Advice: Savage Love
Q: A friend of mine is a crossdresser considering transitioning. He came out to a female friend he had known for a long time, and she told her that she wanted her to come to her house fully dressed for some hot sex to “explore her bi-curiosity.” I told her to go for it, saying gender-transgression play is potentially hot. I neglected to mention she should only go for it if she trusted this girl (hereafter known as “Evil Bitch”). Evil Bitch backed out as soon as she arrived, but took her out to dinner (still fully dressed) as consolation. When she first told me this, I thought, “Oh well, Evil Bitch got cold feet.” Now my friend is telling me Evil Bitch messaged a bunch of mutual friends he wasn’t out to, outing my friend to them. After my friend told Evil Bitch that what went down was private, Evil Bitch just responded with “LOL k,” and THEN posted pictures from their dinner date on Facebook. I told my friend to call Evil Bitch up and tell her what a betrayal that was. She just called him a faggot and hung up. I feel bad because I encouraged her to go for it. Is there anything my friend can do?
Friend Of Crossdresser Betrayed By Evil Bitch
A: Your pronouns are all over the place. Your friend is a she, then a he, then a she, then a he. So I’m gonna stick with “Your Friend,” despite how clunky it makes my response.
Twenty years ago, Your Friend could’ve told Your Friend’s relatives and whatever friends Your Friend had in common with Evil Bitch that they got dressed up for a laugh and Your Friend can’t understand why Evil Bitch is misrepresenting what they did that night. But I can only assume Your Friend and Evil Bitch exchanged emails, swapped texts, sent DMs via Twitter, etc., so Your Friend shouldn’t accuse Evil Bitch of lying. That will prompt Evil Bitch to retaliate by posting emails, texts and DMs to Facebook, which will only make things worse.
Since Your Friend can’t turn this around on Evil Bitch, there’s no way to nip this situation in the bud. Your Friend can only get out in front of it. Your Friend is out about the crossdressing now, at least, and Your Friend should embrace being out with as much grace and courage as possible. And paradoxically, the more at peace with being out Your Friend appears to be, the fewer people Your Friend will be outed to. If Your Friend tries to keep this quiet, other malicious assholes will realize they can hurt Your Friend by spreading the news.
I’ve known a few people outed by malicious shits like Evil Bitch, and it sucks and it hurts and, yes, it can turn a person’s life upside down. But most of the people I’ve known who were outed looked back on the experience a year or two later with … well … not with gratitude, but they woke up one day happy to be free of the stress of keeping their big secret. Maybe Your Friend will feel the same way. In the meantime, offer Your Friend your support and get in the face of anyone who gives Your Friend any grief.
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PAULINE “DEAR ABBY” PHILLIPS: I grew up reading both Eppie “Ann Landers” Lederer in the Chicago Sun-Times and Pauline “Dear Abby” Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. I always preferred Ann’s column to Abby’s column — did you know they were twin sisters? — and I’m actually sitting at Ann’s desk, which I bought at auction after her death, as I write this. So you could definitely call me more of an Ann fan. But I have a newfound appreciation for Abby after reading Margalit Fox’s terrific obit in The New York Times. The obit ends with the most famous three-word response in the whole sordid history of advice columns:
Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours — blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men, and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdos are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood? —Nob Hill Residents
Dear Residents: You could move.
Phillips wrote that decades ago — back when adult gay men often resorted to adopting their adult partners because it was the only way to secure any legal protection for their relationships — and people are still quoting it today. I don’t think anyone working in this genre will ever top it. My sympathies to Jeanne Phillips, Pauline’s daughter and the current author of the Dear Abby column.
Find the “Savage Lovecast” (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.