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Dear Christine, A Reader in Rochester

  • Posted on July 9, 2018 at 10:12 am

Hi Dr. Christine, My partner and I have been together 19 years and overall we’re both happy together. Lately, though, I noticed she is asking me to pay the utility bills she always pays, saying she has no money. I pay a set, agreed upon amount for rent and living expenses, and we both do the chores and shopping. She does the upkeep and maintenance on the house, which is in her name only. She was burned in a prior relationship and she has always said she will not ever consider adding me to the deed. I’m confused because she has a good job and makes more money than I do, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t have money for the bills she’s used to paying regularly. I don’t think she’s gambling or using drugs, but I can’t figure out what is going on. Any suggestions? A Reader in Rochester. Dear Reader: You raise several important issues. We gays and lesbians do not have access to the legal rights that married people get through their wedding license, such as joint home ownership or rights of survivorship to a house, should the owning partner die. We also cannot get half…

Dear Christine, All My Heart in Allen Park

  • Posted on March 31, 2018 at 9:45 am

Dear Christine, I am in a 11 year lesbian relationship (33 years old) and have met another woman(34 years old) ONLINE who is in a 15 year lesbian relationship. We have been carrying on an affair for a year via ONLINE and phone calls everyday, but have never met. Both of us are totally in love and are planning to met within the next 3 months. We have even planned on leaving our current wives (obviously something is missing from both our relationships) once we meet and make sure we are physically compatible. We have never met but LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH. Am I crazy for even thinking of leaving my girlfriend of 11 years for a woman I’ve never met? I love her heart, mind and soul……All my Heart in Allen Park Dear All my Heart,  I think this is another question that the writer wrote knowing in her heart what the answer for her is. You have thoughts that you might be crazy for thinking of leaving your girlfriend of 11 years for someone you never met? Does your girlfriend of 11 years know this? Is she aware that something is “missing” from your relationship? Have you…

Dear Christine, Loving in Livonia

  • Posted on January 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

Dear Christine, I’m a gay man seeing a male therapist for issues I had after a bad breakup. Basically severe depression. After several months of therapy, I’m feeling pretty whole again but I don’t want to stop therapy because I have fallen in love with my therapist. My therapist is also gay and has never given me any reason to think he feels the same way, however, I guess I hope that he does. I’ve also never told him how I feel for fear he will ask me to stop seeing him. Question: should I tell him? I so look forward to my Wednesdays with… Signed, Loving in Livonia Dear Loving, I encourage you to talk to your therapist about this transference. You are in a relationship as a client with a therapist and there are legal and ethical boundaries that need to be in place to protect both of you. Your therapist will probably want to discuss your emotions, needs and expectations. And he will want to be clear about the professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship you both have. It is not unusual for a client to have strong feelings of affection or love for a therapist, as…

Facebook offer 56 new gender options. Here’s what they mean.

  • Posted on December 9, 2017 at 7:19 am

Dear Readers,

I have wanted write a blog on all the new terminology for gender and came across this helpful article. I didn’t realize Facebook was so forward on gender vocabulary way back in 2014! This article helps you navigate these new terms.

By Christine Cantrell, PhD, LP

Facebook offers users 56 new gender options: Here’s what they mean


Facebook on Thursday started allowing users to self-identify as something other than male or female. Good. There may be some cynical ad-targeting motive at work, but as Facebook spokesman Will Hodges explains, “While to many this change may not mean much, for those it affects it means a great deal.”

You can make the change in your Facebook settings, and choose who will (and won’t) see your new gender nomenclature. You can also change the pronoun Facebook uses when it talks about you, to the gender-neutral (but grammatically problematic) “they” (not “xe” or “thon”). The new options are only available in the U.S. so far.

So, if you don’t identify as male or female, then what? Well, Facebook offers 56 options. You can use up to 10 of them on your profile. Fifty-six sounds like a lot, but actually a lot of them are variations on a theme —”cisgender man” and “cisgender male,” as well as “cis man” and “cis male.” In terms of broad categories, there about a dozen. Here’s a look at what they mean:

1. Agender/Neutrois—These terms are used by people who don’t identify with any gender at all —they tend to either feel they have no gender or a neutral gender. Some use surgery and/or hormones to make their bodies conform to this gender neutrality.

2. Androgyne/Androgynous—Androgynes have both male and female gender characteristics and identify as a separate, third gender.

3. Bigender—Someone who is bigender identifies as male and female at different times. Whereas an androgyne has a single gender blending male and female, a bigender switches between the two.

4. Cis/Cisgender—Cisgender is essentially the opposite of transgender (cis-being Latin for “on this side of” versustrans-, “on the other side”). People who identify as cisgender are males or females whose gender aligns with their birth sex.

