Dear Abby: I have a longtime friend I see almost every day. She’s an awesome friend. Her children are adults. One of them is gay; the other is a transgender male. I respect her for supporting her children, learning everything there is to know about the LGBT community and seeking social change on their behalf.
The conflict lies in the fact that my religious beliefs and personal feelings are at odds with the notion of gender fluidity. I think the concept is nuts. I have compassion, however, for people who suffer with their identity in any form. I also believe in equal rights.
I do support my friend, who supports her kids, but I feel like a fraud when she and her friends talk about gender neutrality and vent their indignation that someone called someone else by the wrong pronoun. I act equally offended, but the truth is, I don’t believe in these ideas or this cause.
I don’t want to lose an important friend. I want her to feel supported – but I’m lying. Please help. My conscience is bothering me. – Feeling Like A Phony
Dear “Phony”: Would you feel the same way about a friend who is divorced, if your religion didn’t sanction it? I’ll bet you wouldn’t. The same is true for this longtime friend.
Gender fluidity may be a new concept for you, but it is very real. If you feel like a hypocrite faking indignation during some of these conversations, why not use them as an opportunity to be educated? Listen. Ask questions. Say, “I don’t know enough about this, but because I love you, I need to learn more about it.”
You can be a trans ally without becoming an activist. PFLAG has a user-friendly resource that you may find interesting and helpful.
Dear Abby: An 8-year-old boy in my daughter’s class recently passed away. She’s only in second grade, so I wouldn’t expect her to fully grasp the meaning of death, but she understands it perfectly and is not upset one bit. Multiple times she has acknowledged the fact that her classmate is no longer present, and is actually somewhat cheerful about it. My husband and I are very worried. Is this normal behavior? – Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned: Children are often more resilient than they are given credit for. If your daughter wasn’t particularly close to the child who died, his death may not have affected her deeply. Some children do not mourn the way adults do, and you should not expect her to.