My Son Wears Heels (Review)

From the moment I saw the cover of My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass by Julie Tarney, I knew I had to read it.  It is the memoir of the mother of a gender non-conforming, gender creative boy.

The book appealed to me because several years ago, one of my very close friends, Sean, fit the description of Harry, the boy in Tarney’s book.  I was eager to find out if there were many parallels between Sean and Harry. I was also just as curious how similar Sean’s mom was to Tarney.

Interestingly enough, there were similarities of the story of Sean’s mom to Harry’s mom.  Both lacked positive role models on how they should raise their sons. In effect, both moms were trailblazers in the wilderness of how to love and support their very unique children.

Unfortunately, when Sean left Nebraska, he cut off ties with most of his old social circle, including me. I remained a casual friend of his mother until we naturally drifted apart as we moved on with our busy lives. While reading Tarney’s book, I couldn’t help but wonder if Sean and his mom knew about My Son Wears Heels.

Although there are some brief mentions of bullying and persecution, the main thrust of the book is not about these topics.  It is the beautiful story of a mother stumbling along the path of understanding and raising a youngster who has strong ideas about his real gender. Right away, I understood that both Sean and Harry had amazing, wonderful mothers.

The journey begins when the toddler-aged Harry asks his mom, “How do you know I’m a boy?” After the mother’s age appropriate explanation, Harry then says, “Well, inside my head I’m a girl.”

As little Harry began growing up, Tarney kept an open mind and listened carefully. Her guidepost was Harry’s happiness. Harry was very fortunate to have a mother who loved, supported, and allowed him to be his authentic self from toddlerhood on up.

mysonwearsheels-02As we would expect, Tarney worried that her neighbors might think she was one of those “domineering mothers” who ended up raising a “sissy” boy. When Tarney thought of domineering mothers, she remembered her own mother, who was very “controlling”. Tarney didn’t want to be that kind of mom. Soon, Tarney didn’t want to care what her neighbors might think.

Just as most mothers would do, Tarney guided Harry to find safe expressions of himself by discussing possible consequenses of his actions and activities. This allowed Harry to take responsibility and control of his social choices. At the same time, Tarney discovered how to become a fulfilled, kind, happy mom.

I did discover many parallels between my friend and Tarney’s son. Even though Sean grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska and Harry grew up in Milwaukee, they both have headstrong ideas about who they are. Interestingly, both have been very interested in creative personal wardrobes. Both possess a wry sense of humor and are courageous. Best of all, they have wonderful moms.

The author, Julie Tarney, is a blogger for Huffington Post’s “Queer Voices”. She contributes articles for “”, volunteers for PFLAG’s Safe Schools Program. Tarney is also a board member for the “It Gets Better Project”.

{ My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to KickAss by Julie Tarney; 240 pages, published 2016 by University of Wisconsin Press; ISBN: 978-0-299-31060-8 }

mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes entertainer Dolly Parton.  “It’s a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I’d be a drag queen.”


About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights, Health, Youth and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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