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Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child

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"When are you gonna realize you have a daughter with breasts, not a son? ... No boy's gonna go out with a girl who's got bigger muscles than him!"
Paula Paxton, Bend It Like Beckham

Sometimes parents with a tomboyish daughter or a feminine son will be upset at their child not conforming to gender roles. It's usually the parent of the same sex as the child that gets more agitated. They will often cry, "Why Couldn't You Be Different?"

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It's common for the father to try to "man up" his son by putting him on a sports team or taking him hunting, while a mother will try to get her daughter to wear more dresses or take up "feminine" interests like cooking or sewing. Any attempts to change their kids' behavior will usually fail spectacularly.

This is typically the cause of a "Billy Elliot" Plot. Contrast You Go, Girl!, where the parents are generally neutral to supportive. Can lead to Trans Tribulations for transgender/non-binary children. Raised as the Opposite Gender is an inversion that occurs when parents want their child to live as the opposite gender. Contrast with Wanted A Son Instead.


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Examples:

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  • There was a controversial Tide commercial where a woman is talking about her young daughter. She says her daughter doesn't like wearing pink, instead opting to wear hoodies and cargo shorts. Her daughter often gets dirty and the mother was happy at the thought of her clothes being ruined, as then she'd have to wear her more feminine clothes. Alas her plan was ruined, as Tide cleaned up the dirt.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Tetsuo from Yuureitou is a trans man. It's revealed as a child his adopted mother was so against his masculine nature that she tried to kill him. Even as an adult they got into arguments often until he murdered her.
  • Briefly mentioned in a flashback of Bokura no Hentai. Akane hated dresses and skirts as a toddler despite her mother's wishes. Marika's mother averts it, being nothing but supportive of her child's decision to transition.
  • Sora from Digimon Adventure likes playing soccer while her mom would rather have her arrange flowers.
  • Takatsuki's mother in Wandering Son has three children: a son, a daughter, and the ambiguously trans Takatsuki. She is disappointed as the oldest daughter is too disobedient and Takatsuki is too masculine. Takatsuki's mom buys them dresses and other feminine clothes however Takatsuki refuses to wear them.
  • Asuka from Otomen appears to be the epitome of a manly teenage boy however he's secretly very feminine. His mother made sure he was masculine due to fears he would end up trans like his father.
  • Ranma ½: Genma signed a contract to his wife promising to raise Ranma to be a "man among men" or they would both commit seppuku. And then Ranma gets a Jusenkyo curse that turns him into a girl. That aside, Genma is always berating Ranma for not being man enough, take it like a man, man up, etc., etc.
  • Hana Isuzu is the gunner aboard a Panzer IV tank in Girls und Panzer. However, when her mother learns that Hana is taking tankery in school, she faints. Later, in the Isuzu home, Lady Isuzu demands that her daughter withdraw from tankery, and instead focus on the feminine art of flower arranging. When Hana refuses to abandon tankery, her mother expels Hana from the Isuzu home.
  • Hibari's father in Stop Hibari Kun is furious that his 'only son' wants to live as a girl and date boys.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, Beautie was created by the daughter of a minor supervillain, who hoped that Beautie would impress her father and demonstrate to him that she was ready to follow in the family business. The father was displeased, however, and so the daughter discarded Beautie and went on to become a science teacher instead.
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    Film — Animation 
  • Queen Elinor from Brave has been pressing weaving, manners, and other elegant pursuits on her Tomboy Princess daughter, Merida, to little avail. This causes a great deal of strain in their relationship since Merida hates her mother's controlling nature in her life.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In Ma Vie En Rose Ludovic's parents bemoan their feminine, dress wearing, transgender child. Her father puts her on a football team in order to masculinize her but Ludovic can't play sports well and ends up bullied by her teammates.
  • Bend It Like Beckham has both of the female leads' mothers (Mrs. Bhamra and Paula Paxton) wanting basically the same thing: for their daughters (Jess Bhamra and Jules Paxton) to give up football and start acting like their idea of girls. Jules openly defies her mother with her father's support, while Jess sneaks around behind her parents' backs after they forbid her to play. Paula eventually comes around, as does Mrs. Bhamra when Mr. Bhamra sees how happy Jess is when she's playing and gets up the nerve to stand up to his wife.
  • In Billy Elliot, Billy's father is not happy that his son enjoys ballet due to it being "unmanly", and would prefer Billy take up boxing instead.
  • In the French movie Me, Myself and Mum, Guillaume's father wants his supposedly homosexual son to play sports like his two brothers and is deeply disappointed in his feminine behavior.
    Father: What sport would you like to play?
    Guillaume: ...Piano?
  • She's the Man: Viola's mother is very surprised and happy when Viola wears a dress to the carnival.
  • Tomboy Abigail the mouse from Once Upon A Forest is sitting high in a tree when her father calls for her. She climbs down quickly enough that she's able to surprise her father. He reminds her that it's almost time for school, and remarks that her teacher has gotten her to stop climbing trees. "Yes, daddy," Abigail chirps, content to leave her father's delusion intact.
  • In Girlfight, Diana's father Sandro pays for Tiny's boxing lessons in the hopes that he'll become a professional boxer, but Tiny would rather become an artist instead. Sandro is also less than thrilled when Diana takes up boxing herself.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Samwell Tarly's father disowns him and sends him off to the Wall for being insufficiently manly.
    • Lord Selwyn Tarth, Brienne's father, tried to shoehorn her into a feminine gender role by arranging her marriage to someone who would force her to act like a proper woman. Brienne gave this someone a beating and some broken bones. Since then, Lord Selwyn seemed to accept his daughter as legitimately different.
