How best to skirt issue of son's wardrobe

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My 24-year-old son has come out as "gender queer" and states that he doesn't want to identify as either male or female. He just wants to be himself. He has recently taken the stance that if he is asked not to wear a skirt to an event, he simply won't go. I have loved my son's differences since he was born and totally accept him. There are many issues that arise, however. His father keeps his opinions to himself, but it is obvious that he doesn't approve when our son shows up somewhere wearing a skirt. His sister accepts him totally, but she thinks his girlfriend is obnoxious and has chewed her out. A dear friend has graciously invited my entire family (plus girlfriend) to a very expensive and somewhat conservative restaurant for dinner. I know my son won't come if I ask him not to wear a skirt. I am afraid my daughter and my son's girlfriend will get into an argument, and I know my husband will be incredibly uncomfortable. I'd be horribly embarrassed if my friend took us on what he expects to be a friendly outing and my family implodes. Any ideas on averting disaster?--Understanding Mom

DEAR MOM: You should not ask your son to wear -- or not wear -- any particular thing. He's an adult, for goodness sake. If he wants to swan around town in a tutu and scuba mask, that's his business, right? You can say to him, "This restaurant is expensive and conservative. We are guests." That's it. Do not discuss his wardrobe. (The restaurant probably won't care about his skirt, though they may try to wrestle him into a jacket.) I suggest that you use separate transportation. That way if there's a problem your son (and/or daughter) can find their own way home.

And here's some bonus (unsolicited) advice for your son: Stop acting like a toddler. You need to figure out how to interact with people in various contexts, and not sulk if you think your mommy is not going to "let" you wear your skirt. Grow up.