Life Advice



Ask Amy: Denying child’s identity is a rejection

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Torn

Dear Torn: I’m going to dodge the direct question regarding whether you should leave your husband – because it is too binary. And marriage – like gender and sexuality – occurs across a spectrum.

However, you say that he is not rejecting your child, but is just not accepting them. You see his response as a “partial” acceptance.

I see it differently. When someone says, “This is who I am. This is my name. This is my identity…” and another person responds: “No, it isn’t…” that’s basically the definition of “rejection.”

Many people in your (also my) generation would freely admit to struggling adjusting to non-binary gender and “they/them” pronouns. I think it’s natural to be thrown off when a child who you have raised with one identity announces such a change.

But accepting someone’s right to define their own personhood and identity is what it means to love someone. So, while addressing your child differently might be hard at first, accepting them should be easy.


Your reaction: “I’m struggling, but I’m working on it,” is an authentic statement, recognizing your child’s — and your — humanity.

Your child’s identity is not hurting anyone. Your husband’s response is.

Should you leave him? I don’t know. Maybe he needs more time to accept what is actually a very simple human right – the right to self-determination.

But is his response hateful? I believe it is.


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