My boy in a skirt.

Gus loves skirts. A while ago I bought him a few used twirly skirts that I figured he could use like tutus. He really took to them and wore one very regularly in the evening and on the weekend. Then it got a bit colder again, the skirt got put away, and no one thought much of it.

Yesterday we were getting dressed to run errands and Lesley gave him the choice of two pairs of shorts. He shoved her out of the way, said “No Mommy. Skirt.” and got a skirt out of his closet. Today I got him dressed to head to a friend’s birthday party and then he found the skirt on the couch and insisted he wear that instead. So he did.

It’s an interesting thing, a boy in a skirt. In no way do I think that he should not be able to wear one yet I hear myself explaining it to other people “He’s into skirts big time today and insisted he wear it” and having the progressive parents we know mention it. A man at the party making small talk misgendered him repeatedly. I decided months ago to not go out of my way to correct people when they misgender him because I feel like it is saying there is something wrong with being labeled a girl. No one at this party thought it was a big deal. No one at the grocery store realizes he is a boy.

But what’s next is where I struggle. There is a family in town that has twin four year olds. They are boy/girl twins but are both always dressed as “girls”. A year ago I would have thought this was odd. Sure, I am find with boys wearing skirts but all the time? That’s too much, I thought.

And now I figure out how to actually parent my child. We give him limited choices when picking out his clothes some times (some times we suck at this). Do I offer a skirt every time? I need to buy more skirts… Should I let him try dresses? “Let him”. That sounds so awful. For now, any time he asks he can wear it. I think I am fine with that. Yet I am still nervous about the day he wants to wear a skirt to daycare.

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Posted on May 30, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I know the social norms in our towns are very different and there’s a lot more leeway to be outside of the norm where you are, and Gus is way too young for any social consequences of being different, but in my opinion I don’t think it’s fair to a kid to let them buck the social norm before they can truly understand the social ramifications of what they are doing. My friend’s 12 year old son has been called a weirdo and a faggot for the past 3 years, and no one comes to his birthday parties anymore because he insisted on painting his nails and going to school with them that way once. I have another friend who is a lesbian, and her and her partner are into the no gender thing and have their kids that way too. Their 5th grade girl is a pariah that gets teased and ridiculed daily because no one knows what she is. It’s heartbreaking to see.
    Sorry for the rant, I have strong feelings about this kind of thing!

    • Isn’t it worse though to crush their individuality and tell them who they are not allowed to be? Coming from a parental figure, that can be the most crushing. As a kid, I could handle other kids giving me crap about my lack of typical fashion sense, but it hurt a lot more when my mom would strong arm me into conformity.

      • I get what you’re saying. My 2 year old boy loves putting on my daughter’s princess dresses and twirling around in them, but he knows there is a difference between play dress up and going out in public. (I also don’t let my daughter wear them in public) I know I’ll have to re evaluate my opinion in some years when the kids have opinions on what they want to wear, how they want their hair, etc., but for now I feel like it just brings unnecessary negative attention

      • I hear what you’re saying – additionally, I do think being a queer family brings about additional scrutiny regarding parenting choices such as this. There’s also definite privilege involved in the choice – for example, if one of my kids were bullied or ostracized at school for being themselves, I have the ability to homeschool or online school or easily switch my kid to a different “normal” school (plus we have plenty of very queer-friendly alternative options around here too).

        All that being said, I think it’s important enough for our family that we would work pretty hard to support our kids’ choices, even if it meant sacrifice or hardship (but that’s easy to say when it doesn’t).

  2. He looks great πŸ™‚ Good job x

  3. AmyApplesnail

    I really appreciate hearing you work through these parenting decisions. I find it so interesting that it is considered cool and hipster to raise a daughter who is empowered to wear whatever she wants, but boys are still so heavily controlled by masculinity social norms. Skirts are effing comfortable and they look cool, and it seems so unfair to me when boys are told they can’t wear them. Why not?? I just don’t get it. I think you are doing a great thing by letting him pick out his own clothes – it will make him into an empowered person who will look back on his childhood one day with some serious appreciation of the unconditional love an acceptance of his parents. I totally understand that you still have some concerns and reservations about whether or not there should be limits and whether/how you teach him about social norms and expectations, but right now, the shame-free childhood you are offering him is AMAZING. One day hopefully this won’t even have to be a discussion. Kids will wear the clothes they want to wear. Oh and also, new studies on today’s youth show that a large majority believe gender is a poor way to define a person. So keep in mind that your son’s peers will probably have a lot less of a problem with his attire than closed minded and conforming adults do.

  4. I think if we had a son, I would feel the same way – willing to ‘let’ him wear whatever he wants, but apprehensive about what that means out in the world. I think that it is harder with boys, because the pressure
    to conform is so much stronger –
    and I know for me, as a lesbian mom,
    I feel more aware of people’s reactions to our parenting choices in this area.

    As far as the future implications of skirt wearing? Social pressure is strong, and Gus will be able to decide whether it is more important to him to fit in or do things his way – I don’t think that letting him not conform will have any lasting effect, other than maybe confidence to explore and experiment while knowing that his parents fully support him. If he does decide to wear skirts later on, he’ll probably have a strong enough sense of self to sustain him through whatever negativity he encounters.

  5. JFulbright7987

    Great job Mommies!

  6. shawnsorcade

    I don’t like that I feel a weird double standard when I think about life with Abel. Bean wears primarily “boy” clothes and we don’t bat an eyelid but why do I feel so uncomfortable with the opposite situation?

    • Exactly. (also love the name.) why would I put a girl in “boy” clothes but feel a slight pause when Gus pulls out a skirt?

