"I am glad that your friend who wore a dress to school seems to have suffered no adverse reactions, but one can hardly say that because one person didn't, nobody would. I also think you may have misunderstood WHY I didn't allow my son to wear the dress for picture day. It was NOT because I thought it would make him gay or trans. It was because I was afraid he would be bullied (in his conservative suburban school) either now, or in the future and as he has little to no understanding of the consequences- I decided to make that decision for him."
Ok fair enough that's one anecdote. But I guess that's where we are with this. Anecdote and personal belief. We lack rigorous, unbiased studies. I can say that in this one case it wasn't an issue. When my friend was a kid, we had a law in place in the UK, which, in effect, made teachers absolutely unwilling to take any kind of stand against homophobic/trans bullying, and created a culture where, as a child who did not identify with the heternormative model, there was absolutely no representation, no mirror held up at all. I think it was probably worst than living before this law in some ways because at least, prior to this, teachers could have taken some action and introduced some non-straight ideas and so on, whereas after, even (especially) gay teachers were silenced. In effect, most teachers actively promoted heternormality-there was great fear of prosecution and also, a teacher who was themselves outed would have been in great trouble. Suicide among gay youth at that point was ludicrosly high and I've read a number of studies suggesting that there are ongoing mental health issues in the LGBT community as a hangover from this era. What I'm trying to say is that, first, his parents would probably have little cause to believe that sending him to school in a dress would work out ok but trusted and it actually was. It wasn't really something anyone felt the need to comment on, kids are more tolerant than I think we often believe. But secondly, kind of paradoxically, I think if you are in a situation anything like that then I do understand how difficult it must be. Its an awful, unnatural situation where we are dividing love into acceptable and unacceptable. I agree with Lisedea-its a dreadfully sad situation. I'm fortunate to be in a position to homeschool and I do appreciate not having to make my kids make these choices.
Its a small point too but I'd mention that my own son had long hair, wore pink and was mistaken for a girl for years, probably til he got a slightly shorter haircut last year, and yk, its never bothered him in the slightest. But he's not dealing with it alone, he spends a majority of his time in the HS community where the lines of weirdity are not only way, way further out than that but actually celebrated anyway, so I accept its a little different.
One thing I feel my friend and his siblings got from the dress wearing experience. None of them would ever laugh at someone wearing a dress because, in pride of place in their mum's photo album, is at least one of them in a frock. It is a normalising experience. My friend is also incredibly pro LGBT rights, and I really think that having had someone say yes, not no, to him when he wanted to bend the rules a little helped a lot with this. He sees it as a defining experience.
Edited by Fillyjonk - 4/21/13 at 2:56am