Ad­dress­ing trans­gen­der man cor­rectly

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE -

Dear Amy: I’m a col­lege sopho­more. I came out to my par­ents as a trans­gen­der man a few months back. Since I don’t live at home, this hasn’t been much of an is­sue; but re­cently when I went home for Thanks­giv­ing, both of my par­ents in­tro­duced me to their friends as their daugh­ter.

I’m a man, and I look like one. There’s al­ways vis­i­ble con­fu­sion on th­ese peo­ple’s faces, and for the most part I’ve just let it slide, but it makes me in­cred­i­bly un­com­fort­able.

Should I cor­rect my folks in the mo­ment, or sim­ply rein­tro­duce my­self later? The Christmas sea­son means I’ll be home again, and that means meet­ing more peo­ple.

Dear Em­bar­rassed: Talk to your par­ents about this. Tell them how you want to be ad­dressed. If you have changed your first name, make sure they un­der­stand that it is eas­ier on you and oth­ers if they in­tro­duce you this way.

You have been liv­ing in your body dur­ing your tran­si­tion, but your par­ents haven’t phys­i­cally been with you and are still an­chored to the per­son they raised as a daugh­ter.

Loved ones some­times strug­gle with the loss they as­so­ci­ate with this change. Your folks may worry about you and feel guilty about the pain you might have felt, pre-tran­si­tion. Help them un­der­stand that this is lib­er­at­ing and beau­ti­ful for you. As­sume they will ad­just to this change, as you have, in some­time­sawk­ward stages.

Be­cause you have cho­sen to be home for the hol­i­days, I as­sume your fam­ily is flawed, like all fam­i­lies, but lov­ing at its core.

Glaad.org has some help­ful in­for­ma­tion that your folks might use — about how to be­come an ally to trans­gen­dered peo­ple. Share th­ese tips (and any other info) with them.

If you face your fam­ily re­la­tion­ships with hon­esty, grace, for­give­ness and hu­mor, you might lead the way to­ward a new way of be­hav­ing and re­lat­ing. This is a big lift for a young per­son, but you know who you are — and now you can show the world.

If a botched in­tro­duc­tion leads to con­fu­sion, you can say, “I’m a trans­gen­der man. We’re all ad­just­ing. Please, call me ‘Carlo.’ I’m very happy to see you, and Merry Christmas!”

Dear Amy: I have a “friend” who has asked me for money a cou­ple of times. We have lent it to her, and she and her hus­band have paid us back. We have also helped them with their ve­hi­cle, done some hous­esit­ting for them, and we’ve watched their chil­dren so that they could have a date night.

I have asked her to at­tend some events and ac­tiv­i­ties, and she has ei­ther said “no,” or she will say “yes” and then flake out. She is some­thing of a home­body, so I let it go and try not to take it per­son­ally.

I don’t want to con­front her for what I see as self­ish­ness be­cause I fear say­ing some­thing that I may re­gret.

My hus­band has no is­sues with her hus­band. We see him of­ten with mu­tual friends and run the risk of see­ing her as well.

How do I dis­tance my­self with­out be­ing rude?

Dear Go­ing: Your friend sounds like an in­tro­vert, or she might have some so­cial anx­i­ety, which would ac­count for be­hav­ior that you in­ter­pret as flaky. She might ac­cept in­vi­ta­tions be­cause she feels be­holden to you (be­cause you and your hus­band have done so many nice things for her), but when it comes down to it, she strug­gles to follow through.

The way to dis­tance your­self is to sim­ply stop ex­tend­ing your­self and to stop ini­ti­at­ing in­vi­ta­tions, where she is likely to dis­ap­point you.

In terms of your gen­er­ous im­pulses, con­tinue to re­spond to re­quests on a case-by-case ba­sis, but don’t do so ex­pect­ing a more in­ti­mate friend­ship.

Dear Amy: Thank you, thank you, for re­spond­ing with such hu­mor to the ques­tion from “Hol­i­day Grown-ups,” the newly mar­ried woman whose in-laws main­tained the cringe-wor­thy tra­di­tion of film­ing their adult chil­dren com­ing down the stair­case on Christmas morn­ing.

My wife and I lit­er­ally laughed out loud when you com­pared this to “Meet the Par­ents.” I hope this DIL can see this with as much hu­mor as you did.

Dear Fans: Per­son­ally, I thought this tra­di­tion sounded fairly awe­some.

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