IMAGE: ‘I could have burst into tears. I was just there, with everyone else, a part of the family’

Christmas 2020 was a meaningful one. The game birds and the smoking crackers were stuffed with meaning. And there was meaning, too, in the greater distances between us. In the people we didn’t see.

My grandfather’s nursing home closed to visitors on March 2. We got a phone call within thirty-six hours of COVID reaching Dublin. “First thing, Monday morning: we’re closed.” The residents didn’t mind. And they were in safe hands, thank goodness. There were no cases. They made it to the end of the longest year.

My grandfather doesn’t know my name. But then he doesn’t really know anyone’s name anymore, so I don’t take it personally.

Lots of things change the complexion of families, and I suppose transitioning is one of them. There was a time when it was taken for granted that coming out as a trans woman would sever family ties. People would leave their small towns behind, go off to bigger and more tolerant cities and they’d never look back, not unless they wanted to.

Now, we’re on a doorstep of history. Trans people are here, but we have not yet stepped in fully. We’re shivering on the welcome mat, looking at a wreath, its red, greens and oranges, not quite knowing what it is we’ll find when the door finally opens.

So what do you do? Do you send a postcard to the relatives, informing them?

In the end, we didn’t tell my grandfather. There didn’t seem to be much point. And it was one less moment of anxiety – one less question mark in a year that was full of them, for so many reasons.

The full piece is published here.