Hi, I'm Janet, Steve's mother. Sorry this took a while. But, you might remember he's the man who wrote a letter to petticoated.com about how he liked wearing girl's clothes as a boy and still does. He sent me a forward E-mail saying that you wanted my version of this story. Well, I will try to fill in some more details.
I went over this letter the best I could, I hope I caught all the type Os. My daughters call me the "type O queen", so I hope I'm not this time.
Anyway, one night I got a little curious if any other family had ever done anything like this with their son. I did some searches on the Internet. Although, I didn't find much, I did find petticoated.com. I told Steve about this and he just had to write his story. I read the letter he sent to petticoated.com and I have to agree with what he said in there about never hearing about this practice of forcing boys to wear girl's clothes as a punishment. I've never heard of it either.
I grew up in a home where I was the only girl among three brothers and as far as I know none of them ever put on a dress. All they and my father did was go to ball games and somehow get their bones broken. I loved my brothers and they were always very protective of me. In a way, Steve had the same situation that I had. He was the only boy with two sisters - the older one was Amanda and the younger one was Amy. He was the middle child.
However, before I start, I think I should point out that I've read some of the stories on petticoated.com and my letter may not fit the normal theme, but you might find it to be interesting reading anyway. I enjoyed writing it. It was nice to go down memory lane.
When I read the forward E-mail from you that I got from Steve, I believe your question was "why did I do this?" Well, to answer that question I would have to say that I really didn't do it, I just let it happen - well I guess you could also say that I helped it to happen.
This situation started about a year after my husband's tragic death. His name was, Bill. During that first year Steve just went on the best he could. His father used to do a lot with him and now he was gone. Steve was a lot like his father, very nice to people and he was quite a handy man.
I can't begin to go over all of things that happened after Bill's death, because something like that can really change a family. But, shortly after everything settled down, several people started coming to me and warning me about Steve. My mother, several colleagues at the school I worked at and other relatives insisted that Steve could be a problem. They claimed that in the event that a father is taken out of the picture, the son is likely to rebel or go off track in some way. I took their advice and kept an eye out for this problem, but I didn't see it happening.
As Steve said in his letter he took over his father's chores and just went on. I never got any trouble out of him. I also did not assign him any chores, because it seemed that he already had it all figured out without my input. I never had to beg him to do anything and I discovered that if I just let him do things as he thought it should be done, the things that needed to get done got done. Like his father, he could fix just about anything. I was scared after Bill's death, because he was no longer around to take care of things like that, but I didn't have to worry about that since Steve willingly took over. It was helpful to me to have him around.
Steve's account of how all of this got started was very accurate from what I remember. I remember that talk we had in his room that night and he is right, I did perceive that he was feeling left out. When I asked him if he would like me to put him in dresses like I do the girls, he understood that as a joke and he was right, I was joking. It surprised me when he came to me the next day and said that he wanted to do this. I have never known a boy to want to put on dresses. And as he mentioned I did talk to his sisters about this and they were excited about it.
At first I wasn't really sure if I was going to go through with this or not. I mean a boy wanting to wear girl's clothes, I had never heard of that. Amanda became the brains behind this whole thing. She's always been very insightful and creative. Nevertheless, I was leaning towards NOT doing this. I just couldn't see putting my boy in dresses. But, Amanda objected to my thinking and she argued in favor of doing this. She believed it would make him feel more a part of us girls (as she said) and also she felt that her father's death was taking a harder toll on him more than it was on her and Amy. She suggested that since he was grieving more, maybe this would be therapeutic for him. Personally, I thought her argument was ridiculous. But, then I thought about the fact that she's been proven to be right in the past, so I decided trust her judgment. Looking back on it, I think she was right.
I do remember taking Steve's measurements and shopping for his first dresses, panties, bras and several other accessories. But, I have to emphasize that punishment was never the objective. In fact, I never really needed to punish Steve much or the girls. They were always good kids and they always got along with each other. The three of them were very close. I always considered myself fortunate for that. Of course there was something here and there I didn't like. But, for the most part he never got in trouble at school or anywhere else.
