One Daily Mail writer is super-psyched when she finally has a little boy. "So imagine my confusion when at the age of two, my son Henry rejected T-shirts and trousers in favour of dresses. By the age of three, he was calling himself Miss Argentina and rushing home from nursery to squeeze into something Liz Hurley would wear for cocktails."
Little kids cross-dressing is nothing new and nothing uncommon; kids are figuring out identity — or, perhaps, figuring out what they like independent of preconceived notions of identity signifiers. To her credit, the author doesn't make a big deal out of it. And you can't blame her for not wanting to run the little tyke's picture in a national newspaper. As she writes, he would be open to mockery and "what if he wants to be Prime Minister one day? A picture of him wearing a dress will not, I feel, be helpful to his future choices."
Which makes one wonder why, if she's concerned about an intolerant society, she writes conflicting sentences like this: "I don't allow Henry — who also calls himself Princess Edwina, Susan, Jean or Olive when he slips into his ‘girl clothes' — to wear a dress in public."
I'm happy to embrace Henry's creative dressing at home and often take the role of shop assistant in his imaginary boutique, Slinx, which he sets up in my bedroom, selling my clothes to his sisters aged seven and eight. I have bought him a cash register, his own day-dress and a floral headband. He likes to wear a nightie, which is confusing if I encounter him on the stairs during the night (I do a double-take before realising one of the girls hasn't shrunk). When he made his own avatar character on the children's interactive website Club Penguin, he dressed it in a Hawaiian skirt and bikini top, with a gold clutch and heels. He is fond of pink nail varnish and Mamma Mia! is his favourite film.
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While Henry's shenanigans sound pretty cute and his mother (who makes a point of asserting that he's a chivalrous little ladies' man at preschool) seems to be giving him a wide berth for normal creative exploration, I think we can agree: whatever the child's future and however tolerant our future society, the seeds of a massive 2020 row have been sown.
Would YOU Let Your Son Wear A Dress? [Daily Mail]