Halloween | News | Transgender

What Would You Do if Your Girl Wanted to be Spider-Man, or Your Boy a Princess for Halloween? - VIDEO


ABC News hidden camera show What Would You Do? tested other shoppers' reactions in a costume shop when children begged their parents for a Halloween costume that crossed gender "norms".

Turns out there are quite a few parents more than willing to try and nip 'teh gay' in the bud, and thankfully some others who tell the parents to let them be who they are.



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  1. Where are the filming this? That blond bouffant woman could be the basis of any number of super villains.

    Posted by: Grant H. | Oct 22, 2012 10:44:01 AM

  2. This show makes my cheeks go together. Can't bear to watch it.

    Posted by: AJ | Oct 22, 2012 10:46:19 AM

  3. I would gently discourage my child from dressing in opposite sex cloths, but would relent if I sense the child has a deep, non-fleeting desire to do so that is based on perhaps a gender variant identity.

    Posted by: Javier | Oct 22, 2012 10:54:02 AM

  4. Yeah, I thought that mother and daughter had walked in off the stage of Hairspray!!!

    Posted by: Jim | Oct 22, 2012 10:59:24 AM

  5. The woman at the end was awesome. No surprise it was the young pair that supported the girl actor wearing the Spiderman costume. No surprise it was the middle aged women against it. And this What Would You Do show always selects conservative areas in these sort of segments.

    I don't like this show but it's interesting to see what people *really* think when they feel comfortable to air their true views.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 22, 2012 10:59:43 AM

  6. It was kind of fascinating that almost every parent had a kid that at one time or other wanted to wear a "non-gender appropriate" costume. I wonder how universal that experience is in families. And, it seemed like the actress mom was driving most of the reaction from other parents. I honestly expected the reactions to be worse.

    The other interesting part of this seems to be how almost all people (including the author of this post and the supportive parent) conflate gender norms with sexual norms. I've known a lot of gay guys, and only of them talked about wanting to wear his mom's clothes when he was young. But, so did his straight brother. I wonder if parents would care at all if they knew that liking feminine things at that age had very little to do with being gay.

    Posted by: Stefan | Oct 22, 2012 11:02:41 AM

  7. First of all, sexism is still prominent here. There are more protestation against a male child wanting to wear a female costumes versus a female child wanting to wear a male costume. It's lesser of an offense for girl to be boy than the other way round in society. As long as masculinity is not being threaten. I felt pity for those women who are condition for generations to feel inferior to a point that the mere gender role play would so offend them or shaken the foundation of their well being.

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Oct 22, 2012 11:09:02 AM

  8. bambinoitaliano, glad you pointed that out. Couldn't have said it better.

    Posted by: terry | Oct 22, 2012 11:12:14 AM

  9. What would I do?

    I would sit my son down, explain to him that attraction to boys is normal and natural and perfectly consistent with being like other boys and liking all the things that other boys like, whether sports or cars or what have you....and that he should therefore not, if he feels an attraction to other boys, feel as though he needs to act, dress, or think like a girl just because many people, adults and children, will try to convince him that his attraction to boys makes him "like a girl".

    I would also seek the services of a good child psychologist to help his understanding and steer him away from such an idea.

    And any parent who would not do the same would bear the responsibility for destroying their son's life, his chances of having a decent career in most fields, the possibility of being respected by other boys and men.......and for subjecting him to the virtual certainty of being ridiculed and victimized by physical attacks for the rest of his life.

    When it all could have been avoided......

    If I had a daughter, I would not consider it as serious a matter, because many girls go through a "tomboy" phase and even if they turn out "butch" in the long run, it will not likely subject them to the same kind of debilitating effects that effeminacy does to boys, since society is much more tolerant of women being less than feminine than it is of men being less than masculine.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2012 11:14:25 AM

  10. @Francis,

    No surprise? I honestly believe the vast majority of people of all ages would not be particularly happy if their child was gender non-comformist [is that PC enough? I didn't offend anybody?]. The vast majority of people, female and male, heterosexual and homosexual, innately understand gender roles and identity. I think young people in this generation have grown up in a very PC world and know what to say and what is expected, and one of their great fears is to called anti [fill in the blank]. Don't confuse this with what they actually feel deep down.

    This is not to say a gender confused child shouldn't be loved unconditionally.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 22, 2012 11:16:29 AM

  11. @BAMBINOITALIANO The reason for the double standard is that masculinity/masculine values are essential to the survival of a society because effeminacy and cowardice among its men will make them unwilling and or unable to defend the society when it is attacked.

