Dear Amy: I have a 17-year-old daughter who identifies as a male.
I am OK with this. I am a Christian and attend a traditional Methodist church.
I am involved in a lot of church events, but my child is not.
I am not sure how the church is going to react to my child’s transition. I also don’t know how my side of the family will react. I had one guy from the church already make a comment about my teen wearing a tux to the prom.
I told people that she doesn’t do dresses, which is true.
My question is — how do I support my daughter/son and also hold on to my church?
– Confused Mom
Dear Confused Mom: If your child identifies as a male, then he is not a daughter/son — but a son.
This gender transition is also a transition for you, and you should continue along this path by using your child’s preferred pronoun.
Regarding your church, this may seem like a complex doctrinal or cultural issue, but it’s not!
You have one child.
There are other churches.
I suggest that you take some time to get very comfortable with your child’s gender transition, and then share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow congregants over time. You don’t need to make a big announcement but acknowledge the truth the way you would other aspects of your child’s life to people who are interested. (The “tux” comment was one opportunity for you to say, “The reason my teen didn’t wear a gown to the prom is because they identify as male.”)
People may let you down – but please — do not let your faith fail you!
If people at church respond unkindly, you can assure them that you will pray for them to open their hearts. Then, you should look for another place to worship.
Pflag.org offers great resources and advice for parents of transgender people.
Dear Amy: You offered advice to a woman (“What If”), who was traumatized when a suicidal man deliberately ran into the path of her car.
You pointed out similarities between her experience and that of train personnel who are involved in these tragic incidents.
I am a locomotive engineer. I had a 20-year-old boy jump in front of my train.
The rational side of my brain knows it wasn’t my fault, but there is no escaping the emotional shock.
It just kept replaying over and over in my head for quite some time.
It does get better over time. She can rest assured after a long while the emotional damage will fade.
– Engineer Ben
Dear Engineer: I hope that you – and anyone traumatized by an event like this – will seek therapeutic help to recover from the symptoms of your trauma.
A body of recent research into the lingering effects of trauma has led to some new treatments that survivors like you could find helpful and healing.
Time does help to heal wounds. But treatment plus time is even better.
Your professional organization or union should point you toward helpful resources.
Dear Amy: I understand the angst of individuals who seek to contact (or are contacted by) previously unknown DNA relatives. I received an email about three years ago from my biological father.
I wasn’t sure what to do, as my mother always told me that he wanted nothing to do with me.
At the time, I was 59 and he was 79.
I decided to say yes.
During our first conversation, my biological father apologized for not being part of my life and took responsibility for his actions.
My parents were 18 when I was conceived. They were young and scared and made decisions they regretted.
However, it has been a blessing to text and speak on the phone, as well as to meet in person.
He has sent a couple of small handmade gifts for me and his first great-grandson.
Overall, it has been great to get to know him.
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My suggestion for people wrestling with this is: Don’t pass up the opportunity, it could turn out well. If not, just walk away.
– Pleasantly Surprised
Dear Surprised: I have mentioned this many times (especially lately), but the ubiquity of DNA testing is basically coming for everyone.
Each of us should try to anticipate the possibility of being contacted by DNA relatives. I agree with you that this presents opportunities, but many people are quite naturally wary, because there are also risks to these connections. It isn’t always easy to just walk away.
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