Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


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 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.


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