S1: Slate Plus members, I’m here to remind you to take the Slate survey. It’ll be open through April 1st. This is your chance to tell us what you think about Slate Plus and Slate. It will only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate.com slash survey this ad free podcast as part of your slate plus membership.
S2: Lucky you.
S3: Proud of your prudence here, prudence. If it is your proof here, prove these things that I should contact him again. Help, help. Thank you. Thank you.
S4: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again. And as always, I am your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Danny M. Laverty. With me in the studio this week is a friend of mine who’s going to see right now the thing that he was tweeting about recently is happening.
S5: We’ve known each other for years. He’s a close friend of mine. I know his name’s Calvin. I’ve almost never said his name aloud all the way.
S6: Keisuke Cassol K darlings. You’re putting you’re putting too much you’re putting too much culture on it.
S7: Calvin Kazuki Bago, you now that normally I ask my guests before we start recording if I have their names pronounced correctly, didn’t even occur to me that that was gonna be a problem. So I thought Calvin known each other years. Dear friends, I think I think two years dumplings together yesterday. I’m going for shopping for jewelry later. Dear, dear Calvin, good friend of mine, whose name I’m sure I know all the way through. No reason to double check. Hello. I didn’t finish your bio SheShe Calvin.
S8: Cause Silkie is a writer, podcast producer and transsexual living in Brooklyn. His work has been featured in outlets including Mel Magazine, vice. Electric Literature and BuzzFeed.
S7: Calvin, welcome to the show. It is fantastic to be here and what a welcome that was. I am just so pleased that you are here. And I’m very glad that I have said your name out loud now two times, two whole time to all times. As you know, it is now spelled correctly on my phone. We’re doing great.
S9: We’re doing awesome. Thank you so much for having me. I’m very I’m very excited to be here.
S5: Do you have a sense of what kind of masculine jewelry you are gonna be on the lookout for today for yourself, something that is as close to a Saint Christopher as one can get without actually getting a Saint Christopher?
S9: Because I am not.
S7: Nor have I ever been Catholic. Gotcha. Okay. But it’s a sort of it captures the vibe. Yeah, it’s it’s a it’s a cultural thing. It’s. But yeah, I was I was born on Long Island. There’s only there’s a certain amount of escaping that I can do and then I hit my limit and my brain goes, what about a St Christopher? And that’s you know, we’re gonna find you something so good. What about for you? What are you. I swear on jingle. You know, I want like a triangle going from both my wrists to my my meaty, meaty neck. And I just want to I want to flash. It’s a sonic. It’s a sonic experience you’re hunting for. Zack, I want to I want to sound like I’m arriving before I’m actually arrives. I think we can make that happen. I think first we have to help bunch people and we have to have so many people. I feel that we can help so much. This first writer I have, you know, a great deal of love and compassion for this person. Mm hmm. And I look forward to hopefully giving them permission. Would you read that letter for us, please?
S10: I would love to. The subject is feminist chest pains. Dear Prudence, I consider myself very staunchly feminist. I have a p_h_d_ and my specialty overlapped with women’s and gender studies. I’ve always thought the prevalence of so much plastic surgery was an indicator of a society that thinks a woman’s best quality is their ability to look hot and young. I always thought cosmetic surgery was vain and kind of dumb.
S11: The problem is I’m starting to want some. I’ve spent years dealing with a chronic illness.
S10: It’s caused my weight to fluctuate in the extreme. My breasts are extremely saggy and I’ve a ton of stretch marks. I’m only 33. I’ve been working hard to lose weight. I’ve been thinking of rewarding myself with a breast lift when I get to my goal weight and stay there for a year. Every time I look down, I just feel so old. Which is the way my illness has always made me feel. I’m also dating and just keep thinking about all the potential guys that will see my breasts. I can’t tell if that’s influencing me a lot or not. I need some outside perspective on this. I still think it’s kind of dumb to have a risky surgery to prevent something that’s going to happen over time anyway. But I just feel so frumpy. How can I figure out what to do?
S4: As they say, what’s going on here? I think it’s wonderful that you have a p._h._d. I don’t know that that’s like relevant here exactly. But congratulations. You certainly don’t need one to be a feminist, but I’m glad I’m glad you’re proud of it and that you earned it. That’s wonderful. That’s a real achievement. Yeah, that’s that super incredible. The prevalence of plastic surgery is for a lot of reasons. And so I think while it’s absolutely true that we live in a society, it is very, very often very sexist. I think one of the things that you’re kind of bumping up against is the possibility that perhaps dismissing all plastic surgery as simply capitulation to evil sexism is like rightly being challenged. Right. And that’s OK.
S12: Right. Capitulation to to a society that is sexist or just sort of unmitigated vanity. Right. Vain and kind of dumb, which is my look. That is my gender.
S5: Goals like that’s all I want. I want to have a lot of masculine jewelry and be a hambo. Yes. And say your your goal has been himbo for four days, one day, one baby.
S9: Although, you know, to be fair, counter opposing society that prizes these things are then saying also plastic surgery is vain and dumb society that you just posited. Plastic surgery kind of makes sense. It makes a ton of sense and makes sense for reasons that you outline in this question about why you want it, right. Because you you want it for for yourself. But you also have some external concerns in terms of your your dating. And you don’t want to feel self-conscious. Right. You say I can’t help. That’s influencing me on a lot or not. And the fact that it’s in this pretty brief letter, the part that this letter writer is considering herself in sexual situations. Right. Not only for her own wanting to not feel frumpy, but also for that of a partner, I think is obviously influencing you to some degree.
