Dads Dressing in Drag 'For the Children' Is Not Good Parenting
I hate 2019. Everywhere I look lately, some bearded, tattooed, or man-bunned millennial dad is dressing up in a princess dress to dance around with his son or daughter while someone videos it. Then that video shows up in my Facebook feed, where every single person on earth feels the need to respond with, "Oh, how adorable!" or "What a good father!" while I just want to pull out my hair and scream WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE AND WHERE IS THE WHISKEY?
I have three major problems with this:
1. Dressing in drag with your son is not a kindness to him.
If your son wants to wear princess dresses, he has one of two issues. The first is very simple and about 99.9 percent of cross-dressing toddlers fall into this category. He wants a cool costume. That's it. There's no hidden message, but girls have way cooler things to dress up in than boys, unless you go out looking for them online or make them yourself. My son wanted to wear a princess dress once because he has two sisters and they have a closet full of them and let's face it, they're sparkly and fabulous. What kid doesn't want to be a part of dress-up?
That was the moment I could have been one of those moms who overreacts and puts her 3-year-old son in a dress and starts calling him "Maizy" and forces the neighbors to say "she." But I didn't do that. Instead, I pulled out my sewing machine, my gramma's mink stole, and some jewels and I DIY'd that kid a royal robe and a bejeweled crown. Top that with a sword and he was slaying dragons all day long. I also went out and found him a bunch of costumes like fireman, policeman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, stormtrooper and more. He never asked me for another princess dress. He just wanted to play dress-up. Given the choice to wear some cool manly costume with guns and handcuffs, he chooses those every time. Duh.
The second possibility (and much rarer case) is that your son has gender dysphoria. It's not a fun fantasy. It's a debilitating illness. It's a great thing when a dad wants to be there for his child during a serious challenge. But diving right into cross-dressing is inadvisable. If your son has problems relating to being a boy, maybe he needs some time with his dad — who is a man — to show him what's great about being male. It's true that a father should not berate his son who is going through gender dysphoria. But "when this occurs in the pre-pubertal child, GD resolves in the vast majority of patients by late adolescence," says the American College of Pediatrics. Dads running around in dresses isn't going to help the dysphoria go away. If you start your son out thinking it's just peachy to wear dresses and hey look, there's your dad in one, I think it may work against the "grow out of it" resolution. And don't good parents want their kids' inner turmoil to self-resolve? No one wants their child to live a lifetime feeling they are in the wrong body. That's a crippling disability that is not resolved by self-mutilation and many end up resolving that feeling through suicide. No parent should want to encourage an illness that kills up to 40 percent of the sufferers. Instead, they should be seeking a cure that involves therapy to accept the body the children were born in.