Category Archives: Inspire

Inspire: A Code of Gentlemen

When I began law school, I read a Supreme Court case, concerning the inclusion of women in a military college, which, prior to the case, only admitted men (US. v Virgina, 518 U.S. 515 (1996)). In his dissent, Scalia (whose political and moral convictions I thoroughly disagree with in all ways possible) included a “Code of Gentleman.” For the sake of completeness, I’m including a link to the case, and his quote, here (the “Code” is towards the bottom, before the footnotes).  The code, which Scalia included, was adapted from the military school’s handbook; interestingly, this code originated from etiquette guru, Emily Post. You can read Post’s chapter on being a gentleman here.

Clearly, reviewing this reading put me in a thoughtful and philosophical mood. A great deal of the material I discussed above has a largely paternalistic and misogynistic tone. Both Scalia and Post speak of protecting women as if they are helpless, and not terribly bright individuals, who must rely on men to protect them from the world. I want to begin by saying: I, in no way, agree with this. I am a proud feminist, and do not tolerate inequality in any form.

However, the concept of a “Code” inspires me. As Post says: “more important than any mere dictum of etiquette is the fundamental code of honor, without strict observance of which no man, no matter how “polished,” can be considered a gentleman.” A code is a guide, a reminder of what we consider important, and, when we slip up, it brings us back to the roots of our ideals. Being a gentleman is not about style, careers, money, education, or anything. Being a gentleman is about actions, and the ideals and morals those actions convey.

Several months ago, I posted about being a Man versus a man. With that post, as well as the “Code” above in mind, I would like to being (but, by no means, finish) my own Code of a Gentleman. This is my own Code, and includes lessons learned from my own personal experiences. I encourage each of you to take some time, consider your own ideals, and write your own personal Code. Furthermore, I encourage you to share your own codes (or portions of them) in the comments below. This is a great opportunity to discuss our own perspectives and experiences, and learn from each other.

Without further adieu, here are the beginnings of my own Code:

A Code of a Gentleman

  • Respect all people and perspectives, regardless of the disrespect they may show others.
  • Never force your perspectives or ideals on others. You may share your perspective, but never force others, unwilling, to adopt your views.
  • Never speak poorly of others in public.
  • Never laugh at the misfortunes or mistakes of others.
  • Have compassion for all living things, no matter how small they may seem to others.
  • Recognize the needs of others, and do your best to accommodate those needs, when asked.
  • Be prompt and punctual: tardiness shows disregard for other’s time.
  • Never flaunt your assets or privilege in front of others.
  • Do your best to use proper grammar in public.
  • Respect your elders and superiors, but never bend your own morals to suit their needs or demands.
  • Help others, whenever possible.
  • Never make decisions when angry, upset, fearful, or in pain.
  • Violence is never the answer. Appreciate the value of non-violence.
  • Speak up for your friends and family, even when they are not present. But never assume to speak for them. There is a difference between defending others and putting words in their mouths.
  • Always strive to better yourself.
  • Pursue justice and truth in everything you do.
  • Make the happiness and comfort of your wife and family a priority, the needs of your community shall follow that closely after that.
  • Understand the importance of self-care. Self-care ensures you’re emotionally and physically healthy.
  • There is no shame in asking for help, but don’t do so lightly.
  • Never lose sight of your goals, aspirations, ideals, or morals.
  • Never lose sight of hope.

Considerations for Transmen

Many of us are new to the world of masculinity and being a gentleman. We grow up imagining the men we want to be, despite what the world tells us we “should” be. Sometimes, however, as we begin our journeys, we forget: it’s human nature, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We forget the image of the men we wanted to be. Wherever you are in your journey, I suggest taking a moment to remember the man you imagined yourself as, and use that as the inspiration for your own Code.

Additionally, don’t just think about it. Sit down and write out your Code by hand. Keep this handwritten Code in a place that you can find it easily, edit it when need be, and reference it when you feel lost. Personally, I keep mine in my journal.

Take this seriously. By writing and adhering to a Code, you are following in the footsteps of knights, leaders, kings, presidents, and other great men in history. It wasn’t silly when they wrote and followed a code, and it’s not silly for you to do so either.

As I said before, I encourage you to share your Code in the comments below. Let’s learn from each other! Thanks everyone, and I look forward to reading your own contributions.

