Dear Annie: I have a problem, and I’m not sure how my family will react. I’m attracted to transsexuals — well, one in particular — but I’m not gay.
Some of the transsexuals I’ve spoken to don’t look as if they are male at all. They easily could pass for female since birth. I don’t want my family to think I’m gay, because I’m not. How do I tell them?
-- Pennsylvania Pete
Dear Pete: A transsexual is someone who has undergone the physical and emotional transformation from one gender to another. It is not a simple process. It requires surgery, hormones and counseling. A male who has become female is now female. She isn’t some guy temporarily masquerading as a woman. And she is entitled to have a romantic life, the same as any other woman. There is no reason for you to broadcast her prior history to anyone.
Of course, if the only reason you are involved with her is because you find her background exotic or you are turned on by the fact that she used to be male, that is a different psychological issue and one you might want to examine more closely.
Dear Annie: When my mother-in-law was still living, I always helped her organize the holiday meals. After she died, I began doing it myself. I always plan a nice dinner.
Now, I am having a hard time wanting to get together with my family. I have adult grandchildren, one of whom is already married. I get no assistance from any of them. It’s just something they expect me to do. No one helps with the cooking or cleaning up afterward. They all wait until the last minute to arrive and sit around while I get everything on the table. After the meal, they go downstairs to chat while I am stuck with the kitchen cleanup.
I am tired, and I feel used. How can these adults not see the need to respect and appreciate all the times I have done this? My younger grandchildren enjoy the family get-togethers and don’t understand why I am not enthusiastic about them. How do I handle this?
-- Tired of Doing All the Holiday Planning
Dear Tired: You have to tell them. For years, you have done all the work and asked for nothing. You’ve trained them to think this is OK. They may even believe that you prefer it this way. So speak up. Let them know they are expected to contribute by helping with the cooking, setting the table and cleaning up afterward. They can chat while washing dishes. Assign specific duties to each person, and include the younger grandchildren so they learn that family meals are a group responsibility.
If your children and grandchildren refuse to pitch in, inform them that you will no longer host these gatherings because it is too much work for you. You deserve a rest.
Dear Annie: I could relate to the letter from “Mom from Montana,” whose new daughter-in-law was angry about the dress she wore to the wedding. I agree with you that the bride is just looking for an excuse to cut off contact.
Our daughter-in-law of 18 years acts the same way. It doesn’t matter what we do to please her it is never right. We’ve held our tongues and have continued to be gracious, hoping she will mature, but it hasn’t happened. We were ignored at the children’s baptisms and birthdays.
Our son sees all of this, but he is caught in the middle, and we don’t want to make it worse for him.
We were tempted to cut off our daughter-in-law from birthday and Christmas gifts, but didn’t want to stoop to her level. I would suggest that “Montana” continue to be kind to her son’s wife, but start inviting him to “stop by.” When our son visits without his wife, we have a wonderful time.