There was no clear moment when I became a feminist. I grew up in a family where the women took care or everyone and everything without complaint, and drew support only from one another. There was never any question in my young mind about the value of women. When I was a senior in high school I dated a woman who was an undergraduate women’s study major and introduced me to feminism as a political movement. She gave it a historical framework and advised me to read the anthology A Bridge Called My Back and everything by Audre Lourde. I was equally as outraged as I was inspired and the principles of feminism have lived in me ever since.
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.
For men who are feminist, the best thing we can do to show solidarity is to listen to the demands our sisters are making and act accordingly. I don’t question women in order to invalidate their truth but I ask questions to complicate my own. As feminists, we have an obligation to create teachable moments with other men and call out their misogyny whether it be a joke or misguided comment. Sometimes it’s about collecting our folks instead of expecting women to teach us about our own sexism. I’ve learned that the privileges I have in the world have to be leveraged to pushback against misogyny and help make this world a safer and more equitable place for feminine people. Every day I am working towards being the best person I can be and without a doubt feminism has made me a better man.
Join the conversation. Use the hashtags #BlackMenAndFeminism and #MyFeminismIs to share your videos, photos and what you think about being a feminist, global gender equality and equity.
About Tiq Milan
Tiq Milan is a writer, media maker and one of the leading voices for transgender equality. He has been featured on Huffington Post Live, MSNBC, and Buzzfeed sharing his story and views on transgender issues. He has also written for, The New York Times, The Guardian, and bet.com.
About the Ms. Foundation for Women
The mission of the Ms. Foundation for Women is to build women’s collective power to realize a nation of justice for all. Their annual Gloria Awards: Women of Vision is on April 27 in New York. Follow the foundation on Twitter: @MsFoundation