S13: Yeah, of course it is. And I don’t know that you need to pretend that it isn’t in order to say I’m allowed to make this decision. I think you are allowed to do whatever you like here. And if you want to say, I would like to do something that is vain. And I would like to do something because I think that it will please more sexual partners. That’s a financial investment I’m comfortable making. You are allowed as you and entitled to do that. And that does not somehow compromise or mitigate the kind of person that you are. Right. I do think, you know, when it comes to stuff like surgical risk, there’s there’s always risk when you go under anesthesia. But talk to one or more plastic surgeons about the risks of breast lifts. I don’t know that it’s an especially risky procedure.
S2: Again, obviously, all surgery is slightly risky, but I would reality test the idea that a breast lift is super risky.
S13: Right. I don’t know that a place. I mean, obviously, they’re never going to tell you like. No, this one’s the safest. It’s not like no one’s going to open themselves up to that kind of a lawsuit. But. Right. Get some information about complications, possible side effects, possible outcomes if you decide. Nope. You know what? That’s too risky for me. I’m going to look for non-surgical alternative ways of dealing with this. Do that. But get that information first.
S9: Right. I think my my one hangup here, because I also do whatever you want. Like, if you’re if you are seeking permission, the permission. Absolutely granted. My my my one actual hang up here is the part where you’re working hard to lose weight and you think you’ve rewarding yourself. Right. Breast lift when you get here. Go away and stay there for a year. I don’t know the nature of your chronic condition, except that you say it is chronic and has caused weight fluctuation. I don’t know if you’re in a place now where losing weight is a thing that is medically advisable thing that your doctor wants you to do. Certainly medical doctors often tell people of that seem to be sort of overweight by like arbitrarily assigned to BMI that they should lose weight, kind of whether or not that is anything to do with their health. So my one hangup here is a of all consider releasing yourself of this carrot stick mechanism where you only get a breast lift if you hit this goal weight. But also, I would love for you to be in conversation with your doctor both about the safety of a breast lift for you in terms of your this kind of condition, but also this weight loss thing. I obviously, you know, your medical condition better than anyone, but I would not tether yourself to that if it is going to impact sort of other other health decisions you make.
S8: Right. I feel similarly like I want to encourage certain aspects of your vanity. And I want to discourage certain effects of like internalized loathing of fatness.
S13: Right. Which is admittedly a very difficult needle to thread. Like we’re all swimming in some murky water and it’s difficult. But yeah. This idea of if I earned this type of like size of body through various forms of restriction and discipline. Right. I then have the right to do something to my breasts that will make me feel better about the way that they look. Right.
S4: And if I don’t do that, I will, you know, continue to feel frumpy for punish yourself by continue.
S14: Feel frumpy or weird in order to not sort of deal with this because you have behaved improperly. Right.
S5: So like none of which is to say, like, get it no matter what or don’t get it no matter what so much as relative to how much fat you do or don’t carry on your body. You are entitled to think about ways that you can treat your breasts in a way that feels like loving, that increases your sense of attraction to yourself, that increases your like the aesthetic appeal of them. Like, I want you to consider all of your options, not simply in terms of once I’m thin enough, then my life can begin.
S12: Right? Right.
S14: I think we’re both sort of coming down on the side of like whatever whatever version of this keeps you healthy as as a person in terms of managing this illness, not in terms of weight, as relationship to health, which is dubious at best, but also just in terms of like how you see yourself and how you can proceed out in the world with, you know. And obviously, yeah, we live in a society, but you for yourself, not feeling frumpy or old or these things that you’re sort of dealing with internally as relation with your illness. But, yeah. Don’t. You don’t need to tackle these things onto each other into a sort of mouse trap of when you get to finally feel good about your body because you will you will just keep adding obstacles in that way. Probably. If that is how you proceed.
S4: Yeah. I mean, like obviously part of me wants to suggest like like throw like an all girl orgy.
S5: Everybody like openly like lusts after one another, stretch marks and like deals with the realities of like bodies that move over time and with time and through time rather than like imagining future kind of sexist guys were already disappointed in you the second you take your shirt off and just throwing that out there as an option. So yeah, I mean, I want to offer all of those as possibilities. Like I want you to be able to look for what are ways that you could try to think about your stretch marks in a way that was not purely how disgusting. What a sign of my failure to remain thin consistently throughout my whole life, through your whole life and an illness right at the end and getting a p._h._d. And and they also want to say that like while acknowledging that like the desire for plastic surgery, it can be find to be vain, can be find to be vain in particular ways, it doesn’t devalue you as a person. It doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself or can’t love yourself. So I realize I’m trying to like push you in several different directions at the same time.
S12: Right. But the question isn’t what should I do, but how can I figure out what to do? And I think ultimately it comes down to you can only you have to deal with your body today and tomorrow and the days that you you wake up. And so you get to. You get to make those decisions about what is going to make you feel good in your body. And also relative to what is safe and healthy in terms of this illness that you are grappling with, that is clearly a fairly significant factor in these decisions.
