Q: Hi! I’m worried about how the recent election (where anti-LGBTQ officials like Theresa Richardson have been re-elected) and future national elections will pan out for us here. Any tips for staying strong when the local scene is such a source of heartache?

A: While so much of the country focuses mainly on national elections, those of us in marginalized groups know the importance of local elections. We must make our voices heard on a local level to ensure we are included in the decision-making process. And we must carry those voices to school boards, city government, state government, and national government.

A sad fact in our society is that the voices of hate and discrimination tend to be louder than the voices of love and support. Hate makes the news; hate makes headlines. Those voices are not the majority, they are the minority, but they are loud, so much so that the term ‘silent majority’ is one recognized in politics. People tend to only speak up when they have an opposing viewpoint or when they are outraged. But that needs to be our key to success: speaking up and voicing our outrage.

The majority needs to be louder (in a respectful voice, of course). The best way to stay strong is to make your opinion heard, in support or opposition. Contact your local politicians, and contact your state and national politicians. Politicians are elected to represent all of us, even those who don’t share their viewpoints. They need to know that those who don’t share their viewpoints also matter (and also vote!), and they need to know that we are not afraid to get loud if we need to. Hold them accountable. Call. Them. Out.

Through sharing your voice, you will ensure that you are heard, and you will attract others who share your view. You will empower others to ensure that their voices are heard, also. Politicians need to be held accountable for their actions. Love is the majority. Love must be marketed as strongly as hate.

And when you are feeling heartbroken about not being heard, make sure people know. Our politicians must know and be constantly reminded of the effect their decisions have on our citizens. 

Attend political meetings, join groups of like-minded individuals, and show up to every event or rally that you believe in. 

Be seen, be heard, and know that your opinions matter. You matter. And always, always vote!!!!

Call or email your representatives every time there is an issue you are concerned about. They have staff to take phone calls and opinions, and their email addresses are publicly accessible and open to citizens.

Find them at: house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative and https://app.leg.wa.gov/meFind Your Representative | house.govmberemail, or simply Google their name.

Q: My adult child has a roommate (platonic). This roommate has recently decided to change genders. We have been asked to call this roommate by a new ‘girl’ name and use she/her pronouns. But this person still dresses and looks like a boy. I am having trouble understanding this, and frankly, I don’t get it. Can you explain this to me? What do I do?

A: I assume that because she shares a house with your child, you are okay with this person as a respectable, decent, honorable human being. I assume that because you care enough to start this conversation, you are a respectable, decent, honorable human being. 

So let me try to simplify this as much as I can in an anonymous literary publication. This person whom it is assumed you respect as a human being has expressed discomfort in their gender, feels like they have been misgendered, and has decided that it is time for them to change that. 

They have asked you to refer to them by a new name, and by feminine pronouns. 

Do that.

They have stated their wishes; respect them. 

Their physical presentation does not matter. How they dress and how they appear outwardly does not affect your ability to be kind, and what their body looks like biologically is none of your business. They are a human being, deserving of love and respect — give them that. What a person chooses to wear is no one’s business but their own. What makes them feel comfortable in their own skin is what you as a decent, respectable, caring person should honor. 

When you deliberately choose to misgender a person, that reflects more on the type of person you are than the kind of person they are. All you need to know is that a person has expressed their identity to you. Your only responsibility is to respect it and understand that all the rest (their expression, their transition, their path) is none of your business.

I know that it will take time for you to become comfortable with their decision and with their new identity. I know that you will err at times, but please make an effort not to. When you slip up in name or pronoun, just correct yourself calmly and try to remember next time.

And thank you so much for asking!

Send in your questions to surveymonkey.com/r/P55NPRX!

It's completely anonymous and open to the LGBTQ+ community and allies!

Patti (she/her) is an (almost) lifelong Richland resident, a local yoga teacher, and a Hanford employee. She is married to an amazing man, is a mother of three and stepmother of two, and a lover of multiple pets.

Patti has walked her own journey through identity and been the support for others on their journeys; she understands the need for — and the feeling of — searching for support. Patti is the current Chair of PFLAG Benton Franklin, and has served on past boards and committees in organizations dealing with domestic violence, addiction, leadership, and business.

With a passion for her community, family, friends, and helping others,  Patti is here to answer all your questions with the heart of a loving mother, but the forthrightness necessary when tackling difficult conversations. You are welcome to ask for guidance and advice in any topic that is near and dear to your heart, and know that you will be heard and respected in this corner.

Please note: Patti is unable to give legal or medical advice, but will instead point you to resources in our community where you can seek those answers.