Gender as a Spectrum

Through the lens of Tiq Milan & Kim Katrin Milan’s TED talk,       

   ‘A queer vision of love and marriage’

In this heartfelt and candid TEDWomen 2016 talk, Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan talk about the unusualness of their relationship – a transgender man and a cis-queer woman unified by the institution of marriage. Tiq tells how he has to unlearn many patriarchal ideas, in order to embrace the femininity of Kim. Kim shares how as trans and queer people, they had to create spaces out of convention; even out of the convention of time.

They share some sweet moments in their relationship, and how they are working towards inclusivity. “We have marginalized identities but we don’t live marginalized lives. Being queer and trans is about creating new ways of existing. It’s about loving people as they are, not as they’re supposed to be.” they say. Kim recites a beautiful poem written by Ottawa-based poet Brandon Wint: “Not queer like gay; queer like escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness all at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like, and to pursue it.”

“We are part of a community of folks who are living their authentic selves all along the gender spectrum, despite the ubiquitous threat of violence, despite the undercurrent of anxiety that always is present for people who live on their own terms. … We’re creating a world that we have literally never seen before; organizing families based on love and not by blood, guiding by a compassion that so few of us have been shown ourselves.” Their words are eye-opening; and their work is heart-warming.

Listen to this talk here:–b&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

Many of us think the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are the same. The word which is used to determine whether the newborn is a girl or a boy based on their genitals is ‘sex’. The person born with a penis is a boy, and the one born with vulva is a girl. But gender is a complicated term. People tend to believe gender is binary, but that’s not true.

A person’s gender is a complex interrelationship among three dimensions – Body (our experience of our own body, how society genders bodies, and how others interact with us based on our body); Identity (our deeply held internal sense of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither; who we internally know ourselves to be); and Expression (how we present our gender in the world; and how society, culture, community, and family perceive, interact with, and try to shape our gender).

The work people like Tiq and Kim are doing, is incredibly important, as many of us are still stuck on the idea of gender being binary. Many countries including India, don’t give the intersex people their due place. They are marginalised, abandoned, judged upon, and unidentified. They are humans too. They will have dreams and aspirations, just like us. Yet, we overlook them; treat them as they are unworthy of any love and affection. We use their gender and sexual orientation to insult others.

In India, any other sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is considered abnormal and criminalised under Article 377. I have heard some horrifying news like a father raping his own lesbian daughter to make her ‘straight’; and how people are tortured in the name of ‘Conversion therapy’. Is this the humanity we want to gift our future generations? Think again.

It’s high time, we realise homosexuality is not a disease to be cured, and gender is not binary, but a spectrum. Intersectionality and inclusivity should be our basic rights. Let us broaden the horizons of our minds, and smash the archaic notions fed by the society. It won’t be easy. But it will be truly rewarding to have our future generations growing up with no biases!

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