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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 Beckhamnote 

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?"

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. In the worst cases, the parent's disapproval of gender nonconformity can result in Honor-Related Abuse.

This may be experienced by a Jock Dad, Nerd Son or a Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter pair, and is typically the cause of a "Gender-Normative Parent" Plot. Contrast You Go, Girl!, where the parents are generally neutral to supportive. Can lead to Trans Tribulations for transgender/non-binary children, or Intersex Tribulations for intersex children, and often also overlaps with various kinds of homophobia on the parents' part, whether the child is actually homosexual (or bisexual) or not. Raised as the Opposite Gender is an inversion that occurs when parents want their child to live as the opposite gender; compare Wanted a Son Instead.


Parents who humor or even encourage their children's eccentric interests may instead be Exceptionally Tolerant, depending on how unusual this would be in the context of the story.


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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, but 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 is always berating Ranma for not being man enough, take it like a man, man up, etc. He signed a contract to his wife Nodoka promising to raise Ranma to be a "man among men" or they would both commit seppuku. Nodoka's ready to enforce it at a moment's notice for things like "seeing her son wearing a dress".
  • 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, although they reconcile later after Hana puts on a tankery-inspired flower arrangement display. It should be noted that tankery is a feminine pursuit in the series universe, but Hana's rather traditional mother doesn't think much of it.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In Warmth, Minamo mentions that her parents have never supported her tomboyish or athletic nature. They had always wanted her to become more feminine and settle down as a housewife after college.
  • The Harvest Moon fanfic "His Blossoming Trail" gives Cam a backstory in which his love of gardening and the colour pink causes conflict between him and his father, who has very strict ideas about traditional gender roles. Cam is forbidden to have or do anything not stereotypically masculine on the grounds that it will "make him gay" and, when he joins his school's gardening club, he has to keep it secret from his parents. (Though his mother is supportive, she is unable to stand up to his father.) Only when Cam leaves home is he finally able to be who he truly is.

    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.
  • 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.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the movie adaptation of Ballet Shoes, the main reason Nana allows the girls to go to the Dancing Acadamy is that she's trying to turn Petrova (who loves machines and wants to be a pilot when she grows up) into a "proper lady".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Larry, a firefighter who loves sports spends most of the movie trying, and failing, to get his Ambiguously Gay ten year old son, Eric, interested in "manly pursuits" like sports, but Eric shows a strong affinity towards dance and Broadway musicals, to the dissapointment of Larry. Though by the end of the movie, Larry does start to accept his son for who he is.
  • 3 Generations: The plot revolves around Ray's female relatives having difficulty accepting his transition. His grandmother Dolly takes it especially hard.
  • The Princess: The king is initially perturbed by his daughter the princess being taught how to fight without him knowing and her wish to become a knight rather than married off to a prince. After she rescues him and her mother from said prince though he sees the error of his ways, not only declaring that from here on princesses can choose their own path but making her his heir (whereas previously he'd lamented not having a son to succeed him.
  • Prey: A mild case, but Aruka doesn't understand why her daughter Naru is so set on being a hunter, rather than stay a medicine woman like her. Naru just insists that it's her calling. She doesn't seem really opposed so much as worried about Naru because of her goal, which puts her in danger.

  • 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.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: In book 1 (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 Matekoni adopt a boy and a girl, Matekoni 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 Values Dissonance.
  • 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.
  • Jacqueline Wilson: Gemma's mother in Best Friends very much wishes that Gemma would be less of a tomboy and more of a girly-girl like her friend Alice. Tim in Cliffhanger and Alexander in The Dare Game have the opposite problems where their fathers would both prefer for them to be more sporty.
  • Flagrantly subverted all over the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, which makes the moments when it isn't subverted stand out all the more. Elves don't really seem to do gender roles, with only one real "division of labor" rule: healers do not kill. Elf-friends among humans, in general, seem to roughly follow this line of thinking.
    • The Silmarillion has Morwen tell her seven year old son Túrin that he shouldn't cry for his baby sister Lalaith. Luckily this is the one piece of her advice that Túrin never takes to heart: he openly cries without shame on several other occasions.
    • Lord of the Rings of course, has Denethor and Faramir. Denethor openly disowns his second son upon being informed of Boromir's death, in a particularly shocking monologue. While it is never outright stated, the source of Denethor's hatred seems to be Faramir's quieter and softer manner. He's a competent warrior, but doesn't like it and in Denethor's view this is unmanly. Denethor is also hypocritical, as he genuinely respects "Thorongil": whom it turns out is Aragorn, and the similarities between Aragorn and Faramir are actually a plot point. Meeting Faramir teaches Éowyn that there are decent men in the world besides her brother and Aragorn, so she doesn't need to uselessly pine for a very very taken (and as a result oblivious) man.
  • Oliver Button Is a Sissy: Oliver's father seems to be ashamed of the fact that the boy is In Touch with His Feminine Side, as he tells him that he shouldn't be a "sissy" and that he ought to play sports. In the end, though, he supports his son's decision to attend dancing school, and is genuinely proud of his performance at the talent show.
  • In Sanctuary, Holly's Abusive Parents enforced extremely strict gender roles on her and her brothers. Eventually she couldn't take it anymore, so she ran away and now lives in Casswell Park. She still goes to school, and she has friends who know about her living situation, so her parents could presumably track her down if they wanted, but they never do.

