Nonconventional Families

At the summit on Friday, someone was talking about the necessary resilience and creativity of transpeople faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and challenges.  One example of adaptation is to replace your phobic dysfunctional birth family with a new healthy “family” of your own choosing.  This can be anything from just a couple of allies, to an extended support network.

This idea resonated, because essentially this is what we have had to do.  E’s entire family and “friends” abandoned and rejected her, and refused to let her see her grandchildren, whom she loved.  Gradually, even some of the contacts she made in the LGBT community turned out to be just as dysfunctional and intolerant, if not more so.  It’s a sad, ironic reality typical of less educated areas.

Meanwhile, because of a close family member of mine who was transitioning, I set out to educate myself to be more supportive, and, long story short, met E and ended up becoming her ally and support person throughout her transition.  Eventually my own nonconventional family met and welcomed her into the fold, and we look forward to being their nearby extension soon.

Along those lines, I was reading my latest Annie’s Heirloom Seed Catalog, which describes their own extended family.  There are several generations living and working together, including the nearby grandparents who help out with the business and the grandkids, who also help out.  Their staff is so much like family that they added one girl to their household.  Many of the heirlooms are ones lovingly handed down among their own generations.  It’s an authentic extended family business heritage.

It sounds archaic, but I think a trend back to this old-fashioned model could heal some of the disconnect or rifts that have become common in our western culture today.  It’s basically what  original native Americans enjoyed before we destroyed their way of life.  Their communities were very inclusive and tolerant, even deferential toward individuals who were “different”, and they modeled the principle of “it takes a village”.  All generations were together and helped each other to survive and thrive.  Humans, being a social species, seem to need this diverse, supportive interaction to evolve.  When we become isolated and too self-sufficient, we overload, and lose the  perspective that comes from sharing burdens and ideas.

Well, enough pontificating.  Closer to earth, my greens and herbs are thriving as the sunlight gets warmer and longer, and we’re getting closer to our anticipated goal of having a homestead of sorts, nearer to our true family and potential friends.  We will welcome the blessed privacy and security from ignorant neighbors, but also access to people we love and respect, and the opportunity to serve them.

In a hostile world, more of us may find we need to create a new definition of “family” that is more intentional, mindful, and conducive to wellbeing, to replace the traditional model of intimidation and unquestioning conformity.

I leave you with shots of my extended green offshoots…


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