Wedding Woes

What IS in a name?

Dear Prudence,

My sister-in-law has announced she is trans and is in therapy to transition successfully. It was actually a relief because it seemed to explain her past self-destructive and self-seeking behavior (casual drug use, picking family fights, and even getting plastered at our wedding). We kept her at a distance from her past behavior but have been making attempts to bridge the gap, including introducing her (while socially distanced) to our infant daughter. The problem is she has taken a derivative of our daughter’s name for her own and has plastered the story across social media that we named our daughter for her (she tagged me in them). This is a complete fabrication and has confused our family and friends. The situation leaves my husband and I baffled and more than a little uncomfortable. In the past, my sister-in-law has been a habitual liar and would invent elaborate fictions and even fight with other people over them—like insisting the family had a dog growing up that a neighbor ran over and whose body she found, which never happened. What should we do here?

—Misnomers

Re: What IS in a name?

  • I think you should tell her “it makes us very uncomfortable when you claim we named daughter after you. We both know this is untrue. Please stop.”  And when she doesn’t, distance again
    short+sassyMNNEBridemrsconn23
  • I think you should tell her “it makes us very uncomfortable when you claim we named daughter after you. We both know this is untrue. Please stop.”  And when she doesn’t, distance again
    I agree it's time for a CTJ talk with the SIL, though it should be led by the LW's H, since this is his sibling.  I think they should also add that, while they have no issue with the SIL using a derivative of their daughter's name (even if they do), it's been confusing friends and family because it's obviously not a true story., ie Daughter was named that X years before the SIL started using the similar name.

    If the subject comes up for confused friends and family, the LW should individually explain that they've been surprised by SIL"s story also, but it actually isn't true and they named their daughter long before the SIL chose that name.  But I wouldn't bring it up otherwise.

    The SIL sounds like the kind of person to have made up this story, just to cause family drama and stir the pot.  Don't give them the satisfaction.

    And, while I understand why they are giving the SIL another chance, there's also nothing wrong with keeping them at arm's length if they continue to be toxic.
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    banana468
  • This now for sure weird but likely no one other than the LW and their husband actually care that this story is out there. Like even if people are confused are they really spending a ton of time thinking about this? I say talk to her if you’re really uncomfortable but I’d try and let this slide. If it keeps happening then I’d say something but a one-off Instagram post? Let it be. 
    mrsconn23MyNameIsNot
  • All of the above, but also...LW needs to check themselves on the judgment.  I'm not saying SIL was an easy person to be around, but multiple things can be true at once.  SIL may have been unhappy and self-destructive because they weren't the person they wanted to be, however lying, supposedly causing family drama, and casual drug use (which, let's be real, if it was a little pot or something...that's not even an 'issue' IMO) may be an entirely separate issue.  Pinning this on SIL being trans feels icky and othering in a way. (like trans people are evil or whatever terrible people tell themselves).  I think SIL is this person emotionally, regardless of identity.  Am I making sense? 
    short+sassycharlotte989875banana468VarunaTT
  • mrsconn23 said:
    All of the above, but also...LW needs to check themselves on the judgment.  I'm not saying SIL was an easy person to be around, but multiple things can be true at once.  SIL may have been unhappy and self-destructive because they weren't the person they wanted to be, however lying, supposedly causing family drama, and casual drug use (which, let's be real, if it was a little pot or something...that's not even an 'issue' IMO) may be an entirely separate issue.  Pinning this on SIL being trans feels icky and othering in a way. (like trans people are evil or whatever terrible people tell themselves).  I think SIL is this person emotionally, regardless of identity.  Am I making sense? 
    It does!  I think it's fair to consider that someone had XYZ challenges (any challenges) in their childhood and/or lifetime and that those challenges could be a factor for negative or self-sabotaging behavior.  But it's only a possible reason.  Not an excuse.

    Some of our destiny is chosen for us.  But most of it we create ourselves.  When someone makes an excuse for someone else or a whole group of people, then they are also the ones infantilizing grown adults and acting like they aren't capable of doing better.  It' can be a tough line!  Because you want to understand someone's POV and experiences, but then you run the risk of making assumptions and excuses for them.
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    mrsconn23VarunaTT
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