Dear Abby by Abigail Van Buren

Old Habits Die Hard During Woman’s Transition to a Man

Dear Abby

Abigail Van Buren
Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: 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

DEAR MARGARET: 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?

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