So what if my son wears girl’s clothes

Okay, I have a confession to make and I’ve been feeling shitty about it all week. So last weekend was Zoey’s birthday party and she picked out a super cute pink sparkly leotard to wear for it. And then she picked out a super cute black one with neon designs for Holden to wear. Yup, she dressed our little boy up in a leotard and he came down those stairs ready to go as proud as I’ve ever seen him.

And what did I do? EXACTLY what I’ve always said I wouldn’t do. I convinced him to wear something else. I took like five of his favorites shirts out of his closet and basically convinced him to wear a different outfit.

ME: Oooooh, want to wear Spiderman?

HOLDEN: No, this.

ME: Or dinosaurs, rawr.

HOLDEN: I want to wear this!

ME: You can’t wear that to the birthday party Holden. Pick one of these. Look, there’s an elephant on this one!

And eventually he caved and peeled off the leotard that he loved so much and reluctantly put on the dinosaur shirt instead.

I mean I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if he wears a leotard all over the house, but for some reason I just didn’t want him to wear one to Zoey’s birthday party in front of allllll our friends and family. Which is a total dick move because I always say my kids can wear whatever they want as long as it’s seasonally appropriate. But apparently I lied. Apparently he can wear whatever he wants as long as it’s not girl clothing. I suck. I’m sorry I made you take off your leotard, buddy. Next time I’ll try to be better.

So the weird thing about this is that I wrote it yesterday, and then today my sister randomly sent me this video. It made me feel like even more of a jerkwad for convincing Holden to take off the leotard. Go ahead and watch it, I’ll wait for you.

All sorts of things went through my head when I saw it. I felt bad for the family. I admired them. I felt terrible for the boy. I applauded him. But most of all I got more and more angry with myself for making Holden change his outfit last weekend. I mean so what if he wants to dress like a girl sometimes, or even all the time. The most important thing to me in the whole entire world is that my kids are happy, and I HATE HATE HATE that when I took away that leotard, I took away a little piece of his happiness that day. The last thing I want is for him to feel ashamed or wrong the next time he wants to put on a leotard or a dress or hey, even if he wants to be a girl.

So there. From now on, I’m gonna live what I preach.

My kid can be whatever he wants to be. A firefighter, a teacher, a janitor, the president, a boy, a girl, a boy who wears girl’s clothing, a nudist, whatever he wants. Because it really doesn’t matter what he’s wearing, as long as he’s wearing a smile.


There are 48 comments for this article
  1. Leslie at 8:01 pm

    I love this. I actually posted that video on my FB last night. It really touched me.

  2. Michelle at 8:07 pm

    I watched that video 10 minutes before you posted it. I could only hope that I would be as courageous and inspiring as this family is in their journey! You’re right, as long. As your kid is wearingb a smile, who cares what else they are!

  3. Meg Schwamb at 8:09 pm

    I agree 100 for my 4 month old. I always think it’s funny when people apologize for calling him a girl. I tell them he hasn’t figured out who or what he is… that he’s just happy.

  4. Blake ellis at 8:24 pm

    I literally just finished watching that video!! It’s amazing and so hard to be a parent in that situation. Don’t beat yourself up too much, you’ll do better next time…

  5. Kathi Haacke Morehead at 8:25 pm

    I felt shamed when I watched the video as well. My kids are grown, but I’m not sure I would have been able to do what they did. So right on Holden! Stay safe and happy in whatever you wear!

  6. Kim at 8:26 pm

    I think we all have those moments where we don’t realize what we are doing. I did that with my oldest a lot before I realized it and corrected my behavior. Now my 6 yr old is wanting to dress as a girl and I have told him to have fun as long as he doesn’t wreck my clothes. He seems pretty happy.

  7. Kelly at 8:27 pm

    I let my son wear whatever, I even paint his nails when he sees me painting mine and his little sisters.

  8. Candice at 8:35 pm

    You made me cry!! I absolutely agree as long as they wear a smile who cares about anything else hit their happiness!!

  9. Margot at 8:42 pm

    I’m sobbing after watching that video but I think my tears are happy tears. Happy that his parents took time to seek professional help and had enough love and courage to assist their daughter/son with this change. Sad that this child will most likely endure tough times ahead once he hits puberty and the other kids know he’s not a boy anatomically. I can only hope people are kind and understanding and this child lives a very happy and “normal” life;) What an adorable little boy!

