The family next door seem pretty normal, but his mother just told me she
found their son who is in the fifth grade, wearing her underwear. Is it too late
to keep him from being gay and wearing women's clothes?
Thanks for asking about this difficult topic. Men wearing women's clothing is
negatively-valued in most situations and in many cultures, so children who start
cross-dressing are often assumed to be abnormal in some way.
While his behavior is unusual, what this child does not need is to have everyone around
him acting as if there is something terribly wrong with him. He needs people, adults, who
will discuss his behavior calmly and without conveying the message that he is damaged. If
his family and friends are unable to do so, I would encourage them to seek professional
assistance from someone who can explore the situation calmly. A nearby psychological
association is a good place to start looking for referrals, but it's also important to evaluate
the therapist's attitudes about and expertise with this issue before making a selection.
Cross-dressing and sexual orientation are not necessarily related. There are many
heterosexual men who enjoy wearing women's clothes. We rarely hear about them because
their behavior is seen so negatively by so many people. And, while some gay men do
occasionally wear women's clothes, most do not.
For more information, see the SelfhelpMagazine.com article The Real Truth About Crossdressing, by Ellen Sherman.
Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein,
Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks
and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional
audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT
HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.