I’m not a man because I have facial hair, though I do love having facial hair.
I am not a man because people perceive me as one, though I love the affirmation of that recognition.
I’m not a man because my parents call me their son, though I adore my parents knowing I am their son.
I am not a man because my wife calls me her husband and my son sees me as his dad, though that makes my heart full.
My manhood comes from accepting myself and living into my gender rather than denying truth.
My manhood comes from lived experience of white, heteronormative, dominant culture and my personal commitment to rejecting privilege,extending power out to those long hidden and long suffering.
My manhood comes from understanding power and potential abuse. And in making sure I stay as far from that line as possible.
All of these things are true for any lived gender experience. My manhood has nothing to do with other’s expectations of gender role performance.
My manhood exists as part of the intrinsic value of being fully who I am. As does womanhood. As does any personhood.
I don’t hesitate to cry as a man. No one ever told me not to as a child.
I don’t hesitate to tell my guy friends I love them and give them hugs. No one taught me that was weakness as a child.
I don’t hesitate to express emotions. No one ever told me this was bad when I was young.
I don’t hesitate to affirm someone’s lived experience as valid. As a kid, no one ever indicated that I should somehow know more about someone than they would know about themselves.
No one ever told me these things, that is, until my medical transition.
I then heard these messages frequently from well meaning guys who just wanted me to know the lay of the land regarding their understanding of manhood.
I actually got to skip masculine gender construction in my most vulnerable years. As well meaning people attempt to “teach” me about their understanding of manliness, I get to try things on and throw off the crap that doesn’t fit me.
I didn’t transition to live out western culture’s stereotypes of gender. That would be awful if I had. I transitioned so body, mind and spirit would have congruence. Authenticity was, and is still, the aim.
This dude loves to give hugs, loves to express emotion, loves to listen as you tell your lived experience.
My manhood has nothing to do with this culture, but has everything to do with my humanity. And yours.
Image credit: Creatista