Cheers – Mason 

Viewpoints: Coalition Building

Try searching for “FTM Resources” in any internet search engine; you will spend a lifetime scrolling through page after page about testosterone, clothing, mentoring, local and international groups, youtube videos…

It’s wonderful that we, as a community, have such an active and vocal presence on the internet. However, I have noticed that many of us take a “lone wolf” approach to providing resources. That is to say, we make our websites, our youtube pages, our tumblrs, and do our own thing, adding to the exhaustive list of resources available to transguys. Unfortunately, this mentality silences a number of us, simply by the sheer number and volume of voices already speaking. Imagine it this way: you’re in a room, surrounded by 200 people, all speaking at the same time, about a similar topic. Whose voice will you hear? And is that voice going to address your needs effectively?

We, as a community, need to shed the lone wolf mentality, and come together. We need to work together to share our knowledge, resources and stories, rather than doing so as individuals. And, in my opinion, we need to build coalitions, together, to help our community in the most effective ways possible. We all have the same goal: to help our community, and share our knowledge. We should never lose sight of that goal.

With this in mind, The Primer, has teamed up with The Self Made Men, to provide a more comprehensive resource to the Trans-masculine community. I believe that this coalition, between The Primer and The Self Made Men is not only natural, but will help Transmen find the resources they need, quickly and efficiently.

So, why the Self Made Men? Quite simply, I believe the team working at TSMM has similar goal in mind: to help Transmasculine identified individuals on their journey, from the everyday challenges, to the milestones that will define our lives. I believe TSMM understands that no two journeys will be the same, but works to cover as much information as possible, to assist a wide variety of identities within the Transmasculine spectrum.

So, welcome to the new Primer, a contributor with the Self Made Men! Take a look around, and stay tuned for updates. As always, please feel free to ask questions, or discuss anything you see posted here.

Cheers – Mason

Viewpoints: Are you a “Man” or a “man”

This weekend, a friend asked me “so when did you consider yourself truly a Man?” This person’s question struck me, as well as their emphasis on the word “Man,” (hence the capitalization). After thinking over this question and the word Man for several days, I figured I would share my thoughts here, as I believe these thoughts pertain to the art of being a gentleman…(beware, these thoughts are highly subjective, and may border on philosophical)

There is, I believe, an inherent difference between a man and a Man; much like the difference between truth and Truth, (if you believe in that). A man is one who identifies as such; we often look to issues of gender identity and expression, and/or biology to identify the boundaries of this type of manhood. I’m not going to go into how I define a man in this post, merely because that is a whole different conversation that is well known and articulated by many, including those within the Trans* community.

So, who/what is a Man, and how is this different than being a man. The difference, I believe, lies in a person’s actions, beliefs and morals. A Man is, above all else, honorable, without an overabundance of pride, compassionate, though firm in their beliefs. A Man is not defined by their body or pronouns (hence my use of gender neutral pronouns “they” and “their”). A Man can be male or female bodied, muscular or thin, gay, straight, queer, asexual, pansexual, or any other sexuality they identify as. A Man seeks peace before anger, kindness before harm, empathy before retaliation. In the Jewish tradition, one would use the work Mensch to help identify a Man, however, Manhood, of this sort, exists beyond the bounds of any religion. A Man embodies a desire to help all living creatures, regardless of their differences, in all things that they do. A Man is often a feminist, a believer in equal and all human rights, a philanthropist (if their financial situation allows), a volunteer, and, in some cases, an activist, because they understand the importance of equality for all.

This all seems fairly idealistic and, some may say, unattainable. However, there are Men in this world I look to when I write this: the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Schweitzer, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and more. This list is debatable, but I am simply listing people, in my mind, that embody my ideas of Manhood. On top of that, there are so many great Men in this world whose names are not in any history book; being a Man does not make you famous.

So, to answer my friend’s question: I don’t know that I will ever truly be a Man. I hope to be, I strive to be; but, so very few men are Men. To be a Man takes a lifetime of commitment, a belief in truth and equality, and a dedication to your community and the world, which so very few people can ever attain.

Considerations for Transmen

Being a Man (or a man, for that matter), has nothing to do with genitalia, hormones, surgery or physicality. We all have the opportunity to become Men.

When I began my transition, I spent a great deal of time thinking about the person I am and saw myself as. I thought about the differences between men and Men, and how I could better incorporate the attributes of being a Man into my life. For transmen, we have a unique perspective on what it means to be a Man, and the opportunity to pursue our own ideals of Manhood.

Cheers – Mason

Inspire: “If”

This poem puts words to the kind of man I want to be. I thought I would share it with you. It’s a helpful message to carry with you throughout your day, or through a particularly trying time.

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Cheers – Mason

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