This entry is adapted from two separate blog posts I wrote on PINKEssence last night (I’m on there as “Julie Anne Morgan” ^_^; )
A friend of mine (one of the First Four whom I came out to back in May of this year) posted this blog entry on his Facebook, detailing a mother’s experience with her five-year old boy wanting to dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween, and her dealing with other parents’ reactions.
While reading this, I was both happy and sad — Happy, for knowing that this boy had the full support of his mom for his decision, and sadness, for a missed opportunity from my teenage years.
I was 15 years old, and it was not too long after my mom found out I was dressing up as a girl, and she didn’t know what to make of it, so of course, she was up in arms with the “This has to stop!” and the “Do you know what a deviant is?” thing – The kind of thing that more or less made me go into hiding for over two decades, but never stopping altogether. I never had a chance to purge – She purged for me, until I started building and stashing my own wardrobe about a decade ago.
Anyway, back to the situation at hand – Age 15, and Halloween is upon us. My younger sister (Whom I seem to resemble in facial structure and eyes, and of course, the right makeup and wig. ^_^; ) had the bright idea of having me dress up as a girl for Halloween. I was so stigmatized from the shame instilled in me from Mom that I talked my sister out of that.
At least, I was able to finally rectify that situation, three times over the last four weeks — About 26 years overdue. On October 9th, I attended River City Sparkle up in Sacramento, CA, for the evening’s social event, and the following day for breakfast with the other girls. On October 23rd, I attended the River City Gems Halloween costume party, costumed as a female, of course. And, on October 30th, I attended YaoiCon, an event that celebrates “male beauty” as depicted in Japanese animation and manga, up in Burlingame, CA — An event where people generally show up in costumes, since it’s been held close to Halloween weekend for the past several years — However, my “costume” was one of my outfits (My River City Sparkle 2010 outfit. ^_^; ) – A couple of my friends read me right away, but it really wasn’t a big deal. A couple other friends didn’t know until I told them, or one of my friends told them. (And they were surprised. ^_^; )
I just wish I could tell my mom and sis. Would they still accept me? Do they know that I’m still dressing up? Are they waiting for me to tell them? Should I bring them up to speed on what I’ve been doing since last summer? What I’ve been doing the past month?
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, right? I could be doing worse things in life. All I know is I wanted to go out in public, and I did it. Every day brings another victory.
But, above all else, I admire those who choose to accept their children, family, friends, or co-workers for how they wish to express themselves, or live their lives, and not falling prey to the negative stigmas some out there still cling to, even after so many decades, bad examples, negative stereotypes perpetuated on TV (Don’t get me started on Jerry Springer), and handed-down conceptions of what constitutes “Normal.”
I admire this mother, and her son as well. I admire them both, and wish I had the same opportunity and acceptance when I was five years old. I’m surprised at the amount of comments that have been posted there (Well over 27,000 so far, if I believe the counter.), and here’s mine:
“First off, I was referred to your blog by a friend of mine who posted the link on his Facebook. I was filled with feelings of happiness and sadness while reading this post — Happiness, because you’re standing by your son, and supporting his choice of costume, and also because you were proud of him for “working that costume” and “rocking that wig.” ^_^ — Sadness, as I remember a missed opportunity in my early teens.
I’ll counter with a few facts of my own:
1. Around my early teenage years (End of junior high school/beginning of high school), I started crossdressing, and have done so on and off over the last 20+ years.
2. Around the time I started dressing up (age 14), I was caught more than once by my mother, who didn’t understand, and I, of course, at that time, didn’t know how to tell her why I did it. (I’m still trying to figure out why.) – She didn’t understand, and didn’t approve of it.
3. I still live at home with her, due to my own circumstances for not leaving the nest like most kids are expected to do when they go through college, and start their adult life, find their chosen career, fall in love, marry, etc. Obviously my life didn’t go along those “standard” plans.
