Man-Up: Mannerisms and Expectations
by Jude Samson
Disclaimer: It’s important to realize that while society shouldn’t dictate to anyone what they should and shouldn’t do in order to be considered any specific (or non-specific) gender, some trans people do look forward to learning about those societal nuances.
Over the past month, a few instances occurred that brought to my attention how little I know “as a man” because I was raised “like a girl.” I, like many others, was raised with a society-based notion of what men and women should and shouldn’t do or know. While there are plenty of progressive parents who enjoy teaching their boys to cook and girls to work on cars it, sadly, is not yet the norm. That was made glaringly obvious when the battery in my car died and again when I went to pick up my Christmas tree, and I suddenly found myself having to figure out how to do these things alone as I was never taught how to do them by any male figures in my life. Granted, on the two different occasions that my battery needed a job the two separate guys who offered to help me didn’t know how to jump a car either, so there was some relief for me there. So I wound up learning from doing a little Google search and watching someone else do it. The tree I just had to figure out for myself, put my hazards on, and pray it didn’t go flying off the roof. Belatedly I realized I missed an important element in tying a tree to one’s roof, but thankfully it stayed in place anyway.
“WHILE OUR TGNC COMMUNITY KNOWS BETTER, THE WORLD AROUND US STILL EXPECTS MEN AND WOMEN TO ACT IN SPECIFIC WAYS AND ONLY WITHIN THOSE TWO GENDER BINARY NORMS.”
Those moments called to my attention that so many things go into the making of a man or a woman, at least according to what society has established as expectations for perceived gender roles. While our TGNC community knows better, the world around us still expects men and women to act in specific ways and only within those two gender binary norms. For those who aspire to “pass” or to live in “stealth” these seemingly inconsequential traits could wind up being incredibly important to “completing” the package, as it were. For those who are interested in such nuances, here are some things to consider or things you may encounter from the day-to-day people who still live in a binary world.
Being a gentleman is not necessarily a bad thing to aspire to regardless of your perception of gender, as it usually implies manners and having consideration for another human being. Such traits would include standing when a woman comes to the table, pulling out her chair, giving her your jacket, walking on the outside portion nearest the road and so forth. More negative type images of manliness as per society seems to dictate that a man should be a breadwinner, physically strong, closed-up emotionally, and even at times brutish. Men are expected (and it is often the subject of much comedy) to be oafish, goofy, and forgetful. When it comes to children, laundry, cooking, and general domesticity, men have a reputation to be ignorant and these, too, are aspects joked about frequently in stand-up and movies. We are still fighting a battle of basic male/female gender equality such as women being grossly underpaid for doing the same job, and 2016 was the year for “Mansplaining” and ridiculous laws (passed by a majority of men) dictating to women how they can and cannot tend to their own bodies.
“..BEING A TRANS MAN ALLOWS US TO PERHAPS BRING SOME IMPORTANT ELEMENTS TOWARDS WHAT BEING A MAN IS OR COULD BE..”
Each person will be who they want, express themselves how they want, and represent their gender as anything they want. However, being a trans man allows us to perhaps bring some important elements towards what being a man is or could be and led by example so that other men will catch on. Having been in someone else’s shoes allows us to understand on a far deeper level what others go through and how very important it is to treat anyone and everyone with kindness, equality, and show that men can be kind and caring. Men can be soft, we can cry, we can be comforting, we can jump a car, we can cook a dish, we can do the laundry, and we can tend to children. We can feel another’s pain, and we can sympathize. We have the truly unique and rare ability to have walked among other worlds, and we can use that to bridge a gap and bring a whole new meaning to what it is to be a man.