Shattering the Stereotype
Society’s standards for how young men should look, think, and act are often harmful for them in the long run.
Illustration by Annelise Hanshaw
Vivian Edwards was 16 when she struck up a conversation with her father about a transgender girl at her school. Vivian was still publicly identifying as a boy at the time, but she was wearing panties in secret. She thought that maybe bringing up the other girl would make Vivian feel more like the man society told her she was. Instead, calling the girl a “shim” and a “he-she” with her dad made her feel awful. She felt like she’d have to be a boy forever.
It took a few years for Vivian to admit to herself, and everyone around her, that she was transgender as well. Her inability to show her true self is probably in part due to the unrealistic set of masculine standards placed on men by society, commonly referred to as toxic masculinity.
Toxic masculinity describes when a person opts to participate in masculine behaviors to a point that might be unhealthy for them or those around them, according to Katie Lawson, an assistant professor in psychological science at Ball State University. These behaviors include, but are not limited to: violence, taking risks, holding in emotions, and socially monitoring others, such as transgender women.