For Tiq Milan, being a man was intentional. “I had a girlhood. I did identify as a girl, then there was a shift.” Milan said he was not born in the wrong body; he just grew away from it.
“I remember crying to my mother, ‘Why am I not a boy?’ It wasn’t because of gender, it was because boys could do anything they wanted — climb trees, get dirty. I wanted to get dirty. As a girl, I had to sit on the porch and watch, and I did not want to do that. There were limitations being placed on me that I did not deserve,” he told an Emerson Hall audience on Oct. 28.
Milan, a writer and journalist who carved a niche for himself as a media advocate and one of the leading voices for transgender equality, shared his thoughts and life story during a panel discussion, “Transgender in America.” The panel included Van Bailey, director of the Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student Life, and was moderated by Vincent Harris, an administrative fellow for the Harvard College Women’s Center.
Bailey said his trans journey was very different from Milan’s. “Do I think that I personally had a girlhood? No,” he said. “But do I think I was wrestling with labels that were being placed on me? Sure. But, it’s very complicated. I grew up with parents who allowed me to be genderless, until I reached puberty. My family seemed to have more problems with the notion that I might be attracted to women than they did with the gender identity. An attraction to women is something that they really struggle with.”