Dear Uncle Howard

Uncle Howard

He shares his curmudgeonly views on life with his hairdresser, the checkout operator and random hoodie-wearing teenagers in the carpark.

Now he is Whaleoil’s favourite Agony Uncle giving advice on every problem you can think of.


Dear Uncle Howard, I attend Auckland University and I have become friends with a student called Alex.

Alex is really nice and we have a lot of fun studying together as well as going to protests together but I am feeling really confused.

You see the thing is that I think that Alex is transgender and I really don’t know what the correct pronouns are to use. Alex has breasts but dresses like a man.

I googled my problem and that just confused me more. According to my?google?search, you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by looking as Transgender people don’t?look any certain way. “Many transgender people do not appear ‘visibly trans,’ which means they are not perceived to be transgender by others.”

I also read that I shouldn’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation because Gender identity is different to sexual orientation.

Alex wears plaid shirts, has a buzz cut and sometimes uses the men’s bathroom.

Here are the pronouns for trans people.

zie zim zir zis zieself
sie sie hir hirs hirself
ey em eir eirs eirself
ve ver vis vers verself
tey ter tem ters terself
e em eir eirs emself


Please help me.

What should call my?friend?

Kia ora



Dear Angel

Call her Alex.

Just in case my reply confused you here is a helpful instructional video.