Steve has always liked girls. He never went through that stage that many boys go through where they don't want anything to do with girls. Even in kindergarten, he would play house with this one little girl, when none of the other boys would. He has never had any tolerance for mistreatment of girls by boys, or really mistreatment of anybody. If he and his friends would build a tree house, he would insist on girls being allowed in. And he was never violent with anybody, except for two terrible incidents I can remember.
One time, Steve threw a boy down a staircase in our church. I believe this happened when he was about eight years old. It was after a Christmas Eve fellowship. I asked Steve and Amy to carry some Christmas presents out to our car. There was this long staircase they needed to go up to go out to the parking lot. When they got to the top of the stairs, a bully named Michael was waiting for them. Michael grabbed Steve, knocked the presents out of his hands and threw him to the floor. He got on top of Steve and started beating him.
Amy cried to Michael to stop. Michael then got up and went after her. He, knocked the presents out of her hands, then he pinned her against a wall by her neck thus choking her and then he slapped her really hard in the face. He was about to do it again, but somehow Steve got up and tackled Michael, causing him to loose his balance and he fell down the long staircase. At the bottom of the staircase, Michael plowed into some ladies who were carrying some food. Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, but Michael was a mess with pies all over him. It almost looked like something from a comedy show. Bill and I didn't see this happen, but we decided not to punish Steve for this because we understood he was only defending himself and his sister.
That Christmas morning, poor Amy woke up with a terrible red mark on her face in the shape of a hand. This convinced Bill and me that Steve and Amy told us the truth. Bill had a talk with Michael's father and demanded that he should be punished, but his parents refused to do it. They even went as far as saying that Michael was the victim because Steve threw him down the stairs. But, I thought the red mark on Amy's face and the bruises on Steve's chest told me who the victims really were.
Michael was known for being a mean bully and he had hurt other kids before. He was much bigger than Steve and had no business touching him. As far as I'm concerned, if there ever was a boy who should have been petticoated out of punishment it was he. I don't know whatever became of him.
The other incident occurred that following summer. Bill's sister is married to a man named Charles. He's an uncle to my kids and he has three sons. Personally, I never did like any of them. I thought they were all terribly misbehaved boys. But, their parents did nothing about it. I was never fond of Charles at all. And Steve and the girls felt the same way about him and their cousins. Personally, I think Charles is one of the worst male chauvinists I have ever known.
That summer Charles convinced Bill and me to take our family on a camping trip with his family. Bill didn't want to insult his sister, so we agreed to this. They lent us some camping equipment. We went in separate cars (or station wagons) to a public camping place in the mountains. Fortunately we got our own campsite separate from theirs.
One night, something interesting happened. Bill and me were sitting near the campfire, reading and I believe Steve and the girls were playing Monopoly. When all of the sudden, this cute little girl from a neighboring camp site, boldly walked right up to Bill and me. She was about Amy's age at the time, around 6 or 7. I think she was of Mexican decent. She had beautiful dark hair and a darkish complexion. She introduced herself to us as Maria. She was very polite and articulate. She simply said that she saw that we had kids and she wanted to come over and play with them sometime. Well, of course we said, yes. Personally, I think she really had a crush on Steve. Then she left and went back to her campsite.
The next morning Charles and his boys came over to our campsite with fishing poles and wanted Steve and Bill to go fishing with them. We brought along fishing poles for Amanda and Amy as well, but they were not interested in going. Instead they wanted to go on a hike with me. Steve and Bill agreed to go.
Just as the guys were getting ready to leave for the lake, Maria suddenly showed up with her father. She said she wanted to go fishing with the guys. Her father said it was okay. But, Charles's and his boys were NOT happy about this, because they didn't want a girl to go. His boys threw a fit over this. However, Steve, without hesitation, went into the car, got a fishing pole and gave it to Maria. Maria just stood there and smiled at Steve. So, all of the guys and Maria went to the lake. But, Charles and his boys didn't like it.
Once they got to the lake, Steve helped Maria to get setup with her fishing pole, just to discover that a part was missing. Steve thought that the part might still be in the car. So, Bill and Steve quickly went back to our campsite to find this part. I saw them come back; us girls hadn't left for our hike yet. They left Maria at the lake with Charles and his sons. Well after all Charles is an adult, that's supervision, which should've been okay, right? Wrong! I couldn't believe what happened next. Steve went back to the lake by himself. Bill wanted to take care of a couple of things before he went back.
