DEAR AMY: A good friend of mine is currently transitioning from male to female. We have been friends for quite some time now. We enjoy each other’s company and get along very well. She is, understandably, dealing with some tough and complicated emotional issues. This was the case before she transitioned, and she now claims to be more at peace with herself. However, she still suffers from very deep-seated insecurities. She monologues about herself and how she is feeling. She acted like this when she was a man, but now it has increased tenfold. My other two female friends in our circle firmly believe that at its core, her transition comes from a place of desperation for attention — I realize how insensitive that may sound, but it is what we genuinely feel. Her transition began simply, but it’s getting her the attention she craves, and now she likely feels she is in too deep to go back. She isn’t taking hormones yet. We have been extremely supportive of her throughout this process, and so are her parents. Aside from her attention-seeking and constant need for approval, what we really take issue with is that some of the behaviors she thinks are “what it means to be a woman” are offensive, such as constantly apologizing for her appearance or her voice — because it doesn’t yet sound feminine enough — or announcing to the whole room when she needs to “powder her nose.” We constantly vent about these things when she’s not around, but it’s getting to the point where we feel that we really need to address them with her directly. How can we do this in a positive way and help her to change for the better?
DEAR CONCERNED: I appreciate the sensitivity, but speculating about your friend’s motives, sincerity or longer-term success in this gender identification will do no good. It’s happening, no matter what you think.
If you intend to maintain a close friendship, then it’s time to act like a friend and be honest, instead of judging and gossiping about her in the background.
I don’t necessarily see her behavior as “offensive,” but ... cartoonish. In fairness, if you (and I) wanted to act like a man, we might behave like an exaggerated stereotype too. (I’d channel John Wayne, with notes of Ryan Gosling.)
She might be enjoying her current flamboyance. You can say, “Girl, do you want some tips on how to interact a little more like other women do?” She might appreciate this offer — because it’s all about her.
If she is not able to simply be a more authentic and generous friend to you (regardless of her gender status), then your long-term relationship is at risk.
DEAR AMY: I was asked to be a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding. I had been fighting with my boyfriend at the time. After I had agreed to be a bridesmaid, I worked things out with my boyfriend and hoped to bring him as my guest. This will be a small wedding ceremony on a boat, so guests are limited. My friend told me that she talked to her mother and fiance about my boyfriend and they had all decided that he drinks too much and is not wanted at the wedding. She said that if I wanted to bring a guest they would allow me to bring my mother, instead. I wouldn’t want to skip my friend’s wedding, but as the date gets closer I get more offended. I want to support her, but I feel as if she should respect and care about me enough to allow me to enjoy the event with my significant other, rather than being forced to spend the evening without him. At this point I’m considering ending the friendship once I’ve completed my obligation with the wedding. Should I?
DEAR BRIDESMAID: This wedding is not about you and your boyfriend. The couple is under no obligation to invite him unless you are cohabiting, engaged or married. If you cannot enjoy the event without him, then this reveals your own limitations. If you intend to end this friendship anyway, perhaps you should start now, rather than go through the motions of participating in this wedding.
DEAR AMY: You did not go far enough in your advice to “Emotional Hostage,” whose co-worker was disruptive and high-drama. Hostage needs to push back, immediately, to this bully.
DEAR ZERO: Emotional hostage takers usually choose their victims well. HR can help.