My adult step-daughter is in a same sex relationship. I love her and support her decision, if this makes her happy. I'm neither pro or against homosexuality ... actually, I'm not even neutral, I'm indifferent to the same-sex lifestyle choice ... almost.

Her partner is more of a man than most of the men she's dated, and is hard not to like. Also, my grandchild is very young and calls this person 'papa', which I didn't care for, but ... ok ... whatever.

The problem is, my son, who is now 10, has known this person for years, and thinks she's a man. My son is not stupid, is going to figure it out soon, assuming his friends don't figure it out first ... which I don't expect will go well for my son.

I need to tell my son.

Now I should point out that when I said I'm 'indifferent' 'almost', I meant; I don't care if somebody chooses to be in a same-sex relationship, and if my child one day tells me they're gay, as my step-daughter has, I will still love them.

But having said that, I don't consider it normal and I don't want to encourage it in anyway.

In a nut shell, this situation is pushing this conversation on me a lot earlier than I feel is appropriate, while at the same time is long over due (we assumed it was temporary and we'd never have to deal with).

So does anybody have any advice on telling my 10 year old son this 'man' is actually a woman? And how can I tell him without him hating his sister, her partner, or thinking this is completely normal, and should explore homosexuality for himself when he's a teenager.

But before you answer, please keep my value system in mind. Anti/Pro gay comments aren't going to help me at all.

Also since I'm posting anonymously and can't vote, edit, or accept, I just wanted to thank you in advance.

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    Don't know if you can comment or not, maybe you can create a throwaway account if you need to, but can you clarify whether your step-daughters partner is actually transgender and identifies as a man, or is she just "butch" and your son has mistaken her for a man?
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 15:10
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    Your son may have already figured it out. 10 years old is not that young for these kinds of observations-- but that depends on how observant your son is. As for the exploration of homosexuality, from all the gay people I've talked to, it's more about not being able to control who you feel attracted to. I happen to be attracted to women, but that's not a particularly conscious effort on my part.
    – mmr
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 16:23
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    You don't want to encourage what...being gay? It's not really something you can encourage or discourage...so I wouldn't worry about that. Explaining that he's a she won't have any bearing on that one way or the other.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 0:00
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    @DA01: I think what is meant is: openly being gay. Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 11:16

4 Answers 4


The person you need to have a talk with is your daughter's partner, before your son.

Your question makes it unclear whether this person is female or transgender, whether they present and refer to themselves as male or female, etc. Maybe that's because you don't know yourself. Ask, and ask how she/he wants you to refer to him/her around your son or other people.

In the process, you may also get some insight about how homosexuality and gender identification are not things that most people can choose. Hint: do you choose to be heterosexual? Probably not, you just feel like you've always been wired that way, and could never force yourself to be anything else. Give others the benefit of the doubt that they are in the same boat, whatever their hard-wired preferences are.

You know that most people are right handed and have no choice, some are left handed and have no choice, and a very few are ambidextrous (I suppose could "choose" to behave right-handedly all the time, but who cares?). Talking about "pro-left-handed" or "anti-left-handed", "approving" of left handedness, or worrying about whether acknowledging the existence of left-handed people might influence the writing hand of your kids, are just nonsensical, and merely betray a misunderstanding of how handedness works. Gay is similar.

  • That's a very interesting and illustrative comparison, with handedness! Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 20:06
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    Ya know, I've never heard the analogy to hand preference. Like all analogies, it has some holes, but it's a pretty good one nonetheless! I'm keeping that in my back pocket for later.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 20:24
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    I'll note that as recently as 60 years ago, being left-handed was not considered acceptable, and children who exhibited left-handed tendencies would be forced to use their right hands, and would be punished if they used their left. Most such children learned to adapt, and became semi-ambidextrous: they'd write with their right hands, but in things that the teacher never saw (holding a hammer, for example) they would revert to their natural left-handed state.
    – Martha
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 16:06
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    I'm using this analogy with my dad because he was beaten for his left-handedness and never did switch to right-handed writing. He is trying to be more open, but still hasn't fully grasped the lack-of-choice aspect (although I am completely heterosexual I do have homosexual friends and so he and I have had some lengthy discussions on the matter - just because we discuss such things - he knows he needs to better and has wanted my input). Thanks. Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 1:09

Just be honest.

Since you're requesting an answer that supports your personal value system, and only you really know all the details of what that value system is, the best advice I can give you is simply to tell your son what you believe.

Tell your son that "he" is really a "she" in a matter-of-fact tone, and don't say any more. Your son will almost certainly ask questions, and lead the direction of the following discussion. Answer him honestly.

If your son isn't asking enough questions, you can repeat the important pieces of background information you wrote in your question above. Mention that you love your step-daughter, and support her decisions. Tell your son that you like her partner. But also explain that you don't consider it normal, and that you don't want to encourage it, and explain why.

Mention why you felt the need to tell your son why you were hesitant to discuss this with him, and also why you couldn't put it off any longer.

Most of all, tell your son that you will still love him no matter what decisions he makes.


Let your step-daughter and her partner take care of it. They will probably be better at explaining the situation than you. If your son has questions after that, answer them as briefly and as non-judgementally as possible.


Liking someone of the same gender isn't really a choice, so I wouldn't worry about encouraging it.

Just tell your son that your daughter's partner is actually a woman. Answer any questions honestly. Don't allow your beliefs to affect what you say. By that, I mean don't say that it isn't natural, or that it's wrong. Allow him to choose his own beliefs. You don't necessarily need to say that its right, but don't day it's wrong either. If your son asks if it's natural, just say that they can't control it, and they are humans like everyone else.

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