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Patrick k. Freeman
Patrick k. Freeman asks:
Q:

My son says he wants to be a girl.  Does anyone have a similar situation?

Iam what I consider a typical dad. I love my son very much and do show him plenty of affection. My son is going to be four years old in a couple of Months. Iam getting a little worried because he is obsessed with being a woman. He does dress up and keeps telling my wife and I that he is a beutiful princess. We try and explain to him that he is a boy and that he has a penis, he will argue and say he is a girl and he has a gina. My son goes to catholic pre-school and I know that religeon is discussed freely amoung the students and teachers. One day out of the blue while we were watching sponge bob Connor turned to me and said he was mad at God because he made him a boy and not a girl. I was a little shocked and pretty much had no response. I used to take him to the Nordstrom Cafe at out local mall, but had to stop because I cant get him out of the womans shoe section next to the cafe with out him causing a huge scene.I probably wouldn't care so much if I knew this was normal but it has been going on since he was three and I thought it would have passed by now. Does anyone have any simular situations?
In Topics: Self esteem and identity
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jan 19, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Thanks for a thoughtful description of how strongly your son at four perceives himself to be female.  Real concepts of male/female behavior happen around 6 or older. It is difficult to see at this age whether this is a permanent fixture in his life.  It may have nothing to do with sexualtiy and everything to do with his perception of nurture and love.
 
I would suggest the time is opportune for a visit to a child and adolescent psychiatrist.  You can find them through their website www.aacap.org or through your local hospital or your pediatrician. This should be explored now.  
 
Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (60)

bsett
bsett writes:
My husband and I adopted our two boys from foster care in 2009. When they came into our care, our youngest was just turning two and our oldest was 5 1/2. Our oldest is all boy, while our youngest, who is now almost 8 has always wanted to play with dolls, wear my high heels, nightgowns, and dresses. He is always infatuated with my make-up. He also tries to make his blankets into dresses. We have sought out therapy/counseling, but never really got anywhere. All the therapist said was, he's still young, he may outgrow this. We are also involved with our church like you.  During Christmas time a couple of years ago, my son asked me if Santa and God could work together and make him a girl. I explained to him that God made him a boy, he told me God made a mistake. He has progressively become more vocal in his desire to become a girl in the last year. Just last night we had a discussion due to his upcoming birthday and wanting, more barbies, a dress and girl shoes for his presents.  He says he knows God made him a boy and that he has boy parts but why did God give him all these girl thoughts? I can relate to the shoe incident. My husband and I just gave in and let him get a pair of girl shoes. We know this was not the most politically correct thing to do, but the look on his face was one of sheer delight!  He is aware that he can only wear them in the house for now. We know that wanting to be the opposite gender is not something that our children pick for themselves. We also know that it is going to be a bumpy road ahead for all of us. Most importantly, our son knows that he has parents that love him for who he is no matter what his likes an dislikes are. I dont know if you have looked up  "gender identity disorder". If not, I suggest you do. It has helped us put a lot of things into perspective.  I could go on forever but I will stop here. I hope this helps you and please know that you all are not alone.
> 60 days ago

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meloney555
meloney555 writes:
yes, my son loves to dress in his sisters clothes, he shows no interest at all in being a boy he loves to play with girls and their dolls and has asked me to buy him his own girl clothes and a doll witch I have and he has become  much better behaved since I started to treat and cloth him as a girl, he wont have his hair cut and uses scrunchies in it and seems much happier as a girl, so I would not worry about it, let him be a girl if that is what he wants as he will make his own mind up when he's older anyway, maybe you will enjoy haveing a daughter around you than an unhappy boy.
> 60 days ago

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Piper2012
Piper2012 writes:
Hi Patrick,

