Dear Dad, Thank You For Taking Away My Dresses

Dear Dad, Thank You For Taking Away My Dresses

by Collin Wynter

The State Media is an organization exploring the LGBT movement, specifically the transgender ideology that is perniciously encroaching upon gay rights in a (largely successful) effort to substitute the narrative from sexual orientation to gender identity. In the documentary Gender Ideology, activists that support and perpetuate the concept of transgenderism and transitioning are shown to be actively engaged in the medicalization of children. Susie Greene, CEO if Mermaids is mentioned, so I re-watched her Ted Talk from 2018 Transgender: A Mother’s Story. Previously, I had watched this ‘performance’, and although at that time I was not yet actually writing about this topic, I had a distinct, visceral response that was repeated this time around. I decided to juxtapose the talk with my own personal experience as a gender atypical child growing up.

When I was young boy, I mean really young (three, four?), as far back as my mind will go, I would dress up in women’s clothes. I say women’s as in: dresses, jewelry, hats, gloves and shoes. My parents were separated moving onto divorce at this point, and my aunt had come to live with me and my dad. This is when I started playing dress up, I am told, in my aunt’s clothes.

In the talk, Greene proceeds to share the story of her (now) daughter’s childhood. As a young boy of about four, her son Jack (as he was known then) stated he wanted to be a girl. Specifically he is claimed to have said: “mommy, god’s made a mistake and I should’ve been a girl.” Instead of being shocked, apparently this made sense to her. However, she dismissed the idea and tried to explain to the child that being a feminine boy- a boy that could play with girl gender typical toys and to explore feminine themes, was just fine. Apparently that was not good enough, as that response  left him visibly upset. 

For myself, I guess the question is why? Why did I start wearing women’s clothes. Was it because I was transgender? Was I a boy who was born into the wrong body? Was I just playing dress up? Was it from watching Bugs Bunny cartoons? (I think I picked up kissing from the Pepe  Le Pew cartoons). Or was I just growing up to be a feminine gay boy who liked fashion? I am doubtful that there was some sort of traumatic experience driving me to wear girls clothes. I highly doubt you could call my parents divorce as being traumatic. What do kids know of such things as that? That is just the way life progressed for me. I do not recall any gender dysphoria. Nor have my parents mentioned anything about that. I certainly did not see any doctor for any type of condition. Perhaps psychoanalysis would uncover otherwise. But I am lacking desire to seek that in the underpinnings of my psyche. 

Greene allowed her son (at the time) Jack to play with girl’s toys, however the father did not approve. As she details in the Ted Talk, they entered couple’s therapy. She was convinced that she had a son with effeminate behaviour who would grow up to be gay. However, the father overruled her, and the toys were taken away. The child became “a quiet, confined boy, [and he] became very withdrawn and tearful.” Jack tried to sneak in girl’s toys via the grandmother as a Christmas gift. Learning this, the mother stopped the “embargo” on the girl’s toys and went to a general practitioner doctor. The doctor believed that this was a phase and would pass. However, apparently, the child insisted that he (she) was really a girl. 

I would walk (prance) up and down the street in my dress up clothes. In a way I was pretending to be a girl, but to be honest I cannot recall at all what I was thinking. I used to watch Mr Dress Up a lot as a child. On the show, he had a magic tickle trunk, where he would discover costumes to put on for characters that existed in magical fantasy realms. This statement in no way refers to a women or womanhood as something that can be put on or is imaginary. I am highlighting the fact the children are imaginative and creative and are willing to explore different types of personas as they experience life and their reality. I enjoyed exploring the feminine aspect.

At six, Jack asked for the “operation.” How a child of six knows what the “operation” is, is beyond me, because I do not even know what it is. Is the child referring to sex reassignment surgery? Breast implants or genital removal? Or perhaps just puberty blockers and/or cross sex hormones? One or the other? Both? All? Where did the child find out about the “surgery”? Greene, the mother, expressed a feeling of “devastation” when she had to inform her child that the surgery could only be performed on adults. To alleviate her apparent feelings of guilt, she searched the net and came across the Mermaids organization, dedicated towards assisting ‘trans’ kids and their parents. This led her to Tavistock, a gender clinic in the United Kingdom. Around this time the parents separated. It is not explained whether the separation occurred before or after the child wanted to transition.  

One Halloween, I was five I think, I was dressed as a fairy. There were a group of kids including  my best friend and her older sister and some of her friends. The older kids asked me what I was supposed to be. And I said, “a fairy”. And they asked, “a boy fairy or a girl fairy?” I responded confidently: “a girl fairy.” I was made fun of, somewhat, and I had tears. I was comforted by my mom and my life carried on. I do not mean to downplay bullying, as I have received my share. I am simply highlighting the fact that kids can be mean, that feelings can be hurt, and that this is a part of growing up. For both the bully and the victim. This is not the “good” of life and it should be kiboshed as soon as possible; through discussion and explanation and hugs. 

Tavistock advised Greene to allow her son Jack to wear girls clothes in the home but not in public. She took him (her) shopping and highlighted how the child did a twirl holding a dress. Feelings of concern arose, as she wondered what other people thought of her as a parent allowing her boy to wear girls’s clothes. This worry was tossed aside and sometime later she allowed her child to present as a girl full time while on vacation. At the school, the child began presenting as female. Greene relates another dubious story of two girls discussing the change in physical appearance of her son Jack into this female persona to be named Jackie. The first girl is reported as to have said: “Why is Jack wearing girl’s clothes?”. The response: “He has a girl’s brain in a boys body.” “Oh, ok.” the first replies.