When Steve got back to the lake, he couldn't believe his eyes. Maria was lying on the ground and crying while his three cousins repeatedly threw mud at her. According to Steve, Charles just stood there and let them do it. Steve lost it. He picked up a stick and started hitting his cousins with it to get them to stop. But, Charles grabbed Steve and took the stick away from him. Steve screamed to Charles to let him go so he could help Maria. Fortunately, Bill showed up and made Charles let Steve go, and then he yelled at Charles's sons to get them off of Maria. (Bill had to do Charles's disciplining for him) Bill couldn't believe what he just saw; his brother-in-law manhandling his son while his three nephews threw mud at this sweet little girl. Bill insisted that we would have nothing to do with Charles or his sons for the rest of the trip and that was fine with me.
Steve and Bill brought Maria back to our campsite. When they got back, I thought I was seeing things, that poor girl was covered with mud. I can't explain the horrid emotions I felt when I saw her and Bill told me what had happened. Bill went to Maria's parents and explained what happened and apologized, while I cleaned Maria up. Fortunately she wasn't hurt, just messed up. But, still an adult allowing this?
Steve was really upset and embarrassed over what happened. So, the next morning, with the permission of Maria's parents, Steve took Maria back to the lake to go fishing. This time, it was just the two of them. They spent practically the whole day there. They didn't catch much, but they had a great time together. Bill went down there every hour to check on them and everything was fine. He said he even saw them kissing at one point.
Steve and Maria kept in touch after that by writing letters to each other. But, they stopped after Bill's death; I never knew why. Unfortunately the story with Charles doesn't end here. He and his son's will come up later in this letter.
Steve was a good kid and he loved his sisters. One of things that stood out to me was this bra situation. At the time Steve started wearing girl's clothes, Amy was too young for bras, but Amanda was already wearing them. But, she was a lot like me when I was her age; she really didn't like them and thought they were very uncomfortable. She had a very hard time getting used to them. Actually, I still don't like them now.
When we shopped for Steve's first girlish clothes, it was Amanda's idea to get him the training bras. I wasn't going to force him to wear bras if he didn't want to. I knew I could always take them back. As a matter of fact, I wasn't forcing Amanda to wear her bras either. But, she chose to wear them, because she wanted to look good. Steve was well aware of what Amanda was going through. So he agreed to wear the bras and go through it with her.
To help Steve and Amanda get used to their bras I did take them out for a professional bra fitting. I knew somebody who could do that and keep it a secret. Steve and Amanda felt better in their new bras. They still took some getting used to, but they were better. I was amazed at this. Steve even promised Amanda that he would wear bras as much as he could as long as she did. And he still does. Every time I see him and throw my arms around him I can feel that he's got his bra on. His wife loves this. She really doesn't need bras herself. She once said to me that somebody in her home should be wearing bras and she's glad that for the most part it's not her.
I got Steve, Amanda and eventually Amy, several professional bra fittings over the years. He still gets them now; his wife makes that happen. All three of my kids are faithful about always wearing their bras, even though they all hate them. Yes Amy didn't like bras either and she still doesn't. Steve has told me that despite all of the bra fittings he's gotten over the years they're still uncomfortable. Yet he can't go without wearing them now, because he's so accustom to them. It's strange how he feels about this. I saw that he wrote about this in his letter. As a man, he doesn't have to wear his bras. But, he tells me that he just remembers, what his sisters and now what his wife are always going through. He feels it's just fair that he wears them too. It's hard for me to understand this, but it is what it is.
I have never seen a boy who was willing to do this with his sister and now his wife. I can tell you my brothers would never have done that for me. Amanda once told me that this made her feel loved. How could I have punished a boy like that?
Amanda and I would do most of the shopping for Steve's girlish clothes. Most of the time he loved what we picked out. But, there were times where he didn't really like a dress or an outfit we picked out, so Amanda and I would just take them back to the store and look for something else. Actually this made everybody happy, Steve would get the clothes he wanted and Amanda had an excuse to do more shopping. An opportunity to shop was something that Amanda would never turn down.