     I can see how this may be very worrisome to some parents. I am a mother of four children I have a 4 yr old boy, 6 yr old boy, a 8yr old girl, and a 10 yr old boy. My 6 year old started to dress as a girl, walk, talk, pose, and even told me he wished he was a girl. I was concerned about this for a long time since he started to be this way when he was about 2, when his baby brother was born he would act motherly even towards him and I found that very strange. When I started to get more concerned as he wasn't changing I started asking friends, then finally my pediatrician. She said that was very normal for a little boy who either has a older sister, a close and loving family nature, or a very loving other. Well in our home all those things are very true. When my youngest son turned 2 he began to follow in his older brothers foot steps. I started to notice he was just doing these things to build a relationship with his older brother. Both of my younger sons even played with barbies, and baby dolls. While watching when they did not know I was there I noticed when they would play they would play and speak with the dolls and each other in the manner they were being raised. All I could think to myself is what great fathers they will turn out to be. My oldest of the younger 2 of my sons in now 6 yrs old and he doesn't dress up anymore like a girl and doesn't do most anything he had done in the past, when I asked him why he had changed he replied "Oh Mom I am too old to play that way now, people will make fun of me and I like Lego's more now anyways" I was very happy to hear that, although my 4 year old is still playing with barbies and dolls he has too stopped playing the dress up and all the other things they used to do. I think a lot of helping it to stop is by NOT making a big deal about it to or in front of your son and when he dresses up or does or say anything in a "Girl" manner simply say "You are so silly Honey" and go on about your business because most of the time we feed the issue by giving it more power than it needs to have. when children get attention by doing things like this....it doesn't matter to a child weather it is good or bad attention they just need it. Sometimes as parents we feel we are giving enough attention to our children but the fact of the matter is...is they need much more positive attention then most think. Try to sway your child towards anything else he may have a little interest in and show him you are interested in it too, that helps a lot. Because our children want us to be a part of what makes them happy or get attention how ever possible. Also about him making scenes in the store....before going to a public place simply tell him that the attire he is wearing is not appropriate for going into public and let him know as you put your foot down, that tantrums or acting out will not be tolerated and make sure you follow through so he doesn't think you are  nothing but a joke. They do grown out of it though and as I said before not giving the actions he is doing any power by not talking to him about it except by saying how silly he is and leaving it at that. That will help immensely! I hope this helped you. and don't worry he is just growing up still and he is just learning himself and picks up so much around him like a little sponge. I hope this helped you and Good luck on everything and know your NOT alone in this, and it will subside sooner or later, but probably before he hits 7yrs old. Take care....And God Bless you all.
> 60 days ago

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JWillso
JWillso writes:
Hi Patrick,

  I have a 5 year old son that has been struggling with being a boy since he turned 4.  I am very scared for him.  I tell him what an amazing, handsome boy he is on a regular basis hoping to reassure him that he is perfect being a boy.  When he sees a picture of a pretty woman he's not thinking "beautiful woman", he's thinking, "I want to be her".  He cries when I talk about putting him in sports.  He wants me to put him in Dance.  A friend said they never believed a boy could be born gay, but when they interact with my son they are now convinced a boy can be.  I'm hoping it's a phase.  I want my son to grow up and experience the joy of having a wife and children of his own.
> 60 days ago

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Sarbear85
Sarbear85 writes:
I found your question while looking for information on what to do in this situation. The only thing I can provide at this time, is that you are not alone. My son is 4 and has been saying things like, I wish I were a girl, I wish I could die so the angels could take me to heaven so I could ask God why he made me a boy, or I had the best dream last night, I was a girl and got to have my nails done! I have watched this for a good 3 years or so. He has wanted to wear make up, have his nails painted, wants to wear dresses, and loves the color pink. Everyone says it is a phase, but he's been doing stuff like this since he was old enough to put barrettes in his hair. So, while this is not typical boy behavior, you are not alone. I wish you and your son the best.
> 60 days ago

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50pauline69
50pauline69 writes:
My son was 3 yrs old when he showed an extreme interest in girly things.  He was obsessed with women’s shoes, cloths, jewelry, hair and makeup.  I read somewhere on the web that a child starts to really understand gender when they are about 8 or 9.  My son is 9 now and he has told me that he wants to be a girl…………..I am numb.  What I do know is this isn’t a choice they get to chose.  I am more and surer from my son’s conversation that he is in the wrong body.  Each night I pray on how I should respond to my sons cry to be a girl.  He has stated, “When I turn 18 I am going to have an operation to be a girl!”  I said, “That will be your choice but you will not be 100% a girl.  You will not be able to carry a baby in your body or go through everything a girl goes though.”  Kids today have Google and other kids – a wide range of a network of knowledge.  I feel that it is my job to guide, inform my child all that I know and most importantly love him unconditionally without judgment.  And I a pray that he has a HAPPY life.
> 60 days ago

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Barbieboy
Barbieboy writes:
Ok I seen on some responces about your sun could be "gay" or what ever that's not true at all yea because he wants to be a girl he has a greater chance of being gay but that's not always the case I have wanted to be a girl every since I was 3 I'm now much much older 21 to be exact and I live my life as a girl 24/7 and I have a wife who loves me for me so just because he wants to be a girl don't make him gay and just be there to support him no matter what because that's what he needs and you might have to get used to calling him your daughter but he can and might grow out of that you never know he don't need help from anyone but he does need support and he needs to know that his dad will love him no matter what
> 60 days ago

