By Mary Pavlu — Features Editor
Chris Miller has been married to a woman for 20 years, has two sons, and looks like an average man. From his appearance, you would never guess that Miller is actually a transgender man.
“I knew my whole life that I’ve been a man,” said Miller, 52. “I believe I was assigned the wrong sex.”
Miller spoke to students and faculty in de Witt Hall on April 17 to raise awareness about and acceptance of the transgender community, or what he called “separating the ‘T’ from the LGBT.” He explained that being transgender has to do with gender, while being lesbian, gay, or bisexual pertains to sexual preference.
Miller passed as female for 46 years and gave birth to his two sons before coming out as a transgender man in 2006. His gender reassignment did not affect his role as a parent, as one of his sons said, “You’ve always been a man and a mom. There’s no difference.”
He explained the long, daunting process of changing sexes, saying that many choose to change their names and gender presentation, as well as undergo medical or surgical interventions.
Miller shared the difficulty of explaining the title of his relationship to his spouse of 20 years and to others, since his spouse identifies as a lesbian, while he identifies as a heterosexual male. They use the term queer to label their relationship.
Many unfair statistics of the transgender community were also brought up in Miller’s lecture. Transgendered people are more than four times more likely than the general population to have lower household income, said Miller. Thirty-two percent have been forced to present themselves in the wrong gender to keep their job and 90 percent have been harassed at work. As many as 20 percent of transgender individuals are homeless, and 41 percent have attempted suicide, said Miller.
“It’s okay to disagree,” Miller said, “It’s not okay to blame, shame, or attack others.”
He also said that out of 4,850 colleges and universities in the United States, 414 have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and expression.
“Do what you can do,” Miller urged. “Give up your privilege about not knowing these things. Think about them. Know about them. Advocate them.”