As a parent, it can be difficult to understand why your teenager makes some of the decisions that they do. Watching them develop their unique personality and style while discovering more about themself is both thrilling and a little scary. When they make a decision that catches you by surprise, you may not know what to think. So when your son decides that they are going to wear dresses, you may be asking yourself what does this mean? Here are a few things to consider.
Your child might be transgender.
A person that is transgender experiences a condition called gender dysphoria. This means that they experience significant distress due to gendered physical traits, usually secondary sex characteristics. Most transgender people describe this as they feel like they were born in the wrong body. A person that is born male might feel that they should have been born female and vice versa. Gender dysphoria that is ignored can be a serious concern. Being transgender is perfectly normal, and with treatment, your child can live a fulfilling and healthy life. Treatment usually includes therapy, puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, and gender reassignment surgery – but this doesn’t happen all at once! More immediately, a transgender person will begin to “transition” into the other gender, including dressing differently and often choosing a new name and using different pronouns. The best thing that you can do as a parent is to reaffirm your child’s choices and feelings and to get them the treatment that will help them.
Your child might be gender non-conforming.
Being gender non-conforming (GNC) is different than being transgender. Usually, a person that is GNC does not experience any kind of dysphoria, but simply chooses not to abide by the gender roles that would conventionally be ascribed to them because of their sex. This can include behaviors, career paths, fashion, and other areas of their lives. They may also choose to use different pronouns, such as they/them, which are gender-neutral. A GNC person would not see any issue wearing a dress because they choose not to allow society to determine what clothes are for men and what clothes are for women.
Your child could be experimenting.
A teenager is at a point in their lives when they are determining a lot of what their personality and identity will be for the rest of their lives. This is the perfect age to experiment and discover what they like and dislike. Many teenagers are faced with questions about gender, sexuality, and gender roles. It is perfectly normal for them to experiment with new things to decide what is right for them. Your teenager might have questions about their gender and be trying out something new to see if it fits or not. This doesn’t mean that your child is transgender or experiencing any distress. The best thing that you can do as a parent is to support their exploration with positivity and curiosity. Your child will decide if this change is right for them or not in their own time.
Your child could be into alternative fashion.
It is not uncommon for younger generations to hold more relaxed views on fashion than their predecessors. Many teenagers and young adults question why a dress or a skirt is something that is only for women in the same way that our own predecessors asked why pants were only for men. Dresses can be very comfortable. They are usually cooler than pants or shorts, and many aren’t even cut in particularly feminine ways. This may just be a fashion trend that your teenager is into that is no stranger than what was all the rage when you were a teenager. Just take a look back at your yearbook photos to remind yourself of your own fashion choices!
Your child just wants to be accepted.
No matter the reason that your teenager has decided to wear dresses, the most important thing that you can do is love and support them. Wearing a dress is not dangerous or harmful. If they have the confidence to wear it, then you should be proud that you have raised a confident and strong teenager! Whether this ends up being a phase, a fashion choice, or something more impactful, you love your teenager just the same.