  10. Sarah at 8:57 pm

    What an amazing family!! Brought me to tears. We need more parents like them in the world. So inspirational! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Kristen at 8:59 pm

    I watched that video this morning and it totally made me cry. That family and that boy are so courageous. I too probably would have done what you did, but I too will try to be better.

  12. Marcy Able at 9:10 pm

    I’m not dealing with transgender, however my teenage beautiful daughter had told me, her dad, and Her grandparents that she is bisexual. She has had two girlfriends, and we are fine with it. She’s is still my beautiful daughter, smart, and happy. It’s not up to me to tell her who she can and can’t love.
    I’m not turning this post into a religious discussion. I applaud you for posting this.

    • Gina at 9:49 am

      We are going through the same thing! Although I worry a little about how the general public will react, I am so proud of my daughter – her beauty inside and out just shines!

  13. Amber Crawford at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for realizing your mistake.Growing up I always wanted to be a boy.I lived in my dads garage,always picked out boys clothes,toys rode boys bikes. .at family functions for school pictures my parents INSISTED I dress like a girl.I dreaded these days.When I opened doors people would say thank you young man my reply was a huge smile and thank you.My mom always said why didn’t you correct them and would yell at me “You are a girl Amber Lynn”,my father always defended me.Until my 16th birthday he got me a denim girly shirt and skirt I protested “Dad you always let me act like a boy” his reply changed my life forever.”I want my daughter today” .I gave up I was a freak,a shame,and wrong.I still force myself to dress as a girl.In my brain “I am a male” true friends who know me that I know will accept it call me Alex.I won’t ever fully dress like a male my dad rings in my ears BUT I act like one.Sounds confusing huh.I’m sorry this is so long but I wanted to share my story in hopes none of you accidentally do the same.

    • BabySideburns at 10:08 pm

      Thank you Alex. I’m so sorry you haven’t been able to truly be yourself because you sound like an AMAZING person.

    • Sarah M at 12:53 am

      Be who you are. You sound a lot like my 14 year old sister. I don’t know if she feels like a boy or identifies as a boy but she definitely gravitates that way and always has. Its our mom always pushing her to dress like a girl. I hope you find comfort in your skin – your parents will still love you even if they don’t understand.

    • Laurie. at 8:41 am

      Alex, it’s never too late. Don’t be pigeon holed be YOU, and bee HAPPY.

    • Karpew at 8:43 am

      Alex, you can be whatever makes you happiest. It’s really hard, as a parent, to understand that what your child needs sometimes, is strength to do something that may cause them a lifetime of struggle and hardships. I’d imagine your dad feels this way too. Good luck, and God bless! As many people who question you, there are MANY MANY MANY more who will support you.

    • VegGal at 4:53 pm

      OK here is what I don’t understand. If it’s not supposed to matter then why does it matter? Why are you not just a person with a v****a who wears clothes, rather than a girl who wants to be a boy? And why is a boy who wears a dress a boy who wants to be a girl, rather than a person with a p***s who wears clothes? (To which only a doctor really needs to know your private area to properly treat symptoms) I don’t get how we have decided that your genitals have nothing to do with who you are and what you wear, but then I hear stories about girls wanting to be boys and boys wanting to be girls.

  14. Brenda at 10:30 pm

    As I was reading your pits BS I was thinking about this very video, my 4&1/2 yo son likes to wear his sisters clothes, so I let him… It’s an internal struggle for me not to say “no buddy you need to change” but it’s worth it to see that smile & the laughter that ensues 🙂

    Alex be true to yourself & begin having the life you were meant to have, no one can or should dictate your life..

  15. Melissa at 10:35 pm

    The world makes it hard for us to just be. We want to be accepted, and especially as parents, we want to be seen as GOOD parents. Well, good parents to what is best for their children, not what other people think is best!!! Good on you BS for letting Holden be Holden!!

  16. Lesli at 12:43 am

    Sometimes the concern about the potential emotional effect on your child of questions/looks/etc. outweighs the happy-go-lucky “whatever, be yourself!” vibe. But if there’s a next time, well, offer your fellow more than just a leotard…spice it up! 😉

  17. Carly at 6:35 am

    Your story is great. The video was inspirational. That little man is gonna have to face a great number of challenges in his life – but having his parents accept who he is at such a young age and have his back??? He will be just fine. 🙂 These parents are rock stars. I wish there were millions more just like them!!

