Q: A good friend of mine recently found out his daughter, “Rhonda” (who is over 18), feels she should have been born a boy. “Ronnie” is now living life as a man and plans to change genders completely.
To say the least, my friend and his wife are finding it difficult to deal with. He doesn’t understand why she can’t just be gay, which he would be fine with. I want to give them emotional support while at the same time supporting Ronnie, but I’m having a hard time relating to their feelings.
Could you provide some resources for them, such as organizations that help families deal with gender changing and all that it entails? — Wants to Be Supportive
A: I know an excellent LGBT organization that has been mentioned before in my column. It’s called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The largest increase in new individuals reaching out to PFLAG is now among trans people and their family members.
Ronnie can’t “just be gay” because the issue isn’t sexual orientation; it is Ronnie’s GENDER IDENTITY. PFLAG can help to explain this to Ronnie’s father, and he should visit pflag.org for guidance.
Q: I have been with “John” for 18 years. We married while he was in prison. I know I have outgrown him, but I’m scared to say it’s over in case I realize later that we should be together. Over the years, we have both cheated and hurt each other.
I don’t know exactly what I am holding onto with him. There doesn’t seem to be anyone else out there to choose from, so maybe I should stay. I’m not afraid to be alone, but I am confused. I am suffering from depression over this. Please help. — Stuck in Des Moines
A: If the only reason you haven’t left John is that there’s no one else around to choose from, it’s understandable that you would be depressed. The status quo isn’t fair for you or your husband.
As I see it, you have two choices: Fix your marriage or leave. Of course, the better option would be for you and John to have counseling to see if your love can be revived. However, if it doesn’t work, then it might be better for you both to separate. The reason there is no one else out there right now may be that you are unavailable.
Q: Call me ungrateful, but I am very uncomfortable receiving gifts. How can I get longtime friends to stop bringing hostess gifts when I invite them over? I don’t need anything, and I resent feeling I am obligated to take something to them, too.
Why do women do this and men not feel so compelled? I have tried remarking, “The present of your ‘presence’ is present enough,” but it continues. I need your help. — Ungracious in Florida
A: Women usually bring hostess gifts because they were raised to believe it is the gracious thing to do. (“Don’t come empty-handed.”) Since “remarking” hasn’t gotten your message across, you will have to be more direct with your friends. TELL them that when they visit, you would prefer they bring only themselves and nothing more. Then explain that you are at a point where you have enough “things” and do not need or want any more.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.