    Femininity/feminine values, on the other hand, are not essential to the survival of society and are therefore less valued. The only critical function that women perform for society is child-bearing and having masculine characteristics does not interfere in any way with that function.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2012 11:19:50 AM

  12. @Rick--Why talk to your hypothetical son at all about liking boys? The boy in this piece didn't like boys. He liked a princess outfit. I doubt he would even know if he liked boys or girls at that age, in the sense of being "attracted" to them.

    Wanting to wear the princess costume is no less or more "normal" or "natural" than wanting to have sex with another man, and is no less or more likely to cause problems for a child's future. Both are behaviors that deviate from the social norm, both are behaviors that many in society strongly dislike, but neither behavior is inherently "bad" or self-destructive. You're choosing what is psychologically normal based solely on your own experience, which is the type of mindset that leads to the vast majority of our social ills.

    If this were my son, I would explain that some kids and some adults might tease him for dressing as a princess. I would explain why they would do it, and that teasing people about such things is wrong, but still happens. I would then tell him that if he still wanted to dress as a princess, I would let him. Most importantly, I would tell him that there was nothing wrong with him, and that the other people were the ones with the problem. In fact, I had this conversation with my nephew a couple years ago. That's the example that a real man gives. Be yourself, and be strong for the people you love no matter what.

    Posted by: Stefan | Oct 22, 2012 11:30:31 AM

  13. My father had me dress up in blackface drag whenever we'd have sex and as you can tell it's screwed me up royally. Just ignore me and eventually I'll off myself.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2012 11:32:24 AM

  14. "I doubt he would even know if he liked boys or girls at that age, in the sense of being "attracted" to them."

    @STEFAN It is pretty well established in the scientific literature at this point that an individual's sexual orientation is pretty well set by the age of 3. It is also well-established that boys who have a tendency to act like girls when young overwhelmingly turn out to be gay as adults.

    So while kids may not be conscious of sexual attraction the way that teenagers and adults are, they nevertheless are conscious of it on some level--after all, hasn't virtually every gay man you have ever met told you that he "always knew" that he was gay, even from the earliest age?

    And what I believe happens to many young boys who are conscious of their sexuality is that because all the signals they get from the culture around them tell them that only "sissies" are attracted to boys, they internalize the idea and begin to behave accordingly, modeling their behavior on girls and women rather than boys and men....the result being effeminacy among gay men in adulthood.

    THAT is the phenomenon that needs to be nipped in the bud and when it is, all our problems will be solved.......

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 22, 2012 11:42:39 AM

  15. @pRick: "...hasn't virtually every gay man you have ever met told you that he "always knew" that he was gay, even from the earliest age?"

    Nope. I've heard a lot of guys say that, but definitely not all. In fact, most of the guys I know personally originally dated (and f*cked) women, before deciding that they liked men and sex with men more.

    I don't know what has happened to you to make you so bitter, twisted and unhappy, man. But I can't imagine actually having to deal with you face-to-face on a day-to-day basis. You sound like that kind of guy who squeals about your masculinity until the pants come down, then you beg to be be abused hard as punishment--in short, a total Drama Queen. No thanks. I much prefer men who are confident and secure, which is why I'd probably get along better with a drag queen than I would with you.

    Posted by: Butch | Oct 22, 2012 11:57:45 AM

  16. Folks - RICK is a completely closeted grown adult who hates being a homosexual. That's why his life revolves around ANONYMOUSLY complaining about the lives, lifestyles, actions and joys of openly gay people.

    Rick, like other sad homosexuals of his mindset, sees those openly-gay people living unafraid of how they're possibly perceived by others, and feels emasculated by it - because those "stereotypical queens" aren't living in fear, and he is.

    He's a troll, he's a coward, but the good news is he'll die a lonely death. It'll be one of those stories. Neighbours complaining about a "weird smell" coming from an apartment for 4 weeks.

    So let him him stew. Guys are miserably closeted as he is don't have any impact on the lives of us Out gays.

    If he believed even one word of his daily rants he'd have provided a URL to his own page, video, or something that shows his apparently sterling example of manly gay male masculinity to awe us all with. It aint happened. Because his real persona aint his Internet-Username one. That's what trolls do - just like anti-gay republicans. "i hate gays!" republicans are the same as "i hate femmes" gay males - sooner or later they get busted and we realize that they are what they hate in others.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Oct 22, 2012 12:04:46 PM

  17. @Rick. It's true about gender stereotyping. By extension, little boys who are able to identify their same sex attraction will only have one way to act out or behave. That is to behave feminine or identify as female in order to be able to attract a male partner.

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Oct 22, 2012 12:06:54 PM

  18. @Rick
    Ahh, feminine=coward. Got it. Because I've never met a masculine coward or a feminine bad-@ss (/s). It's also interesting that you believe that masculine characteristics don't interfere with child-bearing... but if someone says that femininity doesn't interfere with national security, you'd disagree? Why is society-at-large wrong on masculinity+child-bearing, but right on femininity+security?

