DEAR AMY I'm a mom of five sons younger than 8. My nephew is in his 20s. He has always been easily influenced and has gone through the punk stage, the Goth stage, the androgynous stage, the thinking-he-was-gay stage and now he is going through the cross-dressing stage. When we get together with my sister and her family, "Steve" is now "Stephanie," with wigs, full (overdone) makeup, 6-inch heels, micro-mini dresses, fur coats in the winter, and crop tops and short shorts in the summer. He is a man. My boys know he is a man. My mom and sister say we must treat "Stephanie" as a member of the family, and she is considering having the $25,000 sex change surgery if enough people donate to the fund she has on social media. I've spent thousands on gifts, tuition, his first car, first apartment and helping when he's out of work. I refuse to waste our hard-earned money on his fad of the moment. Steve is a great guy. My kids love their uncle. They miss roughhousing, tree climbing, playing ball and all those fun things that uncles and nephews do. Summer's almost over, and "Stephanie" will be surfacing soon at school events. Any advice?
DEAR AUNT I'm going to suggest a way for you to frame this so you will stop being angry with someone who has no desire to hurt you or your kids.
He/she is a family member (not an actual "uncle," but a much older cousin) and should be treated as such. His/her current gender identification might not be a phase but the culmination of all of the other phases and searching he obviously has done in his life.
The lesson for your kids is that they should treat everyone kindly and with respect.
You are not obligated to respond to any crowdfunding request from anyone. And a transgender woman can climb trees, play ball, roughhouse and play with kids as well as anyone.
Please work harder to patiently accept this person as he/she is. Nothing that is happening here is about you.