S5: Yeah. And just, you know, not to be all. As someone who but like as someone who also had like quote unquote, risky plastic surgery on my chest and yet also deals with the fact that like I’m getting older and I live in a body and I don’t always feel perfect about it. It’s like having done both of those things. Sometimes I also have to do the work of, you know. Well, now I just feel worse about my my middle instead of my chest.
S15: And sometimes, you know, I don’t think the goal necessarily needs to be I wake up every day feeling totally self-actualized and perfect love for my body. That’s exhausting. But I also think that it will be good to both tell yourself, yeah, I have the ability and the resources and the right to pursue these surgical options if I would like to. And it will also not solve the problem of if I feel oles or if I acknowledge my fatness, then I think I’m disgusting and unsexy. Right. And how do I wrestle with that? That’s not true. And it’s, I think, often easy to punish yourself immensely for failure to get thin in a way that’s like just very, very challenging.
S12: Yeah. And give yourself the gift of looking at cosmetic interventions, including plastic surgery as morally neutral. Yeah, completely morally neutral. And also vanity is completely sort of morally neutral.
S8: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think that’s wise. And to then also just do a lot of research. Look at a lot of before and after pictures. Familiarize yourself with the results. Ask yourself if they look good. Ask yourself if you know, like if you had that result, would you feel like it was worth it or do you think you would feel like Jesus? They did all that and this is what happened. I don’t want that because I think the more information you can give yourself ahead of time and the more realistic your expectations are, the better the outcome will possibly be, as opposed to if you’re like, oh, this is kind of embarrassing and shameful. I do want to think about it too much. Let’s just get it and hope for the best.
S7: Right. Right. Yeah. But to two trans people who have had cosmetic surgery, they’re not going to tell you to not. Exactly. You know, while you’re at it, how much higher can you lift them than to have them removed completely? Have you considered installing a flat chest? It’s more aerodynamic and the rain just rolls, right. Yeah, yeah. Lift lifted all the way to heaven. It’s great. Then if you drop crumbs down the front of your shirt, they just shoot straight down out crumbs. Don’t stay there. That’s why I did it. Isn’t that, frankly, worth all the money in the world?
S4: KRUMM retention was a real problem for me. Krumm â€ dynamism, yeah, OK. So the next letter is similarly ostensibly CIS woman’s problem that has some trans resonance, which is I’m detecting a theme. You know, the subject is say my name, dear Prudence. I am a CIS woman.
S5: I’m sorry. That’s. I’m joking. I’m totally joking. I’m sure you’ll get to be cis forever. I have a longer feminine name that when shortened, can be used by both men and women.
S4: Think Christina. To Chris, I always introduce myself, but my full given name. I love my name. My parents gave it to me. Very common. It is beautiful, and I don’t run into very many people who share it. My family has never abbreviated my name. I hate being called Chris. People have defaulted to abbreviating my name and it really bothers me at work. I always sign my full name. I answer the phone with This is Christina. And yet people are still calling me Chris. I’m also on dating apps. And the same goes there. People start messaging me on the opening line is usually, hey, Chris. It drives me nuts. How do I tell someone to use my full name without coming across like a snob? I feel like I’m being a petty brat. You are not a snob, NERA. You are neither a snob nor a brat. Just saying I go by Christina or like my name is Christina. That’s supernormal.
S9: I’m nodding vigorously like that can be heard over podcast. No, it supernormal. It’s both normal and somewhat necessary, particularly in your workplace. Don’t let yourself be dehumanized any further than any kind of 9 to 5 grind might dehumanize you. And I do think you you’ve sort of outlined this isn’t what a writer has outlined. Two very different situations in which in which to do a very different sort of means of correcting people on on her name are going to be are going to need to be deployed to very different tones.
S12: But in all cases, you should be called the name that you want at all times.
S4: Yeah, like if you wrote down your name the right way and somebody response to your email. Hey, Chris. The first line of your next e-mail is actually it’s Christina. And then you go ahead and answer. Right? It can be especially a word.
S12: It can be super neutral. In fact, neutral is probably the way to go. Just in terms of correcting people. Obviously, you know, if the CEO, whatever the equivalent of the king, the boss of your company is king. Boss. Totally. Yeah, that’s the one. Yeah. King was totally normal. You know, you might not be able to super correct them in the moment, but over email or in person of super neutral, you know. Actually it’s it. Yeah. Actually it’s Christina is going to be totally fine. The other thing I can think of in a workplace, particularly if you have a close friend and this is something that has some trans residents, particularly in enlisting an ally and being like, hey, you know, if, you know, people might be calling you Chris in other meetings or in moments that you’re not involved in. You might just want to tap somebody who you’re close with at work and be like, hey, if you hear people calling me Chris, would you mind just correcting them super gently? You know, like I just kind of wanna make sure that I’m being called Christina at all times. I don’t want to be the only person who’s doing that. And see if one of your co-workers would not mind being being that ally for you.
S8: Yeah. Same thing on dating apps. You can be slightly more like.
S15: You can massage it a little bit more because on dating apps, you’re going to be a little bit more like friendly and informal than you would at work. You could also put on your profile like it’s Christina, not Chris. I hear enough from people who are like, I put X, Y, Z in my profile and everyone ignores it. So now that like probably some people won’t notice it, but then it’ll at least make it slightly easier to say like it’s never crests.
S4: Always Christina and the people who are like hopefully you can see many of them.
S5: People were like, ha ha ha. I’m going to call you Chris have just done you a big favor and let you know that they would be awful people to go on a date. Yeah, they have disqualified themselves early.