On petticoated.com, I've noticed that in some of the stories, boys were humiliated by wearing girl's clothes; sometimes in public. I couldn't do that to Steve. In fact, we did just the opposite, we did everything we could to protect Steve from any humiliation. For example, we kept this a family secret and when we did take Steve out in his girlish clothes we would fix him up to look like a girl. But, to play it safe most of the time we would go out of town or sometimes to another state, where nobody knew us. Sometimes we made it a day trip. I know Steve talked about the parks and, boat rides and the garden tours in his letter. It's true those places were not as far from us. But, there are a couple things to consider, these things were in the new area we had moved into and they were private. So, the people would just assume that Steve was just one of my daughters. His name was Stephanie during those times.
We really had a lot of fun doing this. One night we had Steve fixed up like a girl so well, we decided to take him clothes shopping with us at a place out of state, just to play it safe. That night, Amy started a new trend. She found several racks with baby doll tops, some with backs ties. She convinced Steve to try some on with her. He did and he loved them. Steve and Amy picked out several baby doll tops and skirts. For the next several months Steve and Amy wore baby doll tops and skirts almost all of the time. I thought it was so cute to watch Steve and Amy try on these baby doll tops together until they found the ones they liked.
One summer, our storage shed in the backyard was damaged from a storm. I had the debris cleared from the yard, but now we had nothing to store our outdoor things in. Steve convinced me that if I bought him a shed kit he could build it. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and bought it. I think he was fourteen at the time and he had that shed built in two days. He didn't wear his girlish clothes to do this job, because he didn't want to mess them up. But, he did wear his panties and bras. I thought it was nice how he could do a big job like that and then spend that evening with Amy trying on the different baby doll tops and skirts. Then they would play with dolls. They even did each other's hair and makeup. I could see that Amanda's arguments for doing this with Steve was right and paying off. It really did bring us together as a family in many ways.
Unfortunately, there was a dark side to all of this. That dark side was, none other than Charles. Since Charles had three sons, I was surprised by what he did right after Bill's death. He came to me and insisted that I should let Steve come and live with him and his sons. He said it was wrong for Steve to be the only boy living among all females. Of course I didn't like this idea at all and neither did Steve or his sisters. So, I told him, no. However, Charles and his wife did have a reputation for taking people to court to get what he wanted.
I consulted a friend who practiced law to find out if Charles could do take Steve away based on that argument. She told me that he couldn't. She said, the fact that somebody is the only boy in a family or the only girl (like I was) is not a legitimate legal reason to take somebody out of a family.
Nevertheless, Charles persisted with this. He also insisted that Steve go on some fishing trips with him and his sons, to get him away from "the female" (as he would say) meaning my daughters and me. The idea of going on a fishing trip with Charles and his sons was painful to Steve, after what they did to Maria years before. Steve never forgot that.
Nevertheless, to keep Charles off of my back, Steve agreed to go on some of their fishing trips, even though he hated it. I think Steve went on about three fishing trips with them. But, something happened on the fourth. When Steve got home he was really upset. He told me that one of his cousins exposed himself to a little girl in a parking lot. And also said that on the way back from the trip, they stopped a convenience store to get some gas. And while they were there, Charles made unwanted advances on a woman in the store.
Steve said this embarrassed him and he couldn't stand being around them anymore. I agreed. I didn't think he needed that kind of influence. I put a stop to this and just told Charles that Steve wanted to concentrate more on his music lessons. I left it at that and decided not to get in the middle of this with him and his wife. That was between them. As far as his sons, well I figured he can just visit them in jail some day and he has.
It was only about five or six months later that Steve started wearing girls clothes.
As I just mentioned, I found out that Charles could not legally take Steve away from me just because he was the only boy in the family. That's probably why he never tried. However, if he had known Steve was wearing dresses and all of the girlish things we were doing with him, Charles just might have tried something based on that. So I confided in my friend in the legal profession with what we were doing with Steve, to see if Charles could take him away based on that. She warned me that it was possible that if Charles found the right judge, he just might be able to pull it off.
