Out In The Open

Trying too hard to be one of the guys

Chase Ross says there is nothing wrong with being masculine, but he also points out that sometimes transgender men cross the line between masculinity and 'toxic masculinity'.
Chase Ross' YouTube channel, uppercaseCHASE1, has more than 100,000 subscribers. (Courtesy of Chase Ross)

Chase Ross says there were times when he didn't even recognize himself.

"It was interesting to see myself not be myself. I would see myself do things like overcompensating masculinity. Walk around like no one could touch me. Have a lower voice and take up more room in a space, physically and emotionally."

Chase, a transgender man, says that was the version of masculinity he thought he had to portray in order to be seen as a man.

He calls this 'toxic masculinity' and says it revolves around misogyny and objectifying women.

But Chase also believes there's nothing wrong with "being masculine" — however that's defined.

So, where is the line between toxic masculinity and "being masculine" for him?

"Toxic masculinity is less about gender roles and gender expectations, which is what I feel masculinity is, and more about asserting yourself in a way to put other people down."

It wasn't easy but Chase says he's comfortable with himself now and his version of what it means to be a man.

The way that I am 'masculine', is in a 'feminine' way. It's complex and that's how I like my identity to be.- Chase Ross

"What's amazing about being trans and transitioning and realizing all these things is that you can make yourself…and the man that you are and the masculinity that you show people, how ever you want it.

"So, there's not one way to be a man or to be masculine. I think that's what society has taught us."

Having said that, and despite his pride in being a transgender man, Chase does at times still feel that pressure to be the 'manly man', especially when his safety is involved.

So what does it mean to "man up", for him?

"What it means to man-up for me is to use the privilege I have as a man, and all of the privileges I have in society, to let the people who are marginalized and don't have a voice and let them have a voice, let them have the floor... literally to back away and let other people have their time."