Toxic Masculinity is often used to describe a manly man, an aggressive or domineering male-type who will typically use their masculinity (i.e. Strength, larger size, male-privilege) in negative and often-time harmful ways. It typically results in the suppression or oppression of another person, many times women. There is a marketing and media culture that promotes this overt masculine image and the fact that #45 is currently in office shows us a great deal about how our society responds to negative and aggressive men. Alternatively, it’s an image that both men and women are trying to break free from despite some recent media showing aggressive males as being ones in power like it’s a positive thing.
While there’s plenty of manly men who enjoy smoking that cigar, talking about sports, throwing back some beers, and hanging with the boys, there has been a more recent shift. We are seeing far more men who are becoming more active in child rearing, more interested in romance, and more open about thoughts and feelings with their partners. We’re seeing men who look as if they’re sculpted from marble with their rock-hard bodies and displaying, for all outward appearances, a large male presence yet taking on nontoxic personalities.
“BEING A PART THE TRANSGENDER SPECTRUM, HOWEVER, THERE SEEMS TO BE A SEGMENT THAT SHUNS ANY TRANS MAN WHO WANTS TO STRIVE FOR ANY LEVEL OF TRANS MASCULINITY.”
Being a part the transgender spectrum, however, there seems to be a segment that shuns any trans man who wants to strive for any level of trans masculinity. Some assume that to be trans means we should know better than to emulate the overly male characteristics because, to do so, means we’re striving to fit ourselves into the gender binary of Male/Female. That by going for masculine attributes and appearances means we’re somehow betraying our own “trans-ness” because we should know better that there is no real gender binary. That we should be on the front battle lines fighting against a binary and we should keep ourselves within some neutral territory.
Not every trans man can pull off “masculine” and not every trans man wants to even try to do such a thing. There are plenty of trans men who enjoy a good deal of fluidity in their gender expression; some enjoy being effeminate (i.e. Such as a more effeminate gay male) while others enjoy non-binary or even androgyny. There are, however, some who enjoy a more traditional masculine look. When one thinks of trans masculine we are probably thinking of Buck Angel, Aydian Dowling, or Shane Ortega. Just because they’re muscled or appear overly masculine doesn’t mean they’re toxic in personality or should feel like they’re betraying their community.
Somehow, the more visible we’ve become as a community the more divided we’ve become as people somehow feel entitled enough to dictate to others how they should and shouldn’t transition and what trans does and doesn’t look like. I’ve written about the schism within the TGNC community before and expressed that the internal backbiting is causing us more harm at a time when joining together has never been more important than it is right this very moment. Just because a trans man is a trans masculine doesn’t necessarily mean he is or will be a toxic male or express his maleness in a toxic way. People can be negative, toxic, aggressive, oppressive, domineering, and so forth regardless of gender. To enforce your belief that someone should not attain the image they so desire just because it doesn’t conform to what you feel it should makes you the toxic one. Toxicity comes from the person, not the gender. Some people feel that masculinity leads to the toxicity but it’s the core or the essence of the person that’s already darkened – the outward appearance or the way they present (i.e. Masculine or male) may aid in their ability to be more aggressive but it (gender/masculinity) doesn’t dictate their personality.
There are plenty of nasty folks out there, and I’m not defending those who are toxic within the masculine spectrum. I am, however, defending a person’s right to be masculine if they so desire because none of us have the right to tell another how to express themselves or their gender.