Question: Dealing with Dad

Jack asks…

I’m a 17 year old genderqueer bio-female living with my very strongly opinionated father. I came home from a weekend at my mother’s house to find almost my entire male wardrobe gone. My father said that I needed to ‘stop playing dress-up’ and ‘be who I really am’. Now, I’m forced to dress completely feminine. I don’t know what to make of myself any more. Have any of you been in this situation? I could use some advice.

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on June 20th, 2011 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Question: Dealing with Dad”

  1. Tara

    I am in that situation constantly so I completely understand what you are going through. I am a 27-year-old female who honestly feels more comfortable in men’s clothing. I always felt that way! I am going home to visit family for a cousin’s wedding and now for the 3rd time I will be forced to wear a dress because it would cause too much strife on certain members of the family if I were to wear a suit or something of that nature. I will be 28 this year and I still have people telling me what to wear. I know who I AM inside though and even though your dad is telling you that you should be more ‘feminine’ it shouldn’t change who you feel like YOU are. Continue to be strong and who you want to be even when it feels like it is the toughest. I constantly battle these things every day but things have definitely improved over the years…especially with my family. It obviously isn’t exactly where I’d like it but that’ll come with time and patience. Keep fighting the good fight and stay strong in your convictions!


  2. Anonymous

    Salt his food until he croaks. :D


  3. Erica (the photo curator)

    If I were you, I’d have a talk with my father about how, even though I was a minor, I still deserved to be respected as a person. (Or, if you’re a coward, like me, write him a letter. :D) Getting rid of your stuff without your knowledge and permission is a step too far, even if he has “strong opinions”–you can disagree with someone’s choices and still not infringe on their privacy.

    Has your dad read much about being genderqueer? (I’m guessing not.) You could point him towards some resources, or maybe even towards some bios of successful queers, to show how living this way isn’t “fake”.


  4. The Nerd

    Hmm… well, it’s the summer now, but when school starts, fill your locker with male clothing to change into. Seriously. Try selecting clothes that can work with your current wardrobe, like a few masculine jackets or hoodies. This will only work if you lie low long enough to not raise suspicion, or else he might check your bags and notice when you’re bringing clothes to school. You might need to trade favors with a friend if you need them washed.


  5. Jessica

    Tell him that he is in control of the situation now, but that this will change and he needs to choose now whether in ten years he will have someone who will recognize him as their father or not. The very best way of alienating a child is to deny their right to self-determination and self-identity. This is just human nature, not the result of any quality or defect in you. Ask him if he realizes how much you will resent him, how much the memory of him will become painful to you, and how far away from him you will wish to be.

    If he is inflexible, do what he says, to the minimum extent possible. Then, as soon as you can bog off out of there leave this abusive relationship and find a place where you can blossom.


    J.D. replied:

    This. This right here is a good place to start. Just make sure when you tell him this you can find a way to do it without things getting too aggressive (shouting, etc.) because nobody ends up winning when a fight starts. Also, “bog off” is a wonderful phrase that I’ve never heard before.


    Thomas replied:

    This is incredibly smart advice. I think it gets to the root of the larger issue of your relationship with your father, while still getting the OP’s point across of how they need to express themselves and their identity through clothing.


  6. Anonymous

    that is horrible and i’m so sorry. when i hear about how some parents treat their kids, it makes me want to cry. and i promise never to be so insensitive to my own children.

    maybe that wasn’t advice, but you should know.


  7. Rob

    I understand how you feel and I also know that standing up to a strong willed parent wont always get you anywhere that you want to be. If you cant change your situation, you can change your mind on how you view it. Think of it as an opportunity to do some serious drag. See how feminine you can get and how masculine you can act at the same time maybe. Try to find an angle, a perspective, that doesn’t make you feel like you are denying part of yourself just because you don’t have clothes to express it. I understand that mood and expression are often tied closely to presentation, but try to use this as an opportunity to grow into who you are. As much as they suck, times like these are sometimes our best chances at cementing our character. Good luck and stay strong and just remember that both you and your father know that, in the end, you will be you no matter what. Deep down inside he knows he is fighting a losing battle, and hopefully that thought can get you through for now.


    Jessica replied:

    I agree. It is a rotten situation, but what it is is what you make of it. If you can reach your father and help him to understand, good. If you can’t, that is bad, but not the end of the world.

    I had several friends who talked about going home as interactive theater – they played a part, they got good reviews, nobody got hurt. They treated their parents like mentally challenged children who had to be humored.

    In my opinion, that’s a lousy way to have to deal with your parents, but it is preferable to being beaten up or homeless.


  8. J.D.

    perseverance is sometimes the only way. My parents insisted for about fifteen years that I was just “going through a phase”. Eventually (around the time I hit 17) they came around a little and realized they couldn’t keep using that excuse. They still don’t really get it, and there are some things I haven’t got up the nerve to bring up to them yet, but really sometimes all you can do is be patient and determined. Don’t go out of your way to start a fight, but don’t back down either. Don’t yell and scream if you can help it, just learn to take deep breaths and keep on pushing forward. Try to explain things to him when he’s calm. It might not work, but it will likely get you farther than fighting would. Just keep your chin up and keep being you. And remember that genderfork will always be here for those days when you feel like enough is enough. I know this place has a way of making me feel strong again.


