Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Son Wants to Wear a Nightgown

A long time ago, I told my son that if he wanted to wear a dress like his sister's, it was okay with me. He absolutely loves pink and purple and pretty things. He's declined to wear dresses until now, mostly because he knows that other kids would tease him, I think. Then, three nights ago, he asked if he could wear a nightgown to bed. He's seven. I'm wasn't sure if he was serious or joking around, so I just said "sure" and tried to be very nonchalant about it. He put on one of his sister's nightgowns (about 2 sizes too small!) and paraded around for a little bit. His sister was giggling about it, but in a "Let's swap -I'm going to wear boys pajamas to bed!" way. It certainly wasn't meant to be cruel. My son wore the nightgown for about 15 minutes before complaining it was too tight around the arms and took it off.

So was it just a joke...or something more?

Anyway, yesterday, I was out shopping. And saw little girl's nightgowns on clearance. I got my daughter a couple of "Princess" and "Tinkerbell" nightgowns - couldn't pass up a good deal...and then, on impulse, got one more in my son's size.

It's still in the bag.

I'm torn between (A) giving it to him, (B) putting it in my daughter's drawer and letting them discover that it's a little bit too big for her which will lead to "oh, maybe it could fit Will, Jr?" or (c) doing absolutely nothing at all with it. Maybe just putting it away until my daughter is big enough to fit into it.

I haven't had a chance to talk to William about it yet - it's been a busy week. And we're moving into the latter half of his cycle where he wants to dress for sex. Will that affect his thoughts about it? Would it be better to wait until he's "post-femm?"

And what am I setting my son up for if I allow it? Neither he nor his sister can keep a secret for anything, so who will they tell? They are spending a night with grandparents this weekend - and I guarantee Grandpa will NOT be understanding. Is it fair to ask them to keep it quiet? I certainly don't want to set my child for any teasing or cruelty.

I know that I need to talk to William about it - and I will, but it will likely be this weekend before we get a chance to really sit down and discuss it. And if we decide to give it to him, it will NOT be before the weekend at Grandpa's. But how seriously should I take this? What do I do?


  1. Interesting problem, and one demonstrating what a wonderfully openminded woman you are!

    Let me see:

    Option 1) Your son has inherited Wiliam's transgender condition. Given that it is biological, this could be the case, although we have no final proof that this is genetic yet. If he has, getting such a gift from you would help him avoid guilt later in life and -- hopefully -- make it easier for him to integrate this into his life when he grows up.

    This requires that he is told what this is all about at a proper age. If not, he may make up his own theory about this being caused by the night gown.

    Option 2) You son has NOT inherited William's condition and will grow up as a normal cisgendered man. His present interest in girl's clothing is just an example of kid's normal interest in anything. Adults have a tendency of ignoring some of the interesting questions posed by children, as they do not fit into our view of what's proper. You do not, thank God!

    Would wearing a nightgown damage him psychologically? Not likely. As early as in 1966 Harry Benjamin noted that a few examples of transsexuals being dressed up as the opposite sex as kids, did not prove anything. Most transsexuals and crossdressers have not experienced this during childhood. And most of those that have been dressed up like this stay "normal". In Britain, a whole generation of upper class boys were dressed up an girls in the 19th century, including Winston Churchill!

    They cannot all have been secret crossdressers!

    Is there any possible downside? I guess he is at an age when he tells his boy playmates anything, and this may pop up in some of their conversations. That may lead to harassment. That could be painful, but it could also give you an opportunity to demystify the whole thing.

    I would probably let him find the nightgown himself. Then let him decide what to do with it.

  2. Heya,

    This is "just chris" posting; it has been awhile since I've dropped by.

    I just wanted to say Susanne: you are awesome lady and I really wish there were more women like you in the world =)

  3. I appreciate the votes of confidence, but honestly, I don't feel that I'm that much different from any other mom. I just know more about the possibilities that are out there now.

    I talked to William. We didn't come to any major conclusions other than the fact that NOT allowing it won't change our son't thoughts and desires if this is truly something more than just a typical little boy being silly or exploring something different. I think (and William agrees) that NOT allowing it would actually cause more harm than good to his psyche. So...if he wants to wear it, we'll be supportive. But we're not going to make a big deal about it. We'll let him lead the way. At this point, we both are more focused on making sure that his self-esteem remains high than anything else.

    So the nightgown went into his sister's dresser. So far...nothing. We'll see...

