Transgender man educates campus Reply

Chris Miller speaks at de Witt Hall
Photo by Mary Pavlu

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.”

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