So, I didn't want to take any chances. I was very afraid of Steve ending up being raised by that man. And to me that was completely unacceptable. So I called a family meeting with Steve and the girls and we agreed to keep this a secret in our family. I even went as far as forbidding the girls from ever taking pictures of Steve dressed as a girl. I just had this terrible fear that any picture could end up in Charles's hands. I'm heartbroken over this now, because I have no pictures of this fun adventure we had with him. Steve already had a pretty girlish face; so making him up to be a girl was easy. There were many times he was so beautiful, that even the girls were envious. Sometimes I think that maybe I overreacted, but I just felt I should play it safe. Even though my kids are all grown up and married now, we still stand by that rule today. We all have agreed that we should just never take a chance with pictures, because Charles is still out there and making trouble for other people.
That of course would raise other questions, what about our outings, what about Steve's new girlish bedroom, what about his hair, how did we explain all of this to Charles. Well, first the hair, Steve just told Charles that he was in a rock band now. Since Steve was already a musician that was believable. Of course Charles was not happy about the rock band either, but we figured he would tolerate that, just not the girl's clothes.
As far as our outings, I knew that Charles would never show up at the places we went to like the gardens or even the shopping centers. That man wouldn't even buy groceries. He would only take his boys fishing, hunting or ballgames. My instincts were right and this never happened
However, we knew there would times when Charles and his family would come over for things such as holidays, because they were still family. So what about Steve's girlish bedroom, how did we hide that? Amanda came up with the solution for this.
First I should clear up a couple of things about Steve's bedroom being converted into a girl's bedroom. When I read his letter I can see that he left certain details out. The way he wrote the letter, it almost sounded like I just took over and forced a girl's bedroom on him. But, that's not the way it happened. I would never have forced that on him. Actually it was Amanda's idea to do that. She saw an opportunity, because she always wanted to be an interior decorator, which she is now.
Amanda felt that since Steve was enjoying all of this girl stuff that maybe he would like his bedroom changed into a girl's bedroom. Amanda and I talked to Steve about this first to see if he would be okay with this or not. I believe he said: "Ladies indulge your selves." That was music to Amanda's ears. She did most of the work and she painted the flowers on his walls. I painted a little, but not as much as she did. Amanda designed all of the templates for the walls. She was also the one who picked out the new girlish bedroom set for Steve.
However, I did not get rid of Steve's old boyish bedroom set; I moved it into the basement and set up a little guest room down there. I did that just in case somebody might want to stay over, although it was never really used that way. I think one of Amanda's friends slept there once, but that's about it.
Anyway this was Amanda's solution to the bedroom problem with Charles. Amanda and Amy had always shared their bedroom and they never asked to be separated. But, if Charles came over, Amanda would just pretend that Steve's girlish bedroom was hers and Steve would pretend the guest room in the basement was his bedroom. Amanda even gave Steve some dialogue to say around Charles: " I'm the guy, I need my space." It worked and Charles never suspected anything. To this day, he still doesn't know.
As I said before, I am very pleased with the way all of my kids turned out. We truly had a lot of fun during those years. I believe that Steve's adventure in wearing girl's clothes, as much as he could is what made those years so much fun.
One night we were going out of town to do some dress shopping. We all got ready as girls. Amanda helped Steve to pick out a very beautiful dress for him to wear. I walked by Steve's bedroom and he was in front of his girlish vanity mirror putting on his makeup. Amanda had taught him how to do that and he was getting good at it. I walked into his room and sat on his girlish canopy bed. I saw how he was enjoying this girl stuff so much that I felt compelled to ask him this. I asked him if he wished he had been born a girl. He turned around to me in with a surprised look on his face and said: "no." I asked, why not. He said: "to wear dresses as a girl is just normal, but to do it as a boy is an adventure and I like the adventure. This wouldn't be any fun if I were a girl and I think I have more fun doing this than the girls do." I thought that was very insightful, so I let his adventure continue.
As I mentioned before the incident that really stood out to me was Steve's willingness to wear bras with his sister Amanda. But, when I read his letter I saw that the incident that stood out to him was the time we all wore those terrible all-in-one body shapers to that Christmas lights display. Once again, that was Amanda's idea. She was going through that typical stage that many girls go through where she was conscious about her figure. She thought all four of us should wear the all-in-ones. And yes we did pull and tug on them all night. I thought it was strange how that was the time Steve felt the most connected to us as girls. Amanda, Amy and myself all decided that since that was so important to him we would do that every year and yes it did become our tradition. We only wore those terrible things once a year, that's all I could stand.
