“What are you going to be for Halloween?” one of my son’s male classmates asked him today.
I waited nervously to see what C.J. would say.
“A lawyer,” he replied.
I smiled. My son was spinning the truth. I’m in PR, I know good spin when I see it.
Yes, in very general terms my son will be trick-or-treating as a lawyer for Halloween. More specifically, he will be dressed as Reese Witherspoon’s lawyer character Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde.
There are three very important reasons why C.J. selected this costume:
3. He likes the movie.
2. He likes to wear long blonde wigs.
1. The costume came with a pink purse with a tiny plush Chihuahua inside. (This is the main reason.)
C.J. took several liberties with the Elle Woods costume we bought at the costume store. (BTW, the costume was 75 percent off because not many size-seven, second graders want to dress up as a character from a movie made six years before they were born.) C.J. added two necklaces, leggings, gloves, a tiara and, on occasion, a feather boa. We need to pick up a new pair of comfy ballet flats tomorrow. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, I know.
For the past four years, C.J. has worn a “girl’s costume” for Halloween. And, every year he has stressed out about telling certain people his costume choice. My son doesn’t want to be teased for the things he likes, clothes he wears, hobbies he enjoys, books he reads and costumes he chooses. He wants to like what he likes without people hating his decisions.
“C.J., what are you going to be for Halloween?” his teacher asked him last year in front of the entire class at the end of the day on Halloween.
I was volunteering in class and cringed in my seat in the back of the room.
“I haven’t decided yet…” he said part shy, part embarrassed, part annoyed.
“What?! You better decide! It’s Halloween!” she said.
The other kids looked at him in disbelief. What kid doesn’t know what they’re going to dress up as just hours before ringing that first doorbell and scoring that first candy?
C.J. had decided….in July. He just didn’t want tell his peers and deal with their reactions. We’ve taught him that when it comes to his gender identity and expression, he doesn’t owe people an explanation if he doesn’t feel like giving one. He’s empowered to protect himself when he feels like he needs or wants to.
Evasion was his coping mechanism last year. This year he coped by giving one version of the truth, speaking in generalities and leaving out the details.
He looked at me after telling his classmate he’s going to be a lawyer and smiled. I smiled back at our little secret.
I’m sure everyone who thinks C.J. is going as a lawyer pictures him in a little suit and tie with a briefcase and, maybe, faux spectacles – not a pink velvet peplum skirt, white fishnet gloves, lap dog and crown. But, just as there are lots of versions of being a boy, there are lots of versions of being a lawyer.
All of those who like C.J.’s version of being a lawyer best say “Aye.”