COLUMN: What Not to Ask a Transgender Friend

The New York Times
|
March 5, 2013
Issues: 

Q. Dear Civil Behavior: Someone I knew decades ago when I was in college identified as transgender pre-op. Lately, this person looked me up online and started an e-mail chain. They informed me they had changed their name from a distinctly masculine one to a gender-neutral name, but didn’t really explain. On the one hand, since we discussed the transgender issue quite extensively back in the day, I feel that basic politeness and, of course, an interest in catching up would suggest that I inquire about whether the person has fully changed gender. On the other hand, one doesn’t want to be intrusive around a potentially delicate topic. Is there a polite way to ask, “Did you have surgery?”