Thoughts on “My son, the cross-dresser”

Check out this op-ed from the Times of Israel, “My son, the cross-dresser.”

The boy the author describes is a lot like my son – loves tractors and building things, and wants to play with trucks and build in a dress. It’s a great little piece, so you should go read it right now.

A few things I found interesting about it:

1) Photos
You don’t often see parents posting photos of their gender-fluid kids online here in the States. There are a few exceptions, like Princess Boy’s Dyson. I have posted a photo of my kid from the back or with his face blurred out. Why? – to protect his privacy, and so his 16 year-old self doesn’t hate me. There is a general nervousness parents express, though — about setting their kids up to be bullied or targeted, and perhaps, if we’re honest, sometimes about a little worry or discomfort with the way their kids look? What do you think?

Is it more acceptable (or safer) because this kid is only 2 1/2 rather than 6, or 8? Would it actually be helpful to have lots more images of variety in presentation available in the public?

2) How many of the same responses I’ve been noticing personally the author also addresses – the idea that parents are pushing their kids into the “wrong” clothes, the worry and desire to “help” parents get back on track before (what? it’s rarely expressed). The difficulty with the notion that a small child could choose (or should be allowed to choose) his form of self-expression. By the way, I have had adults pull friends aside to ask if I need some more boy clothes donated for my son to wear.

3) The reality that, behind every brave tie-wearing girl with a crew cut or skirt-wearing boy with a ponytail, there are several more kids who would like more options for self-expression but who, for varying reasons, won’t say so unless they see those options put on the table. This will inevitably get presented as kids like mine encouraging other boys to wear skirts, but that’s not the case. Those boys were longing for sparkly leggings or an occasional hair bow long before they met him. But maybe it’s not a big enough deal to rock the boat over . . . until my kid comes in with his new gold metallic gladiator sandals and braids. Then I hear whispers to parents, “Why can’t I have that?!”

This entry was posted in Gender complexity, Musings on the News, Parenting, positive masculinity, The boy box and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thoughts on “My son, the cross-dresser”

  1. saoili says:

    My son is growing his hair to replace his Dad’s ponytail since his Dad got his own hair cut. A while back a friend of my sister’s told me that her son had been asking for a while to let his hair grow. It wasn’t until she discovered I was letting my son let his hair grow that it really occurred to her to say yes. He’s growing it now I believe.

  2. Bill Salyers says:

    Society creates stigma classifications for things both trivial and fundamental. The Latin root for left-handedness is “sinister” and for right-handedness “dexter.” The stigma of left-handedness labels a person as sinister, meaning suspicious, evil, vriminal, not normal, and therefore not right. A dextrous person on the other hand is handy, capable, normal and trustworthy. However, since the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, only left handed people are in their “right mind.” My mother was right handed, but she was also left footed, left eyed, and directionally challenged. Probably her schools in the 1920s meant to save her from a “sinister” fate by forcing her to write iwth her undextrous right hand. They ignored other aspects of brain dominance that included a preference for more than handedness. An “ambidextrous” person has “both right hands.”

    Some preferences are genetic gifts, not cultural choices. A cultural bias for gender specific clothing means nothing to a person with an inborn blindness to gender as preferred by the culture. Nature servesd a God who is biased toward diversity, and with a decided preference for utter uniqueness in every individual. We agonize over cultural reactions to behavior that deviates from stereotyped cultural expectations. Someties cultural expectations are violated in such dramatic fashioin that all stereitypes are rended utterly useless. Born in 1990, Abigail and Brittany Hensel began life as conjoined twins. One astonished person wrote, “I am freaked out by even the idea of being them!” They are now 22. They both have driver’s licensew, Having two heads, two personalities, two arms, and two legs, obviously they do everything together. Speaking of handedness: one twin controls the left side and the other twin controls the right side. They have to cooperate to drive a car or even walk! Any and every choice they make violates every cultural expectation of “normality. They have their own reality show. “Reality! What a concept!” But
    “normality” is an even more bizarre concept.

    All beavior is normal. NOT all behavior is average. Handedness, gender specificity, conjoined lives slhould challenge every observer to withhold judgment when natural diversity expresses itself in unexpected ways. In the mountains where I was born, every baby started life in dresses regardless of gender. Sounds normal to me.

  3. If people can’t imagine what a purple tutu or a pink dress with purple butterflies on it looks like on a young child then that’s not your problem. The problem with posting photos of children wearing clothes that bigots think are inappropriate is that they will likely use them in some way later on in campaigns, online or otherwise against wonderful parents like yourself.

    Wish I’d have had parents like you in the conservative 60’s in Australia, I may still have fully transitioned, but at least I’d have done it with the FULL benefit of knowing what choices were available.

    many kind regards.

  4. Alicia says:

    In 7th grade, my son began wearing eyeliner. In 8th grade, he declared he was growing his hair for a year because of a bad haircut. He is now 20, and his hair, when straight, reaches the middle of his back and is GORGEOUS. He wears whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He declares himself a gay male who does not identify from an appearance standpoint with any gender. Go him.

  5. Eileen K-J says:

    Oh, there are so many brave and honest pieces to the original article. And I love the sensitivity and curiosity of your post, as well as the astute observations about the article and the reactions so many of us experience when we give our little guys the freedom to be who they are. The most interesting point to me is number 3 — how many other little boys are out there without the freedom or support to express themselves as feels comfortable? I see with my own son that when he shows the world who he is, there seems to be a little bit more room for other boys to be who they are. We see other boy friends putting sparkly nail polish on their toes choosing snazzier (and sometimes more femme) tops or shoes, because there’s been a tiny bit more of breathing room created by a comrade. This all to me seems like the tip of an iceberg (in which case, here’s to global warming). Thanks for your thoughtful writing on this.

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