    Isn't PC just social conditioning? So social conditioning and conformity is fine when it means feminine boys are ostracized, but social conditioning and conformity is bad when it means that you can no longer ostracize feminine boys. Got it.

    Maybe since society-at-large is so malleably PC, we should continue to concentrate our social conditioning efforts on rooting out stupid bullsh*t (like "masculine values are essential to the survival of a society because effeminacy and cowardice among its men will make them unwilling and or unable to defend the society when it is attacked"), and replacing that bullsh*t with smarter notions (like "having masculine characteristics does not interfere in any way with [child-bearing]")

    Posted by: Steven | Oct 22, 2012 12:10:03 PM

  19. I've read a fair number of articles about "gender variant" kids, mostly about boys because girls (in most families) have a LOT more leeway when it comes to being a "tomboy."

    I have to be honest. I wouldn't have a problem with interests that were seen as "less masculine" or whatever, but I'd be gently discouraging of cross-dressing. At least until it became clear that it was an IMPORTANT part of the child's identity.

    Maybe that's a failing of mine. Being gay is hard enough in this society but being transgender is a whole other level of strife and pain, so at FIRST I'd try to gently nudge a boy away from cross-dressing. If that didn't work, fine.

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 22, 2012 12:16:18 PM

  20. fun fact - overseas in the UK "drag" isn't seen with the insecure weight that insecure north american males, gay and straight, are saddled with.

    Dame Edna, anyone? Monty Python? Overseas it's fun to be cheeky and have a sense of humour. Trust us north americans to, pun intended, get our panties in a twist over such an act, eh?

    There's an event in Scotland where the cab drivers dress up in drag once a year and take special needs children on rides to the beach. No. I'm totally not kidding.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Oct 22, 2012 12:22:18 PM

  21. Rat, of course you're right, sadly. Most parents wouldn't want a non-gender conforming child as most people are culturally indoctrinated to think a specific way when it comes to gender roles and how boys and girls are "supposed" to behave. But the reality is people who have grown up in a society and community where there is more openness surrounding what it means to be gay, gender non-conforming, trans, etc., will be less automatically off-put by it.

    Most parents want "normal" children but good parents learn to understand and accept their child.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 22, 2012 12:32:36 PM

  22. Oddly, I wrote a column about Halloween costumes and gender that appeared in the Oregonian a couple years ago:

    My main beef was that Halloween costumes for women are almost always "sexy" and based around stereotypes of being easy, available, "hot," etc. whereas most men's costumes promote strength, toughness, masculinity, etc. Girls don't generally get "sexy" costumes foisted on them until they're teens, but they're sure pressured to be "feminine" as much as possible. And yes, there is a lot of sexism and homophobia swirling around these issues. (I don't ever recall doing a cross-dressing costume in my life, but I know a lot of straight guys that have.)

    I was at the Disney store yesterday trying to buy a t-shirt for a 5-year-old girl who loves "Jake and the Neverland Pirates"; every garment was blue or red, and conspicuously marked "boys." Don't tell me this programming doesn't start early. (And don't get me started on parents obsessed with knowing the gender of their to-be-born baby "so we know how to decorate the nursery," i.e. pink vs. blue, frills vs. sports, etc. Um, how about yellow, green, orange, or purple, and with pictures of Winnie-the-Pooh? )

    Posted by: Dback | Oct 22, 2012 12:40:15 PM

  23. @Rick--You tout some scientific literature of which I'm unaware. How would you even study "when" people know they are gay? It would require a panel study, and I'm curious how you'd ascertain how a child who eventually identifies as straight or gay reacts differently at that early age to boys versus girls in terms of sexual attraction. Anecdotal stories attesting to "always being gay" are not reliable, in part because these are driven by a desire to not want to seem to have "chosen" being gay. I've also never seen a rigorous study that says that boys who engage in feminine behavior (a highly subjective term) overwhelmingly identify as gay in adulthood. Citations are welcome, though be aware that I am a doctoral candidate in the social sciences.

    Now, a question from me. If a man has "feminine qualities" and says that he always has, and also says that he never remembers not being gay, why do you only believe one part of that narrative? And why are you ostensibly concerned with the social fate of that man (ability to get a job, etc.) with regard to his femininity but not his gayness?

    Posted by: Stefan | Oct 22, 2012 12:40:27 PM

  24. Oh, and if you don't believe me, look at the top of the page at the yandy.com ad. Case in point.

    Posted by: Dback | Oct 22, 2012 12:42:16 PM

  25. Silly. Kids are not sex-minded at that age and shouldn't be. Just ignore it till later. Even explaining it would be a mistake, they don't understand the factors and are likely already in an optimal place of understanding on the issue.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 22, 2012 1:40:09 PM

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