DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a polite way to ask a person which gender he or she identifies with? With the relaxation of the bias against the LGBT community, people are more open to be who they really are, and that can be confusing.
One acquaintance was raised as a girl but identifies as male. Another is miffed when confused for a male even though she purposefully looks like a teenage boy.
Any way to minimize the social awkwardness?
GENTLE READER: Are you expecting Miss Manners to come up with a way of quizzing new acquaintances about their gender that would not be socially awkward? Are you aware that many people are offended at being asked their occupations or where they are from or where they went to school?
Additionally, there is a range of gender categories, not just male and female, and a vocabulary that has been proposed to go with each but has not been universally recognized. So guessing is, if anything, worse than asking.
Fortunately, the only pronoun you need when dealing with someone face to face is “you.”
Leave it up to her
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it ever OK for a man to call another man’s fiancee without the permission of either party?
GENTLE READER: Yes, if the caller is the lady’s probation officer. A fiance or husband should not be acting in that capacity. Miss Manners presumes that a lady who is about to be married is of age, and therefore should be the only one to decide whom she does or does not want to call her.
An alcohol mandate?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would like to have a wedding reception with no alcohol, but I am concerned that it would be considered unforgivably rude. The situation:
(1) I (the bride) do not drink alcohol.
(2) The groom does not drink alcohol.
(3) The groom’s sister is an alcoholic.
(4) The groom’s brother is an alcoholic.
(5) My father is an alcoholic.
The groom is open to a dry reception, but I have been told by other people that this would be horribly rude. The wedding itself is to be a low-budget affair in our backyard.
I was prepared to be called cheap or boring, but I hadn’t really thought it was a rude decision. Others (family members) have told me that they won’t attend a dry reception.
Is it a rude choice? I’m so disappointed that grown adults would threaten to skip celebrating a special day with us if we don’t give in to their demands about what we serve.
GENTLE READER: If your relatives feel that they need to drink to attend your wedding, the alcohol problem in your family is even worse that you thought.
Of course it is not obligatory to serve alcohol at a wedding or any other social event. Miss Manners suggests that you tell your relatives that you are sorry to miss them. A message delivered to their favorite bar should be able to reach them.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
© Universal Uclick 9/29