JJ Vincent asked a 38-year-old about gender, identity, self-expression, and what defines a man.
William, 38, is a writer, historian, father, cook, photographer, DJ, and endless fount of stories that really make you wish you were him…or wish there was a camera following him around.
Q: The dictionary is being rewritten. How would you define gender?
A: I believe that gender in today’s world is defined by the role that a person wishes to play in society regardless of genitalia. Example – if a man wants to be perceived by society as a woman (by dressing and acting as such) but wants to maintain his male genitalia, then society should treat him as he presents himself.
Q: How would you identify your own gender?
A: I would define my own gender as a male because that is both the role I portray in society as well as the genitalia that I possess.
Q: What do you think makes someone a man?
A: In relation only to gender, my belief in what makes a man is someone that wishes to portray the masculine role in society regardless of how they were born.
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 believe that men and women should continue to be differentiated from each other. If I had a small child I would raise them as classically defined by society where boys are treated like boys and girls are treated like girls until a point in time that they are able to make an informed decision of their own choosing.
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?
A: I would not change this.
Q: Do you think topics of gender identity and expression should be discussed in schools? Why/why not?
A: I currently do not have a formal position on the teaching of gender identity in school, because I can see both sides of the issue. If I were forced to make a decision on the matter at the moment, I would say that I am against the teaching of gender identity in school because that is just one more thing taking away from the core educational materials that our schools are failing to maintain in a global economy.
Q: A question about relationships. If a person identifies themselves outside of the traditional M/F, should this be an early topic of conversation? Should it be a topic at all?
A: At the beginning of a relationship, if one partner identifies themselves outside of the traditional male/female dynamic, it should be addressed so that both partners are on the same page with how to proceed.
Q: You’ve lived and worked in different parts of the country. What, if any, differences do you see in gender expectations of men in the South vs other places?
A: On the topic of gender expectations of men in the south, I have found that they are less liberal than other parts of the country. A higher percentage of men in the south seem to prefer a gender expectation in line with the traditional male/female formula.
Q: What or who do you think are the biggest influences on a boy/young man’s gender development?
A: In reference to gender development influences of a young man, I believe their environment plays a big part of their development. If little boys are brought up with traditional male activities, they will more often than not conform to a more traditional male roll, and the inverse can also be said for females. I do acknowledge though that there are many cases where children simply felt different on the inside regardless of the environment during upbringing.
Q: Last question. You have the chance to display/show your gender identity. Anything goes, no questions asked. What do you wear?
A: What do I wear? Well, that is an interesting question that has a rather boring answer. I wear normal men’s clothing. When the occasion arises to dress up, I will wear a suit or even dress higher into a tuxedo if the need arises. When I am laid back, I am typically in a shirt with jeans on, and relaxing at home, I will usually wear whatever comfortable ratty clothes I happen to find first in my closet.
Photo by William, used by permission
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