5. Female to Male/FTM—Someone who is transitioning from female to male, either physically (transsexual) or in terms of gender identity.

6. Gender Fluid—Like bi-gender people, the gender-fluid feel free to express both masculine and feminine characteristics at different times.

7. Gender Nonconforming/Variant—This is a broad category for people who don’t act or behave according to the societal expectation for their sex. It includes cross-dressers and tomboys as well as the transgender.

8. Gender Questioning—This category is for people who are still trying to figure out where they fit on the axes of sex and gender.

9. Genderqueer—This is an umbrella term for all nonconforming gender identities. Most of the other identities in this list fall into the genderqueer category.

10. Intersex—This term refers to a person who was born with sexual anatomy, organs, or chromosomes that aren’t entirely male or female. Intersex has largely replaced the term “hermaphrodite” for humans.

11. Male to Female/MTF—Someone who is transitioning from male to female, either physically (transsexual) or in terms of gender identity.

12. Neither—You understand this one: “I don’t feel like I’m fully male or fully female. ‘Nuff said.”

13. Non-binary—People who identify as non-binary disregard the idea of a male and female dichotomy, or even a male-to-female continuum with androgyny in the middle. For them, gender is a complex idea that might fit better on athree-dimensional chart, or a multidimensional web.

14. Other—Like “neither,” this is pretty self-explanatory. It can cover everything from “I’d prefer not to specify how I don’t fit in the gender dichotomy” to “My gender is none of your damn business, Facebook.”

15. Pangender—Pangender is similar to androgyny, in that the person identifies as a third gender with some combination of both male and female aspects, but it’s a little more fluid. It can also be used as an inclusive term to signify “all genders.”

16. Trans/Transgender—Transgender is a broad category that encompasses people who feel their gender is different than the sex they were born —gender dysphoria. They may or may not choose to physically transition from their birth sex to their experienced gender.

17. Transsexual—Transsexual refers to transgender people who outwardly identify as their experienced gender rather than their birth sex. Many, but not all, transsexuals are transitioning (or have transitioned) from male to female or female to male through hormone therapy and/or gender reassignment surgery.

18. Two-spirit—This term refers to gender-variant Native Americans. In more than 150 Native American tribes, people with “two spirits” —a term coined in the 1990sto replace the term “berdache” —were part of a widely accepted, often respected, category of gender-ambiguous men and women.


Christine C. Cantrell, PhD

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Reasonable in Rochester Part III

  • Posted on December 3, 2017 at 7:48 am

By Christine Cantrell, PhD, LP Dear Christine, I wonder if you have any good articles or references about transgender or more specifically, non-binary people that describes the uses of pronouns. We have a situation in our Indivisible group that people have taken offense and some are not understanding about pronouns. Sincere leaders are trying to mend fences and have withstood some kind-of mean attacks and their apologies weren’t accepted. We can’t get anything done if we can’t talk to each other. What would you suggest? Signed, Reasonable in Rochester, MI Dear Reasonable, This is a complicated topic, so I will answer in three parts. Part 1 is on Gender Identity Part 2 is on Transgender Issues. Part 3, today, will explore Pronoun Issues Part 3 When I was in elementary school in the ’60s, the school secretary was “Mz Smith,” with a distinct southern accent. The title “Ms” was popularized to signify a woman so that her marital status (Miss or Mrs) wasn’t known or wasn’t a focus of the interaction. In 1972, The Us Government Printing Office approved this title for official documents. You can’t go wrong with Ms, so that has become the standard default title…

Dear Christine, Explaining in Ecorse

  • Posted on July 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I are a lesbian couple and very active in the LGBT community. Recently I’ve been questioning my gender identity and I’m thinking seriously of transitioning from female to male gender. I’m not sure how to explain my gender changes. I was always more of the tomboy type. I’m coming to realize that I don’t have a gender identity crisis, but I identify as gender queer, and being explicitly male or female is not really the issue for me. Explaining homosexuality to our children was a challenge. They are 6 and 10 years old and they are fine with having two moms. The whole family is very accepting of our being a lesbian couple. Our parents are confused about why I want to change, when I so confidently identified as lesbian. How should I go about explaining transgender issues to our kids, and our parents and families? I find that gender clarity is very important to my family and society in general, but it isn’t so important to me.  Explaining in Ecorse Dear Explaining, My question is: is it necessary to undergo gender transition if identifying as male or female is not a big deal for…