4. She gave me the ususal “It’s ok for you to experiment when growing up…” speech, along with the “I don’t want my son to be a transvetite…” one as well. All it did was make me more careful to pick up after myself over the years. It hurts me that I’m having to hide some aspects of my life from her, but I suspect that she probably knows I never really “gave it up”. She still loves me and wants the best for me, otherwise.
5. Some significant recent changes in my life over the last year or so (Doing a lot of research on the internet, finding out that there’s a considerable representation of crossdressing and transgendered people online, and that most of them tend to lead quite respectable lives, whether or not they’re presenting full-time or part-time in their preferred genders.) have led me to re-examine my life so far. Also, I was laid off from a job that I held for over a decade, so in a sense, I have sort of a “do-over” opportunity with my life. It’s led me to confront what I perceived as something to be ashamed of, and “reopen” the door I thought I had to bolt closed forever.
6. Basically, I saw that others were taking chances, and living their lives as they wished, so, what was stopping me from seeing how far I want to go on my own journey, and why didn’t I stand up for what I felt, and pursue this journey 15 or 20 years earlier? (Making up for lost time seems to be a theme in my life.)
7. Though I choose to express my feminine side from time to time, and I’m trying to determine how far I want to go in pursuing such a path, I still identify as male most of the time, and I am heterosexual.
8. I’ve come out to a few close friends, and most of them support me.
9. I’ve made contact with an online social community, PINKEssence, as well as a TG/CD support group a few miles up north from where I live. (The members of that group have been quite accepting and supportive.)
10. I wish my mother was as supportive of me as you are of your son.
I admire you for supporting your son, and his decision for the costume he wanted to wear. I also admire that you are helping him to become a good person, no matter what he eventually wants to do with his life, and that you’re comfortable with whoever he wants to be when he gets older. Obviously, I don’t know all the answers (I’m still trying to find out things for my path in life), but I share your beliefs.
In some ways, I can identify with your son’s fears, and that he knows, even at the age of five, that there are unfortunately still some people out there who perceive it as something terrible if someone chooses to dress up and express themselves in a gender contrary to how they were born. To have to deal with such concerns, even at Halloween, is utterly ridiculous. It’s also unfortunate both you and your son have had to deal first-hand with parents who visibly express their dismay, and have the problem with your son wanting to dress up as a female character. (And yet not even think twice if your daughter wanted to be Batman.) – I didn’t go out in public dressed up until just about a month ago, and the reality for me wasn’t as bad as what I feared, but even now, I know I’m eventually going to have to deal with people who can be just as bad, or worse, than Moms A, B, and C, that you encountered. I agree that it IS none of their damn business.
However, I have to disagree with the previous commenter. I don’t feel you were forcing your child’s rights over everyone else, but you were standing up for his rights. You made sure to see whether or not he wanted to change his mind (Every child is different.), and you reassured him when he had his doubts. Secondly, not all cross-gender situations occur in high school or college. Some transgendered people have had feelings that they were different at much younger ages, such as grade school, or even earlier in life. (I don’t know if you’ve seen the 20/20 show quite time back about transgendered children, or similiar stories on TV or the internet.) As far as I’m concerned, and as I stated in my previous paragraph, you didn’t push your son into wearing the costume, but sooner or later in his life, depending on what he wants to do, he’s going to have to deal with whatever consequences arise. It’s important that he knows he has love and support, especially from family and friends.
Finally, I agree with Kaleena – I too, wish there were more people like you in this world. It seems those who grew up in the 1960s and beyond seem to have be more accepting. As far as I’m concerned, you did the right thing – Keep doing what you’re doing, regardless of what the future may bring for you and your family.
Thanks for listening!”
Just seeing the outpouring of positive support so far (I don’t think I can stay up long enough to read all of the comments! ^_^; ) just about broke my heart, and helps me to reaffirm my faith in people, especially after a couple days of rudeness I’ve seen over the past week and a half.
It also helps to reassure me that I’m doing the right thing by starting on my own journey, regardless of where my path takes me. That I can talk to people I barely know on their blogs, at least in generalities, about my own experiences, seems to be progress of another sort for me.