What does it mean to be a man? Is it about masculinity? Being a provider? Being physically and emotionally strong?
For father-of-two Jeremy Wiggins, these stereotypical ideas don’t resonate with him, saying they actually stop men from being who they really are — complex, diverse, emotive people with a variety of behaviours and personalities.
Wiggins is one of the latest spokesmen for The Movember Foundation, which focuses both on men’s health issues and on breaking down stereotypes about traditional forms of masculinity.
“For some reason, when I hear, ‘What is it to be a man or what is a man?’ I feel like there’s a very strict, narrow stereotype of what that is. It’s a hyper-masculinised version of what a man is,” he said in the short movie released by The Movember Foundation.
Wiggins is then seen having his lumberjack-esque beard shaven off, something he finds particularly difficult. It’s the first time he’s been clean-shaven since his transition from female to male.
Video: The Movember Foundation
“Just given my history and relationship with gender identity — my beard is a strong part of that. I like the way it makes me look,” Wiggins told The Huffington Post Australia.
At 21 years old, Wiggins decided to think seriously about transitioning from a woman to a man, packing up his life in Victoria and travelling to cities like New York, San Francisco and Berlin to meet with others who had gone through it.
What he discovered was that there were many people living happy and fulfilling lives post-transition. This, he says, gave him the confidence and the strength to go through with it himself.
Issues of mental health have been raised in the LGBTI community, with studies claiming that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people are three times more likely to experience depression.
They also experience physical and verbal abuse because of their gender diversity, which can lead to distress, drug use and even suicide, with the National LGBTI Health Alliance saying that mental health within the community is among the poorest in the country.
Now 34 and with the support of his wife and kids, Wiggins is focused on redefining what it means to be a man to open up people’s minds about gender diversity. Being a man isn’t about masculinity or toughness; it’s about being human.
“If the question was reframed and I was asked, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ then you would actually get a more real, passionate, emotional response,” Wiggins says.
“I can start to appreciate masculinity or who I am and it not be wrapped up in something that’s physical. It’s just who I am.”
What do you think about Movember’s first transgender man taking part? Share your thoughts below.
More: Gender identity 101: A guide to understanding transgender issues