This is an excerpt from an advice column in the Toronto Star, this week a mother wrote in asking for advice regarding her son’s crossdressing behavior and potential future.
I’ve copied and pasted the question and answer below along with my own opinions.
Q: I’ve discovered that my son, 14, has been dressing up in my clothes in private. He never dressed up in girl’s clothing as a young child.
My husband also discovered a story my son had written where the main character, a young boy, goes shopping with his mother who wants to buy girl’s clothing for him, which he enjoys wearing. My husband’s been accepting of what we think is cross-dressing behaviour. However, I’m stressed out over it, worried it’ll become a lifelong fetish/behaviour, and unsure how healthy it is from a societal perspective.
I’ve tried not to overreact. But I did express that he stay away from my closet as it’s a private space. I’ve sought some information on the topic, but haven’t found anything helpful. He’s otherwise a lovely, kind, athletic and intelligent boy.
A: Your first instinct was correct – do not overreact. Many young teens are curious about the whole topic of sexuality and some youths experiment with wearing makeup, and trying on feminine clothes without ever becoming cross-dressers. So, while it’s worthwhile for you to research information, it’s important not to slap a label on his behaviour. Experts say that most cross-dressers are heterosexual and cross-dress only on a part-time basis, so don’t make assumptions about your son’s future lifestyle. If he sneaks clothes from your closet, use the opportunity to open up communication about sexuality in general.
So it seems on the surface that the mother is doing right by her son by not blowing up at him. However, she expresses anxiety as to whether this will ‘become’ a lifelong activity. This isn’t really a knock on the mother but I don’t like how she says “He’s otherwise a lovely, kind, athletic and intelligent boy” because this, in my view, implies that crossdressing is some kind of perverted / disgusting act.
The columnist replies by noting that experts say that most cross-dressers are hetero and part-time, but this is not going to help the family if this kid feels more than that. I think that Ellie (the writer) would have done better by the mom if she referred her to a helpful website or some good literature. In addition, why should the mom talk about sexuality with the child when she should be discussing his gender identity?
I don’t mean to rant on this at all, just some general observations that express how I feel about this advice. It’s almost as if Ellie is saying ‘hey, this is probably just a phase and don’t worry your son is probably not some gay fruit who wants to become a woman, but just in case you better ask if he’s attracted to guys or girls’.
Perhaps the mother should read my interview with my mom.
What do you think? Was this good advice or did Ellie strike out and possibly hurt the situation? I’d love to hear your take.