S12: Yeah. I on dating apps in particular, I think, you know, you could in the best case scenario. Let this be something that gets you out of smalltalk, help in messaging people back and forth forever, just, you know, sort of talking about the weather or whatever sort of doldrums messaging apps can be unless you have like it’s super wild thing to say to the other person. Let the correction of actually it’s Krystina be a way that you can ask them about their name or otherwise sort of pivot to you know, I’ve told you this fact about me. Now, you know that I you know, this is my name and also that I’m particular about it.
S4: Now, you have to tell me a thing, but it’s not petty and it’s not snobby. Obviously, I know a lot of people who do this do so unintentionally and don’t have any malicious. Intentions. Sorry to say intention’s twice, but I couldn’t think of, isn’t it?
S15: But it is important to call people by the names that they give for themselves. Yeah, it’s a pretty fundamental component of autonomy and it’s a pretty easy form of respect to grant them. And so whether it’s giving somebody a nickname because like you want to anglicized their name because you’ve decided that they’re like culture or language is too difficult to learn anything about or, you know, using a trans person’s birth name to demonstrate that you don’t think they have the rights to make decisions about their own identity or nicknaming women because you want them to seem cutesy and more approachable. You know, it’s it’s all. Disrespectful. And again, doesn’t mean everybody’s doing on a purpose, doesn’t mean they’re all assholes, doesn’t mean they want to like throw you off of a bridge. But it is a small scale sign of disrespect and that’s why it bothers you.
S12: Right. And you? Yeah. You have every right to correct everybody at literally every turn. Yeah. I can’t imagine doing that in an email, though. I am so terrified that I am whenever I see.
S5: Yeah. You just type. Actually it’s. And then write out your full name and then go into the rest of the email. Do it. I do it.
S16: I just want to share this with this letter writer that that behavior is wild, particularly over email when it’s very, very easy to spell. To just copy. All right. Copy what is in a person’s signature and paste it.
S5: I mean, that’s just the thing. It’s like an automatic. Like, I’m sure I know what their name is. I’m sure I have permission to nickname them if you don’t. Too much familiarity. Yeah. It’s not cool. Particularly at work. Yeah, it’s. You know, again, it’s not on the same scale as throwing people off bridges, but it is absolutely annoying and it’s annoying.
S11: You know what? It’s in the same. It’s not in the same ballpark, but maybe it’s in the parking lot.
S7: Same parking lot as a branch. This metaphor is getting it’s getting away. I did I did guf at a very badly and I do apologize for that. Let’s move on. Let’s move on. This this one for some reason took me a minute to kind of like picture the ways in which everyone was related to one another. I think I’ve sorted it out.
S6: But yeah, I was a little confused. The setting is, I think, actually important here. Subject. Do I tell a friend about insulting gay comments? Dear Prudence, I was at a birthday party for the daughter of a friend Flora, when her friend and a mutual acquaintance named Ashlyn came up to me and was telling me all about how everyone was cool with gay people now. OK. That’s in the letter. That’s not me editorializing. She punctuated her point by telling me that if she and her husband saw me and my girlfriend walking down the street hand-in-hand, her husband would probably be trying to find out how to hook up with us. I was stunned and felt gross and devalued. Of course you did. I didn’t say anything, but don’t want to share a space with Ashlyn again. Flora, who doesn’t know what Ashlyn said to me, and Ashlyn are good friends, and we will be at several upcoming events together. How do I handle this? Do I tell Flora? Tell off Ashlyn shrink into a corner. I don’t want Ashlynn and her husband staring at me and my girlfriend all night knowing that’s what they think of us. So this is like I mean, maybe they’re all adults are all adult, like this happened at a child’s birthday party.
S8: So Flore is the name of the friend. The daughter is unnamed.
S16: A daughter is unnamed. I child’s birthday party is the setting. Did you think that a 6 year old was part of this, Trauner? No.
S13: I thought it was like we’re in our like 50s. The kids are in their 20s, but for some reason we’re going on a double date with people in their 20s. And so I was confused.
S14: But I guess this isn’t necessarily it doesn’t specify it’s a children’s birthday party. I think the part where they’re going to be at several events together, I sort of mentally extrapolated like this is a small town and it’s going to be like PTA staff and other kid birthday party circuit, but it doesn’t specify.
S5: I had thought the friend’s daughter was named Flora. The kids were all of a generation to socialize with adults 25 years older than them and that everybody was just hanging out across generationally.
S16: Oh, we both have very different, very different casts of what this of what this ad is. But no, I think I think all of these people are in the same age bracket.
S5: Also, the named people, you know, you know, this person has a husband. She’s obviously an adult. Right. So whatever aid actually kind of doesn’t matter if you’re in your 50s and she’s in her 20s, you know, if you’re all in your 30s or whatever. Yeah, it doesn’t matter because what this person said to you is completely wild. Yeah, completely wild. And also like totally understandably disqualified from wanting to hang out again.
S16: Yeah. I mean it’s it is sexual harassment with a little bit it we’d like a side of like we heard F.O.B. homophobia. Yeah. Just sort of as as the as the side dish to what is mostly sexual harassment. Just want to make that very clear. Like being like my husband would like to have sex with you and your partner based on your sexual orientation alone.
