GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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May 22, 2013

Gender reassignment involves more than a lifestyle change

:Dear Abby: My husband and I recently learned that our sister-in-law’s adult son from a prior marriage, “Charlie,” is now “Claire.” My husband and I have three sons, ages 2 to 10 years.

This sister-in-law expressed concern that our 10-year-old would remember Charlie and say something inappropriate. She’s demanding that we lie to him and tell him Claire is another daughter we have never met.

My husband and I do not lie to our children. We feel it is best to explain to all three of our sons that Charlie has decided to make a lifestyle change and let them ask questions if they choose. What is your opinion?

:Truth-Telling Parents

:Dear Parents: I don’t believe in lying to children either, but before you tell your sons that Charlie decided to make a “lifestyle change,” I urge you to do some research about gender identity. It is not as simple on any level as changing an aspect of one’s lifestyle. It is about who Claire truly feels she is inside.

If your oldest boy remembers Charlie, he should know that some people feel from an early age that they were born into the wrong body — the wrong gender. Fortunately, there is help for it in the form of medication and surgery. He should be told that the problem has been solved and Charlie is now Claire. When the younger children are older, they can be told the same thing in an age-appropriate manner if the subject comes up.

:Dear Abby: My children’s father died of cancer about a year ago. As a result, they receive Social Security benefits as his surviving dependents. He had no life insurance, so this is all they have.

The problem is nearly everyone who finds out they receive this money becomes angry and jealous. Abby, these benefits came from his earnings and are meant to assist me in supporting the children he is no longer here to help with. We try not to mention the money, but sometimes it comes up in conversation.

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