A little of both. What occurred to me is what I do in some situations: I show up as androgynous (nonbinary). This way, people who know me as Loren will see the clothes as feminine, and those who know my male self will not be confronted with a full-on transition. This means no skirt or dress, but maybe slacks or jeans (boot cut, not skinny), women’s v-neck t-shirt (not form-fitting)(light on the breast forms, or not at all), conservative sweater(?), loafers or casual shoes.
It might seem like a compromise if you’re used to dressing very femme, but it’s just another expression of your feminine self, a casual expression, with minimal hints of makeup, no lipstick, maybe lip balm.
I love it when I get to do this in more conservative settings because I know that ALL my clothing is femme, and I don’t have to explain myself.
Then, before you arrive, create a game plan for negotiating times when you can be full en femme with your family. Perhaps set up a “date” to dress for dinner, then socialize for the evening, then the next morning get up as nonbinary. Continue to adjust the schedule as THEY feel comfortable.
My friend Cathy is very clear that her 41 year marriage is more important to her than fully transitioning right now, so she is negotiating all things femme with her wife, including the schedule of coming out to their friends, when she can dress, whether she can dye her hair, etc. We can remember that our partner will often feel that their identity is tied to yours. Not true, but still it feels that way for them, and they have to deal with their own transphobia.
We have to choose our battles. It’s a marathon, not a race. Not everyone on our team can sprint to the finish.
In a Special Olympics race, one of the runners fell down. Instead of going for the finish line, the other runners stopped, helped up the fallen runner, and helped them to the finish line. Sometimes we get to do that with our friends and family. Don’t leave them behind.