came down to New York for a seder at my aunt Lea's. (Lea specifically invited her as well as me and cattitude
, who was too swamped by work to come with us.) Again, not only do my family like Adrian, they seemed glad that I bring someone who can sing. My cousin Janet was talking about my grandmother on the other side of the family's singing, and I said something about that being the job of my side of the family (broadly defined).
Janet (our leader) said she didn't think we needed to adjust the language much for feminist purposes, in part because this was very much a women-run seder. (We started with one man present, and Dave never says much.) So we used the traditional Maxwell House haggadah; Lea noted that this is the one the president uses.
I heard a bit more about Frieda's history, and good things Grandpa did. (Frieda isn't blood kin as far as I know, but my mother and aunts refer to her as their "fourth sister.")
There were some new-to-me people at the seder, neighbors my aunt knows from her Shakespeare class. So she gave them the apartment tour, and when we sat down noted that almost everything in the room was from other members of the family, including my grandparents' expanding table and some of their dishes. (My aunt has bought furniture, it's just mostly in other parts of her home.)
Partway through the seder Janet's boyfriend John arrived. As in past years, he was loud and seemed to feel the need to be at the center of attention. This involved, among other things, asking questions some of which I realized afterward he had
to know the answers to. Maybe he didn't know that humans are the only animals with a menstrual cycle, but I refuse to believe that a recently retired science teacher doesn't know what the male and female parts of a flower are. That's fourth grade material. But because it's fourth grade material, and I had it on my desk an hour earlier, I just answered without stopping to analyze.
A little later, the topic of eggs, egg-laying, and male animals that carry or protect eggs (I think) led to my aunt saying that egg-laying animals are defined as female. John's reply was "Well, what about transvestites or transsexuals or whatever they are? They don't lay eggs—are they female?" Adrian answered that a person's gender is whatever the person says it is. John challenged that idea (which I know is not universally accepted), and then asked something clueless about (IIRC) the difference between "transgender" and "transsexual." My first response was "Do you have a few hours?" Then I and Adrian settled in to do a bit of Trans 101. That's not what I'd expected that afternoon, but it may have done some good—probably not with him, but with some of the other people there, who seemed uninformed but not hostile. For example, one of them said she thought transgendered people were "confused," and I just said that my trans friends didn't seem confused, though other people sometimes are. Adrian suggested on our way home that he had probably been leading into some kind of ignorant "joke," but that he hadn't been counting on throwing those questions to a room where the answers included "Well, my doctor is trans, and…," me talking about trans friends, and my aunt being calm and thorough on biological questions.
I think we did a decent job with that bit of education, and I'm fairly sure it was better than if we'd left the topic lying there after John tried to heap scorn on the idea that a person can say "I'm a woman" and have that be meaningful. If I'm less practiced at Trans 101 than some people, I'm also less worn out by having to do it, both for the same reason: I'm cisgendered, and most people read me as female, so I don't have a lot of these conversations. And I was talking in third person, which in some ways is safer.
I also had a nice catching-up talk with my cousin Karina before the meal, as well as chatting with Janet; the one thing I regret is that I barely got to say more than hello to my cousin Anne. Had the conversation not veered the ways it did, I might have asked Janet how her father is doing; I tentatively attribute his absence to introversion and/or not liking crowds of his wife's relatives, even if he's known them for half a century.
Because food also matters: I ate lots of charoses, in part because it seemed most other people had forgotten that there was any left, and of a good cucumber salad. My only contribution was some Ceylon teabags; I wanted something good that wouldn't need milk, so threw a half dozen in my bag. One of Lea's friends made a very nice ground walnut and lemon cake. And my aunt Lea made a point of giving me one of the few remaining glass teacups and saucers (again, stuff from Grandma and Grandpa) to drink from.
(Edited to change title: I'd thought I was writing an outline, and it turned into a real post.)