Dear Carolyn: My daughter is 18 and is transgender. Because of her privacy and her timeline for affirming her identity before college, we kept it to ourselves for about five years. She has been taking hormones now for about a year. We recently “came out” to our family and friends privately and then posted a few pictures with her new name, all of which was decided as a family. We were all feeling great that it is finally out and she can begin to present as the person she is.

Most people have been loving and supportive, but a few people, who are close family members, have been asking questions or making statements to me like, “I thought she would look different,” “Why is she still wearing 'guy' clothes?” or “Do YOU see a big change in her appearance?”

I began to explain that transitioning is a long and personal process, she might not feel comfortable wearing certain clothes yet, she may never wear things that YOU think are “girly,” but I am exhausted and it's hurtful because I know how self-conscious my daughter is.

Luckily I am the buffer and my daughter does not hear these hurtful things, but why do people think it’s okay to say these things to her mother? What can I say? I struggle with whether it is my role to try to educate people. We have all been through a lot and my daughter hates any focus on her appearance.

— Always a Mama Bear

Always a Mama Bear: This looks like a daughter’s courage, a family’s discretion and enveloping love, a community’s support, and a few people with feet in their mouths.

I'd call that a win. While the emotional stakes are clearly higher than with, say, a wedding announcement, please consider this: Had everything gone smoothly, it would have been the first announcement ever of a life milestone that didn't draw at least one breathtakingly wrong response.

If that's any comfort.

Your fatigue is understandable. You and your family, your daughter especially, put long emotional work into this announcement and you're ready just to feel great about how well it went and how your daughter is doing. And you have every reason to feel great.

But the question of how to respond to people is a good one, worth answering on the level of principle instead of just case-by-case — because you are educating people, whether you want the role or not. Your acceptance teaches acceptance. Your grace teaches grace. Your love teaches love.

And sometimes that acceptance, grace and love will be for people whose social skills aren't up to the job, for often forgivable reasons.

Your answers can also teach the lesson you so ache to, that giving your daughter respect and room to be herself is the most welcome response to her news. When people ask you about her appearance and you’re not inclined to give full explanations, skip the specific question to respond generally. Such as: “She is [her name]. Appearance is not what she cares to focus on.” Or, “isn’t relevant.” Or, “may vary.” (As it does with all of us.) You get the idea — and eventually, fingers crossed, so will everyone else.