DEAR ABBY: I have a longtime friend I see almost every day. She's an awesome friend. Her children are adults. One of them is gay; the other is a transgender male. I respect her for supporting her children, learning everything there is to know about the LGBT community and seeking social change on their behalf.
The conflict lies in the fact that my religious beliefs and personal feelings are at odds with the notion of gender fluidity. I think the concept is nuts. I have compassion, however, for people who suffer with their identity in any form. I also believe in equal rights.
I do support my friend, who supports her kids, but I feel like a fraud when she and her friends talk about gender neutrality and vent their indignation that someone called someone else by the wrong pronoun. I act equally offended, but the truth is, I don't believe in these ideas or this cause.
I don't want to lose an important friend. I want her to feel supported -- but I'm lying. Please help. My conscience is bothering me. -- FEELING LIKE A PHONY
DEAR "PHONY": Would you feel the same way about a friend who is divorced, if your religion didn't sanction it? I'll bet you wouldn't. The same is true for this longtime friend.
Gender fluidity may be a new concept for you, but it is very real. If you feel like a hypocrite faking indignation during some of these conversations, why not use them as an opportunity to be educated? Listen. Ask questions. Say, "I don't know enough about this, but because I love you, I need to learn more about it."
You can be a trans ally without becoming an activist. PFLAG has a user-friendly resource, "Guide to Being a Trans Ally," that you may find interesting and helpful. Find it at pflag.org/guidetobeingatransally.