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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


Never-Ending Bullying Dear Annie: I am the youngest sister of 10 siblings. Over the years, five siblings have died. You'd think we would try to be closer after such awful losses. So when does the bullying stop? I have tried to be an upstanding sister and aunt, but no …Read more. The Buzz About Medical Equipment Dear Annie: Shortly after I had knee surgery, I went to the library wearing my (prescribed) compression wrap to prevent blood clots. This compression wrap makes an intermittent humming sound. A few minutes after entering, the librarian walked over …Read more. Past Anger Is Hard to Overcome Dear Annie: Twenty five years ago, my youngest son, then 18, quit the job he had had for four years. They had promised him an assistant manager job and when he turned 18, but did not follow through. After that, he would not look for a job or even …Read more. Waiting for the Sun to Shine Dear Annie: All of my life, I've heard about the "golden years." Why are mine only black and gray? I have been married to my husband for 40 years. He has not been sexually capable for half that time. I understand that, but he also does not want to …Read more.
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Gender Identity Issues


Dear Annie: We have two children and a 13-year-old grandson. Two years ago, our 48-year-old unmarried son very reluctantly told us that he has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and considers himself to be female. This came as a complete surprise, but we decided to support her wholeheartedly, and we find her to be much happier than before.

Here is the problem: Our other son and his wife don't want their teenage son to know because they are afraid it will have a negative effect on his development. This makes family gatherings impossible, as the boy's uncle now dresses and lives as a woman.

We love both of our children and our grandson, but we are getting older and don't know how long this impasse will last. How do we best explain transsexualism to a boy that age, and should we? — The Parents

Dear Parents: Children are amazingly adaptable, and a typical boy of 13 who watches TV and sees movies likely already has a grasp on gender identity issues. Having a relative who is transsexual is not going to make him change his gender. But we agree that these things should be explained sensitively, and the parents must be the ones to make that decision. Please contact PFLAG (, which has a transgender network and can help you.

Dear Annie: My best friend, "Donna," has been happily married for 34 years. She and her husband eloped when she was 21, and they now have two grown sons and a 16-year-old daughter. Donna has mentioned more than once that she regrets not having had a wedding. So, when she announced that she was having a commitment ceremony for her 35th anniversary and asked me to participate, I was thrilled.

However, what she is planning is far different from what I had imagined. She plans to wear a long white dress with a full train and a waist-length veil, and she has invited 100 guests. She wants me to be her matron of honor.

I feel that this is something much more appropriate for a young first-time bride, not a 57-year-old adult who looks her age.

I fear she is making a ridiculous spectacle of herself — and, yes, of me, too.

How do I tell her this? Or am I just being an old wet hen myself? — Renee

Dear Renee: As the matron of honor, you should offer to help Donna pick out her wedding dress. This will give you the opportunity to show your enthusiasm for something more appropriate. However, this is the wedding Donna dreamed of, and now she can afford it. If she is determined to go the whole nine yards (of material), we hope you will be a good sport. That's what best friends do for each other.

Dear Annie: As the representative of more than 10,000 florists, wholesalers and flower growers, the Society of American Florists would like to respond to "Friend of a Young Cancer Victim," who asked readers to list a charity or medical organization in lieu of flowers in death notices.

While donations to charitable organizations are a worthwhile cause, flowers also can be a great source of comfort to those grieving the loss of a loved one. They express sympathy in a heartfelt way, honor the deceased's life and add warmth to the memorial service. Research from Harvard and Rutgers shows that flowers increase feelings of compassion and happiness, and people feel less depressed, anxious and agitated in their presence.

Instead of requesting "in lieu of flowers," we hope the family will consider simply stating, "The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to Such-And-Such" or "Memorial contributions can be made to Such-And-Such." This provides a suggestion, without dictating to family and friends what they should do. — Jenny Scala, Director of Consumer Marketing, Staff Liaison of Professional Floral Communicators — International

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



2 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 -
If it were me trying to explain this to a child, I would tell him/her that, you know when there's a glitch in the Internet and you get an error page instead of the one you wanted? Or on the phone, when your cell cuts you off without warning, or you get the wrong cumber even though you know you dialled right? Well, there are glitches in the system for humans too, and somehow, Uncle Joe's body grew up with the wrong gender.

With a 13 year-old kid, you can merely get a little more technical, as he knows more than a grade-school kid.

The real problem here are the parents, who seem to think that gender identity issues are a communicable disease. Do they think that of homosexuality too?

I think in that situation, I would call a family meeting to get at the root of the problem, trying to figure out why they're so uncomfortable with this that they're projecting their insecurity on their son. The boy is not a fragile little lily, he's quite capable of understanding the facts and glitches of life without being traumatised for life.

Uncle Joe will have had a difficult time enough coming to terms with his problem and dealing with the solution to it, it is not fair to just shun him and exclude him from family meetings, simply because two people have a pro-blem.

LW2 -
It doesn't matter that what she is planning ias far different from what you imagined. This is HER ceremony and you are not in charge of her life, to dictate to her what is suitable and what is not.

You show bow out of your assigned role if you feel uncomfortable with the casting, now that you see what kind of production it is to be, but do attend and share with the celebration - lest you damage your relationship with your best friend, and over what? What you feel is "appropriate"?

Comment: #1
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon May 14, 2012 11:32 AM

LW3 refers to the second letter on 19 March 2012, and was also discussed on 7 May 2012.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Mon May 14, 2012 3:31 PM
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