Advice Columns

Dear Abby: Gender change trips up visiting mother

Q: My daughter has been in a lesbian relationship for 14 years. They recently took me to lunch and informed me that her partner, “Nicole,” is in the process of transitioning to a male.

Nicole has now legally changed her name to “Nick” and has begun hormone treatments. They have been going to counseling for the past six months. Since Nick began the transition, I have seen him three times. Last week when I was visiting, I accidentally called Nick by the wrong pronoun, “she” instead of “he” a couple of times. I was either immediately corrected or ignored until I realized I had used the wrong word. It hurt my feelings.

After I got home I sent Nick a text to apologize and explain that it would take time for me to get used to saying “Nick” and referring to him as a he. I told them their correcting me bothered me. All weekend I could tell they were irritated with me, and I felt it was uncalled for.

What do you say? Am I wrong to feel hurt that they haven’t given me a chance to get used to the new name? — Margaret in Mississippi

A: Adjusting to gender reassignment takes time for all concerned. As your letter illustrates, there are often more people involved than the individual making the change.

It seems only natural that you would need some time to adjust. However, it also seems to me that you are being overly sensitive about what happened. Your daughter and her partner were right to correct you for your slip of the tongue, and it wasn’t rude for them to do so. How else is a person to learn that a mistake was made if it isn’t pointed out?

Q: Recently, 12 of us women from a retirement home in Dayton were having lunch at a local steakhouse. As we were digging in our purses for money and coupons, our server informed us that we did not owe anything for our bills! He said a gentleman who had been seated nearby had taken care of what we owed. It seems the day we were there was his late mother’s birthday.

There are some very good people in this world. We want him to know how very much we appreciated his kind gesture, and we have pledged to “pay it forward” whenever we can. — Blessed in Ohio

A: I don’t know who originated this saying, but your letter certainly proves the truth of it: A good deed is like a pebble thrown into a pond; its ripples continue ever outward. Thank you for an upper of a letter.

Q: We were visiting our son and daughter-in-law last weekend. When I had to use the facilities downstairs, I told her the hand towel was missing. I had used that bathroom the day before. Guess what she said? “Well, that’s what pants are for.”

Abby, she wasn’t joking! We see them only twice a year because we live five hours away. Could they be short of money or what? Should I send her some hand towels? — Wet Hands in Wisconsin

A: By all means. And don’t forget a short, sweet note thanking her for her “hospitality.

Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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