  18. Judy at 8:20 am

    Be what you want to be be happy as yourself god bless your happy family? Judy

  19. Elle at 12:30 pm

    Love this! My daughter is very girly now but when she was younger, she LOVED wearing a blue shirt with a cape attached. Kids would give her problems at the playground, saying it was a boy’s shirt and she can’t wear it. But I would reassure her and let her know she can wear anything she wanted and not to worry about what other kids said.

  20. Markielynn at 11:48 am

    We all have made bad decisions. We can only hope that we learn from them. I am thrilled to see that you realized your mistake. You are a wonderful parent and he is young and I bet he doesn’t hold it over you. Next time, you will do the right thing.
    Hugs, Markielynn Rundell

  21. ellen at 8:57 pm

    I so appreciate your honesty with your ambivalence about debuting the leotard and female gendered clothes for public. My family has had a very similar experience as Ryland’s family. My 6 year old girl began making requests for other-gendered clothes at age 3, and I supported her, because I couldn’t see how allowing her to gender express according to who she experiences herself to be contradicted any of our family values of respecting ourselves and others….
    3 years later and she has transitioned from the gender we assigned her at birth “male” to the gender she actually identifies with “female” And now she is a happy child.

    As far as puberty goes, trans children have the opportunity to work with an medical specialist to block the onset of puberty until they reach a later developmental state. And her private parts…well that’s private and she is learning that all people have the right to expect that their private parts are not part of any public conversation. We have learned that gender has multiple dimensions–and the medical/ biological piece is but one aspect of her gender, along with social, emotional, educational, and cognitive. She knows that she is much more than just a trans kid, but that her family supports her in being trans.

    To Alex, I hope that you are able to live honoring the gender(s) that reflect your true self and seek the support you need.

  22. Matt at 6:57 am

    Life is too short. I am SO glad the boy’s mom owned up to her own behavior. She should also be thankful that her daughter ZOEY possibly discovered her sister trapped inside her brother’s body.
    Thank you, God!

  23. Michaela at 10:25 am

    My 3 year old son has a rather emboldened flair for pink and frills and lace. He’s not – as far as I can tell at the ripe age of 3 – any less boy inside and out than the next. He just loves carrying zebra print, pink-lined purses to the zoo and booty dancing in my best pair of leather knee-high boots. Our kids’ generation is experiencing a male revolution as much as their female predecessors did before them and I’m kind of in love with my luck. I get to raise an adorably adorable boy with purple nails and the flack he gets is minimized by the support shown to him and kids experiencing far more extreme identity crises.

    I, too, admit that I’ve reached embarrassing limits I didn’t expect myself to have. I’ve convinced my son to change his clothes or scolding him for verging a little too far on the feminine side. Realizing this only bolsters my overall goal to encourage him to be all that he really is. We moms do have to cut ourselves some slack for the occasional mixed message. I think the heart does, in the end, speak loud and clear.

  24. Jessica at 12:26 am

    I’m guilty too. My son wanted Dora tennis shoes from Payless because he loved the show. I tried to convince him to get something else because I was worried about what other parents would think even though I couldn’t give a rats a*s if he wore the Dora shoes. I’m going to try my hardest not to ever do that again.

  25. Naji Wench at 3:29 pm

    It’s ironic that you post this about your son wearing what he wants, but then post about how horrible it is for a teen girl to wear what she wants.

  26. Ingrid at 5:39 am

    Unfortunately I can’t watch the video here in Germany (aaargh! Stupid GEMA!). Could you possibly send it to my email address??? Would be greatly appreciated 🙂
    I like your last decision saying “from now on he can do/wear whatever he likes…” That’s exactly my opinion. Anyways, “girl’s clothes” and boy’s clothes” are socially constructed and crap. EVERYBODY should do and wear whatever this person likes. Gender shouldn’t be important. For me it isn’t. I’m six months pregnant and we don’t wanna know what s*x our baby has because we don’t (want to) care about that. We don’t want other people tell our daughter that she’s pretty and our son that he’s strong. They would both be pretty AND strong, no matter what s*x they got. I don’t want my baby pushed in one gender direction/drawer just because it’s “easier” for people. My babies genitals shouldn’t be important to anyone but to my baby when it comes to reproduction and pleasure. In my mind I play this conversation over and over when somebody asks for the s*x of my baby (e.g. in the bus, on the street):
    Somebody: Oh, how cute! What is it?
    Me: A baby.
    Sb: Yeah, but is it a boy or girl?
    Me: Why do you wanna know?
    Sb: Ehm… because… (don’t actually know what this person would answer, though)
    Me: Why is the s*x (or the genitals) so important to you? What (disgusting things) do you wanna do with my little baby. You should be ashamed.
    …or something like this.