      • shawnsorcade

        I wanted to bring this up on the fb group but didn’t know how. I’ve really been struggling with it lately. As bean grows out of a dress or something I think oh I hope we eventually have another girl to dress in this. Cade always says or Abe could wear it but I feel really hesitant :s

      • I think in some ways it is less stigmatized when a boy has an older sister because then you have an “excuse” to own the dresses and skirts and he wants to be like sister. It’s all so weird though.

      • shawnsorcade

        And I already told you the name forver ago!!

      • Damn it, I forgot. Equally as excited to hear again.

  7. I think it’s really important to be valued for who we are and what we like. I feel like I didn’t necessarily get that support from my parents when I was a kid, and it was harder than whatever support I didn’t or might not have gotten from peers. If he likes skirts, awesome! If he prefers shorts, awesome! Our motto is basically “support you kid”. Providing a range of options that he’ll see in everyday life (skirts, pants, etc) and letting him go with whatever he chooses for his body is both empowering and affirming of not only his choices, but others’ choices as well, so kudos for growing a kind and accepting kiddo! I think that “not letting” him wear a skirt would definitely send the message that skirts (and by extension, those who typically wear them) are “less than”.

    I get the pressure to explain your kiddo’s choices to other parents. We get a lot of grief for “letting” our girl-child have a short haircut. For some reason, parents think it’s cool to comment to us about how they would be “crushed” or “die” if their girl-child wanted her “beautiful long hair” cut or wanted to have a “boy” haircut. Um.. okay? I waffle on how to respond to that nonsense. I mean, for starters, both of her moms have “boy hair” (barf, I do not have “boy” hair, I have me hair – cutting it short did not change my gender). And beyond that, yeah, I love her curls, but you know what I love more? Her self-confidence, her strong will, and her complete and utter disregard for beauty standards and others’ opinions on how she should look/be in the world.

    Our kids are the future, so yay for making it a better, more accepting place to be. ❀ Rock those skirts, G!

  8. There was a time when all men wore skirts! One word: kilts πŸ˜‰

  9. My feeling on the misgendering thing is to go ahead and correct, because there’s nothing wrong with a boy being dressed like that. You’re equally right to not correct, but that’s how I’ve handled it when it happens to us, because Geronimo has his father’s skin tone and looks damn good in pinks and purples. One guy even admitted, “oh, sorry, I just saw the purple shirt.” I have the same thoughts as you when it comes to letting boys wear skirts, but I also haven’t dealt with actually doing it, nor would I be sure how to go about actually carrying out those same principles. Geronimo couldn’t care less about clothes except when it comes to taking them off, so we haven’t even bothered giving him choices when we dress him, and he’s never pointed to specific clothing in a store or anything so I don’t even deal with that. I just get overly conscious about color because it’s so gendered. Yeah I buy pink and purple shirts for him because why the hell not? But I don’t buy “girls” clothes because they’re so over the top and I don’t agree with what’s marketed for young girls. Then I worry about shit like choosing green for the theme for his room, because any color looks masculine if it’s for a boy’s room, and only gender neutral if it’s for a girl. It seems impossible to do anything ungendered for kids, or even just to mitigate the binary.

  10. This has been a real personal struggle for me with Carter. I didn’t want to fill his wardrobe with only gender neutral and ‘boy’ clothing but I also felt concerned about buying the dresses and the skirts for him. He lived in hand-me-downs for the first couple years and wore a lot of girls pants but that’s where it stopped. I bought a dress for Dylan last summer and when it arrived in the mail Carter immediately asked to put it on.
    Since then I’ve tried to make it more of an option for him. I tried to contain it to home time but I was concerned about any message I would be giving if I said no to him wearing it somewhere that Dylan could obviously.
    Overall, my politics tell me it’s not big deal but my gut is still so uncomfortable. I’m owning the fact that this is my discomfort and not his and I don’t want to let it show but it’s something I try to be honest enough with him about that he understands.
    Now we buy more of his clothes I go through catalogs or websites with him and he tells me what he likes and we discuss if it’s an option (usually practicality of colour or size or price).

  11. Gus rocks that skirt. He just exudes so much confidence, he always has this wide stance and beams in the pictures you post of him wearing one. I have no opinion other than that. He’s a cool kid and you are cool parents.

  12. First, Gus looks DOPE in that skirt! For reals! I love that you give him the option to choose his clothes and that he doesn’t know necessarily that “skirts are for girl” or the like. That in itself is showing him to be open to what may be “different”. I talk to Callie about this sometimes, becasue even though I KNOW that it’s ok, I worry because I come from a very masculine male dominated Latino culture, where you are taught from a young age that girls do this and boys do that and there are no blurred lines. It’s even been difficult for me being more masculine than the average female in my family to not sometimes feel ostracized by my own family, and I know what those burning eyes on me feel like, and would hate for my kids to be feeling that. Ultimately, if my son wants to wear a skirt, he’s gonna wear it and I’m not gonna care, but I think I might feel like my mom felt when I told her that I was gay, started wearing boys clothes, and started hanging out with my girlfriend…Like all eyes are on me and that I am a bad mom because how dare I allow my child to do something like that. You ugys are rocking it out, and Gus is gonna be so much better for it! with or without the skirt…

  13. I struggle with this too. Internally, I want him to look at all the clothes at the store and pick which he likes. Then I feel the external pressure of gender norms. I want to get or make him a couple skirts and dresses as he really likes dressing up. His long hair is constantly under fire and it drives me crazy. I will cry the first time he says something is a boy or girl activity/outfit/toy. I don’t know how to sort this all out but let’s get these skirt wearing boys together and play.

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