The way we talk about and see gender has completely changed over the years. Society has become much more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community and the way we look at gender identity is changing for the better.
Previous generations were not always so accepting and it can be worrying for parents if their son likes to wear girls’ clothes.
It is okay for a boy to wear girls’ clothes, especially in his own home with an accepting family around him. Problems can come from a boy wearing girls’ clothes if he were to cross paths with other children or adults who are not as understanding or accepting of how he chooses to dress and express himself.
In modern society, clothes are becoming more gender-neutral and a boy wearing a dress is not considered to be an issue in the way it was twenty years ago.
However, bullies do still exist and parents may worry for their sons’ safety if he wants to go out in public wearing girls’ clothes.
In this article
- Is it Normal For a Boy to Dress Like a Girl?
- Can a Boy Dress Like A Girl?
- Should Parents Worry If Son Wants To Dress Like A Girl?
- Why Is My Son Wearing Girls Clothes?
- What To Do If My Son Is Dressing Like A Girl?
- The Final Thought
Is it Normal For a Boy to Dress Like a Girl?
Children are curious by nature, they love to explore and learn new things and this curiosity does not stop when it comes to clothes.
It is normal for boys to want to wear what are stereotypically considered to be girls’ clothes: dresses, skirts, high-heeled shoes, and so on. It is also normal for girls to want to experiment wearing boys’ clothes too, like shirts, ties, car and dinosaur print sweatshirts, and so on.
The majority of the time, if your son is dressing in girls’ clothes he is just indulging his curiosity and playing dress-up for fun. You do not have to immediately assume your son is transgender if he sometimes wants to put a bow in his hair and put on a princess dress.
Think of it as just playing make-believe and dress up, you wouldn’t worry if your son was dressing up in a pirate or astronaut costume, would you?
Can a Boy Dress Like A Girl?
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Yes, boys can dress in girls’ clothes and vice versa. Although society still has some hang-ups on cross-dressing, people fear their children dressing as the opposite gender could be a sign of their sexual orientation or gender identity later in life.
However, the truth is that wearing clothes made for the opposite gender as a child is very common, whereas growing up to realize you are transgender is still very rare – according to a 2016 study from William’s Institute, only 0.6% of the US population identify as transgender.
Children should be free to express themselves in any way they wish and if your son wants to dress as a girl then he can do so. There will be risks involved in his form of expression but only due to the opinions of less liberal-minded people around him.
Cross-dressing in childhood is normal and parents should refrain from shaming or humiliating their son if he wants to wear girls’ clothes.
Should Parents Worry If Son Wants To Dress Like A Girl?
It is natural for parents to worry about their children and want to protect them from bullies and harm.
With the Human Rights Campaign reporting 44 members of the transgender community were murdered in 2020 in the US, it is no wonder parents feel concerned when they notice their sons showing interest in dressing in girls’ clothes.
However, not thinking about hate crimes for a moment, parents do not need to worry if their son wants to dress like a girl.
Fantasy play is a normal part of childhood development, and it is actually a good thing if you notice your son is curious about experimenting and expressing himself.
Children learn through play and for most children, dressing up in clothes intended for the opposite gender is just another form of play. Cross-dressing is a phase that the majority of children will go through as they grow and start to work out the things they enjoy and the things they don’t.
Whilst cross-dressing is extremely common in childhood, it is important for parents to be aware of Gender Identity Disorder.
A child wanting to occasionally play dress up in clothes for the opposite gender is totally normal, whereas if your son insists on regularly dressing as a girl and has a persistent desire to be the opposite sex, they may be showing signs of Gender Identity Disorder.
If you fear your son may have a genuine desire to be a girl and is experiencing Gender Identity Disorder, you can take him to a therapist who can give him an accurate diagnosis.
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Try not to worry. Gender Identity Disorder is thought to affect under 1% of the population and if your son is transgender, there are professionals who can give you advice and guidance on how to cope as a family and how best to help your child.
As previously mentioned, unfortunately, hate crimes against the transgender community are on the rise in the US. Black and Latino transgender women are currently the most at risk and have suffered the most fatalities within the LGBTQ+ community in recent years.
Parents of cross-dressing sons are of course going to worry about the safety of their children as they grow and go out into the world expressing their true selves.
Whilst society has become more liberal in recent years, we still have a long way to go in the US to ensure members of our LGBTQ+ community are kept safe and can live as freely as the rest of the population.
It is completely understandable to feel worried if your son is dressing in girls’ clothes. Remember, cross-dressing is a normal part of your child’s development and in most instances, children grow out of it.
However, if your son does have Gender Identity Disorder, you can help to educate him as he grows on how to stay safe as a transgender adult in society.
