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Dear Abby: Name tweak raises issue of gender

Dear Abby: I am 17 and a senior in high school. During freshman year, one of my classmates was a boy I’ll call “Alex.” This year, I have been told that Alex has changed his name to “Aly,” a more feminine name. Aly now sometimes dresses like a girl and sometimes like a boy.

From a gender standpoint, how should I refer to Aly? Would it be rude to ask my classmate which gender he/she identifies with?

– Gender Dilemma

Dear G.D.: Considering that Aly could be in a process of transition, I not only don’t think the question would be rude, I think it’s an intelligent one. If you ask your classmate politely and privately, I’m sure Aly will be glad to answer.

Pangs long after adoption

Dear Abby: I gave up a baby girl for adoption 29 years ago. I thought when she became an adult she would want to contact me, but I have heard nothing. I have known how to contact her for many years, but haven’t done it because I didn’t want to intrude in her life. I have left contact totally up to her if she chooses.

As I said, so far I’ve heard nothing, and I’m just wondering why she wouldn’t want to contact me or know anything about me.

– Wondering Biomom

Dear Biomom: Are you certain your daughter knows she was adopted? While many adopted children want to know their birth parents, not all do because they don’t feel anything is “missing” in their lives. They may also think it would be disrespectful to the parents who raised them. Please don’t take it personally.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.