Q: So my former-brother recently came out as a transgender woman. This was a total shock to my family and me. Thankfully, my family is a relatively accepting bunch, so we are taking it in stride and trying to be as accepting and supportive as we can.
In the same video chat conversation where my sister came out to me, she brought up the wedding. My fiancé and I spoke at length about the wedding party and what we wanted to do before asking our friends and family. Part of the conversation revolved around my brothers (now my brother and sister). My fiancé is not particularly close to my brothers, so we considered having my brothers be “bridesmen” and on my side of the wedding. However, I am really close to my fiancé’s sister, and wanted her to be my maid of honor. Therefore, we decided to have the wedding party drawn along gender-lines, and my brothers would be “groomsmen.” We picked five women and five men for the wedding party.
And now we come to the crux of the issue. My sister would like to be a bridesmaid. Now we have six women and four men. However, I know that bridal parties do not need to be equal, and that is not a big deal. My problem is that I do not want to do the “traditional” bridesmaid activities—bachelorette party, getting ready, girls nights, planning—with the person that I have known as my brother for twenty-six years. We were never particularly close, and while I fully support her transition, I believe I would seem transphobic if I ask her not to partake in these activities. I am happy for her to wear a dress, join in the pictures, and for all intents and purposes be a bridesmaid, but I never thought that the wedding party that I built with my female friends would have another member. I don’t know how to talk about it with my current bridal party (do I add her to the group chat?), and what the expectations are for me moving forward. I don’t want to offend my sister, and I am really not sure of the best way to handle this.
Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!
This isn’t at its core an issue with your sister’s transition; it’s more about having a member of your bridal party that isn’t a close friend. It doesn’t sound like it has much to do with gender identity, but more about the quality of your relationship with your sibling, which is more distant than your relationships with your original bridal party.
Have you asked your sister what she would like her level of involvement with the wedding activities to be? Have you asked her about her expectations? If not, I would start there. You might be more on the same page than you realize. She might not want to be an “all-in” bridesmaid with your group of friends, given your lack of closeness. There is no rule that states a bridesmaid must do all wedding planning and activities with the bride. (And in fact, it’s not uncommon for a sibling included just for well, sibling reasons, to opt out of parties that involve a bunch of people they’re not close to, doing actives they’re not that into.)
So ask your sister first. And if she really does want to participate in these events, ask yourself… is it more important to include your sister and have this be a chance to get to know her better, or is it more important that you feel comfortable on your wedding day and surrounded by those you are closest to?
Again, if you already aren’t close, she might not even be wanting to participate in all these activities. She might just want to honor you and your sibling relationship and her gender identity by being a part of the wedding party in the role that best reflects her identity. This could be a wonderful opportunity to connect with your sister, and together figure out what feels best for both of you.
But whatever you do, remember this: your sister is in a raw emotional time. She’s finally sharing something with the rest of you that has been true for her all along. You knew her as your brother, but she was always your sister. This might be a great opportunity to create some space to get to know your sibling who is now fully able to share themself with you. But if wedding planning is too fraught a time and place to do that, be kind to yourself (and to her). Be inclusive and kind as the two of you navigate this transition, and know that you’ll have a lifetime to build this old-but-new-again relationship.