We can disagree on anything and everything, once we do so respectfully. I will respectfully disagree with anyone on the fluidity of gender. I, Dolph Clinton, believe that gender, another socially constructed identity, is NOT binary. My sister (not Sterling or Elki) may call that “liberal perversion,” but after years of working closely with adolescents I have seen too much gradation to allow me to believe otherwise.
I also believe that in youth we are most susceptible to the external weight of gender norming (pink vs blue, trucks vs dolls, “act like a lady,” “boys will be boys”), thus I have asked each participant to share a picture from a more innocent time.
In terms of gender, I identify as ____ because...
I learned about being a girl when a playmate’s mother, the feminine standard, told me I needed to stop chewing gum “like a boy.” Since that moment, my life has been a back-and-forth battle between proudly fighting these gender norms and desperately trying to fit into them. Being female is the identity I underscore the most; whether this is because of the conflict that it’s caused, or the spirit of fighting for women’s rights in the first place, I’m not sure. Somewhere in my search for female empowerment, I hope to stumble upon the discovery of myself.
To learn more about self-discovery, check out my blog https://myquestionlife.com/
Similar to my experience with race issues and self-reflection, I never really had to consider this part of me and compare it to other people’s experiences. I have lived most of my life surrounded by women, first my mom and sister since my parents’ divorce and later in life with my partner. I want to believe that I am capable of showing empathy towards women and their issues and the disparities that they face on a daily basis. I try to be an ally in their fight against inequality.
I identify as cisgender not wholeheartedly but simply because I haven’t taken much time to think about how I identify. As a person I am aggressive and confident which are traits typically associated with males but I am also compassionate which is a “feminine” trait. I grew up in an environment where new gender identities were not widely accepted so it didn’t become real to me that I could say I was not a girl until the end of high school. I do feel comfortable identifying as cisgender but that part of my identity may change as I learn more.
My gender as a male comes with a lot of privileges other genders do not have. We live in a male-dominated society, where the achievements of men are given more weight than the achievements of other genders. As a man, I feel societal pressure to act and be a certain way. I feel part of this pendulum of privilege and emotional suppression. I think I’ve seen my dad cry two or three times throughout my life, and subconsciously I learned to handle my emotions the same way. It’s very hard to express emotions and thoughts that come off as vulnerable.
Inside, I have always and still feel like a "woman." But one of the ways I like to express myself is through my appearance. When it comes to my appearance, I tend to be more of the masculine stereotype. I believe gender to be about what you see it as vs what someone else is telling you to see it as. I feel most confident wearing more masculine clothes, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I still feel extremely confident as a woman. It’s easier for people to put others in boxes in order to make it make sense to them, but fuck a box, be who you are.
As a male, I enjoy being challenged and being a strong provider for my family. I love competition that allows me to show off my talent. This isn’t always easy because I am a perfectionist. Society also puts a lot of opinion on what it means to be male. You are expected to always be the strongest in any situation. Whether that is emotionally, physically or mentally. You’re expected to never be tired or you are considered lazy. As a business owner and family provider, I am often stressed, physically tired and mentally tired. I love the challenge of processing and pushing through these emotions daily.
I probably didn’t turn out to look like what the world expected me to be. I remember my mother’s furrowed brow when I rejected her first day of school dress and spent the next twelve years in ripped sweatpants. I played tackle football with the boys and got thrown out of dance class for fighting. I value toughness and grit. Being an athlete gave me permission to bend the rules. I never wear makeup, hair is a mystery, and I refuse to spend money on things supposedly feminine. Maybe it’s binary-defying, maybe it’s just a stubborn refusal to play by the rules.
Drew, Cisgender Male
My mom stayed at home with the kids while dad worked, I played sports all year round and my sister did dance. Growing up being tough was fighting or being a smart ass if you cried you were outcasted. I was always told to “take care of my sister” who for the record probably should have been tasked with taking care of me. It bugs me that our country is not progressive enough to have more women in political office as they make up the other half of the population but are far from represented fairly in that arena.
I was born female, however I don’t ‘feel’ like a woman. Being reminded that I’m constantly perceived as one makes my skin crawl. It reminds me that there’s a gap between how I understand and perceive myself and how others do. I don’t ‘feel’ like a man either, though. On bad days I feel like a failed version of both. On good days, when I’m experiencing "life - time" with myself, strangers, those who love me, those who might love me - without the interruption of having to clarify my gender, I feel comfortably human.
Dolph, Cisender Male
My world told me to bury most emotions; I sometimes, unfortunately, still think crying is weakness. “Never appear weak.” I hate that my sisters, my mom, and my female friends have to consider sexual violation and violence before they go out for a run or when they enter a secluded space. I am a feminist and I fight misogyny... but sometimes in a misogynistic way. Physically I am masculine
but believe strongly in a feminine leadership style. I am both happy that I will never have to face the pain of childbirth, but jealous that I’ll never experience the miracle.
Tomorrow: Family Role