Man up; Strip down
How would you define masculinity?
I would define masculinity as an aesthetic of being handsome, dapper, and strong and expressing these things through behavior and appearance. Sometimes I like to push that boundary, to experience masculinity with a touch of femininity. Since there aren’t laws on gender expression, it is fun to branch out from the binary of gender, and just see what feels comfortable for me.
Do you feel like your race or ethnicity impacts your concepts or understanding of masculinity? How so?
I think of my culture when I’m asked this question, referring to how our media predominantly portrays as white men as the norm. Advertising has a love for this all-American, Christian boy look. At least being a white male, and growing up with these Abercrombie, Gap, and Hollister wearing peers, I feel like I have been shown what you were supposed to look like, how you’re supposed to act, and what you’re supposed to buy if you are a man.
If you had to describe to someone what a masculine person looked like, how would you do it? (What celebrities or fictional characters comes to mind?)
I choose to express myself with more masculine traits because it feels natural, and has always been comfortable for me. However, I think that when I do things like speaking in a more effeminate nature, or use my hands to animate what I’m saying, or show vulnerability and open compassion towards others, I am question on my authenticity of being a man. As a non – binary, trans masculine person, I feel pressure from the male culture to be a certain type of way to be taken seriously in my day-to-day life. Sometimes masculinity feels confining , and that’s why I just let myself express myself however I want- masculine or not. I don’t need to explain myself, or guard what comes naturally.
If I were to describe masculinity to someone, I would give them a range of guys to describe the concept to them. I’d start with saying most people perceive masculinity to be like David Beckham, or Gérard Butler. Some people are a little more like Captain Jack Sparrow, or the fictional comic character, Deadpool. Those types aren’t shown much.
Considering this description, how do you feel your body compares? Does this comparison influence how you feel about your body?
Ha ha. Well, I mentioned some fit guys, one being an athlete, and fictional characters. None of these examples match my body type, but they more so match my ideal comfort that I will achieve to be. I have curves, and a female chest currently, but it doesn’t take away from how I perceive myself. I feel masculine, regardless if my body doesn’t look like the conventional male body. Even with my curves, I am just as much as a man as the next guy.
What do you think is sexiest about yourself?
The sexiest thing about myself is my vulnerability and sensitivity.
To be absolutely who I am, to know myself throughout, is a constant challenge and reward. I can be open and honest with myself and real with people, and that is sometimes hard to come by.
As for my answer regarding my sexiest physical attribute? My butt is pretty great.
What do you get complimented on the most?
My smile is often a winner with people. They say it is genuine and warm.
What parts of your body are you really comfortable with or really appreciate? And why?
I am moderately comfortable with my legs. They have been gradually gaining muscle due to my job, and are a nicer appearance to me. I really like my hands. I am an artist, so creating is very powerful to me. I associate my hands with my art.
But, I generally don’t pay much attention to my body.
Compare those parts of your body with parts of your body that you’re less sure about; parts that maybe affect the way you get ready for the day, i.e. getting dressed, maintenance, personal hygiene, etc. Stuff that maybe you’re self conscious about other people noticing because these are parts of your body that compromise your sense of your own sexiness or appeal.
A huge burden I live with is my female chest. It affects me, daily, and throughout the day I am often uncomfortable. I bind my chest to provide myself with a more masculine contour of a chest, and it feels better, aesthetically, and for my comfort out in public. I remind myself that I soon will be comfortable, and happy with my body, but this is something I deal with right now. I wanted to showcase the version of masculinity in these photos that myself, and many guys out there experience.
Have you ever felt that society pressures you to look or act in certain ways? If so, how?
Absolutely. As a male in our society, I am expected to be masculine 24/7, or questions start getting asked. I feel I have to uphold this way of carrying myself, this certain way of personal expression. I deal with not being MAN enough for people’s expectations. It is frustrating, feeling so aware of how I should be, to be taken seriously.
WHAT DO WORDS LIKE “PATRIARCHY” OR “PRIVILEGE” MAKE YOU FEEL? WHY DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY?
I have heard these words, and watched the example of how they work in our culture, for years before living as male. I was in the stands, observing the game, and now I am the one on the field. I have experienced patriarchy directed towards me when I was living as female. Now I am uncomfortably aware of how toxic masculinity can make people feel about themselves, and their viewpoints on anything NOT masculine, or even out of the binary. I do not feel every guy out there is pre-disposed to viewing women as objects or the “lesser.” But, in the new privilege I hold as a male, I see things up close. Many guys feel comfortable saying things to me now and acting differently around me than they would if I were female. Sometimes I am challenged with agreeing with the sexual comments about people, with talking about how I “know what they actually mean” when they say what they say. It is this weird, unusual place of being on their side for my safety and comfort, verses having to have a serious conversation about feminism. I am definitely aware of this, and have to choose each time a situation comes up, where I will stand.