DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a transgender woman who recently transitioned from living as a male to living as a female. I have a new name, and I look different enough that people who knew me before do not recognize me. I periodically see someone in public who knew me as a male.
What would be some good words to use to greet them and alert them to who I am without causing undue shock or giving them more information than they want to deal with?
GENTLE READER: “So good to see you again. You remember me as Zachery Morrow. I am now Zelda Morrow.”
Miss Manners then recommends changing the subject by inquiring about them. She says this because it is polite, but also because you already, no doubt, have enough people who want to quiz you about your transition.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Today at the supermarket, the woman ahead of me in the checkout line abandoned her cart, strode past me without a word, and returned to her shopping. As the customer ahead left, I paused a moment, then attempted to pass the lonely cart and complete my purchase.
From 40 feet away, the woman cried out, “Excuse me!” and scurried back in front of me in line. I said, “We were ready to roll here,” and she replied, “Well, I’m ready now.”
I managed to hold my tongue thereafter, but wonder: Was I out of line? Or was she thrice rude: first, to leave her cart; secondly, to ignore me; and third, to berate me in my attempt to keep the line moving?
GENTLE READER: If the woman’s behavior delayed tallying up your groceries, Miss Manners has no objection to spending the time counting the rudenesses committed. They include the ones you name – and possibly, depending on tone and delivery, your own statement, as well.
But it would be tastier to count the successes. That the woman hurried back when you attempted, quite reasonably, to bypass her abandoned cart is one. Her return ended the delay. Had you been content with that, you could have added a second success: not returning rudeness with further rudeness.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepdaughter, with whom I have had a decent but sometimes rocky relationship, is expecting her first child. She has sent a baby shower invitation addressed solely to my husband.
My husband says I am being petty in feeling snubbed. I feel that an invitation to a married couple should include both parties. Who is correct here? Should I assume I was included?
GENTLE READER: You are correct. And your husband has an ulterior motive: peace between his wife and his daughter, preferably without any further action required on his part.
Miss Manners mentions this to steel you for some mild deception yourself. Tell your husband that you are conflicted because you want to honor his daughter’s feelings, but do not know what they are. If she wants to spend the time with her birth father, you understand completely. But you would be mortified to miss the event if she meant to include you.
Your husband will comfort you while insisting there is no reason to consult the daughter. Hold firm. The only way he can resolve your dilemma is by calling his daughter and asking her intentions. This will teach her not to misbehave and him not to countenance bad behavior.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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