I agree with Steve that we all had a wonderful time. He still does this today with his wife and daughter. Of course we all keep this a secret.
In conclusion, aside from my husband's tragic death, I have no regrets. I feel that all of my kids have turned out very well. This cannot be said about other families. Oh yes and Charles's sons go without saying, but that's his fought.
As I mentioned above, I'm not sure that my letter will fit the normal theme on petticoated.com, but it might make enjoyable reading. It was fun for me to put this together, not to mention the fun memories this brought back. I feel this story shows how a family's love stayed strong and overcame obstacles despite a terrible tragedy.
I have done some reading on the petticoated.com and I came across a story where a woman was talking about her son. She said that he was well behaved. Nevertheless, she said she's going to petticoat him as punishment anyway, because he's a boy and he could go off track. Or at least that's what I got from that story. As a mother I don't think I can agree with that. It almost sounds to me like he's being punished for being a boy, as if boys are the only ones who go off track. I must admit as one who has done playground duty at her school many times and observed the behavior of boys and girls, I can see why somebody would draw that conclusion. Oh yes, and my terrible nephews, two of which have been in prison off and on.
But, a story like that would seem to suggest that girls don't go off track and nothing could be further from the truth, at least here in the United States. One of those terrible nephews is dealing with a situation with his daughter right now. His son and daughter both have finished high school in recent years. But, his daughter is in trouble with the law, because she got involved with the wrong crowd and helped them rob some gas stations in the area. The irony here is, his son is in college studying law. So, you never know. I guess she's taking after her father.
Another thing that I noticed on petticoated.com is this thing about boys becoming sissies. I've never heard of this before. I suppose that if a boy is really bad enough (like my horrible nephews were), maybe in some cases that would be necessary goal. I don't think Steve ever became a sissy as a result of wearing girl's clothes all of those years. He still wears them now as much as he can and he's always in panties and bras. But, he's never come off to me as a sissy. Although his terrible cousins thought he was.
For years Steve's cousins made fun of him for sticking up for Maria at the lake that day. They claimed that by doing that he was taking the girl's side, which in their opinion made him a girl. In my opinion, it made him more of a man than they were, because he did the right thing by defending Maria. As far as I'm concerned, my nephews should have petticoated as punishment, but that never happened.
Steve's wife once told me that she considers him to be, what she calls: "a classic man." What she means by that is, she feels that he has become what any and every man could become, but wont. It impresses her how he can go to a gym and press 300 pounds with a bunch of grueling men, and then come home, put on a dress and play dolls or do a tea party with his daughter.
Because of going to a gym for many years now, Steve has become physically stronger than most men, and yet he's so delicate and soft natured at the same time. Steve's wife likes how this nature can be in a man with a very nice physique. She and her daughter couldn't be happier.
But then that leaves the question, why did he turn out so well, was he humbled by his father's death, was it wearing girl's clothes for all of those years, or was it just he, or two out of the three of all of the three? I may never really know, but I see this as a happy ending.
As far as Amanda and Amy, Amanda is married and has two teenage boys. Amy is also married and has a son and a daughter both are below the age of ten. Neither of my girls has ever gotten their sons into wearing dresses like their brother did. They've also told me that, like me, they would never force it on them unless their sons asked, like Steve did. I don't think Amanda's sons will ever ask; they're all boy. However, Amy has told me that her son likes paying with his sister's dolls and he likes her Barbie movies. So, maybe something will happen there, time will tell.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this.
PS: Like I said before, I'm not sure if my letter will fit the theme on petticoated.com, it's year decision if you would put it on this web site or not. But, I respectfully ask, if you do to please NOT use my full name. I realize it's very unlikely that Charles would ever read this web page, but then you never know. Somehow he finds out things and he's still out there making trouble for people and I just don't want to be one of them. It would just make me feel better and sleep better. Thank you.
Thank you for your letter Janet and for sharing your experiences. Though you dear reader may prefer something a little more risqué sometimes the truth is what we need to hear. Not always is a mother putting her son in dresses a punishment. many times it's because he wants it, or she would prefer a daughter.