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magnesiumsulfate
magnesiumsu... , Student writes:
the time is opportune for a visit to a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
> 60 days ago

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mummyov5
mummyov5 writes:
Hi hun, my son is now 7 years old, he doesn't dress up in girls clothes etc, but since he was 3 years old he has said he wants to b a girl. I didn't think too much of it as he was so young. Tonight as I tucked him, his 2 brothers and 2 sisters into bed he said to me he wanted to be a girl. I explained to him that he was born a boy and he asked me why? As he should of been born as a girl as he wants to be one. That's why he wanted to grow his hair longer. This maybe just a phase he is going through. Just don't push him too much as he may end up not talking to you about it again if he thinks you are judging him or you may think he is being silly. I told my son if he still feels like this in a few years I will help him anyway I can, as I don't want him to feel he cannot talk or trust me. I would let your son dress up, play with what he wants as he is just exploring things as all kids his age do. Give it a couple more years and if he is still adamant he wants to be a girl then support him anyway you can and make sure he knows he can tell you anything as it's important he doesn't start hiding things or thinking oh I can't do that as my parents don't agree or may be angry with me about doing this. Some kids grow out of it, some kids don't as some feel very strongly from a young age about things like this. It's important that if you do decide to get support for you and your son then you make sure this IS what he wants as you could get support when he's 5 and then he could totally change his mind, it's a hard situation for any parent hun good luck.
> 60 days ago

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LiberalMom
LiberalMom writes:
WOW!  Sounds like my oldest boy exactly.  My son will turn 5 this month, he has loved all things "girly" since he was 2 yrs old.  He always plays with the girls at pre-school (or very gentle boys), dresses up as a princess at school, walks and talks like a girl.  
At home he will make ANY item into a dress, wants to wear tights with his UGG's, and puts dishtowels on his head like long hair.  He wants long hair so we are letting him grow it out (he was very curly hair so it will take forever). Some of our close friends thinks he is gay .but I always felt he is a girl trapped in a boy's body.  

I just asked him today about his birthday wish list and he said: "I really want a red dress because I didn't get one for Christmas" (he really wanted a dress to wear at x-mas, which my husband and I said no to).  My husband who is very Alpha male (served 24 yrs in the Army) cringes from all this and blames me for "encouraging" the behavior by not shooting it down.  I am NOT very feminine; I barely wear make-up, always wear jeans and flat shoes, and keep my hair in a short bob.  My son is 200% more feminine than myself! Help.
We live in the south and anything out of the norm is frowned upon here.  I am already dreading the day he starts Kindergarten and someone will belittle him at school.  I loved school growing up and so wish he will as well.  His preschool teachers are all very supportive and thinks this is a "phase" but a phase should not last for 3+ years should it?  

My son asked for 2 years to dance ballet (he loves Angelina Ballerina), and this past summer we let him, to my big surprise he announced after 4 months that he did not want to go anymore because he did not like tap.  I asked him if he would go to another ballet school that just taught ballet (not tap as well), but he said no.
We were starting to hope his "girly-phase" was over until all of a sudden it's back in full force with new questions to wear dresses, have long hair, having daily "I'm really a girl" discussions etc.  Any thoughts about if we should get him a dress for his 5th birthday or not?  

I feel that this little boy was born to me for a reason and it is NOT for me to belittle him in any way but to support him and make sure someone loves him no matter what, but WOW I am happy to hear we are not the only ones with this "issue".
> 60 days ago

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JamielaIsmail
JamielaIsmail , Teacher writes:
Dear Patrick,
This is perfectly normal for little boys. My son now 17 years was dressed by my daughter who is 3 years older.  Together they would have tea parties and he called himself Miss Andrews.  They would wear her clothes and put on lipstick, have a handbag and a hat and high heels and together they would adopt an accent and speak in a very funny way.  He thoroughly enjoyed this for at least 6 months.  Thereafter, he was happy to tease my daughter with bugs and spiders.  This is a phase they go through and rarely is it a concern.  Be encouraging and still do dad and son activities and he will come round.  I do hope this is consoling.
> 60 days ago

