from Donna

Dear Helga,

I only discovered your wonderful website very recently, and thought/hoped you might have some ideas about my situation.

I'm married to a man, Chris, whom I love very much and we have two children, a daughter, Allison, who's 15, and a son, Wendell, who recently turned 10. My husband and I were high school sweethearts. He was captain of the football team, and is very handsome, tall and strong, and athletic. I was the pretty, quite petite, cheerleader.

Unfortunately I suppose, it is our daughter Allie who inherited my husband's athletic ability and size, while Wen is more like me: quite good looking in an almost pretty and girlish way, but small, and definitely not athletic at all. Wen's lack of athletic ability has been a source of frustration for my husband, who wanted a son who would be a sports star like him. Chris has tried and tried to turn Wen into an athlete, but it hasn't worked. Wen is simply not that type of boy. But he's obediently attended the sports camps that Chris has sent him to, and has tried his best to please his father, but without success, and Wen knows what a disappointment to Chris he is in that respect.

This year, Wen started to be picked on in school by a group of boys and girls a year younger than him, which really upset Chris, and so, in an effort to motivate Wen to be tougher and more masculine, Chris threatened him with making him wear panties if Wen didn't start standing up for himself better. But Wen didn't change, and the bullying from the younger kids continued, and in frustration Chris decided to follow through on his threat.

I know that I probably should have defended Wen at that time, but in the interests of keeping peace in the family, I went along with this new plan. Wen was quite upset by what his father was now demanding, which I suppose was the idea anyway. Instead of telling Chris that we shouldn't put Wen into panties, I simply tried consoling Wen with some hugs and by pointing out to him that if he wore panties no one would know and that it really wasn't that big of a deal. Wen calmed down and seemed to accept that he'd simply have to wear panties for a while, but did ask me if he could please not have to wear Allison's old panties, he'd much rather have some of his own.

That seemed like a very reasonable request to me, and to Chris, so I took Wen panty shopping and let him pick out about a dozen pairs. He started by picking out some very plain white and blue cotton panties, but I made him put those back, explaining that his father would insist that the panties be more feminine than that, and so he ended up with a couple of pairs of pink cotton panties, a couple of pairs with Elsa from Frozen on them, and the rest frilly nylon panties in several colors and patterns. Then, when we got home, after getting Chris's approval that the ones we'd purchased were acceptable, Wen and I went up to his room, gathered up his underwear and removed it from his dresser, and replaced it with the panties.

The idea was that Wen would be permitted to stop wearing panties when he started being tougher and more boyish, but wearing panties didn't work in that way, and so he just kept having to wear them every day, and still does. Chris also stopped letting Wen get haircuts, telling him that he would have to keep letting his hair grow until he learned to be tougher. But that didn't seem to work either.

Then, things got even worse for Wen very late in the school year. After a period of a couple of months when the bullying stopped, he started to be bullied by the younger kids again, even having his lunch money taken from him by the girls. Chris tried teaching Wen to box as a way of getting him to stand up to those kids, but Wen just wasn't able to fight them, and Chris was getting more and more upset with how sissyish Wen was.

To explain what happened next, I should explain that every year, soon after the school year ends. we go away on a vacation. This year, we drove to Disneyworld for two weeks. This is relevant because, when Wen wouldn't stand up to the younger kids who were bullying him, Chris finally tried to motivate him by threatening that if he didn't stand up to them, then he would have to dress in girl's clothes for the entire vacation! I wasn't sure if Chris was serious, but it turns out he was, and when Wen had his lunch money taken again during the final week of school, Chris told him that he'd be spending the vacation in dresses and skirts.

Again, I know I should have protected Wen from this shaming, but again, I didn't. The day after school ended, I had Wen try on a bunch of Allison's old skirts and blouses and summer dresses. Needless to say, Wen was quite upset and concerned that people would know he was a boy dressed as a girl and would laugh at him, but I assured him that in fact, when he started wearing girls clothes that he would look like a very pretty girl and no one would suspect he wasn't one. And to help, I then trimmed and styled his rather long hair into a very girlish style, cutting it into bangs in front and them brushing it into a French braid in back held in place with a white bow. Wen then changed into a skirt and blouse, and when he looked in the mirror, even he had to admit that he really did look like a girl. We then went out shopping for some additional girls clothes for him, including a couple of girls bathing suits.

Wen spent the entire two week vacation dressed as a girl, even wearing girls pajamas and nighties to bed and during that time we called him Wendy, and the truth is, he seemed to adapt very quickly and even happily to being, and being treated as, a girl. In fact, he was probably told several times each day by people we met how pretty he was, and that seemed to really please him. The best part, I think, was that the stress of trying to be tough and boyish was gone for him. The rest of us, including Chris, simply treated him as a girl.

My dilemma now is this. When we got back from vacation, Wendy went back to being Wen, and my husband decided to give it another try to get Wen to be more athletic, and Chris has enrolled Wen in a summer football camp that starts in about two weeks. Right now, because of Wen's girlish hairstyle he looks almost like a girl no matter what he's wearing, so Chris also said that Wen can get his hair cut before going to the football camp. Wen wants to please his dad, so he's willing to give the camp a try and do his best to learn to be better at football.

The problem is that I'm pretty sure the football camp will be a disaster for Wen. What I want is for Wen to go back to being Wendy! He was happier and more content as Wendy than I've seen him in years, and I admit that I loved having him as a pretty daughter instead of as a stressed out son. Allison has also told me that she thinks Wen should become a girl all the time. I might be wrong, but I really think it would not take much for me to convince Wen to start living as Wendy from now on. But I'll also have to convince Chris that it's time to admit that Wen can never be the sports star son that Chris wanted, and that Chris should be pleased that Wen can be as sweet and pretty and girlish and happy as he was during his two weeks on vacation as Wendy.

I haven't made up my mind for sure yet, though, and if you have any thoughts about my dilemma, please send them along.

Best wishes

How nice to hear from you and thank you for writing and for your kind words about my site Donna. I appreciate all the information and since you asked for my thoughts, I would be pleased to pass along a few comments.

Please understand that as a third party my natural inclination is to be honest and to the point, so in my opinion... I understand Chris's desire to have a masculine son, but Wes is not and never will be, its simply not in his nature and to keep trying to bend and shape him is doing more harm than good. Petticoating Wes has had the reverse effect Chris intended obviously, though I'm not sure Chris actually sees that. Okay, so those are the facts, what to do now is the question. Honest conversation is the only answer, you explained it to me, explain it to Chris. Either discuss it with him alone or in a family meeting when there is plenty of time to air it out. You are the mother, step up, take charge and let him know the facts of life, not angry, but serious, this needs to be dealt with now.


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Letter 6