“My daughter has started wearing men’s clothing more often than not, and I want to be supportive while she’s home for the holidays… How can I bring it up (and know how to get her gifts she’ll like!) without seeming intrusive or like I’m assuming anything?”

Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid, co-founder of My Kid Is Gay

*****

Dannielle Says:
OH MAN THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU.
Sorry to scream right away, I have just spent so much time in your daughter’s position. The difference is that my mother didn’t have the wherewithal to ask and made assumptions, and I wound up saying I liked something I did not (to spare feelings) which then meant she continued to get me more things of a similar theme (because she thought she had me pegged).
A few options: 
(1) Wish Lists: My family has recently started doing Amazon wish lists. Have your kid add whatever they want from whatever website they want and pick a few things. It can still be a bit of a surprise because they don’t know WHICH things they’ll be getting.
(2) Ask creepy hint-dropping questions: We all know it’s the holidays, we’re all expecting questions, we get it. Ask where she got her pants, sweaters, jewelry. Ask where she’s been shopping. Ask if she has a favorite store. It never hurts to couch a compliment in these questions. “I like those pizza socks, where on earth did you find them?!” Also, pizza socks are always a win.
(3) Let them do the shopping: There are times when my dad just says “let’s go to STORE NAME you can spend AMOUNT OF MONEY.” You could even put some cash in an envelope and say, “Specifically meant for shopping tomorrow with me.”
I also want to take a second to express to you how far one tiny compliment can go. I’ve spent so many years with a mother who kept asking why I didn’t want to wear dresses and told me I would be so pretty “IF” and that “if” was always followed with something that made me severely uncomfortable. I don’t know why dresses make me feel weird, I don’t know why make up makes me feel weird, I don’t know why long hair feels out of place. I don’t know. I have no answers. I just know that wearing men’s clothing, having short hair, holding myself in a way that presents a little more masculine, these are things that make me feel good about myself. I have finally figured out a way to feel good about the way that I look. A lot of my being able to explore the way I wanted to dress was made easy by my dad. He would always tell me that I looked good. He’s down with my short hair because he appreciates when I don’t let it all hang in my face. He doesn’t necessarily “get” my style, but he appreciates it. That has always made me a little more comfortable when trying to figure myself out.
Maybe I’ve rambled a bit, I don’t know. The point is, you wanting to be supportive in and of itself IS supportive. Getting a sense for ANYONE’S style can take time, regardless of gender presentation. As long as you take a second to appreciate that your kid is finding what makes them comfortable, you’re doing great. And thank you for that.

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Dannielle resides in Los Angeles, and has been working with LGBTQ young people for over four years as the co-founder of Everyone Is Gay. She holds a BA in Theater Performance, and also worked extensively in the world of social media, heading up social interactions for Virgin Mobile on the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour in 2012. She recently co-authored the book This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, with business partner, Kristin Russo.

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