DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorced woman with grown children. I have always supported gay rights and thought of myself as straight. But a few months ago, I met a woman, "Stephanie."
We hit it off immediately, and I was shocked to learn she's a transgender woman who was born male. We have spent a lot of time together and are falling in love. Stephanie will be having surgery soon to complete the transgender process.
I have been surprised and disappointed by the lack of support from my family and friends, whom I always thought were open-minded. Some have voiced support, but have shown no interest in meeting her and seem uncomfortable hearing about her.
I'm excited about this relationship and would have thought my family and friends would be happy for me, as I have been alone for a long time. But now I find myself refraining from mentioning Stephanie in conversation.
How can I discuss her with others? We are taking things slowly and not jumping into anything, yet we can definitely see ourselves spending the rest of our lives together. We have already faced disapproving strangers and handled it well. -- LOVES MY FRIEND IN OHIO
DEAR LOVES: It appears Stephanie isn't the only one in your relationship who is in transition. Both of you are, and because it is new to those around you, they may not understand it -- which is why they are uncomfortable.
The fact that Stephanie is transgender should not be mentioned right off the bat. It is not the most important thing about her, and it should not be her defining characteristic. Discuss the matter with your friend and ask how she would like to be introduced and referred to. It's only logical that this will vary according to how close these people are to you.