In the meantime, as your son explores who he is within the safety of his own home, we can hope to watch society become more accepting towards the transgender community so he can be safe and free to express himself publicly in the future.
Why Is My Son Wearing Girls Clothes?
There are many reasons why your son might be wearing girls’ clothes. Let’s recap some of the most common reasons why your son is dressing like a girl:
He is playing make-believe
Just like when he dresses up as a superhero or a ghost on Halloween. Your son is just playing dress-up when he decides to put on his sister’s princess dress or your shoes.
He is curious
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Children are curious by nature and your son might just want to know what it feels like to wear a dress or to spin around in a swishy skirt. He is just exploring and learning by experimenting with different clothes.
He is jealous of his sister
Sometimes children can dress as the same sex as their siblings if they feel like they are not treated equally. If your son has started dressing as a girl it may be because he feels like his sister gets special treatment just because she is a girl, for example.
He is expressing himself
The clothes we choose to wear are a form of self-expression. Some children dance or paint or sing to express themselves, others experiment with clothes and develop a strong personal sense of style.
He is transgender
Whilst rare, some boys who like to wear girls’ clothes do have a gender identity disorder. Your son may be dressing as a girl because deep down he feels like he is a girl and he wants to dress for the gender he feels he truly is.
What To Do If My Son Is Dressing Like A Girl?
If your son has started dressing like a girl, there are lots of ways you can learn to handle this behavior as his loving parent. Here is a list of ways to approach dealing with your son wanting to dress as a girl:
Let him wear what he wants at home
Like his family, you need to be respectful and kind if your son starts showing an interest in dressing in girls’ clothes. If your son wants to wear a dress at home, let him.
If he wants to borrow your lipstick or put on his sister’s flowery shirt, let him. As we have previously pointed out, cross-dressing is a normal part of childhood development and you should not force your child to stop if it is not causing any harm.
Educate him on other people’s views and opinions
There is no need to terrify your child by giving him all of the statistics about hate crimes suffered by the LGBTQ+ community.
However, if your son intends on dressing in girls clothes outside of the house and you do not live in a very accepting neighborhood, try your best to educate him on the sort of comments he may receive from strangers and advise him on the best actions to take in a confrontational situation.
If your son only wants to dress in girls’ clothes at home you do not need to worry so much about the reactions of strangers, however, it is always important your child has all the relevant knowledge so if they do decide to crossdress in public.
Be factual and compassionate. There is no need to terrify your child into not dressing like a girl.
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Don’t punish or shame him
You should avoid humiliating, shaming, or teasing your son for dressing in girls’ clothes, at all costs. Punishing your boy for cross-dressing and humiliating him will cause much more psychological damage than the act of cross-dressing itself.
Don’t use hurtful language, transphobic slurs, or name-call. There is no point locking your wardrobe you’re banning your son from going near any girl’s clothes in the house.
You will just make him feel like he is doing something wrong and that you don’t accept him for who he is.
Be supportive and empathetic
You will not ‘turn your son gay’ or ‘make him transgender’ if you just let him carry on exploring and experimenting in girls’ clothes. Cross-dressing in childhood and adult sexuality and gender identity are all different things.
Of course, transgender adults may have started dressing as the opposite sex during childhood but the majority of children who cross-dress do not actually have gender identity disorder.
The best approach is to not make a big deal about your son dressing as a girl and just be accepting of what your son wants to wear.
Ask your son why he enjoys dressing as a girl, in most cases, it will simply be because he is just playing or wanted to know what it would feel like.
If your son continues to want to dress in girls’ clothes as he grows up, remain supportive, do not be angry that the ‘phase’ hasn’t ended. Let your son know you are always there if he wants to talk to you and try to be patient and see the situation from your son’s point of view.
Seek professional help
If your son is insisting he is a girl and that is why he wants to wear girls’ clothes, he may have Gender Identity Disorder.
If your son has expressed to you that he is transgender or that he doesn’t feel like he is a boy, you can seek expert advice from a child therapist.
A professional will be able to help diagnose whether your son is transgender and will advise you on what steps you can take as a family to help him live the life he wants.
The Final Thought
It is okay for a boy to dress in girls’ clothes. In fact, cross-dressing occasionally during childhood is completely normal. Most children will explore wearing different clothes and boys wearing girls clothes is nothing to worry about.
If as he grows you discover your son is transgender, there is a wealth of information available online and from charities and organizations to help parents and their children to better understand Gender Identity Disorder.
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Less than 1% of the US adult population is transgender but the majority of children will try wearing clothes intended for the opposite sex at some point during their childhood.
With these statistics in mind, it is likely your son is just playing make-believe when he is dressing as a girl.
It can be worrisome for parents when their son starts dressing as a girl but always try to remember curiosity, exploration, and experimentation are all signs of normal healthy childhood development.