How Do I Help My Son Who Is a Cross-Dresser?

When you discover your son wearing female clothing, including skirts, tights, heels and even panties, it can be a shocking experience. You worry that if your son is a cross-dresser, he has a mental problem or sexual perversion. Cross-dressing begins when most boys are young, and despite how strange it may seem, it's a completely normal behavior. It's very difficult to stop someone's enjoyment of cross-dressing if he's been doing it for any length of time. You can, however, help your son by giving him the support he needs from his parents.

Many young men enjoy experimenting with women's clothing. (Image: alexandradabija/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Realize that cross-dressing does not make your son perverted, mentally ill or homosexual. Cross-dressing may be somewhat sexually exciting to teen boys, but this is not abnormal.

Step 2

Consider your son's age before responding to his cross-dressing. Before about six years of age, children think their gender can be changed, so they may dress to reflect that. Young children might also just enjoy playing as or pretending to be the opposite sex. The behavior tends to go away on its own.

Step 3

Watch for signs that may prompt your son to cross-dress while he's still in elementary school. For example, if your young son says he wishes he were the other gender or hates being a boy, he might begin cross-dressing. Boys who always want to play with toys considered to be girl's or who typically draw pictures of the opposite sex may also be interested in cross-dressing. If you notice these signs, consider having a talk with your son about his feelings.

Step 4

Ensure that your son has a male role model, such as his father or grandfather, as well as male friends, so he learns what it's like to be a boy. Don't discourage his interaction with females, however.

Step 5

Refrain from calling your son names or punishing him for cross-dressing. This will only drive him away and cause him to be more secretive about his behavior.

Step 6

Suggest that your son only cross-dress in private, especially if other kids are making fun of him at school.

Step 7

Ask your son to purchase his own clothing for cross-dressing instead of using the clothes of other female household members. If your son is young, provide him with dress-up clothes from both genders to encourage him to explore and use his imagination.

Step 8

Assure your son that you love him regardless of his cross-dressing. Tell him that you'd like to talk to him about it so you can understand him better.

Step 9

Schedule an appointment with your family physician or a therapist if your son's cross-dressing is causing him serious distress or unhappiness.

Tip

If your son doesn't want to stop cross-dressing, you'll need to accept his choice. Your son needs plenty of love and support regardless of his behavior.

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