    • Ned and Catelyn Stark are a Lighter and Softer version this in regards to their younger daughter Arya, a Hot-Blooded Tomboy. Ned makes it clear that he expects her to be a proper wife and mother when she grows up, but for now, he keeps her on a pretty loose leash. He even indulges her in sword-fighting lessons but thinks it's only a hobby she'll eventually grow bored of. Catelyn is exasperated with Arya's behavior, but it's because she sincerely believes that a Princess Classic is the greatest thing that a girl can aspire to be and wants what's best for her daughter. But Catelyn still adores Arya despite her disregard for the expectations society has for her.
  • In Breakfast of Champions, Dwayne sends his son Bunny to military school for saying men got the short end of the stick, having to fight in wars and be aggressive and violent and the like. He suffers severe Gayngst later on.
  • Dragon Bones:
    • Fenwick considers both of his sons not manly enough. He is of the opinion that a tender, soft-hearted man cannot survive in Hurog - which he almost makes come true by beating his sons up regularly. His eldest son Ward has brain damage (that's what Ward wants everyone to believe), and the younger, Tosten, vanishes some day. After Fenwick's death, Ward drops his act and finds Tosten, who has become a bard, a profession Fenwick would not have approved of.
    • Averted with Tisala, whose father seems to be okay with her gender-non-conforming behaviour, and only mentions that he can't take her to the royal court. This doesn't seem to bother him enough to do anything against her riding and fighting, and having a short haircut.
  • In Dealing With Dragons, Cimorene mentions that her parents are worried about her because she isn't princess-y enough, is too tall, and tried to learn swordfighting. She runs away to volunteer as dragon princess.
  • Subverted in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. After Mma Ramotswe and Rra Maketoni adopt a boy and a girl, Maketoni tries to get the boy interested in his car-repair business, but on seeing the boy has no interest but the girl does, encourages her instead.
  • Jesse from Bridge to Terabithia is seen as odd by most in his 1970s town because he enjoys drawing, with only his friend Leslie and his hippie music teacher supporting it. His parents both dislike his hobby and his mom worries that he's gay because he only hangs out with a girl. The 2007 Setting Update film removed these elements due to Society Marches On.
  • This is the main issue of The Sissy Duckling and its Animated Adaptation revolves around a duck who is too flamboyant and effeminate for those around him. Only his mother doesn't mind his personality.
  • Kris Longknife: Kris's mother Brenda Longknife actually tried to drug her into behaving like a "proper" girl, and didn't like her Great-Grandfather "Trouble" Tordon taking her out orbital skiff-racing and regaling her with war stories, which led Kris to join the Navy after university. Even in the first book, when Kris is awarded the Navy Cross for her actions during a hostage rescue, Brenda says something along the lines of "there, you've got your bauble, now it's time to come home, and wouldn't that medal look good with some gratuitous gemstones on it?" She finally seems to wise up after Kris goes on two more high risk missions and comes home from the second legally unable to talk about how she came by Earth's highest award for valor.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andre from Blackish doesn't like his son playing a "girl's sport" like field hockey. When he asks a male co-worker if he wanted to be in the same sports team as his dad in high school he tells him that he was, and his dad was a great field hockey player.
  • Jamal from Empire tried on his mother's clothes once as a child. His dad took him and beat him which is implied to have stopped him from being Camp Gay as an adult.
  • Bones: In the Cold Open of "The Carpals in the Coy-Wolves" a father and son are out hunting because the boy is interested in fashion design and A Real Man Is a Killer.
    Father: [Other kids your age are interested in] fishing, video games. I'd be OK if you were into books and stuff instead.
    Son: I read the Diane von Furstenberg biography.
    Father: I don't know who that is, and if you want to be a man someday you're gonna have to act like one.
    [Father and son discover the remains of the Victim of the Week. Father Screams Like a Little Girl. Son calmly blasts the exposed skull with his shotgun.]
  • Glee:
    • Kurt's father (Burt) wants him to join the football team because he thinks that's the only way boys can be happy, and bribed him with a car to stop wearing form-fitting sweaters that end at the knee — Kurt still wears the sweaters (including when he tells the club how he got the car), and does enjoy football for all of the one game he plays. However, Burt is fine with Kurt being "one of the girls" occasionally and does these things because he wanted Kurt to come out to him and so that Kurt would not act deliberately more feminine to provoke homophobes.
    • Blaine's dad made him rebuild cars for a summer in hopes it would make him less gay.
    • Obversely, Santana's mom makes it a point that they thought it was entertaining when she dressed and acted like a boy and don't know when she got so girly.
    • Unique's parents refuse to let her perform in public presenting as a female, saying that their son can play dress up where and when they and the public can't see.
  • Night Gallery segment "Clean Kills and Other Trophies". A hunter considers his son to be weak and demands that he kill a deer or lose his trust fund.
  • Near the end of Will & Grace's run, Will's father confesses that he wishes Will weren't gay and is troubled by his homosexuality. This causes a rift between them that lasts the rest of the father's life which turns out to be a few days.
  • The Fosters: Jude's previous foster father caught him in a dress and beat him up.
  • In Matador, the no-nonsense businessman, Mads Skjern, sees his biological son, Daniel, as being too nervous, emotional and creative for his own good, and treats him with coldness and distance, and even outright emotional abusiveness at times. Mads even eventually declares that I Have No Son!, when it turns out Daniel is homosexual. Ironically, Mads greatly favors his adoptive daughter, Ellen, because she is a diligent student and, much like himself, has an ambitious, independent, and driven personality.
  • The season 20 debut episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit features a boy named Sam who can't bring himself to shoot a rabbit while hunting with his father and brother. In response, the father forces Sam to wear one of his mother's dresses, calls him "Samantha" and finally rapes him. When the dad is acquitted of the rape charge Sam shoots up his school.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dik Browne's Hägar the Horrible has a son, Hamlet, and a daughter, Honi. Hamlet prefers to read books rather than wield weapons, while Honi can clobber any of her suitors easily. Poor Hägar is left wondering where he failed as a Viking father.