  9. Thomas

    The Smart Ass in me wants to suggest that if your father doesn’t like you dressing masculin, dress as the type of girl he does’t like either. Over the top of a father’s worst nightmare of his little girl dressed as slutty as possible; but I know that won’t actually solve anything and may do more harm than good (depending on your personality and your father’s).

    For actual, usable advice, I think a lot of the other responses had some good points about personal privacy and rights despite the fact that you’re a minor, and approaching your dad in regards to how does he wants your relationship to go in the long term. Be respectful, but don’t compromise who you are. Hopefully you can find a friend and ally who can help you out by “loaning” you clothes or helping you with laundry if you need to hide your masculin clothing.

    Is there any way your Mom could help you? How comfortable would you be with approaching her regarding your dilemma and that you WANT to continue respecting your Dad and keep the peace, but you also want him to show that respect to you for who you are, not who he WANTS you to be.


    Jessica replied:

    If Jack feels better in masculine attire and worse in feminine attire, then dressing over-the-top slutty is going to be really uncomfortable. Dressing in “approved” clothes and constantly covering yourself up, being wooden and obviously unhappy, uncomfortable and disturbed by what you are being required to do — if this doesn’t move him, then he’s more interested in compliance than in the mental and emotional well being of his child.

    Is he a religious fanatic? “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool [shall be] servant to the wise of heart.” Proverbs 11:29


    Thomas replied:

    As I said- I knew psychologically it could do more harm than good, depending on the personalities involved. It’s not the solution for everyone, just how my smart ass brain sees things. It’s the type of thing I’d put my parents through if they tried that (or would have when I was a teenager).


  10. Pearl

    Add this shirt to your wardrobe as a message to him?


    Weaver replied:

    Love it, lol.


  11. Charlie

    I started coming out as genderqueer at 17, too, and both of my parents are “stubbornly old-fashioned”, to put it nicely (sexist, racist, homophobes to put it honestly). My mom confiscated my binders, ties, and boxers.

    I made it thru by wearing what they wanted, avoiding conflict, and laying low during the day, and watching a ton of “It Gets Better” videos and coming on Genderfork every night. Everything they say is true. I’m out of the house now, and I can wear whatever I want. At 17, you don’t have much further to go. You can make it.

    Also, try unisex stuff. I wore a lot of T-shirts, jeans, and vans. Still do, actually. But now I have boxers and binders again. :)


  12. Anonymous

    Do you have a job? Do you have your own way of making money? Don’t let him control you. Try talking to him and explain how much it upsets you. What I would do is throw away all of his clothes and see how he likes it.


  13. Riley

    Ask him to throw away all your clothes, tell him he cannot rob one part of you without the next.

    Start wearing his clothes, when/if he gets mad tell him you are simply dressing as the person he wants you to be.

    Or simply stick it out and rub his opinions in his face when you are older and the error of his words might stand clearer in society.

    Good luck :)


  14. Tim

    Did you buy those clothes with your own money? If so I would point that out to him. Either way, you shouldn’t have to hide yourself. Tell him you shouldn’t have to choose between being yourself and having his love and respect


  15. Jack

    Hey, op here.

    I’ve done about all the talking I can do. The whole thing sort of culminated in an argument between him and I, in which I surrendered and told him I would dress the way he wanted, and though I wouldn’t enjoy it, I would do it for the sake of obeying him. He wasn’t satisfied with that, and continued to argue with me, to somehow make me see where I was apparently going wrong and that I was being utterly ridiculous and “denying the person I really am’, because apparently my compliance wasn’t enough. After enduring more insults and nasty comments, I ended up having to lie and tell him I thought I was ugly in order for him to accept the whole thing and finally let me off the hook.
    This whole thing happened a while ago, and I never did get my clothes back. I even still get criticism on my hoodie-and-skinnyjeans type of look that I choose to wear now, even though I look perfectly female.

    Thankfully, my girlfriend, my friends, my mother, and even my close friends’ parents are on my side in this whole issue, and while I’m at my mother’s house, I’m able to dress and present myself ‘how I really am’, as Jack. Even though my dad still threatens to overhaul my feminine wardrobe and thinks everything I do is a phase, I’ve learned to sort of tune him out and do what he wants. Ultimately, it’s his loss. He’s expecting me to continue to live with him as I go into college, and I’m expecting to pack up and get the hell out of there as soon as I graduate high school.

    In a way, I’m almost glad this whole thing happened. I’m still holding on to this form of my identity, and I think if it wasn’t who I was really meant to be, I would have just dropped it when I was told to, and kept on. So, though painful, I suppose the whole thing has really helped to cement my self-image, in the end. Though I still have to wait to fully build the outside image I want, I know who I am underneath. If I’m still that person, through all this crap, nobody’s gonna take it away from me now. If I can take away just one positive thought like that, I can at least say it wasn’t a total waste. He said that I’ll ‘thank him later’. And I will. But not for what he expects. And that’s a victory, from my perspective.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top