S4: I want to start by acknowledging that like some people have decided that, you know, like apparently everyone’s allowing you to be gay now, which is just such a weird like thing to say to an obviously out gay person. Like I. Well, even if they didn’t, I’d still be gay, I’d still be queer, I’d still be I’d still have this same partner. Yeah. So, absolutely. You know, Ashlyn was barely an acquaintance. I don’t think there’s any reason why you should have to revisit this with her. But yes, absolutely. Say to Flora, of course you tell Flora. Yeah, absolutely. If you would like to tell off ASHLYNNE fucking. Go ahead. Be my guest. If you’ve got her number, please, you have my absolute blessing. Short of going absolutely apeshit like you have my permission to get in touch and say like what you said to me was completely fucked up. I have no interest in spending time with you again. Leave me alone. Delete my number.
S14: Right. Acquaintance makes it seem like she might not even have her number, frankly, or she maybe would have texted this to her instead of coming up with her at a party. I cannot conceive of this interaction happening. You must have felt like you were leaving your body. But yeah, you should absolutely tell Flora both because you are going to wanna make it clear that you don’t want to be in a space with this person again, and that A should know because she is the connecting point between the two of you, but also for Flora’s sake. So Flora can make a decision around if she wants to continue to have a relationship with a person who at her daughter’s birthday party says this kind of stuff to party guests.
S8: So when it’s like a social event, too, especially given that like Flora is closer with Ashlyn, there’s a little bit of a sense of like, hey, you brought these people into my orbit. Like you need to collect them or like Ryan, like you need to do something with your friends. I think very much save to Flora. Like I know we had all talked about going out together, but Ashlyn said some incredibly creepy and homophobic stuff to me the last time we got together. I’m not comfortable being around her.
S14: Yeah. And and if and if the events that you’re going to be at are not like social events at Flora or you have sort of control of the guest list of, you can make it abundantly clear that like if you are talking to Ashlynn and I walk in the room, you are not to make it a situation where you are with this person.
S8: And I will be giving her the cold shoulder. You don’t have to join me in that, but you don’t try to fuck up my culture.
S14: Right. Exactly. Exactly. You have to be cognizant of this person. It’s the floor is lava only. It’s this person specifically as lava. And I’m not getting anywhere near them.
S15: Yeah, it’s the worst. And I’m truly sorry. People say awful things. Yeah. It’s creepy.
S14: You shouldn’t have to deal with having this malevolent presence around at social events. I invite you if these are social events that you can skip that you know, this person is gonna be at. And it will not be a detriment to you significantly.
S5: Don’t go. I also like this is actually more just for like you and I to ponder over and less for their letter writer, because as far as the letter writer is concerned, it doesn’t matter.
S4: But I’m curious if it was the sort of like my. It sounds like Ashley was saying my husband would be trying to figure out how to hook up with you, which is a little like depressing. Yeah. That she’s like it doesn’t like it would be predatory and gross if she was like, hey, we barely know each other. Here’s what would happen. All right. But if it’s like she’s trying so hard to be cool with her husband’s, like, relentless grossness that she’s like, maybe it will be funny if I tell the joke first. So I don’t look like a fool and a cuckold when later my husband says this to you directly. Yeah. Either way, it’s an incredibly fucked up response. Yeah, it just like it’s sad in two different flavors.
S14: Yeah. A question of if this is I was also wondering like is this the worst attempt at trying to start swinging that has ever been conceived by man. And I dont think that matters functionally. Like I don’t I dont think your response has to matter at all. But yeah, it is it is somehow worse if this is an earnest attempt to either offset the husband’s inevitable creepiness of this person’s trying to offset or facilitate some kind of a threesome or a foursome situation. There is no version of this that is appropriate or cool. It is just a different flavor of sad depending on what this person’s intent was. Yeah, which is inscrutable because starting off with everyone’s cool with gay people now too. Obviously a gay person is just is.
S4: I am having so many flashbacks to just like awful conversations. I had to like forage my way through here as it as a young person in my 20s.
S5: When I was in, I was at one point in a relationship where it just seemed like this was not true of other relationships. But in this one, it was like everywhere we went somebody would approach and it would always be a woman on behalf of her husband and it would always just be like, fuck, I didn’t feel like I knew it wasn’t me. Like it was definitely me and my girlfriend at the time because I was like, this doesn’t happen to me when I’m dating other people. And she just thought it was hilarious that she was like, you deal with it. And I was like, I hate this so much and I hate these conversations that start out with like to, you know, the way to LaGuardia from here. We were living in Long Beach at the time, so it couldn’t have been LaGuardia, but, you know, and would just always end with like my husband’s over there in the corner looking awful.
S12: He would like to.
S5: Proposition UVM me, it was always the way you would just like unconscionable. It was not fun. I never I never enjoyed it. And luckily after that, Shinjiro ended. That was Nazli that I had to worry about again.
S12: I. I didn’t have that when I was in, you know, relationships that presented as as as to women being involved. But I didn’t have that in person. But I did have, I think, three new years in a row, or I would wake up to a different text from a person who had been drunk on New Year’s Eve asking if me and my girlfriend at the time who was, I think, different all three years, like, you know, if if we wanted to get involved.
S14: So it was like a very new year. It was like a weird streak of New Year’s where a different person would would send that text. And that would be like the thing I woke up to in the New Year, like that was how I was going to kick off the year. It was a weird energy.