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Emmap69
Emmap69 writes:
Hi
My son has just turned 7 and has loved girls things since I can remember. He loves barbie, Disney princess and anything pink. He also loves wearing dresses and tea towels for hair ( he hates wigs ).
My husband was a bit wary initially but has got over that and now we just enjoy seeing him happy.
We have fallen out with quite a few family members over this, as they think we are 'making him gay' by letting him play with dolls.
Others try and reassure us by saying 'he'll grow out of it'.
Im so proud if my son and hope he stays as happy as he is now.
> 60 days ago

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helpffull
helpffull writes:
mate, i was similar to your son. 1st im 37 & from my experience with heaps of people over the decades, when it comes to strait bi trans etc etc etc everyone has their own version, ive met them, not everyone is straight the same way, or gay bi etc, they are what they are in their own way, with different focuses on different things n different degrees. there are men that crossdress and are into females, some not, etc, some are bi, etc.   Going by my life, in the very short version..  allow him, but dont indulge him too much, he is not the boss, hes still developing his brain and mind and body etc, and he needs to know these things but dont tell him whats write and wrong, as that is purely false, theres no such thing in nature, and kids are smart and the lst thing they do is look for a flaw in your lesson and theyll find it and use it against you in many ways, so.. make a game of it and educate, give suggestions, perspectives, ask him what consequences might be if, this, if that, explain what generally really happens in life with males bodies females, their roles, explain things like work, money, who/what is he going to date? do not scare him with diseases cos my guess would be you will be wrong, as in most cases they arent easy to catch as common as they are, and all these things arent too big for him to answer, hes already making assumptions and plans,  i know cos i outsmarted my parents extremely the poor things.  the big thing is to compromize. if he wants to do this, fine but he also has to try this aswell.  mix his experiences, girl games with boy games, brief the boy kids and girl kids that he associates or is ontroduced to by you about the situation, and to include and educate him dont judge or make him do things.  he can make seroius decisins when he gets older but not now, too young.  join in on the things he does, like (just as an example), put a dress on as a game, to try and get him to try other things, like, if daddy plays dresses with you, then we are going to play a game daddy likes, such as a sport or whatever. and it can only be for small periods of time, that way its encouraging him to be fair yes ? and otherwise he wont get his way if he wont commpromise with yu. as in any other situation,  "if you kids dont eat your dinner, no tv",  sound familiar? same thing here, and thats exactly how he will see it too.   i wish - that i had men around me to do this, specially my PE teacher coz thats the most where i had other kids around, specially boys.  coz now im older, i regret not having learnt to be a great rugby league star, or a gymnast. so i avoid watching the olympics. i stil like men as in romantically,  but im not feminine any more, and im REEAALLY embarrassed my parents even allowed me to ware my mums clothes at all, but hey it happened, i was persistant, but hate it so much at 18 that i went into our all foto albums and destroyed all the fotos i was in dressed up.   my parents are heros, for what they went through with me.  but- i turned out to be a strong smart person, muscle fit, bright, sociable, man of every trade, of all seasons, i went to college in my late 30's, got jobs, and am improving as a human being all the time, im worth 10000 people hehe. and the experience has made me much wiser.  im also as masculine as a tough fighter, i talk like one too, look and act and ware clothes as a rugby player.  i wanted to be a girl when i was little as was gona change my self in surgery when i grew up. because i wanted to be in love with a man AND THOUGHT THE ONLY WAY WAS if i turned into a woman, otherwise they wouldnt look at me. and just recently i found out a website, where there are nice handsome strong butch men that like men to be all girly like, which brought me back to my past and it upset me to find out 30 yrs later, im trying to hide my devestation cos i made myself butch, but the femenine-ness doesnt really go away, i just prefer being butch, but thats my choice. so when i thought to myself now that i found these men that like males acting like females to marry and date, wether i would be feminine and go with them, no i didnt wana be feminine , i like being manly and want a manly man. i like being male and manly.  so these big decisions cant be allowed to be made by an undeveloped unmature brain of a child, when they are adult like after 18, thats when they can start to have a say in what happens, but not before.   it wasnt my parents fault, it was more people outside, specially at school, i keep saying my Phys ed teacher, coz hes supposed to have studied about child development to some degree or recognize whats happening, and he has the power to encourage help and guide kids of all abilities and popularities, or to destroy their future and social standing and fairness in school, and give all kids a fair go persistantly... so maybe when he starts school, you can have a serious arrangement with his Phys ed teacher.  to include him in all experiences, to make a game of learning, not a chore or "you have to do this" that".   talk to him about self esteem issues like how to develop  strong self esteem,  what are the benefits of having male buddies, when he grows up in the real world, getting a job, married or not? dating,  its all gona happen, and he needs to know about this, what life is going to / can look like for him, in other words what his options can be. never use good, or bad, always use, is this better, or prefered, terms like that. what happens to people when they have no frends? depression, isolation, what are the physical bad things that happen to the brain, tne soul, the health of a person even an adult... so on... cos effects on mental health and wellbeing are crucial and have serious effects if ignored, and they will effect him in all areas of his capacity just as a stand alone human being, he wont be happy.    he needs to understand that he has to experience everything, and he has to grow up 1st,  that is all we can ask...  in these kind of matters id love to speak in person with such people coz im jumping from topic to topic.  hope ive been a help
> 60 days ago

