Parents & Transgender Prom Dates

Dress: $250. Corsage: $30. Seeing your daughter stand confidently by her friends: priceless.

Senior Prom 2014 was an adventure in parenting that I really hadn't expected. Most parents share the same fears when it comes to teenagers and prom - sex, drugs, drinking. I wasn't worried about my daughter doing any of these things. She went to prom with friends. I'm proud of her choice of friends: Responsible, respectful kids who get good grades and stay out of trouble at school. They love to dance, and like most teenagers, they can be silly. I was confident that they would have a great time without doing anything risky.

063I tried to raise my daughter to choose her friends based on character. To look past things like appearances and sexual orientation and love people for who they are. Her friends are a mix of straight and gay, boys and girls, couples and singles, dressed traditionally for their gender and some transgender. Which leads to my concern: the boy she was going with decided to wear a dress to prom.

While I respect his choice, and I''m impressed that he had the courage and was self assured enough to express himself in such an open way, I know that people can be ignorant and cruel. Would their classmates respect his choice of clothing? Would they create drama? Or would a group of ignoramuses cause trouble and ruin the evening, possibly even cause harm?

I casually asked my daughter about this, and she wasn't worried at all. I couldn't help wonder, was she aware of the level of acceptance at school or was she being naive?

I started to consider ways I might ward off potential problems. I had thought of alerting school officials so they could be on the alert for any trouble, but decided there was potentially more danger in that. What if they didn't respect his choice and try to stop him? That would be so hurtful. No, I decided that this boy is aware of the risk he's taking. I said a little prayer, let it go and proceeded with the pomp and circumstance and the ritual of fussing over this milestone in her life.

We had fruit "mocktails" in champagne flutes while her girlfriend did her hair and makeup. Her paparazzi (Grandma, Grandpa, me and her dad) took  a multitude of photos in front of the fireplace, ooh'd and ahh'd over her lovely gown and grown up appearance.

When we arrived at the boy's house he was dressed in a simple, light pink mother-of-the-bride-style dress with pearls and maroon Converse. I felt bad for him because he was alone; there was no "paparazzi" fussing over this milestone in his life. It made me sad to think that his family may not be supportive.

We took a few more photos of the two together, then they got in the car and drove away. For the next few hours I stayed by my phone. Meanwhile, prom pictures were popping up on Facebook. Boys and girls lined up in beautiful clothes - boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl. I'm ashamed to admit, at the time, I felt a little envious of how "normal" they all looked. Why is it so easy to focus on outward appearance? Why is it so hard to venture outside the "norm"?

A couple hours later I got a few short texts from her, indicating that all was well, and I started to relax. Relief came the next morning when I saw the pictures these brave kids posted on Facebook:  kids laughing, goofy selfies, chocolate cake, and one sweet little video that my daughter's friend took of her spinning, with her dress twirling. I don't think I could be more proud of my girl. And I'm happy that it seems that her classmates are a step closer to acceptance and embracing diversity than my generation.

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    Just wanted to point out that a boy (and we don't really know how they actually identify) wearing a dress doesn't necessarily equal transgender. It's a bit more complicated than that. Thanks to the mom dealing with her daughter's preferences in friends in a mature way and I especially appreciated the part about her daughter's date going to the prom on their own without family support. Understanding how so many queer and, especially trans kids are cut off from any support structure at home and the potentially dangerous ramifications of that is something society needs to be more cognizant of because it often leads to homelessness, violence against them and social marginalization.

  • In reply to Regina Kleinzeller:

    Regina, thanks for clarifying, the definitions are so confusing. I've learned a lot through this brief experience. So much to learn!

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