Dad wears skirt to show support for 5 y.o. son who likes to wear dresses

Chris thinks this story is adorable.  I’m actually a bit conflicted. Read the snippet first, then let’s discuss. Gawker:

“My five year old son likes to wear dresses,” says German dad Nils Pickert.

Back when he lived in West Berlin, it was certainly a conversation-starter, but not much more than that. Now, however, Pickert and his son live in a “very traditional” South German village where his son’s predilection for dresses is the talk of the town.

“I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,” Pickert tells the German feminist magazine EMMA. “He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.”

Here are my thoughts.

Good that the dad is teaching his son to be himself, and to be proud of himself, whoever he is.

But, I worry about the hate that a young boy is going to be shown wearing a dress. And while it’s all well and good to say that that’s society’s problem, it’s also that little boy’s problem – he’s five years old, I worry about the impact of him being laughed at, pointed to, and mocked every day of his life.  Now, that doesn’t mean we should stifle who he really is, which can lead to its own damage.

The thing is, who is he? Is he transgender, or just a boy who likes to wear a dress (and is there a difference?)?

And even if he’s “just” a boy who likes to wear a dress (i.e., if he doesn’t think he’s a girl in a boy’s body), is it right to tell him what boys and girls should and shouldn’t do?  Isn’t this like that little girl at Christmas who went off on the rant about how everyone is trying to make her buy pink toys when sometimes she wants blue toys:

I’m all for breaking down silly societal norms – such as American guys who (used to) fear wearing shoulder bags (“murses” in the vernacular). They don’t fear any such thing in Europe, and it’s now spreading in the states – though we still wear “big” bags, not the small purse-y ones that Europeans also wear.

But I still worry about it when 5 year olds make social statements. It’s one thing to be a civil rights activist as an adult – and it’s not easy then – it’s quite another to try it at age 5. I remember talking once with someone about what it’s like for high school kids who come out and become outspoken gay rights advocates. We like to think it’s healthy for them. But being in the spotlight isn’t always easy, and it’s not for everyone.

Then again, his parents are in the best spot to decide what’s best for their kid and how he’s handling it.

Your thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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11 Responses to “Dad wears skirt to show support for 5 y.o. son who likes to wear dresses”

  1. Charles says:

    Nothing demonstrates how ignorant most people are remotely as well as their concepts of clothing and gender as relates to males. If they knew as much about geography as they know about male apparel habits, those living on the east and west coasts wouldn’t be aware that another major ocean exists. Skirts, a sex difference? Pathetic belief, men wore them for 1,000’s of years, till horseback riding finally put most men into pants. That alone caused the trouser/skirt division of the sexes, then came WW2 factory work. What the Bloomer women of 1853 and the 1870’s dress reformers failed to bring about, was accomplished by an overriding social force—women could finally wear pants. USA families usually raised boys in dresses and skirts till age 6, up until 1900. Yes, people are ignorant, and the fervently wallow in their ignorance. No possible chance are skirts/pants sex differences, because it takes more than a style difference to transcend gender. Rome exiled men in pants in 393AD. The Greek army has men in skirts today. Like the advanced man played by David McCallum said in “The Outer Limits”—“Your ignorance makes me ill and angry!” Boys and men are denied human choice in clothes because people are most savagely uninformed.

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