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helpffull
helpffull writes:
i forgot to add,  do not be embarrassed of him.  who ever looks and laughs let them.  you stand tall and strong and think of positive things to remark if you must - and never take it to heart, i know it sounds impossible, but nothing is impossible, we just havent found the way yet. when you drive, can you see the whole road ahead of you? no, but you know that you are going to reach the town you are driving to..  and in most cases if not all in the world, such children have super capabilities, as children and when they grow into adulthood, like, perception, inventive creative talents, insight, special skills, some cultures around the world treasure people like this and they become healers, shamans, etc, , while the white, christian and muslim world try to destroy them.   children like this become special people in good places.  just keep the balance, and alter your perspectives as time goes by, tolerance. love
> 60 days ago

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Sarinabella
Sarinabella writes:
I think you should take his comments seriously and speak with a pediatric specialist that deals with gender issues.
> 60 days ago

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Kenzlyric
Kenzlyric writes:
I have to say I'm not sure why people keep referring to this or their similar situation with their child as a problem! Or even suggest therapy their is two simple answers to this s"situation" your having with your child. I too am experiencing this faze with my son and it is simple

A) it will pass he has noticed a reaction from you and it's something he enjoys doing, today tomorrow even a year from now he may want to be a girl but at the same time tomorrow he may want to be batman and refuse to go to bed without a cape on for the next year!

Or

B) he truly does feel he should have been born a girl, this is not a religious topic not a Therapy solution to it and it is NOT a problem. A child as young as three can yes experience these feelings and if he is let him. Don't say your a boy say if that's how you feel ok . Ando move on don't make a issue of it. Don't bring it up or question his feelings because f that's how he truly feels 10 years from now this might come up again an he will somehow find it easier to tell you about it. Deep down he will know you will understand. But don't make a deal out of it either way, don't rush out to buy girl clothes or start calling him Sally that could really confuse the little guy, but don't tell him he's not to put those thoughts in his head will close him off for the future. This is science study the X chromosome and learn a little.

Now I'm not saying he's gay or he's a woman this is simply a faze or it's not and if not theres no "cure" only acceptance

I hope I've helped and havnt offended anyone. I too have a 3 year old boy doing te same things today he painted his nails ... Whatever tomorrow he may be batman ... Or not :) I'm proud to be his mom either way
> 60 days ago

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Pollygowell
Pollygowell writes:
This does not mean anything to anyone except your son.  At this age it is obviously NOT a sexual orientation issue.  It may be weird for some parents but at least he has been able to mention it and express it.  Just leave him with whatever love you can give him.  Your job, as a parent, is to teach him to survive in this world as happily as you can enable him to be.  I say this because of my own experience.  I could not have dared to discuss such a thing with my own parents.  So, congratulations because you have a great rapport.  
By the way, this sounds silly but its OK to be female, you know.  We parents seem to be quite proud of tomboy daughters.  At the same time we are very worried about boys not being sufficiently macho - strangely unfair.
> 60 days ago

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DoogleSmoogle
DoogleSmoogle writes:
Your son/daughter could be a transsexual (Some one who is given a male body who feels they're female and or want to be female, Or some one who is born with a female body and or wants to be a male or feels like a male in a female body. Which there is nothing wrong with that by the way and you should support your son/daughter in who they want to be.
> 60 days ago

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Girlnextdoor98
Girlnextdoo... writes:
Your son might be transgender you should have him talk to a gender theripist someone who specializes in transgender youth and see what they say
> 60 days ago

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TheLastWaterBender48
TheLastWate... , Parent writes:
My daughter does this too. My 5 year old is my daughter who acts like a bot, dresses like one, and she is growing out of the habit......sorry not helpful Patrick.
58 days ago

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