Suffice to say there is no scientific evidence for the statement above. That a “girl’s brain” can reside in a “boy’s body”. But it does make for a nice story about acceptance.

My friends accepted me for who I was. I would play dress up with some of them. We even got our parents involved in fashion shows. I played with both typical male and typical female toys- Gi Joe and Barbie. I never found this strange. It was normal for me to explore both the masculine and feminine aspects of play. I watched all types of cartoons: He-Man and She-Ra; Transformers and Jem. I enjoyed the girl themed shows just as much as the boy themed shows. There was something unique and special to me about the girl themed toys and shows. I was always attracted to the persona of the strong female characters that I saw in both cartoons and live actors on television. Of course, now I understand that it was caricature in some ways. However, I have always believed, and still do, that a woman has the same potential as a man. The strong female presence has always been profound to me and continues to be something I enjoy experiencing.

Entering the upper grades in school, Jack/Jackie was allowed to present publicly as a girl. It did not go well. There was harassment both at school and in public by one particular mother. Harassment and bullying has no place and should be called out at a moments notice. Disagreement and offensive statements may be made, but there is a line one is not to cross. The situation became dire, so Jackie transferred schools to start life anew. The father had come around at this point, and was supportive. However, that did not stop the child from attempting suicide by overdose. Jack/Jackie began going through male puberty. There was desperation to stop this, and the mother sought help from an American, Dr Norman Spack, the only person they could find to administer puberty blockers for gender dysphoria. These pharmaceuticals are claimed to be ”totally reversible” and that they only “pause” puberty. Even with this medical treatment, Jackie, attempted seven overdoses in three years. Greene was on constant suicide watch. Again the timeline of events and details are not exactly clear.

Puberty blockers are not totally reversible. They do a “pause”, and therefore interfere with the natural processes of biology that may in fact be necessary to correct any sort of bio-psychological dissonance occurring in a developing human child.

I was about ten, I believe, when I went to go put on my dress up clothes and they were missing. The conversation went something like this: “Dad, where are my dress up clothes?” “I threw them out.” “Oh,” was my response. But I knew. It was time to put the clothes away. Did I understand that my dad wanted to protect me from bullying? That there is also a time to grow up from childhood imagination into adulthood? Was this some form of bullying of my father not accepting me for who I was?

Now twenty-four, Jackie lives as a woman. A video is played as part of the Ted Talk, with her saying: “Why do I need a label? Why can’t I just be a woman? It’s part of my DNA.” Meanwhile, Susie Greene turns out to have become the CEO of Mermaids. That is the organization that helps ‘trans’ kids and their families. Of course, on the facade it appears to be a noble cause. There is great support form the audience in the talk. But there is much left unsaid. What effect is the desire for the father to have a ‘straight’ acting child play into the motivations for Jack to become Jackie? Did Greene desire to maintain the relationship with the father and therefore propel Jackie along her path of transition? Did presenting as a girl during puberty, along with the bullying and the puberty blockers contribute to the suicide attempts? Was it one thing or a combination? Were there some underlying psycho-social trauma that required to be resolved? 

I was bullied in high school. Not because I wanted to wear girls clothes, but because I was more feminine. I was gay, but not out. I was a bit of a weakling. I bullied others, as well. I am not proud of myself for that; for the harm I caused. When I finished high school, came out, and started being part of the gay community, I discovered drag. I picked up the art for serval years. And form the beginning my family supported me. My dad even did a photo shoot for me. Just like he would when I was a kid. I haven’t done drag in years. And I do miss it, a bit. I appreciate some feminists disdain the impersonation of women. I ask that they take each drag show and performer as an individual. There are some good, some not so good. There are true entertainers, and some fools. Some of what they do is in poor taste. But some are artists of the highest calibre: exploring, creating, imagining. There is a danger though, when one reifies the imagination at the expense of others rights.

When I came out, my aunt asked me years later if giving me dress up clothes made me gay. And I told her no. It was being gay that that I wanted to wear dress up clothes. But that’s not necessarily true. I’ve met all walks of gay men through my time carousing in the community. Some folks do drag once and while for a gag. And some do it for a full time job. The degree towards which Kinsey 9 you identify with may not be the determine factor whether you put on a frock or not. Some, the highly feminine, may have always been considered boy-girls in some cultures. And they may have naturally taken on female roles. But that is different from drag and just wearing girls clothes. 

I was known as the little boy in girl clothes on my street, growing up. And that is okay. But I would like to thank my dad for throwing out my dresses. The possibility that I may have been guided into living my life as a girl, prescribed puberty blockers, and then to receive sex reassignment, is chilling. I tell this story not to scare parents or shame trans folks. I do so as a warning. Children are children. And they deserve protection. But not at the cost of themselves. 

The idea that ‘trans’ kids must be medicalized as the soonest possibility is driving a wave of faux-transitions, not medically required (if any are at such a young age) and may in fact be leading to a disastrous outcome for the lives of many detransitioners. Accept you gender atypical child for who they are. And for any decisions to be made about altering their bodily chemistry or physical appearance, adulthood will come sooner than they think, and those decisions can be made then. Until then, be a child, use your imagination, and explore reality to its fullest extent. But most of all, find love for yourself and those around you. And know that you are loved. 

Published by Collin Wynter

Exploring rights of our freedom of expression and justice

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