JJ Vincent asked an 18-year-old about gender, identity, self-expression, and what defines a man.
Colin is a friend of mine who I met at a local Artists Market that we both participate in. When I decided that I wanted to write a story about how people think about gender, he was on the top of my, “I have got to talk to him!” list. I asked him a set of questions to find out what a young adult who is a student and an artist had to say on the subject.
Q: The dictionary is being rewritten. How would you define gender?
A: Gender is the expression of various personality traits and behaviors that are deemed “masculine” and “feminine”. Most people are a blend of traits from both axis; some parts masculine, some parts feminine. It is a common problem that people confuse the term sex with gender. Whether or not somebody was born male, female, or intersex, does not determine whether that person is a man, woman, or any combination of the two. Many people choose to identify themselves as having no gender, or being a non-binary gender. It is entirely common for somebody’s gender identity to shift throughout their life; mostly in the teenage and young-adult years. Lastly to note, a person’s gender identity will not also determine their sexuality.
Q: How would you identify your own gender?
A: I Identify myself as both genders. “Androgynous” or “gender-queer” are labels I often use for myself. I respond to both sets of pronouns, I wear men’s and women’s clothes interchangeably, and enjoy being treated like a man or a girl sometimes. I have no qualms about doing things that are typically feminine. I also do my best to treat people equally without taking their gender into account.
Q: What do you think makes someone a man?
A: Identifying themselves as a man.
Q: There’s a lot of current discussion about children being raised without gender. If you had care of a very young child, how would you approached gendered issues (toys, clothing, activities)?
A: I haven’t really given it that much thought. I suppose I would try my best to expose them to boyish and girly things. I would definitely call them by the gender that coincides with their sex. If they decide against that, I will not retort. I have not thought about what I would do if I had a child that was intersex. That is a much more complicated issue.
Q: Most forms and surveys have boxes on them for M or F. Would you change this if you could and if so, how what would you put instead?
Q: Do you think topics of gender identity and expression should be discussed in schools? Why/why not?
A: Gender is an amazingly complex and interesting topic; a true example of just how unique humans are. Learning about that topic will provide students with a further developed view of the world. It will also help decrease ignorance and prejudice towards LGBT peoples. Studying characters/people that are non-binary, trans, etc. should certainly not be avoided.
Q: A question about relationships. If a person identifies themselves outside of the traditional M/F, should this be a early topic of conversation? Should it be a topic at all?
A: Whenever I try to think of an answer for this, I just come up with many ideas and a dozen exceptions to each of them. I can’t really answer that question on a large scope. Personally, I don’t always tell my partners about my gender identity, but I do always tell them that I am bi.
Q: Is there a reason that you don’t tell them about your gender identity, or does it vary?
A: It is almost always because I am afraid of them not liking me because of it. Once when they get to know me better, and understand the context I am written in, then I feel free to talk with people about it.
Q: Going back to your comment about wearing men’s and/or women’s clothing, are there places or situations in which you would wear only men’s clothing, and if so, why?
A: When dealing with things like family, job interviews, formal occasions, etc. I find it best to go for my men’s clothing. I like wearing suits and ties a lot of the time too, so I don’t usually mind forcing myself to don that. People are just very judgmental, and in a situation where I need to make a good first impression, it is best to use my more socially acceptable side. That is just the way it is.
Q: Last question. You have the chance to display show your gender identity. Anything goes, no questions asked. What do you wear?
A: Stuff like cute, long fitting sweaters, and showing off a bit of leg. Mainly to display my awesome collection of knee high socks.
photo courtesy of author, used by permission from Colin P.
See other “10 Questions About Gender” Interviews: