Dear Ann Cannon • My daughter is in her mid-20s and recently learned her best girlfriend growing up is now transitioning to become male. While my daughter wants to support her friend, she feels sad that she didn’t see this coming and a little uncomfortable being close to this person as she once was. Still, she doesn’t want him (his preferred pronoun) to think she doesn’t like him and certainly doesn’t want to offend. Any advice on explaining this to him going forward?
— Wanting to Be Supportive
Dear Wanting to Be Supportive • I don’t have any advice for your daughter about sharing her conflicted feelings with her friend. But I do have advice about what she should do to support him. I sent your question to a friend and former student of mine who transitioned from female to male, asking for a response. I print it here with his permission and blessing.
“My honest reaction to this question was: You’re making this too hard. Push through the discomfort and just be kind.
“1. Change is uncomfortable, but this is only a physical change. This transition will not change the core of who this young man is emotionally. He still has all the same memories and experiences that he did before his transition.
“2. He will likely need love and support. Transition is fraught with rejection and isolation. Be a friend. Be there for him.
“3. Ask questions. What are his new names? New boundaries? What’s the best way to move forward?
“4. Be respectful of those new names and pronouns. They come easily with practice, consideration and love.
“I can’t think of much else. Folks who couldn’t do these things for me, I don’t talk to anymore.”
I love this advice. I especially like his observation that transition does not change “the core” of who this young man is. Here’s wishing your daughter and her friend the best of luck.
Dear Ann Cannon • Holiday time means time with family, which I usually enjoy. But my brother-in-law is not someone I prefer to share a meal with. Over the years, he has said some really offensive things to my kids, he’s arrogant and crude, he yells at his own son all the time and he’s not particularly nice to my sister. She’s apparently fine with him, and maybe there’s a civilized side of him I’m not seeing, but I can’t seem to put his offensive behavior and unsavory character behind me. I don’t have all that much contact with him, but he’s hard to avoid during the holidays. What should I do?
— Glad I’m Not Married to Him
Dear Glad • If your sister seems to be okay with this guy, then I think … you can just continue to be glad you’re not married to him and that you don’t have to see him on a regular basis. Then make sure you’re sitting at the opposite end of the holiday dinner table from your rude, crude brother-in-law. I hope this helps!
Meanwhile, one reader posted this on The Tribune’s Ask Ann Cannon Facebook page:
Dear Ann Cannon • After reading your column on real answers for fictional characters, I have to ask — what color is the sky in your world?
Dear Facebook Fan • I’m not sure this was meant as a compliment. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t — but it did make me laugh. So, here’s hoping the sky is any color in your world you want it to be in the new year ahead.
Bring it, 2020!