    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 original 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.
  • Party of Five (2020): Matthew relates to Lucia that his mother was always unhappy with how he dressed as a child (it was too masculine for her) and since his gender transition his parents both oppose it.
  • Friends: Ross Geller has been both the child and the parent side of this trope. Several episodes have established that Jack Geller didn't approve of his son's nerdier interests and his owning a "clown kit" which was actually just a makeup kit. When Ross' own son picks out a Barbie to play with Ross spends the episode trying to persuade Ben to give up the doll and play with "boy" toys like G.I. Joe or monster trucks. At the end of the episode Monica calls Ross out by reminding him that he used to play with dolls when they were kids.

    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.

    Visual Novels 

  • 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 (2006) 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 Gender Bender 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.
  • Gris's father in Something*Positive is not happy that Gris is nonbinary, attracted to women, and into wrestling. (Although that last one might just be because he has a bad opinion of wrestling in general.) Gris points out the hypocrisy that, ever since he learned this, he's suddenly gone from banning them from having boys over to encouraging it. Gris eventually moves in with their friend Rory and his mother, after a conversation in which Rory's mom has to keep correcting Gris's father's use of gendered words.
  • Moratorium On My Gender: Hajime's parents insisted that their non-binary child conform to feminine gender roles. Their mother, in particular, bought them feminine clothing and berated them for speaking aggressively when they were in elementary school.
  • Unsounded: An Aldish person assigned female at birth may choose to become a Third Option and give up their womanhood if they want to study to become a wright, becoming a man in the eyes of the law and disallowed from intimating anything different once they make the choice. Known Third Option Sarthos' mother doesn't know how to talk to them since they've become a Third Option, and their father sees them as a monster.

    Western Animation 
  • Lao and Poppy Beifong in Avatar: The Last Airbender thought they had raised a delicate, demure flower of a daughter and cannot seem to accept that Toph is actually a snarky, mouthy tomboy who enjoys fighting men twice her size. Their inability to see her as she truly is ends up being a factor in Toph becoming The Runaway. By the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift, Lao Beifong has made a point to start appreciating Toph for who she is rather than what he envisioned/wanted her to be.
  • Jimmy Pesto from Bob's Burgers has practically disowned his eldest son, Jimmy Jr., because of his interest in dancing, and it's clear that Jimmy Jr. holds quite a bit of resentment over it. It's one of the many things that contrasts Jimmy Pesto with his rival Bob—Bob's own son Gene is also interested in the arts (specifically music), yet Bob rarely if ever tries to mold Gene into a more sports-oriented child and is seen at multiple points being genuinely proud of his son's musical talents.
  • Riot 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, Riot 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!.
  • 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.
  • Spinelli's mother in Recess wishes she was more feminine.
  • In The Proud Family, Michael's father, who is the coach of Willie T. Ribbs Middle School, hates the fact that his son is feminine. It's to the point that he demands Michael to call him "coach" in public.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer's Phobia", Homer becomes concerned that Bart is imitating the Camp Gay mannerisms of local store owner John (played by John Waters) and tries to keep him from "turning gay." His attempts backfire spectacularly, as usual (a trip to a steel plant turns out to be full of homosexuals, and even doubles as a nightclub), ending with a disastrous hunting trip from which they have to saved by John. In the end, Homer decides to support Bart no matter if he's gay or not, while Bart had no idea that's what the whole thing was about.
  • In Twelve Forever, Reggie Abbott's mother, Judy, loved feminine things when she was younger; as a result, she genuinely doesn't understand why her Tomboy daughter doesn't have any interest in the same things. Unfortunately, this means that any attempts by Judy to get Reggie to enjoy more feminine activities just serves to cause tension between the two. The fact that Judy is a divorcee struggling to raise two children and dealing with financial difficulties does not help the situation.