Self-Determination Beyond Gender Norms

Young Teachers Collective

By: Elijah Eiler

“Mr. E, when are you going to cut your hair?”

A student of mine in seventh grade looked at me, half laughing, half not, not meaning to make a joke but just asking an honest question.

“What?” I said, returning his half laugh and pushing my bangs back. “I like my hair.”

In an attempt to have long hair (because, well, why not?) I haven’t cut my hair since August. The light brown mop on my head has finally grown past what I’ve dubbed the Awkward Middle-Length Period to the Okay-Looking Middle-Length Period. But even though my hair isn’t yet long enough to be pulled back, it’s still too long to fit into my student’s image of what a male teacher should look like.

“When I first met you, I wasn’t sure if you were a girl or a boy because of your voice,” he said a…

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