S5: Yeah. Yeah. You know, there’s there’s certainly I have at other times in my life been approached for group sex in ways that I said, yeah, that sounds fantastic. So I’m not against that at all. As a rule, although I can’t really imagine a straight couple ever making it in.
S16: But the presumption, the presumption that it wouldn’t be at a friend’s kid’s birthday party. Right. Indeed. The presumption that just to two women who are engaged in the relationship are just available for that. Yeah. At any time. Yeah. No, no matter how little you know. Not the way. It’s not the way. Please, please stop straight people. Please collect your respective ashland’s. Ashley, please gather them.
S4: Yeah. All right. So this next one is timely. I think there’s been a lot of conversations around gay voice lately. I just want you to know that my original answer to this was typed and it was just la mwr di mad about it. And then I thought maybe I could say a more thing than that, but that was my original response.
S5: I don’t know if we got it. I don’t know that we have a ton more to say about it, but I’ll. Oh, it might just be time out about a night diamond about it.
S10: Okay. Subject. I hate my co-workers. Gay voice. Dear Prudence, I have this one co-worker and I hate the way he talks. It triggers an involuntary cringing reaction in me. It’s not a real problem at work. He works in a different role in a different department than I do, and I don’t have any problem politely saying hello or when is this rain? Get a let-up around the coffee machine, which is about the extent of our interaction. This voice, in addition to being profoundly annoying, sounds very gay to me. It has a lot of nasal treble. Bit of a lisp and an excessive amount of vocal fry. He sounds whiny and tired all the time. It triggers some judgmental part of my lizard brain which I don’t like and don’t understand. I don’t believe there’s only one kind of gay voice, or that all gay people sound gay. And I don’t think I’m homophobic generally. I fully believe that all people are equal and I much prefer to deal with everyone I meet as an individual rather than as a representative of a group. I have a gay brother and have lived at different times with three different gay roommates. I’m not bothered by most voices that sound gay to me. My brother and one of the past roommates don’t speak with any discernable quote unquote gay voice. But two of my past roommates had different kinds of voices that read is clearly gay but didn’t prevent me from connecting with them. I love these descriptions. One of them had a little more snap and sass with an undercurrent of dry archduchess, while the other was a little more sunny and brash like a trumpet blaring. Hello, just a little too early in the morning. That’s poetry, my guy. These former roommates are still friends, though. Obviously we don’t hang hang out as much as we used to. And I’m currently taking a class with a teacher who also sounds very gay. Lots of dramatic in intonation and catch phrases like OK, babies, I enjoy listening to his lectures just fine. I don’t even care if his co-worker is gay or not. He could turn out to be straight. And I’d still hate to hear him speak, but it’s hard for me to listen to what he’s saying and treat him like an individual based on his voice alone. I’ve written him off as lazy and prone to whining. Do you have any advice for getting past this gut level irritation and treating this guy more fairly? I feel like I just ran six miles.
S2: I like clutter writer, if nothing else. I just want you to know that, like it’s okay to just condense this too. I have a homophobic response to this guy.
S13: There’s so much like I charted out all these formulas. I’ve identified the 19 components of the human voice, including like tone and reflection. Dry is there’s so much there’s so many beautifully rendered descriptions of men’s voices in like you’re trying so hard to like isolate the principle and it’s like you’re you’re homophobic towards this guy and like, that’s just it. It’s that simple. Yeah. And you historically have not been. Yeah. And that’s why you’re freaking out, because it’s like, well, there’s gotta be an objective reason. And I will find the quality in his voice that if isolated, I could play back for you on the podcast and we could all universally agree. He does sound tired. That guy’s. Choice is objectively bad, right?
S6: Besides dying mad about it, which is frankly a very viable option. This is a person at work, a of all I need you to. Every time you can characterize this person based on his voice and not on your conversations at the WaterCooler, whatever. Don’t do that. That’s ridiculous. You know, that’s ridiculous. You’ve told us that. You know that. That’s ridiculous. Don’t do that.
S14: Let this be an exercise in being patients and loving kindness for you. Whenever you hear this guy’s voice and it makes all of these things in yourself that you don’t like all of these reactions that you do not want to have to. This guy’s voice is weird. Irritated homophobia. Sit with it. Yeah. You can not science your way out of it. You can not have any. No, no. No amount of gay brothers and roommates are going to make you not be annoyed by this guy’s voice. Just sit with it. Write yourself, be annoyed, let it flow through you and then release it and then go on with your day.
S13: Yeah, I think that’s really what di mad about it is is like you don’t have to do a thing here, right? Like you don’t really work with him. He’s not bothering you by asking you questions. You don’t have to pair up on a project together. You are literally allowed to just die. Not liking this guy’s voice. Right. As long as you don’t mistreat him, you don’t have to keep going, like searching for the reason his voice bothers you. Like, you know, you say it triggers some judgmental part of my lizard brain, which I don’t like and understand. I get it. You are experiencing a feeling that conflicts with your values. You don’t want to be homophobic. I’m not saying you’re like a homophobic piece of shit. I’m saying you are experiencing a homophobic reaction. You are feeling homophobic feelings. And instead of trying to come up with like the perfect reason for why anyone in your position would also have that homophobic response. Just acknowledge that as an ugly part of yourself, you can call it your lizard brain if you want.
S2: And like you know Latika.
