Post # 1
Summary if you don’t want to read the details: My sister is not invited and everyone thinks it’s because I have a problem with her being transgender but it’s actually because she has substance abuse problems I’m not allowed to tell anyone about
My family life is complicated to say the least. My older sister is a male to female transgender (born my brother, is now my sister). She announced this in 2011 (at my high school graduation, but that’s a different story). It didn’t go over so well with my catholic father who has since made leaps and bounds in terms of acceptance. The rest of my family, including my extended family, pretty much embraced her right away.
Here’s the problem. In 2012 she started turning to drugs to address her depression, and everything spiralled out of control from there. Since then she has decided my mother and I are the cause of her depression and drug use because my mom was too controlling, citing a single example of when she was in high school and came home at 2 am high on weed and my mom grounded her, and I was too responsible with school and my grades which set up unrealistic expectations for her. I’m not bothered by this, I know addiction is hard and I can’t take anything she says, especially while high, to heart. She knows that anytime she wants to seek help, my parents and I will do what we can financially to make sure she gets care. She has always declined with a slew of explatives.
Sorry for the long background. Basically she is not invited to the wedding because she would spend it badmouthing my mother and I, if she even shows up sober enough to do so. She doesn’t even know I’m engaged. I haven’t physically seen her since 2012, and only know she’s alive because she calls about once a year high as a kite and yelling at me for ruining her life. No one in my family has physically seen her since 2012.
The problem is that my extended family doesn’t know anything about her addiction problems, and my mom is adament I not discuss it with aunty’s and uncle’s and cousins. I think part of that is out of shame, but I also understand that it’s my sister’s struggle and my sister’s place to share that with people, not mine. But now everyone is asking if my sister will be at the wedding, and when I say no they make some comments that lead me to believe they think I have a problem with her being transgender and her sexuality (she’s gay). This isn’t the case at all! I don’t know what to say???
Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading if you got this far.
Post # 2
keikochan : they are going to think whatever the hell they want to think. I would just be vague, you can say that you guys grew apart and that you haven’t talked to her in a few years, that she’s busy doing her own thing
It sucks that your mom put you in that position, but I wouldn’t want to be talking about it with family I barely see
Post # 3
- Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL
If people ask just be truthful and say no one has seen her since 2012. If you extended an invitation do you think she would even come?
Post # 4
Can you just say that you did invite her but she declined? Or just say you don’t want to discuss it.
Post # 5
- Wedding: July 2020 - Ireland
keikochan : frankly, I’d tell your mom if you can give any details because she doesn’t want you to (even if not the full story, just “substance abuse problems” or something vague) then she is on the hook for explaining why your sister isn’t there, and direct all family questions to her. I know that sounds harsh but she’s putting way too much pressure on you. And to me I feel like keeping your sisters secrets is just enabling her further. I say this as someone who comes from a family filled with addicts – not trying to sound judgemental of you guys at all. It’s really, really tough.
ETA: I mainly say you should punt to mom because wedding planning is hard enough without having to field the family drama on the side. It seems unfair to you that you’ve got to clam up for the benefit of the family/your sister who isn’t in the picture. That’s a lot of pressure on you, too much, in my opinion.
Post # 6
DrAtkins : I don’t even know how I would invite her. I don’t know her address, email, all I have is the phone number she calls me on once a year. I think if she did come, it would be 100% to ruin the party, not to celebrate my marrige.
In the past family have always sent their wedding invitations to my parents with my name, my siblings, and my parents. We just rsvp no for her without telling her about it.
Post # 7
keikochan : As pp’s said, if anyone asks simply say that unfortunately you’ve lost touch and she wasn’t invited. If you’re worried that could spark another conversation about WHY you’ve lost touch, you could simply say “She couldn’t make it” then change the subject. Hopefully your family won’t pry on your wedding day.
ETA after seeing your update, if your family is already excluding her from things I would assume no one else has really seen her so maybe they won’t even bother to ask where she is, they probably assume there’s been some sort of falling out already if your sister is supposedly RSVPing no to every event she’s been invited to.
Post # 8
Ugh, that is a tough spot because obviously, no, you don’t want to be known as “that person”. I think you can correct the assumptions without going into detail though. All you need to say is that there have been some issues beween you that are completely unrelated to her gender identity or sexuality that you don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss and you hope they can understand.
It is super unfair for your sister to put you in that position. One of my cousins has sort of pulled the same kind of bullshit (but to far far less of a degree). He finally came out as gay at age 25 and unfortunately his parents took a bit of time to come around, but eventually did and the restof the family has been supportive since day one, but everyone hates the guy he has been in a relationship with for the last four(ish) years because the guy is a fucking prick and dragged him into a very unhealthy lifestyle. We’d hate him just as much if he was a woman. But instead, my cousin loudly proclaims to everyone that his family is a bunch of homophobes and don’t support his relationship, etc. It’s infuriating!
Post # 9
Yeah. I just got a ton of questions about it at new years. (I’m Japanese, new years is one of our biggest holidays so it’s a big family get together). Everyone wanting to know “is your sister coming?” “Is your sister a bridesmaid?” And especially “are we FINALLY going to see your sister???” I awkwardly brushed it off being like “oh, she can’t make it” but on 2 separate occasions I got comments like “it’s 2019, no one is locked into a certain gender!” Or “nothing wrong with girls liking girls you know”
and I have to be honest, it hurt because when my dad refused to call her by her new female name I was the biggest champion for her in our home. When she decided a year later to come out to our extended family I drove down to her apartment and spent the night so we could go to new years 2012 together so she woundn’t have to walk into that house alone wearing a dress. It bothers me that some people assume I’m transphobic or homophobic
Post # 10
keikochan : when they make those comments, you can be like… why do you think it has anything to do with her gender identity?
I would definitely defend myself while trying to stay vague
Post # 11
keikochan : “Despite my best efforts to contact my sister, I was unable to. I haven’t seen her since 2012 and miss her dearly so I would prefer not to talk about this.”
Post # 12
- Wedding: July 2020 - City, State
Oh, I’m sorry you are dealing with this. I think if I were in your shoes, I’d say, “Since we’ve not seen her since 2012, I thought it would be selfish of me to expect her reunion to be during my wedding.”
Post # 13
- Wedding: July 2020 - Ireland
Another thought: if there’s a chance she’d ever prey on a relative for money due to their lack of knowledge about her addictions, then the family should definitely know. Addicts are notorious for targeting unaware/elderly relatives.
Post # 14
If you haven’t seen her since 2012, it would be surprising if she were there, anyway. I agree with those saying to redirect questions about her lack of attendance to your mom since your mother is the one enforcing the gag order about exactly why your sister can’t be there. Some other noncommittal responses could be:
“She can’t make it.”
“She hasn’t been well.”
“We’ve lost contact.” (though I’d be concerned about someone saying “Oh! I’ll reach out to her!”)
I would probably just be honest to a point with people who are IN THE FAMILY and asking and just say “I would have loved for Jess to be able to be there with us, but she’s been having some serious challenges with substances and taking her feelings out on us in ways that aren’t acceptable, so she isn’t invited. I hope to be able to mend things at some point in the future, but my wedding isn’t the time or place for that.” And then go on to the next topic. Not everyone is entitled to that information but it seems like relatives should know what is going on. That kind of secrecy and silence is toxic.
Post # 15
The truth is she is estranged – that’s all you have to say. Probably easier said than done, no doubt, but you are still being honest – just withholding some details..