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Published on February 09, 2019

“Man of My Design”: Tiq Milan Speaks at Eastern

Tiq Milan, a transgender man and nationally known LGBTQ advocate, came to Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 4 to discuss his journey to becoming his authentic self as a transgender person of color.

Milan was born female, but could never deny his “masculine energy” and identified more as male. “I wanted to fight, play football, ride my bike everywhere, stay out late,” he said. “When I was younger, I equated masculinity with freedom. Being a girl, feminine, meant I had to be observant; masculine meant you could be participatory. I had all these restrictions put on me.”

As a young girl, Milan was considered a tomboy. “Tomboy as an expression is okay; as an identity, it’s not,” he said. “When puberty hits, now you have to be a lady.”

Milan came out as a lesbian when 14 years old, identifying as “butch” (masculine lesbian) and finding salvation in the lesbian community. In 2007, in his early 20s, Milan took his first testosterone shot, and in 2011 he underwent surgery, completing the transition.

“People tend to get caught up on the medical and legal part, not the social part,” he said. “I had to go from baby sister to brother, daughter to son, aunt to uncle.” Milan also had to distance himself from the lesbian community he built his life around. “It was uncomfortable for the ladies there.”

Fortunately, Milan found community online via social media and Yahoo chat rooms, where he learned of an entire population of transgender men of color. “I thought I was the only transman on the planet; the only one having this identity conflict,” he said. “That’s a testament to online power.”

While Milan did experience some resistance throughout his transition, overall his family was very supportive. “I didn’t go through this journey alone,” he said. “Being able to experience unconditional authentic love made transitioning possible.”

He remembers his father’s initial words of acceptance: “Every man needs a black suit and a blue suit,” his father said, to which Milan admitted to only having a black suit. “I’m going to buy you a blue suit.”

After the transition, his mother said it felt like her daughter died. “She was kind of right. ‘I’m not your daughter, I’m your son.’” But beyond gender, Milan says, “Who I am in my heart, I’m the same person.”

Written by Michael Rouleau