Dear Christine, Fat & Frustrated in Farmington

  • Posted on January 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

Dear Christine, It’s a new year and each year I make the same resolution to lose weight. I am probably more than 75 pounds overweight and each year it goes up a couple pounds. My partner who is also overweight goes along with the plan for about a month and then gives in and gives up and starts bringing all the bad foods into the house again. It’s really hard for me when cookies and candy are in the house. I’ve given up trying to get her on board but do you have any suggestions for me that could motivate me to stay on track and stay motivated? Thanks I’ll call myself  – Fat and Frustrated in Farmington! Dear F&F, Motivation is tough! You need to know you and what makes you tick to understand how to stay on track. I had a boss years ago who knew diabetes ran in his family, so every time there were donuts at our staff meeting, he would say aloud: “do I want to eat that donut now, or do I want to see it in 20 years?” That was enough to keep him from eating one. Clearly, it is easier to avoid…

Dear Christine, Wreck in Warren

  • Posted on January 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

Dear Christine, came out late, bad 5 yr relationship and now in a very good one. Prob is she is still very connected with her ex. They text/talk every day, a lot. The ex will come and spend a weekend. She is very needy and always has drama in her life. She is not out to friends/family or coworkers. I am not handling this very well. My new lady is a rescuer. She likes being needed. I do not need rescuing or saving. I feel like I am being displaced by her. hate this. A wreck in Warren Dear Wreck, At first glance I thought I read that you are in a bad relationship, but I see the “bad one” was 5 years prior to the good one you are in now. I guess I wonder how good this current relationship is. How did you end up with a partner who is needy and loves to rescue and save others? What brings you together? What keeps you together? First of all, you can’t change someone else’s nature, priorities or personality. The most prominent thing you have revealed about your current partner is that she is “needy and always has drama…

Dear Christine, Desperate in Detroit

  • Posted on December 25, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Dear Christine,

I am a gay man in a relationship with another man for the past 6 months. He is the love of my life and I know I want to be with him forever. Until a month ago, we agreed to having a monogamous relationship, at my insistence. I just don’t like the idea of having more than one man in my life, or him having more than me in his life. Well, he’s been pushing for us to open the relationship ever since we met, as he really likes hooking up with other hot guys. He’s pushed so hard for this that last month, I agreed, and gave in. I figured that it wouldn’t last, and he’d see sooner or later that I’m the best deal around! I thought he’d get tired of shallow, just for sex hookups, with no emotional commitment. I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong. Now I really regret having agreed to open the relationship. I made a big mistake. What do I do? I want to go back to a monogamous relationship, and he wants multiple lovers, even though he tells me that he loves me first and most. Desperate in Detroit

Dear Desperate,

Oh, dear. What a mess you’ve gotten into. One of the things I always encourage people to do before they get into a relationship is figure out what they need, and then state those needs as “non–negotiables” to whomever they want to date or be serious about, so that person knows what you are able to live with and what you cannot tolerate. It sounds like your true non–negotiable is monogamy, and that is not true for your partner. Now, if he accepted your need for monogamy, he would have not pushed to open the relationship, but respected your need. However, he seems to have a competing need: to have many sexual partners. And the two of you now have conflicting needs. He was hurt the first 5 months before you caved in to his pressure and agreed to open the relationship, and you now have been hurt the last month that his appetite for change and multiple partners has not faded. It’s got to be a double whammy that you interpret that as somehow you aren’t “the best deal around” for him to return to monogamy. Rejection on top of everything else. I’d encourage you to really search your own soul for what you need and what you don’t need, on the level of oxygen, water and food. We all can live varying amounts of time without those three items, but the length of time without those essentials varies. You can live minutes without oxygen, days without water, and maybe a month without food. How urgent a need is this monogamy for you? If it is like oxygen or water, then you are wasting away. I’d encourage you to talk to your partner honestly and openly about your needs and your limits. I would hope he would listen with an open mind and a loving heart. But then he needs to weigh your needs against his own. There’s no right and wrong about this. If he agrees to a monogamous relationship, I hope it is because he truly can do that, and that a few months or years down the road, he doesn’t become resentful or blame you for not keeping him satisfied. If that’s the case, then he’s not willingly letting go of the multiple lovers and it will come back to bite both of you. If he needs all these other outlets, then you get two choices: Accept him the way he is, and take appropriate precautions sexually and emotionally, or leave. If he can’t accept your absolute limits that you delineate clearly, then he’s probably not the right partner for you right now, and vice versa.


All of this is very painful, but all is “paying tuition” in the school of hard knocks, in which you are learning valuable lessons about who you are and what you need. We all go through this process. The trick is, to learn as much as you can about yourself from these experiences, so you don’t have to repeat the lesson. I just threw out all my journals from my teens –thirties, as rereading them brought back too much pain of all those kinds of lessons I went through as well. I much prefer my life and my relationship with my wife Susan, than all those yukky and hurtful and contorted relationships I settled for before I really knew who I was and what I need and want. Believe in yourself, and insist on getting your own needs met. If your partner is not willing or able, then it’s a sign that it’s time to move on.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

Click here to email Christine.