    What I’m saying is; I don’t want people treating my child differently according to the s*x my baby has. I want it to have all options in life possible and not be pushed into a pin or blue direction. There are so many colors in the world. And my baby may have them all.
    What we do in life is not in our genes, it’s socially constructed if girls rather sit and color, read and boys rather go out and play ball. Think about it; parents and others tell a girl “YOu’re so pretty. Be quiet. Behave, sit still, read a book” or they talk more and read more books with girls (which is more subtle) and tell a boy “don’t be a wimp, you’re a strong boy, let’s play ball” and they don’t discuss as much with boys as they do with girls, they don’t read as much with them. They rather do some little “man-to-man” fights and such… With girls almost nobody does that… That’s why most girls are rather quiet and not the fighters and not because it’s in their genes…

    So, let’s let our children be what they want to be, no matter what (as long as they don’t hurt anybody else with their behavior; and a boy wearing a dress isn’t hurting anyone!).


    • Lexi at 2:01 am

      Kinda messed up, you would accuse someone of being a pervert for asking a common question such as what gender your baby is, one that most parents would think of as being polite. You are sick for feeling the need to s*xualize such a thing!

  27. Anne B at 11:26 am

    Thank you.
    Just… thank you.

  28. One Funny Motha at 10:30 am

    It’s a tough call. I say the same thing – let them be who they are – but if my son wanted to wear a dress or something out I think I’d have a hard time w/ it, too. I give you credit for writing about it and trying to change.

  29. katie at 11:06 am

    That was an amazing video…we need to teach love. They are an incredible family

  30. Elizabeth at 4:54 pm

    I disagree. My son can be whoever he is, gay, straight, or bi, Trans or not, farmer, teacher, actor, janitor, or president, but until he’s living in his own home, sitting on his own furniture, I draw the line at nudist.

    Right now he’s a long haired child who likes bugs, monster trucks, My Little Pony, and his new, hot pink, snow boots. I tell him he is beautiful and that I love him.

  31. hopeinfreefall at 4:21 pm

    Our local library puts on a hugely popular event every year called “Science Alive” where you can learn about everything from HAM radio, astronomy, gems & minerals, community planning, to raising chickens, farming, aviation, rocket building, and more. As you might imagine, there was a wide variety of people in attendance. I was having to use a wheelchair that day, so I had a unique perspective on the kids that were excitedly bouncing around.

    First, that was fun on it’s own, because watching a child’s face as they see something new & awesome or figure out something they are learning for the first time is pretty amazing. Along with that, I saw a wide variety of outfits. My favorite, by far, was a family with 3 kids, 2 girls & 1 boy. The older girl had on a sparkly outfit that included a tutu. The younger girl who was toddler sized had on a cute dress with the tulle at the bottom that’s popular right now & hints at tutus & petticoats. The boy had on khakis & a blue shirt, things that folks typically call “boy clothes”, but on top of his khakis was a red tutu with gold stars. I couldn’t help but smile. It was both adorable & awesome. If we hadn’t been rushing to the next thing my daughter & her friend were wanting to do, I would have stopped to tell his grown-ups how awesome their kiddos looked.