  4. You go girl. I think that it is great. I think that if you let your son wear the night gown, it will desexualize the experience and he will feel nothing. If he does like it, it is better that he be accepted by you and not forced to hide. Whatever happens, you are a terrific mom not so much for letting him wear the nightgown, but for accepting the ramifications given your relationship with William and his issues. All the best, Suzie

  5. Not all boys who want to dress in girly clothes are transsexual, just like there are many girls who often wish to dress in more of male clothing. It could be that he is just a feminine guy. And you need not worry if he is a feminine guy, because they can be extremely energetic and creative intellectuals. Your son might be really gifted.

  6. Hello all. This is Colin again , the 27/m AGP.

    Everything is going fine with me; I am still with my new girlfriend who has been just wonderful about the whole crossdressing thing. We are still together and I am overall quite happy.

    Anyway, Susanne , I see this post is from about a month ago. I would just let your son discover the nightgown. The reason is the following:

    1) If it's its biological , this is only the start. He'll get more impulses.
    2) You can then set healthy boundaries without having prodded him into doing or not doing anything.

    Basically , if you find him with the nightgown, tell him that's wrong -- tell him he can't go through his sister's stuff without asking. Make sure you make it clear he can wear whatever he wants, but he can't take things without asking.

    Next give him the nightgown , and tell him not to go through his sisters stuff again. Tell him he is only allowed to go through 'play' clothes.

    Next set up "play/costume" drawer full of "play" clothes for both your children. Include male and female clothes, toys/props maybe old halloween stuff, and so forth. Tell both the children they are allowed to use the clothes for dressing up or making costumes. Make sure you include some of his old sisters clothes as well that he might be interested in. You might want to also throw in creative stuff like fabric markers, scissors, glitter, capes, etc.

    This way you'll keep your son out of his sister's stuff (setting personal boundaries), you'll give him the opportunity to play with women's clothes without feeling guilty (since he's allowed, and it's just 'play'), and you don't interfere with his natural path of development (by accidently inducing guilt or shame etc).

    That's what I'd do if he were my child anyway.


  7. Good point about going through his sister's things, Colin. Thanks for the comment. BTW, my son has NOT asked again to wear a nightgown. And despite it's being too large, his sister has worn the new one several times, but he hasn't seemed to notice the size.

    He did paint his fingernails and toenails last week. I allowed it, but told him that I was worried that if he wore it out of the house, he might get teased and that might make him feel bad. At first, he said that he didn't care, but after a day or so (we hadn't gone anywhere with other kids), he decided he should remove the polish. So I helped him to that as well.

    oh, and there already are several Princess and other very feminine costumes in the play room - he has worn them several times, although primarily before age 5. Before he became aware that the boys at school would frown on it. At least I can make home a "safe" place...

  8. It's your choice as to whether you aid and abet his desire for feminine nightwear. Freud wrote about the premature eruption of adult sexuality in children that he believed should be repressed. Your son's love of nightgowns may have an underlying sexual basis and if so, your allowing him to wear such may engender a life long need for him to wear them as a now forever fused and intrinsic part of his gender/sexual identity. This is not a problem if you are prepared to accept the legitimacy of cross-dressing and sexual fulfillment through such use of lingerie. Nightgowns are sexual in identity and your son's early love of them and his being able to wear them may only intensify in desire as the years go by.

  9. This is silly, wearing a nightgown will not affect your sons sexuality nor will it make him a transsexual. Have enough faith in him to offer him the nightgown and allow him to make his own decision. You can always put it away for your daughter if he rejects it. Let him know you are there to support him, his desire to wear a nightgown may stem out his reaching out to you to feel like a valued member of your family. And if you do feel he has an issue with gender then by all means get him to a qualified psychologist who has experience dealing with gender issues. Talking things out never made anyone transsexual.

  10. I guess we're operating by looking at the only example of AGP available to us. William has never disclosed to anyone else his desire to wear a nightgown; he knew that it would NOT be acceptable in his family - yet it didn't stop it. It only drove it underground and undermined his self-confidence. So we are hoping that by being accepting of whatever Will, Jr. wants to do, we can make him confident enough to be who he really is - and love and support him regardless of what path he chooses.

    Will, Jr. does know that other kids would tease him if they knew about it, but he also knows that his father and I would never tell them and that it's perfectly okay with us if he wants to wear a nightgown. We're allowing him to make the choice from there.

    And I agree, talking things out is the best way to deal with them...

  11. Hello Susanne!

    Why don't you just tell him the Truth? You did buy the nightgown on an Implulse, and thought he might enjoy wearing it. Let it be his decision, but let him know that it was bought for him out of "Love" for what he might desire, and if he did not want to wear it, then it will be kept aside for his sister to grow into. Afterall, If your daughter wanted to waer Boys pajamas there probably would be No Problem...Why make this a Problem?

