Civilities: Should I take down old photos of my transgender brother now that he’s no longer my sister?

Photo: Bryan Regan
Photo: Bryan Regan

(This question was adapted from a recent online chat with The Post’s manners columnist on LGBT/straight issues.)

Q: My brother recently came out as transgender and I am so proud of him for living his life honestly. But I am unsure of what to do with childhood photos of him when he was living as a girl? Should I remove them from display, keep or destroy the photos? He is coming to visit for the first time since transitioning, and I don’t want to offend him. Thank you!  ~Anonymous

A: You sound like a wonderful and supportive sister! Frankly, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to your question. If you take them down, he could feel he was being made invisible in some way; if you leave them up, he may not be happy. So how about this: Send him a quick email and ask him what he prefers. I don’t think you can go wrong if you do this.

By the way, I want to commend you for making the switch from calling your sibling a “sister” and now a “brother.” According to the Stylebook of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA), “When writing [or talking] about a transgender person, use the name and personal pronouns that are consistent with the way the individual lives publicly. When possible, ask which term the subject prefers.” I couldn’t agree more.

Agree or disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comment field below.

Every other week, Steven Petrow, the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his new column, Civilities. E-mail questions to Steven at stevenpetrow@earthlink.net (unfortunately not all questions can be answered). You can also reach Steven on Facebook at facebook.com/stevenpetrow and on Twitter @stevenpetrow. Join him for a chat online at washingtonpost.com on June 3 at 1 P.M. ET.

Steven Petrow, the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his column, Civilities.
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