S14: Yeah, yeah, yeah. All all this rationalization seems like it is adding more distress to what could be handled by you taking three deep breaths. Whenever you hear this guy’s voice acknowledging I’m having a reaction to this that I do, that’s homophobic. That’s a part of me I don’t like. And then you have 70. I’m going to give you seven seconds to think about this. Take three breaths and then you’re done and then you have to move on.
S4: Yeah, yeah. His voice is his voice. It bothers you because, you know, homophobia is in the water. We all pick some up and sometimes you’re still going to feel things that conflict with your values. That’s just a shame. And you don’t have to try to deny it or explain it away. You can just say like this conflicts with my values. I don’t know. Maybe imagine sucking on a dick and that will make you feel better because you think right now I’m less homophobic because I was comfortable imagining this. This particular sexual sex act. And, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve trans guy voice. You know what I mean? I permanently sound like I just, like, inhaled a tin balloon.
S5: So, like, I I have a lot of deep, deep love for my weird ass voice.
S12: Yeah. Yeah. This is this is a clinic and trans guy voice right now. I hope everybody’s enjoying it.
S8: Just low level buzz of it is it is like I eat a metal be like eight months ago and there’s just enough laughs that it’s like flattening out part of my voice.
S6: I’ve got a lot of questions about metal BS, but I think we have to be. This made him that very simple. Of which ASCII film I didn’t catch.
S16: What do we want? Yeah. Yeah. Die mad about it. And or think about sucking a dick or sucking dick in real life if it’ll make you. I mean that’s you. Yeah. If you feel that guilty it can make up for it. Yeah. I was lacking one dick. Just that active community service out. Donate $5 to it too. Like a local LGBT center here. Every time you have this bad reaction, every time you have this reaction like yeah. I don’t know if you want to be told like you’re not bad. This particular thing doesn’t necessarily make you bad. It is an unkind and unpleasant response every time. What you’re doing all the right things. Yeah. You know, take three deep breaths. Donate five bucks to your local trans youth center or LGBT youth center and then move all the way on with your day.
S6: Yeah. Yeah. You’re fine.
S17: The subject of our next letter is my sister is horrible, just not transphobic. Which is sweet diffidence. I’m a woman in my 50s. My younger sister has always been challenging. When she goes into a rage, she becomes hurtful and frightening. She inevitably makes herself the center of attention. Other people’s deaths, weddings, even miscarriages are somehow about her. I’ve often considered cutting her off as some of our other siblings have done, but we share a traumatic childhood and a mental health diagnosis. I’ve always felt guilty about and responsible for her. Recently, my youngest teenager came out as trans. My husband and I support and celebrate this. My kid decided to tell our extended families about their transition over email, which we drafted together. In it, we mentioned that this was my child’s preferred way of letting everyone know my sisters initial response was loving and supportive. And she’s never been anything but great to my kid. But a few hours later, I received an angry text from her, berating me for telling her over email because I apparently knew full well I didn’t that she hates getting important news that way. I reminded her that this is my child’s decision and that their feelings should prevail here. She followed up with over a dozen rage filled texts filled with insults and false accusations that I’ve heard thousands of times. I realized I finally had enough and I’ve severed my relationship with her. I’ve told people broadly about the estrangement on a need to know basis. Like when my dad asked why I hadn’t included a Christmas present for her in the box that I sent to him, but I haven’t gone into detail. But as word travels, it’s becoming clear that due to the timing, many people believe the rift is because she’s transphobic. I’ve corrected anyone who said this to me directly, and I’ve let my kids know that it’s completely unrelated, but I haven’t said anything more broadly. I admit there is an angry, petty part of me that wants to allow people to think the worst of her, but I don’t want to let my actions be driven by anger and pettiness. She issues some kind of statement like where a strange because she’s horrible, but she’s not transphobic. Or can I allow the hometown rumors to continue and only address them if I hear them directly? I can’t have her in my life, and I don’t have any love left for her. But I do have compassion for her difficulties. And I want to be fair.
S12: The idea of issuing a statement about this is so charming like you, I’m just thinking about like an email press release, maybe a holiday card or like a New Year car.
S7: Look at somebody who has recently had to deliver a statement publicly about why it was estranged from my family. Yeah, it’s not that hard to imagine. No, no, it sure isn’t. I don’t know if this is a case where it is necessary.
S4: No, no, I don’t think anything here takes place on that level.
S14: I guess unless the local hometown newspaper gets involved, in which case you may have to do that. But this, as it currently stands, does not rise to that level. You do not need to own rumors. I think you’re doing. I feel like a lot of letters today were telling people to do less. And this is a way I can. Good. You’re doing, I think, the exact correct amount. Right. If people come up to you and they directly say, hey, are you not talking to your sister because she’s horrible course she was transphobic to your kid. You get to say the first one. Yes. And move on. I don’t think there’s a possible way for you to effectively deal with other people’s presumptions.
S12: You can. You know, unless you have some kind of telepathy. Yeah. You want to go to your hometown and deal with.
S13: Yeah, I agree. You did not attempts to strongly intimate that it was because of transphobia. So you’re in no way responsible for that. Getting hurt. I also do want to include the possibility that, like, it absolutely has transphobic roots like this whole. I don’t object to that, but I do object to the way in which you told me is kind of a classic dodge. Right. So like it’s possible we could add a sprinkling of transphobia on top of her already really harmful behavior. So I don’t know that you need to, like totally rule that out even in your own mind.