    Just my thoughts! I wish you all Well!


  12. jeez...the truth? Really? What a novel idea!

    Seriously, how sad it is that this wasn't my first thought? Thanks, Patti, for being a voice of reason!!! This is exactly what I should have done from the beginning with him!


  13. I don't mean to be rude, but it's a little funny that you're obsessing over this! I think that his wanting to wear womens clothes is just a simple phase, and nothing to worry about.

  14. You know, blogging occurs "in the moment" and is a place for me to vent/dump my worries and feelings about issues - and while it can be read weeks/months/years later and seem recent to the reader, my life really has gone on.

    Even at the time, I wouldn't say that I was "obsessing" about it at all. It was something that was on my mind for a little while. And after everything I went through, I think I was entitled to worry about it for a few days. Honestly, though, it's over for me. I put the nightie in my daughter's drawer, SHE has worn it a few times, HE's never noticed it and nothing has ever come of it.

    I do still read and respond to comments that are left, though, as it MIGHT become an issue again in the future - and I certainly don't have the answers myself. Thanks to all of you who continue to read, comment and help me learn about AGP!

  15. I urge you to read the article located at the link I am including below entitled,"The Transvestic Career Path" by H. Taylor Buchner Ph.D. and think very carefully about what you are enabling your son to do.

  16. This article (written in 1970) describes my husband almost to a "T", so I have a VERY good idea of what this might possibly mean for my son. I also know (and is also stated in this article) that there is no treatment that can change it. Interesting, isn't it? If nothing medical can change it, then perhaps it is part of the basic biological make-up of an AGP. Or is it purely psychological? Is something I can do to change it? (how come psychology always blames the mom?!)

    For my husband, in the beginning, there was a thrill of wearing his mother's and sister's underwear in secret. He talks about the "forbidden" being appealing and sexually exciting. So maybe one way to handle it is to make girl clothes "boring" for my son. If he's allowed to do it, where's the thrill?

    It can be easy to armchair quarterback, but the truth is - each child is different. What works to help one might not help the other...and maybe there was nothing that could be done to change the outcome anyway. All of this means that all I can do is just the best that I can.

    I guess in the end, all I can say is "what's wrong with letting a child know that he is loved no matter what he wants to wear?"

    1. I started sneaking around trying on moms panties and found great sexual excitement in doing that. Many many years later, I still wear panties and it still is a sexual thrill. My wife of 47 years actually buys them buy I feel no shame in going to wal mart and doing purchasing them my self. I have worn nightgowns and find them very comfortable, more so than pjs, I woUld love to wear a long nightgown to bed, but haven't jumped into that water yet. My wife knows I have a couple of her old gowns in "my" drawer with all my panties and stuff. I am very much heterosexual and no desires to be another way, but wearing panties and stuff brings out the softer side in me and she has no complaints about that. No one has ever caught on.

  17. I like this story but I wish I could dress like a woman but my roommate whould find out but I didn't when my sister was alive

  18. i find it interesting that nowdays people obsess over simple pieces of clothing are are so ignorant of history of any particular garment. sleeping gowns were worn by both genders well into the 1900's. i wasnt till after WWII that pajamas or garments with legs ended up in bed. it was the 1980s before women really adopted pajamas. If the boy likes the gown - let him. his grand-dad most likely wore one. Well this being 2014 - his great grand-dad.
    The chemise has origions of being outer wear, then a seperate one strictly for bed which got washed on a regular basis unlike outter wear. Quite simply I dont understand why anyone would wear some with legs to bed, more freedom of movement in the gowns. The fabrics change over time and often get associated with a gender. but history often tells us , much of the clothing we wear or gender stereotype often had roots being worn on the other gender. and then adopted by the other.

    so if some stuffy shirt complains about your son wearing gowns to bed. just point out their ignorance let the child wear what one prefers. if its a boy, chances the 1st sleepover would be the best time to convince pajamas might be a better choice. ME - I slept (and still do) hot, and the least I could get by with was what I wore / not wore. BTW I was born in the 1950s and DEF remember my grandfather wearing the gown type sleep wear. his ROBE and Slippers neatly folded on a chair near bed which he would put on immediately getting out of bed. And no one ever accused him of being un-manly.

  19. Clothes make the man, or woman as the case may be...
    Wear what you want when you want and let no one be the judge of your personal choice. I think this is more true than ever, even since the five years between the writing of this article and today..