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Leo finds his son Forrest's habit of cross-dressing to be distasteful, which causes a big fight between the two. Thankfully, Leo comes around by the end of Forrest's recruitment chapter thanks to his own Heel Realization and Forrest's refusal to roll over and apologize for who he is. The two get along much better after that.

    Webcomics 
  • When Mool Byhung from Welcome To Room 305 came out as a trans man to his parents, his father beat him up. As an adult, he lives with his older brother, who was abused growing up.
  • Dani from Between the Lines has abusive parents who beat her up. The beatings only became worse when her mom caught her in a dress when she picked her up from the hospital.
  • The titular character of the memetic "Stare Dad" comic is exasperated by how terrified his son is of some wasps, even lamenting how wimpy his son is.
  • Danny from The Boy in Pink Earmuffs is Camp Gay and feminine. His father disagrees with Danny's love of pink.
  • Despite letting her transition in Venus Envy, Zoe's mother is in denial. Her mother misgenders her and forces her to play soccer (on the girl's team) as a "masculine hobby".
  • El Goonish Shive: Tedd's father finds it rather unsettling that Tedd recreationally uses the Sex Shifter properties of the TF Gun to spend time in female forms on occasion. As far as the father knows, it's just an odd pastime, but it causes Trans Tribulations with Tedd's realization that he's genderfluid and sometimes identifies as female.

    Western Animation 
  • In King of the Hill, this is part of the reason why Hank is always saying "That boy ain't right" about Bobby.
  • Pound Puppies: In "Cuddle Up Buttercup", the mom is sort of resigned to the fact that her daughter will take the ballet lessons and wear the tutus, but her tomboy tree-climbing and mud-puddle jumping will always ruin the pink tutus.
  • Rio from Jem is not actually effeminate however his father loathes his interest in music. According to his dad, only "women and sissies" are musicians. His mother tried to support his natural talent though. As an adult, Rio joined the military like his father; however, in Germany, he split up and became a part of a rock band. When he came home, he was given a dishonorable discharge due to leaving the army without permission. His father disowned him and literally quoted I Have No Son!.
  • Spinelli's mother in Recess wishes she was more feminine.
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