[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 31, 1967

"It's Only a Phase": Femininity in Boys

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 1967;201(5):314-315. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130050048014

In our society today, with its present style in younger people of blurring the outward manifestations of sexual differences, many people, including physicians, are uncertain when, in children, cross-gender behavior is significant and when it is only transient experimental play with no importance for future gender or sexual behavior. This commentary is concerned with boys about whom the statement is made, "It's only a phase," when they are found dressing in girls' or women's clothes. The child's parents sometimes repeat this phrase for years and will describe how school authorities, physicians, neighbors, and anyone else with whom they discuss their boy's femininity almost always minimize the cross-gender behavior, permitting it to persist by saying that it will disappear in time. Not only that, these people quite frequently and correctly cite cases they have known of little boys who in some way behaved in a feminine or effeminate way and still