Trans advocate Tiq Milan says he didn't become a man to become part of a patriarchal system. Rather, he hopes to lead by example to disrupt those ideas.
"Tiq Milan is a public speaker and writer who addresses issues about intersectional leadership, transgender rights and racial justice. From his home in the Bronx to conferences and colleges around the country, Milan has spent the past decade sharing his personal story and his vision of equality for trans people of color."
"There’s a revolution going on. A revolution of thought, self-expression, and self-actualization. As a society, we have begun to confront the way we talk about identity, whether it be in terms of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Queer people of color, as an integral voice in this conversation, have often had no choice but to confront — and be confronted about — their identities. For the first time since perhaps the Harlem Renaissance, the souls of queer black folk have been depicted on our own terms as we take control of our narratives — but nearly 100 years on, we have earned the freedom to be far more open and honest than Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, or Countee Cullen ever could. This is the new renaissance."
"Feminism is more than just knowing and celebrating the value of women and feminine people, it’s also about being accountable. It’s about speaking back to and challenging misogyny in our culture. It’s examining how I contribute to sexism as a man because being transgender does not preclude me from this. At the dawn of my transition I was focused on my physical body and coming to a place where my gender identity wouldn’t be challenged or negotiated. Now, 9 years in, I’m intent on refining my manhood. I am becoming a man by my own design and that has meant unlearning and re-learning everything I thought I knew about masculinity and its relationship to the world. Coming into the understanding that masculinity is not the opposite of femininity but its counterpart gives me a starting point to build authentic solidarity and shift the way we think about the role of women and femme identified folks. We’re only better together and manhood cannot be defined by how “un-feminine” it is but should be invested in creating healthy consanguinity."
Meredith: Welcome everyone. I’ve gathered us all here to talk about gender dysphoria, and specifically the model that has become the most prevalent in the trans community: that trans people feel like they were born in the wrong body from early childhood. It’s an idea that’s prevalent in a lot of movies and literature, and is also an important way that medical professionals often assess whether to give people access to trans-related medical care. So my first question is, does this model resonate with you? Also, you can introduce yourself and how you identify and your pronouns and all that.
Nico: I’m a gender variant queer fat femme from Brooklyn, my pronouns are he, and they. I don’t identify with the model of having been born in the wrong body in order to be trans. Growing up as a fat queer person, my body has always been something I should not be allowed to identify with, love, or accept. Being trans meant that too. The more I wanted to explore my body, and push the socially imposed boundaries of presentation, the more I was encouraged to explore a hypermasculinity in order to validate myself, my identities and my journey. For me, coming into myself is to unapologetically let myself be what I want to — the radical self-determination and to reclaim the agency over my body, my hair, my voice, and my skin.
Jacob: I’m a genderqueer femme from North Carolina who’s now living in NY and trying to pretend like I’m a city mouse, and my pronouns are they/them. The “traditional” model of trans identity — the idea that trans people have to feel like we’re in the wrong body — really got in the way of me understanding myself as trans. For the longest time, I didn’t think that I counted as trans because I thought you had to hate your body in order to be part of the trans community. Standing in front of the mirror, all on my own, without anyone to judge me, I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had an issue with my body.
Tiq: I identify as a trans man, pronouns he and him. I’m a writer, media maker, and trans rights advocate. The idea that being born in the wrong body seems to be the most commonly used and most simplistic way of explaining the transgender experience, but it never really fit my narrative. I never felt I was born in the wrong body, I just evolved away from it...
“Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin”
Interview with Evan Ross Katz
What piece of writing of yours are you most proud of and why?
All my pieces have a special place in my heart. They all expand on different parts of my life, intellect and passions in unique ways. I’m in the midst of writing my book, Man of My Design, a memoir and an examination of system masculinity. It’s a challenge that has made me dive deep into my past and my future. It’s the most important piece of writing to date and I can’t wait for folks to read it next summer.
What differentiates activism and slacktivism?
