What (P.P., 2017). In a study conducted

What is gender nonconforming? Is it the
same thing as being transgender? The answer is no. According to GLAAD (2017), gender
nonconforming and transgender are umbrella terms, therefore, gender
nonconforming people do not always identify themselves as transgender and not all
transgender people are gender nonconforming. Gender nonconforming is a term
used to describe people whose behavior and/or appearance is different from prevailing
expectations of masculinity and femininity (GLAAD, 2017). Transgender is a term
for people whose gender expression and gender identity are different than the
gender they were assigned at birth (GLAAD, 2017).

Gender is used to refer to “the attitudes,
feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a
person’s biological sex” (Baez et al., 2017). In society eyes, based upon our
assigned sex, gender roles indicate that people are expected to dress, speak,
and behave how society wants us to (Planned Parenthood, 2017). During
adolescence, those who do not obey to prevailing cultural and social
expectations are at risk for being harassed. For example, boys who are more
feminine like girls or girls who are more masculine like boys
(Toomey, Ryan, Diaz, Card, & Russell, 2010). In school settings, gender
nonconforming boys experience high levels of victimization when it comes to the
male gender roles; appearance, behavior and participating
in athletic activities (Schope & Eliason, 2004).

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Gender nonconforming youth typically
experience frequent maltreatment at school, whether it is physical or verbal
abuse (Toomey et al., 2010). During adolescence,
schools can be one of the most dangerous environments for gender nonconforming
students since schools are primarily where social interactions occur. According
to Toomey et al. (2010), the students who are most frequently victimized in
schools are the students who are perceived or are a part of the LGBTQ
community, including gender nonconforming students. Gender nonconforming students
stated that schools are where they first encounter harassment, however, schools
lack on information about victimization associated with gender nonconformity (Toomey
et al., 2010). 

  Gender
nonconforming boys are expected to dress and appear in a way that fits their
gender role (Toomey et al., 2010). For example, boys are supposed to
dress in masculine clothes, such as pants and basketball shorts and should have
short hairstyles (P.P., 2017). In a study conducted by Blakemore (2003),
researchers found that boys who dressed in girls’ clothing were perceived as
very negative. Researchers also found that boys who violated the gender role of
physical appearance, for example, clothing or hairstyle, would be perceived
more negatively than girls. Physical appearance is one of the most key factors
in building relationships, therefore, people who are perceived as unusual from
their assigned gender role have a harder time building those relationships (Adler, Kless & Adler, 1992). Therefore, students
who are perceived as out of the ordinary can lead to students being victimized
in school (Pacer Centers Teens Against Bullying, 2017).  

In a school setting, appearance and
grooming is also a key factor in being popular (Adler
et al., 1992). According to Merriam-Webster’s (2017), popular is defined as
“the state of being liked, enjoyed, accepted, or done by many people”. In
school, the appearance of being popular for boys includes the gender roles of
wearing high end authentic sports apparel like jerseys and shoes (Adler et al., 1992). The term unpopular is defined as
not being liked nor desired (Merriam-Webster’s, 2017).
Gender nonconforming boys belong to the unpopular group (Peebles, 2017). According
to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center (2017), 55% of students are
bullied based off their appearance. According to the GSLEN National School
Climate Survey (2015), based off their gender expression
55.4% of students experience verbal harassment, 20.3% of students experience
physical harassment and 43.3% of students feel unsafe at school. Therefore,
male students are expected to follow gender roles of appearance.

Gender nonconforming boys are expected to
behave appropriately based on their

gender
role (Coyle, Fulcher & Trübutschek, 2016).
In addition, based on gender roles, people tend to judge the appropriateness of
other’s behaviors (Coyle et al., 2016). According to The Hidden Curriculum: Are We Teaching Young Girls to Wait for the
Prince? (Lehr, 2001), boys are perceived as loud, aggressive, unemotional, and
independent and girls are perceived as emotional, dependent and obedient. Therefore,
gender nonconforming boys who demonstrate feminine behavior, for an example,
being sensitive and emotional are referred to undesirable terms, such as fag or
homo. According to Adler et al. (1992), boys who highly succeed in academics
are perceived as being nerdy, an undesirable term, which leads them to being
victimized, however, girls are not victimized for succeeding in academics. Referring
to stereotypical male gender roles on behavior, boys are supposed to be defiant
in a classroom setting, demonstrating their toughness and ability to be
perceived as cool (Adler et al., 1992). Therefore,
when boys violate that representation of male behavior than they are harassed
by others.

 Gender
nonconforming students sometimes struggle with other students accepting them,
and may be disliked by adults, such as teachers (Schope & Eliason, 2004). According
to Schope and Eliason (2004), boys learned to
dislike anyone or anything that is perceived as not masculine, in other words
things that are feminine. In addition, boys are constantly reinforced in school
the importance of male gender role behavior, which includes toughness,
coolness, status, respect and masculinity. For that reason, heterosexual boys
are more prejudiced against gay or gender nonconforming boys. The behavior of
gender nonconforming students often leads to negative reactions from their
peers, such as physical abuse or questioning their sexuality (Toomey et al.,
2010). Therefore, male students are expected to follow gender roles of
behavior.

            Gender nonconforming boys are
expected to engage in athletic activities based on their gender role (Adler et
al.,1992). At an early age, boys are taught to play sports, with cars, action
figures and if they role play, they are supposed to play a masculine role, such
as a cowboy, a firefighter or a soldier (Schope & Eliason, 2004). Boys are
supposed to be tall, strong, muscular and athletic, while girls are supposed to
be thin and small (Lehr, 2001). Thus, if boys are small and thin, then they are
perceived as being feminine and in some cases viewed as being gay or gender
nonconforming. According to Adler et al. (1992), it
was crucial for a boy to be proficient in sports and if they failed to do so,
then they were victimized by others. Those students who were perceived as weak
were the ones who were constantly getting hurt. Since gender nonconforming boys
are perceived as being weak, they are frequently called “sissies”. The
undesirable term represents negative feminine traits. This term is even
offensive to girls. In a school setting, if a boy decided, instead of playing basketball
or baseball, they wanted to do professional dancing, for an example, ballet or cheerleading,
then they would automatically be perceived as being gay or gender nonconforming
since the stereotypical male dancers and cheerleaders are gay (Bailey &
Oberschneider, 1997). This would also lead to them being mistreated since they chose
a feminine sport over a masculine sport. Therefore, male students are expected to
engage in athletic activities based on their gender role.

            Overall, gender nonconforming men are
more likely to be harassed and victimized by their peers than gender
nonconforming girls (Toomey et al., 2010). In addition, boy are also more
likely to receive undesirable reactions from their parents than girls. Meaning
gender nonconforming boys are typically unaccepted by their parents and peers,
while on the other hand, gender nonconforming girls are generally accepted by
them. According to Toomey et al. (2010), about 53.8% of negative comments towards
gender nonconformity were towards boys and about 39.4% were towards girls. They
also reported perceiving their schools’ less safe for gender nonconforming boys
than gender nonconforming girls. In conclusion, in regard to male gender roles,
such as appearance, behavior and engaging in athletic activities, gender nonconforming
boys are frequently victimized at school (Schope & Eliason, 2004).

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