DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old transgender woman who has just started her journey. Feeling more comfortable in my skin, I have been going to some local hangouts with some friends from work and meeting straight men. My question is, when is it appropriate to disclose that I am a preoperative trans woman?
I have tried online dating on trans-friendly websites, as well as visited the local transgender bar, but those men tend only to be looking for sex, and I am looking for more than that. I would love your advice on the matter. -- STARTING MY JOURNEY
DEAR STARTING: For your safety, it is important that you disclose your status early, before there is any sex involved. If you don't, the straight man could react violently and possibly put you in danger.
At this point, it would be a good idea to contact PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) because it can put you in touch with resources to help you through your journey. The largest increase in new individuals reaching out to PFLAG is now among people with "trans" issues -- and this includes both trans individuals and their family members.
It is critically important to seek out a culturally competent therapist to help you with specific issues. To find referrals and a local chapter, visit pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: My husband is in Afghanistan for a year. When he returns, I want to ask him to get tested for STDs before we have sex. I do not have any specific reason to think he would be having sex with someone while deployed, but let's face it. He's a man, and a year is a long time to abstain when there are females present. I have seen text messages from his buddies that read, "What happens on deployment stays on deployment," regarding them cheating on their spouses.
How do I approach the subject in the most effective way? I know that when I do, he will be mad, but it's not the first time that STDs have been a problem in our relationship. Help! -- THINKING OF MY HEALTH
DEAR THINKING OF YOUR HEALTH: One would think that a man who loves his wife would want to be absolutely positive that he wouldn't give her a sexually transmitted infection. However, because your husband has given you one before, it is perfectly logical that you tell him it is the reason you want him to be tested before resuming your marital relationship.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a single 32-year-old who lives across the country from my family. I have two sets of grandparents who both send me birthday and holiday cards containing checks.
The problem is, I earn close to six figures, which is far more than my grandparents' income in retirement, and I have only myself to support. I typically shred their checks when I receive them.
Should I continue to do this, or should I tell them that as much as I appreciate the sentiment, a simple card would be fine? -- SECRETLY SHREDDING IN SEATTLE
DEAR S.S. IN S.: When a check isn't cashed, it is obvious to the check writer, and it can cause problems in balancing the person's checkbook. I think your solution to tell them you no longer need the checks is a good one.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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