I think this idea of slacktivism is messed up and a bit ableist. Real change happens through social media. Black Lives Matter started as a hashtag. Feminista Jones galvanized protests all over the country via Twitter. There is nuanced and radical information and calls to action being shared via these networks. Also, everyone physically can’t get out there and protest or disrupt traffic or press conferences. For some folks who are disabled or chronically ill their participation is from behind a keyboard. For working parents or folks who just have too much on their plate but they care about the issues, signing an online petition or retweeting is all they have space for. It’s completely unfair to invalidate that.
"What responsibility do schools have to educate students about trans and other gender issues, Harris asked the panel? Children are sexual beings and start experimenting and exploring and playing around with their gender when they are very young, Milan said. They need to have a good foundation for how to negotiate their own desires. They don’t need to be shamed for that, but they may not have had the information needed to negotiate their own desires by the time they get to college..." - via Harvard Gazette
“When I look at my masculinity, it’s not about the traditional trajectories,” he said. “I want to become a man of my own design and the man of my dreams.” He added that the narrow definition of masculinity poses problems for gender inclusivity. “Limitations that we have placed on masculinity has a detrimental effect on how we relate to each other as human beings,” he said. “It’s a constant uphill battle for me when it comes to asserting myself in my identity.” - via The Harvard Crimson
DE: Yeah, I hear you. But overall, wasn't it wonderful seeing #reallivetransadults on this show? Although they only reflected the trans feminine experience, it was good to show cis [non-transgender] viewers we are not all Caitlyn Jenner. And she even explained what cis means this week! In other vocabulary news, she revealed she'd never heard of HRC.
TM: The road trip there was revealing. Solidarity among trans and cis women is key to progress, but Caitlyn’s conservative views are completely off base. The idea that people who utilize social programs are lazy, unmotivated or complacent is classist and racist propaganda that is used to further disenfranchise poor people.
DE: That was both my fave moment, and also the one in which I cringed the hardest: the look on their faces, the raised eyebrows, the dropped jaws as they heard Cait's honest views on welfare programs and "handouts." Priceless.
TM: And being cash poor effect intersects with trans identity as well as p.o.c identity more than anything. There are so many factors and "the bubble" that Caitlyn has been in has kept her misinformed about that.
We all don’t live in a liberal metropolis with resources and several organizations to sort out the legal aspect of transitioning. I have friends and colleagues in states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida who can’t get their documents changed due to high court fees or the mandatory stipulation that you must have specific gender-affirming surgery in order to qualify as a “real” trans person. Having to discuss your private parts or medical history to authenticate your existence is unnecessary and undoubtedly humiliating....Now that marriage equality is here, we need a more intersectional and nuanced approach to the plurality of needs of our community. Marriage equality for some does not necessarily translate to equity for all.
"For me, fatherhood is an intentional rite of passage that has already begun, even though we’re just at the end of the first trimester. My wife and I had been trying very hard to have a child over this last year. We wanted to bring our child into the world in a way that was safest and healthiest for us, which meant circumventing medical clinics and fertility treatments. We had a few confidential conversations with other queer and trans families who’d also chosen a similar route, but we negotiated the support of a donor and the conception of our child on our own. I already feel the weight of responsibility for our growing family as we begin rearranging our lives and putting in place a support network to ensure this kid’s arrival is happy and healthy.
"Unlike cis-hetero couples, our path to parenthood is never a pleasant surprise or the result of a reckless passionate night. Ours is a strategic endeavor with lots of moving parts, cautionary tales, and money spent. I am already so invested in the life of this child! ... Our children will always know and respect that gender and sexuality are a spectrum of possibilities. They’ll be loved and supported no matter where on the spectrum they may fall. Planning our family and thinking about our future has been the best time of our lives, and we can’t wait to have little ones to share it with." — Tiq Milan, New York City
"Caitlyn Jenner’s arrival was a stunning and courageous debut. Coming out as transgender and living your authentic self is commendable and brave. But her experience should not mask the nuance and complexity of the transgender experience."
“I would love for schools all across the country to allow students to come to prom in whatever makes them feel good and with the date of their choosing. Prom should be for all high schoolers.
— Tiq Milan, Writer
“You are in good company with lots of wildly diverse and creative people who couldn’t find their place at prom either. There is nothing wrong with waiting until you meet the person you feel amazing with and turn a special evening into the prom you never had.”
— Kim Milan, Writer