JJ Vincent asked a 50-year-old about gender, identity, self-expression, and what defines a man.
Jim Congdon, 50, is from Madison Alabama. He’s a tie-dye artist, a single dad, and a really good guy. I kind of ambushed him when I asked him to do this, and he said, “Sure, no problem!” Thanks, Jim.
Q: The dictionary is being rewritten. How would you define gender?
A. I would define it as your individual thought and feelings of your self as opposed to physical characteristics.
Q: How would you identify your own gender?
A: I consider myself to be male.
Q: What do you think makes someone a man?
A. I believe being male and being a man to be two different things. A male is someone that produces sperm to create life where as a man is someone who is a provider and protector of loved ones and family.
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: As a single father that is an issue close to home. I am blessed to be apart of an amazing community where my daughter is not only allowed but encouraged to express her individuality as a person without judgements, if she wants to play with cars or dress up as a princess she is equally encouraged and supported. I personally support her in whatever makes her happy
Q: Most forms and surveys have boxes on them for M or F. Would you change this if you could and if so, what would you put instead?
A. I personally think that is nobody’s business when answering surveys or questionnaires. If someone is wanting a true response gender should never be the issue. I think there should be a box for indifferent.
Q: Do you think topics of gender identity and expression should be discussed in schools? Why/why not?
A: I think children should be allowed to express their own gender without fear of discrimination and that schools should encourage dialog about gender issues as they arise. I would hope that all children are freely able to question these issues without fear of labeling or discrimination.
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: I believe that if two people are beginning a relationship that they should both be aware of the others gender identity. Any relationship started on falsehoods is doomed to fail.
Q: With regards to gender identity and expression in schools, what is your opinion on bathroom/locker room usage by transgendered/gender variant students?
A: I think they should be allowed to use the facilities that they are comfortable with and identify with.
Q: Going back what makes someone a man, what are some other adjectives or phrases you would us for someone you consider to be a man?
A: Protector, provider, comforter, confidante.
Q: Last question. You have the chance to display/show your gender identity. Anything goes, no questions asked. What do you wear?
A: I am male.
Q+: Does that mean naked? Would you be naked to express that, or do you mean that no particular clothing would express that you are male?
A+: I wear traditional male clothing and also consider my naked self male. I believe myself to be male , clothed or not.
Photo courtesy of author, used with permission of subject
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