BGLTQ Activist Tiq Milan Discusses Transgender Experience

Tiq Milan on Transgender in America
Human rights advocate and LGBTQ activist Tiq Milan speaks with Director of BGLTQ Student Life Van Bailey and Harvard College Women’s Center administrative fellow Vincent T. Harris on masculinity and other issues faced by trans people of color. The talk was organized by the FAS Office of Diversity Relations and Communications and the Office of BGLTQ Student Life.
BGLTQ activist and human rights advocate Tiq Milan urged an audience to challenge the notion of masculinity and called for a greater focus on sexual identity in education at Harvard on Wednesday.

At a panel organized by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Office of Diversity Relations and Communications and the Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student Life, Milan, who is black and transgender, said the development of his masculine identity did not follow the typical journey.

“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.”

According to Harvard College Women’s Center administrative fellow Vincent T. Harris, who moderated the event, the issue of gender inclusivity extends to the American education system. While Harvard is setting standards of inclusivity in higher education, he said, conversations about inclusivity are not always taking place across the country.

“With the increased visibility of transgender in media, we are becoming more aware of trans equality as a responsibility of colleges and higher education institutions such as Harvard,” Harris added as he introduced the panel.

Addressing a question on the impact that cutbacks on K-12 sex education has on the BGLTQ community, director of BGLTQ Student Life Van Bailey, who sat with Milan on the panel, said many students are entering college without adequate knowledge about sexuality, the broader field within which gender identity lies.

Milan agreed, adding that the sex education curriculum needs to expand to include discussions about gender identity.

“It’s important to have these conversations early to combat violence and shame later,” he said.

In his closing remarks, Harris said it is important to recognize individuals by their unique personalities rather than by their gender identities.

“We have to continue to promote the message that individuals in spaces of higher education can come to us as who they are and think about how we can support them as who they are,” he said.

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