Lots of great discussion here about some tricky issues. Thanks everyone! And TBH, I’m glad this didn’t evolve into a discussion of the horrors of letting a boy wear a princess dress. We’ve come a long way!
But I want to respond to some things and share some thoughts…
– The child and his mother live with me, and I fulfill many parental responsibilities for him. Father has alternate weekend visitation, and essentially won’t speak to me anyway. I’m working hard to get Mother to overcome her outdated notions of gender, and she’s slowly evolving.
– This really isn’t about what I want, beyond wanting him to be happy and feel good about himself. I don’t think the “cookie” or “expensive toy” analogy works, although letting him have the Barbie he wants is along the same vein. To my mind, if it turns out that he’s gay or trans, I don’t want him thinking that there’s something wrong with him. In the end, if he’s allowed to dress up like a female character, I don’t think that’s going to have any impact on who he becomes. However, I do have a concern that repeatedly getting the message that he can’t have something he wants because it’s “only for girls” might contribute to his ultimate decision that he has to change his body and become a girl. Just because of the health risks of this, I’d rather he grow up to be a man who wears dresses, in a society that accepts that there are more than 2 genders.
– As for the notion that he’d be happy with a Prince outfit – imagine that a 5yo girl deeply desired a Cinderella dress, but got the Prince instead. She’d probably be heartbroken and angry, and would have been better off getting nothing.
– My original intent in posting was, as I indicated, to find out whether a boy in a princess outfit is becoming more mainstream. If so, it would bolster my efforts to convince his mother that this is okay. OTOH, if I learned that he’d get lots of negative feedback, I might decide to abandon the idea. And I’m still interested to know how common it is for girls to dress up for these events. If only a few girls will be wearing princess clothes, vs. a very large percentage, that’s a factor I’ll consider in decision making.
Thanks again for the constructive input!