyond my grades. They miss performances my sister and I are in (which, granted, they're both unlucky in terms of illness) without apologies or explanations. Whenever we visit them, they normally ask one or two generic questions and then ignore us the rest of the time to talk about their own problems.

But my main issue with them is their bigotry. My grandfather was a big MAGA fan the first time around, right when I was figuring out I was queer, and I haven't been able to stomach conversations with him since. He constantly talks over my grandmother, has said the n-word (we're white), and refers to lesbians exclusively using the d-slur. He makes jokes about how no guy will want me if I dress how I do, and has said disparaging things about my friend's appearance (she can't afford fancy or non-secondhand clothes). My grandmother enables him and makes no attempt to correct his behavior or tell him he's in the wrong. Despite all this, my parents still want me to maintain a relationship with them because they're helping to pay for my college.

I know I'm not the only one uncomfortable-- my sister and cousin are both queer and have told me that they're afraid to come out to them. I've been wanting to cut them off since I was 14, but I'm forced to see them by my parents. Since I'm going to be living independently soon and experiencing very noticeable changes to my body, I was wondering if anyone had an exit strategy? I don't want to abandon my sister and cousin (they're both several years younger than me). On top of this, my dad is going to be pissed as all hell at me for refusing to speak to them. Other than this one thing, we have a good relationship, and he's gotten into several fights with his parents on my behest. But he thinks I'm being dishonest for refusing to come out to them when I'm out to basically everyone else in my life, and gets angry when I say I can't deal with being around them (I've had several panic attacks during or leading up to family functions). He thinks that spending time with family members even though I "don't like them" is just something I should do because I care about him and it makes him unhappy when I talk badly about his parents.

I'm really worried that when I start physically transitioning I'll get hit with a huge wave of transphobic bs, but my parents say I have to give them the benefit of the doubt (even though all evidence points to it going badly). This also might seem stupid, but my grandfather has heart problems and I can definitely forsee a worse-case-scenario in which he has another heart attack if or when I come out (especially if my sister and cousin follow in quick succession).

Basically, I want to be able to cut off my grandparents but not lose my relationship with my dad. I can't ever see myself inviting them to my wedding or other big events in my life, but I do genuinely want to still see my parents because they've supported me in so many ways. I don't know how to keep my parents (particularly my dad) in my life and still be able to cut out the toxicity my grandparents bring.
Sam W
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Re: cutting off my grandparents

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi futurefaeking,

That sounds like an incredibly unpleasant situation, and one where it may end up being a case of choosing the least crummy option from a bad bunch.

I will say that one thing working in your favor is that leaving for college is generally a time where we re-draw boundaries with our families (especially if we're not living at home). So, if you end up needing to pull back from your parents as well as from your grandparents--even if it's just temporary--that may offer you some cover for it. Too, do you have a sense of how much your grandparents are helping with college? Did they set up a fund you're going to be drawing from, or are they actively contributing and if they pull back you'll be in a tight spot financially? I ask because that might influence how you navigate cutting them off.

With your dad, how inclined are you to keep pushing back on some of the things he's saying (for instance, while I'm sure it does suck to hear your kid doesn't feel safe coming out to your parents, were I in his shoes I'd be much more hurt by THEM creating that situation)? Does it feel worth it to you to try and change his mind some? And can I ask where your other parent is in all this? Do they tend to side with him?

I hear you saying that you don't want to abandon your sister and cousin, which I think is a very big-hearted impulse. Is it that you don't want them to be stuck at family gatherings with your grandparents without you there to go to bat for them? Or are you worried that cutting off your grandparents could lead to you being cut off from them as well?
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