Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boys and dresses ...

Boy-o likes them a lot of late.  He gets that from me, not his mommy, who wouldn't be caught dead in one.  (And if she were caught dead in one would look like a dead person in drag).   And as luck should have it, we have a closet full of hand-me-down dresses which are a bit too small for him, but he manages to squeeze into anyways.  Todays' ensemble was a purple velvety number with sparkles.  Very good twirl in the skirt part, too, which is important.  It's a fun, properly twirly dress.  With bling.  And my Boy-o rocked it.

At any rate.  He hasn't asked to wear one to school yet.  He's worn them to play in the yard.  He's worn them to hop on over to Zeller's for an errand. (Looking resplendent with the addition of skull and crossbones puddle boots, might I add).  But not to school.  I'm waiting for it.  And, though I could care less whether he wears a dress or blue jeans or both at once (which is a rather snappy look ;), I'm holding my breathe a little.   It's some tricky shit to navigate for any parent, but maybe particularly so as a queer parent.

As a queer parent, I couldn't give a rats' arse what my kids wear, nor do I think (at this particular life juncture, anyways) that what my kids choose to wear says anything about them, other than you know, fashion sense.  Boy-o choosing a dress and heels no more means he is or will be queer or trans than Girlio rocking blue and a pirate hat.  But there's that whole stinking weird cultural thing around boys trying out 'girl stuff.'  And it's some heavy cultural baggage.  Baggage I wish my babes didn't have to contend with, but know better. 

And as a queer parent, I'm also hyper-aware of pressure to produce gender "normal" children, who grow up to be good, heterosexual citizens.  Every time there's some jack-ass crabbing about how those homos shouldn't be allowed to parent, the queers trot out some study or other demonstrating how 'normal' and well adjusted and socially responsible our gaybys turn out to be.   That's a lot of pressure to put on our gaybys.  I know - I've got two mamas, and am aware of the pressure to be one of those kids who 'turned out well'.  But I turned out queer too (thus, I am bad for statistical purposes).  And then procreated, all queer-like.  And seem to have spawned a boy-child (at this particular moment in life) who likes to hop around in dresses.  (Again, bad for statistical purposes). 

I am also aware that sending my Boy-o out into the world dressed in dresses (I refuse to call this cross-dressing, because I don't see why dresses are gendered anyways) would probably be more educative if he had nice, cool, straight parents who could sway people in their world with their open-minded, unabashed acceptance of their child's difference.  Us - it's just going to look to others as if we're trying to 'turn our kid queer.'  Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe the feelings this brings up for me.  Not by a long shot.  But you get the jist.

I desparately don't want to send my kid out into a world that's going to be fucking mean to him.  He's already got queer parents to contend with, living in this rednecky town full o' Harper love to boot.  But I also refuse to discourage my kids from being anything other than who they are

So - for now we tread the fine line - gently explaining from time to time that some people don't think boys should wear dresses, but that we believe that if something makes you feel 'happy in your heart' and feels good and right, it's A-okay.  I'm sure this talk will have to become a bit more serious if he does decide that he wants to wear one to school. 

I guess we'll cross that overly gendered bridge when and if we get to it.


  1. I hear ya. I'm all for allowing the kids to do what they want but there is that part of me that worries what others will say. It's almost like your kid has to turn out better than all other kids and "normal" so that you can prove that we can parent as gay people. It's crazy.

    I love that you let him explore dresses. Why not? My stupid mother-in-law once made a comment about nail polish on Jackson. yeah, the world is messed.

  2. the world is indeed messed up, and any variation from the norm is frowned upon....not that many months ago I was being called a bad mother (by a complete stranger) for the hanging offense of having my son be seen CRYING IN PUBLIC!!!

    I was a complete tomboy for years - the last dress i wore was my wedding dress 6 years ago, and one will not enter my wardrobe again until next year when I am to be a bridesmaid..but I digress. My daughter is girly in the extreme, and my son quite often dresses up in her stuff, he rocks a satin Dora costume incidently. Hubby mumbles about it, I tell him lovingly to go shoot something - neither of us have been in Canada long enough to get rednecky yet I think (I hope!!).

    I worry for my kids just because I'm their mom. If they turn out to be happy, confident, non-serial-killer type people, hopefully I have done my job well. Who cares what they wear?????? I feel for you guys, it's like you have huge neon targets on your backs and people actually want you to mess up so they can say "see...told you it was a bad idea!!" , instead of accepting people for who they are!

    k, soap box creaking, am getting off now!

  3. Just so you know: you are great parents, and that's what I think. Just throwing a positive judgement out there to hopefully balance a bit of the negative stranger judgements.

    I hear you, though. Apparently, I'm a bad mother because my kids aren't "scheduled" and when they're feeling stressed, they cry and yell.

    It is the world around us that expects Mothers to be superhuman, and because mothers are compassionate and in tune with the feelings and experiences of others in their 24/7 work, we take on these feelings of our society. We don't have to, that's the trick. It's a good things we have each other to maintain perspective!

    Thanks for sharing! It makes me feel like I'm not alone in this job!