S14: Yeah. Yeah, I did have the thought that this response was mighty convenient. But, you know, if you say ditch your says, you’re nothing but cool to your kid before. Maybe that’s true. And you know your kid. Well, that’s before the transition. Right? So. Right. Right. So you don’t know. And you know, if your sister wants to go on to have a wonderful and supportive relationship with your kid and, you know, is nothing but great to them for the rest of forever. Cool. Whatever. That’s that’s up to her. But you cannot know if she is transphobic or not in her heart of hearts. And you can not know if this was related to that. And you certainly do not need to go around to your hometown correcting everybody’s potential misapprehensions. That’s absolutely a duty or a, you know, a psychic weight. You can you can free yourself.
S8: I mean, I certainly relate to it and I understand that it’s challenging. I also had in between the like beginning of the estrangement and the time when I felt like I did have to finally make a public statement. I had not planned on doing that. And I certainly had people in my life ask questions. And I had felt at various points like, oh, my gosh, it it really bothers me to think that there are people who think that this was caused by.
S4: Something less than what it was. And that was very difficult. And I also struggled with having to just say like, I need to focus on doing the next right thing right.
S13: And keeping my goals in very clear order. And my goals here aren’t. Make sure everyone in the world knows everything I know and agrees with all of the choices that I made, which was really hard because that’s something I want often.
S5: You are an advice columnist and I wanted to make an astrology joke, but I couldn’t remember what my sign was. So I was going to take a classic Pisces. I don’t think I’m a Sagittarius. I remember now.
S4: So all of which is to say I understand that impulse weirdly well. And I think. All you can do is be honest, which you have been.
S13: You’ve clarified this misapprehension when it has come up. My guess is the people you’ve told will also correct the misapprehension if they hear it. So that may be helping already. But beyond that. Like if the distinction is like, no, no, no, she wasn’t awful about my kids transition. She distracted from my kids transition by blowing up at me about how they chose to come out. I think maybe the distinction there you would like to make isn’t actually that significant. Your sister still chose to make your child’s transition all about her, which is still like demeaning and dehumanizing and cruel.
S18: Yeah, and I wonder if a little bit of your sort of being hung up on on this is not sort of a manifestation of guilt you feel for can be urist. Very recent estrangement from a sister who you, you know, spend the first paragraph sort of talking about why you hadn’t until this point become estranged from her. Right. A feeling of ownership or guilt or connectedness around sort of shared, um, diagnoses and trauma. And, you know, I. You don’t need to hold onto this weird, tenuous connection that you have or it’s like. But should I let people know, like you don’t. You don’t need to do that and you don’t need to feel particularly guilty about this. This is a this is a very considered decision that you made. And yet pulling focus around your kids transition is not a super sort of no matter what is the impetus. It’s not it’s not great behavior. Yeah.
S4: And at the risk of sounding very cynical, I just want to say, like, I don’t think that.
S5: People suffer so much from being thought of as transphobic. That like if you didn’t correct this possible misapprehension, she would never get a job in that town again. We heard your transphobic like Rosario Dawson is out there right now promoting her new show and she’s like currently being sued for helping to beat up a trans man. Like it’s not a kiss of death to be thought of as transphobic.
S16: Yeah. Unless you live in a very, very, very good conservatives imagining imagination of what Oberlin is like or something, right?
S14: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I’m gonna say a hometown that just so happened that the entire city council and all of the municipality, you know, the municipal control and just all all of the levers of power in this one home town are controlled by trans people who would be put off by that rumor.
S18: Probably not super likely.
S17: Yeah. And just I also just don’t think like it sounds like she burns bridges a lot. It sounds like a number of people have already had to be estranged from her. I don’t think you’re necessarily going to be like the bridge that like the last straw or the last bridge out of town or whatever expression I’m struggling for at the moment.
S14: Yeah, not not a strong day for metaphors. Between between the two of us. Yeah. If this is like a home, I still think this is a hometown thing and you are not the first of your siblings to to be a strange from her. I don’t know that a lot of people are going to be thinking this time. It’s just the trans thing and not the part where nobody seems to want to hang out with this person. Right.
S8: But you’re doing great focus on your kid. I’m sorry that you’ve had such a difficult relationship with your sister your whole life. And I hope that this estrangement brings you a lot of peace.
S18: Yeah. And congrats on your kid’s transition and being excellent about it.
S2: Yeah, I hope because. Great, Calvin. This has been lovely.
S7: Would you like to go buy jewelry at a department store with me now? Yeah, I think that’ll be great. Terrific. Thanks so much. Get out of here.
S9: Thank you so much for having me. This was this was great and very a very on theme.
S19: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence. Our producer Spells Circus theme music was composed by Robin Hilton.
S20: Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate.com Slash.
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S20: Plus go to Slate dot com slash pretty pod to sign up. If you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1, dear. That’s 3 3 2 7. You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short. 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.
S21: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. It reads to me like you have had multiple people in your life, say something along the lines of if you do not spend as much time with me as I want, you are abusing me, right? Which is fucking nuts. I apologize. I do want to use flippant language around sanity or reasonableness. But like, it is fucking objectionable. It is outrageous. It is not reasonable. It is not okay. If you have multiple people in your life saying things like if you don’t spend as much time with me as I want, you’re abusing me. That is not what abuses. No.
S2: To listen to the rest of that conversation. Joint slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash prudy pod.