Dear Amy: I am a transgender twenty-something with a bit of an etiquette problem.Biologically, I am a female, and I do not plan on surgically transitioning into a male.It can be difficult to explain my identity to people who are not familiar with the transgender umbrella.While I am comfortable wearing men’s clothing or dressing androgynous, and I’m able to pass as either male or female should I desire, I am at a loss for what to wear at weddings and other formal occasions.
I’m at the age when I’m increasingly invited to weddings and am being told by (straight) friends and (straight) family that I must wear a dress.
For me, this would be absolutely humiliating and is just as absurd as telling a man to attend in a dress.Yet, I understand that my wearing a suit would be confusing to some.I would not want to cause a controversy, offend anyone or in any way distract from what should be someone else’s very important day.
I’m trying to decide how I should maneuver these situations. My initial plan was to try to find formal women’s clothes that were not dresses, but I haven’t found anything appropriate.My current plan is to avoid all weddings in which the couple would not want me unless I’m in a dress.I’m worried about situations in which the couple getting married would be fine with my attire, but other guests might disapprove.
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Should I ask the couple’s permission? Or should I just wear a suit and be prepared to explain myself repeatedly, accept snide comments from ignorant people and risk making a scene?
— Confused on Clothes
Dear Confused: I have never heard of a wedding where the hosts told the guests what to wear (beyond the basic “formal” or “cocktail attire” guidelines), and it’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to wear a pants suit to a formal event. You might be making too much of this.
I agree with your sensitivity about upstaging the marrying couple or somehow causing a “scene,” but it seems to me that anyone who knows you well enough to invite you to share a sacred event would also realize that you always dress in trousers.
(I’ve never seen Ellen DeGeneres wearing a dress, and she always looks stylishly appropriate.)You should not ask the marrying couple’s permission to come to their wedding dressed in a nice suit, but if they ask what you’ll be wearing you should tell them.
If your attire is going to be a problem and if you can’t bear to be dressed otherwise, then send your polite regrets.
If you behave and are dressed appropriately and are cloaked in your sparkling personality, you’ll be fine.
Dear Amy: We buried my father 10 years ago in a part of the cemetery that used to be quiet and secluded.
Now, to one side of our plot, the surviving pot-smoking members of some woman’s cancer support group gather there regularly.
On the other side, every relative of a Chinese lady has to burn incense, paper money and mini firecrackers.
In front of our plot, a metal band plays a CD that could be called “Wake the Dead” in memory of its former drummer.
Behind our plot lies an old Scottish man, whose clan blasts bagpipes in his honor.My mother’s asthma is triggered by smoke and flowers; my migraines are triggered by noise.What can we do to prevent this?
— Pain at the Cemetery
Dear Pain: As the neighborhood goes, so goes the cemetery.
Your cemetery has made a transition into our multicultural present, and while you obviously don’t like these changes, there isn’t much you can do about it.
Unless your cemetery has rules that these other groups are violating, there isn’t much you can do to prevent them from mourning in their distinctive ways (except for the pot-smoking cancer support group.)
If your mother’s asthma is triggered by flowers, she’s going to have a hard time visiting the cemetery at any time during the growing season, but surely you can find a relatively quiet time to visit to avoid a migraine.
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