  32. colleen at 4:31 pm

    Kudos to that family for being able to put aside their own fears of social rejection to allow their child to be Happy and comfortable with his own sexuality. I decided early on in my journey of parenthood that being true to myself and my beliefs was much more important than the acceptance and approval of a bunch of “stories” mommies considered to be the in crowd of social acceptance. I may not have had a ton of friends but those I had were true blue friends, there in good and bad times even when many times we needed to agree to disagree

  33. Susan at 3:15 pm

    As a kid, I always was forced into cute girly clothes. Back to school shopping was the bane of my existence because I wanted to wear T-shirts with graphics and jeans like the boys, but instead I got dresses and skirts. My Grandparents raised me and it was a constant battle. My Grandma wanted the frilly stuff and Grandpa wanted me to be comfortable and happy. As I got older, when I got to choose my own clothes, I got my jeans and graphic tees. Now as a 37 yr old lesbian, I typically dress as a male tho I identify as female. It was hard for my family at first to understand “why” and Grandma thought it was something she had done. After many years of telling her “This is just who I am. The same person I’ve always been.” she gets it. You only get one life and I’m going to make the most out of mine. 🙂

  34. Ann Phillips at 3:12 pm

    My nephew went thru a stage where he loved dressing up in my daughters handmedowns. He was 4-5 then. His mom who has no daughters unfortunately got into it as well. He is now almost 11, has hair way too long for a boy (his mom’s preference) and she’s still buying him dresses and encouraging (dare I say pushing him?) to dress up for her around the house. It was cute when he was little but kind of sad now. Too bad his parents divorced. He needs a male protector.

  35. Charles at 1:18 am

    The definitions are wrong. Clothing is said to be male or female not based on anatomy, but based on associated use. S*x typing garments, besides bras and athletic supporters, is incredibly dismal. People have no idea what put men into pants and plain clothes. Male chromosomes had no connection to it. Social forces account for all of it—every bit of it. Horseback riding put men into pants. Short hair on men became a habit starting in the 1300s due to European military regulations mandating short hair on soldiers. Head lice was an issue, and sentries couldn’t afford to be distracted. Short hair and masculinity (and pants) eventually became the stereotypical standards of masculinity. In isolated regions—Scotland—Albania—Greece—the South Seas—areas in Asia and elsewhere—skirts persist to this day worn by men, as men. Women are treated as individuals, men are corralled into a gender collective in clothes. However, the same factions (psychiatrists, psychologists and ministers) who formerly persecuted women in pants, now persecute men with terminology (“cross-dressing”) which does not define fact, but rather serves to maintain things as they are, by preventing men having choices. In 1943 Chicago police arrested Evelyn Bross for wearing pants in public and judge Jacob Braude ordered her to see a psychiatrist for six months. The FEDS stepped in and pressured the Chicago City Council to scrap its 1851 ordinance against “cross-dressing,” because winning the war effort was deemed more important than allowing repressive psychiatric dogma to prevail. And that was the causation (99.8%) of women wearing pants today—the 18 million USA women who wore pants for the FIRST time in war factories (1942-1945)—pants they withdrew from the closets of their male relatives and boyfriends. It should be apparent that the skirt and the trouser aren’t s*x differences—they’re activity differences. And fancy clothes aren’t “female;” they’re upper class, aristocratic and Royal in their origins. So men banned from wearing anything decorative means men are treated as serfs while women are treated as Royals. If men want to “:dress like men,” they should shave less. The 1988 Democrat national Presidential nominee, Mike Dukakis, was seen in Time, Life, Newsweek, Look and People magazines wearing an ethnic skirt worn by males in Greece, as a boy. There is no cross-dressing taking place, because neither s*x is entitled to a locked monopoly on any basic style.

  36. Suhail at 11:09 am

    Before i begin: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20: 13
    You were not wrong for making your son take off the girl clothes. If anyone here believes in the most high and read the bible, then you will know that God is not ok with homosexuals. It is a sin and you WILL go to hell for being gay/lesbian/transexual/bisexual. I don’t allow my son to wear girl clothes or girl like things. I am a strong believer in the bible and I will not allow my son to be gay. Children are vulnerable to these bad spirits and we must guide them in the right direction and correct these gay moments. Everyone is so worried about not hurting people’s feelings. I’m not, the truth is the truth and just because it is legal for homosexuals to marry doesn’t make it right and rightious.

  37. Cathy at 4:50 pm

    Suhail I hope it doesn’t surprise you to read that you have no say in your son’s gender identity. Just like the color of his eyes, gay or trans, straight or bi was determined before he was born. You may suppress him while he lives in your house but you cannot change him.

  38. Mark at 9:45 am

    So what do you do about changing him? Do you beat it out of him? How do you get it out? I agree the Bible says it wrong, but haven’t found what to do to change them. Would love to discuss this with you.