He Becomes Her
In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman falling out of love with her transgender husband.
A: If you were going to your own family's for Thanksgiving this year your husband's family would figure out some way around this odd number handicap. I assume in the rest of your life you don't let yourself be bullied by someone with whom you have a tangential relationship. So stop letting your husband's uncle make it impossible for you to enjoy your post-turkey, tryptophan high. When the games begin, either go for a walk, go to another room and read, or sit in an arm chair and say you're content to be an observer.
Q. Baby Name Tragedy: My husband and I are expecting our first child, a girl, around Christmas. We thought nothing could sadden us during this happy time, but were shocked last week to hear that my husband's mother was taken from us in an auto accident. In his grief, my husband asked that we name our daughter after his late mother. The problem is that my mother in law's name was Olga, and I just can't fathom giving my child such a horrid name. I had been thinking something along the lines of Virginia or Lou Ann. I told my husband I would think about it, but he's pressing the issue, and I need to tell him something. Am I being selfish for not wanting to name my child Olga, even under these circumstances?
A: So much loss in this week’s chat. I think Olga is a lovely name, and if you used it your little girl would surely be the only one in the class. Your husband, and you, have had a shocking loss, so please tread lightly on the "Olga is a horrid name" line. You have a number of options. One, Olga becomes your child's middle name, or you have an Olga Virginia, and she's universally known by her middle name. In Jewish tradition children are named after deceased relatives, but that often mean that late Grandpa Saul is honored with a grandson named Steven. So you could possibly convince your husband that Olga can be morphed into Olivia or some such. There are many ways to include a remembrance of the grandmother tragically she will never know into your daughter's name without making you cringe.
Q. Re: Bullied Daughter: Although I was bullied in junior high also, something I didn't realize until I was much, much older is that standing up to a bully is an important thing to learn. My son was bullied during first and second grades by an alpha boy. We worked with him and with his teachers once we realized what was going on. He doesn't let people push him around now, and we've praised him for standing up to his bullies, and when necessary, going against the mob. It has helped him become more confident. My son's bully was completely deflated when, after demanding to know why my son didn't invite the bully to his birthday party, my son said it was because he was mean and a bully. Things had improved before that, but this really took the wind out of his sails. The tables were turned on their relationship after that. I wish I had known that in eighth grade.
A: Thank you for this. Yes, these situations can be turned around, but it's too much pressure to expect the kids to work this out themselves. As another reader pointed out if the other girls are following Elizabeth's lead because they're afraid she'll be mad at them, she's bullying them, too! Elizabeth likely has some issues of her own that need to be dealt with.
Q. Don't I Know You?: My freshman roommate Tina never spoke to me. For the first two months we lived together, I would greet her in the morning or try to engage her in conversation. She never responded to me, but when she brought friends back to our room, she would chat up a storm with them. Eventually I gave up trying to engage her in conversation and decided to use her as a cocktail party anecdote for the foreseeable future. Tina and I still attend the same college, and this summer she began dating my boyfriend's best friend. Now she talks to me, but she pretends like we never met before. Once I attempted talking about our freshman year experience, and she told me she never met me before. I hate gossiping and talking about people behind their back, and telling Tina's boyfriend about her weirdness seems catty to me. Does her weird behavior warrant a talk with him, since she obviously won't respond to me?
A: This is more than a cocktail party anecdote, this is the opening for a television series! I admire your fortitude in sticking out an entire year with Tina the silent. I hope you've told your boyfriend about this. It would be great if he went to his best friend and said, "Look, Melonie had the weirdest experience freshman year when she was Tina's roommate. If you know anything about why Tina refused to talk to Melonie it would be a relief for her to know." However, I suggest this with the knowledge that men often refuse to engage in such helpful conversations. If your boyfriend won't raise this on your behalf, I don't think you should tell Tina's boyfriend. It is such a bizarre story, and Tina is such a bizarre person, that it sounds as if she would deny the whole thing. This will leave you looking as if you're making groundless accusations. But do let all of us know if you ever get to the bottom of this.
Q. Re: Grandma's DNA Test Update: Hi Prudence, I wrote in to you a few weeks ago about how my paternal grandma was convinced my mom had cheated, and I wasn't my late dad's son. I went and had the test. No surprise—I'm his son. Grandma reiterated the age difference as a reason she suspected my mom's fidelity. I get the sense she also thought my dad should have married the woman he dated before my mom, who was apparently wealthy and educated. After we got the test results, she actually had the nerve to say, "It doesn't prove she was faithful to your dad." I told her to never contact us again. I'm a lot happier that my mom's name is cleared with the rest of my dad's family (I do intend to get to know some of them), but my mom has spent the last 13 years raising me alone. I'm not going to invite someone into my life who will treat her like garbage. Thanks to you and all your readers, Prudence.
A: What a pathetic excuse for a grandmother—but I'm sure I made that observation last time you wrote. I hope that you aren't being cut out of some substantial inheritance because of her cruelty. But removing her from your life sounds like a good idea. I also hope that she's an anomaly among your father's relatives and that you find love and welcome from the rest of them.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. I hope everyone feels they have something to be thankful for this Thursday.
In a new approach, we’re publishing the chat transcript in shorter, more digestible pieces. You will still be getting all the questions and answers, and we may even publish bonus letters Prudie didn’t get to address during the chat hour.