Fall 2018 was a bad season for FTM podcast listeners.
First, Trans SWAG made the move to video-only content. Fortunately, fans can still catch up with Kameron on YouTube, but for those who like to listen while they drive, run errands or do household chores this was a sad moment.
Then suddenly, Aaron Ansuini and Chase Ross’ podcast, You’re So Brave, stopped posting new content. At first, the party line was that the duo was taking a break for personal reasons. As the weeks ticked on, however, fans started to notice that the former best friends were no longer following each other on social media. Finally, the whole fragmented story came tumbling out in a twitter avalanche. If you’re looking for a full(ish) account of what went down, you can read up on it here.
Meanwhile, a vacuum emerged for transguys looking to get their podcast fix.
Enter Masc Undone.
Co-Hosted by Tiq Milan and Aydian Dowling - two faces that will be familiar to anyone keeping up with trans-masculine culture in the last decade - Masc Undone is the podcast that we've been missing. Discussing everything from current events to racism to fatherhood (both hosts are recent parents), Masc Undone is both thought-provoking and engaging. We caught up with Tiq to talk about the new podcast and what's on the horizon.
Tell us about Masc Undone.
Aydian Dowling, my co-host reached out to me about starting a podcast. It was funny because I’d been wanting to start one for a while but wasn’t sure about who to partner with, but then I got a DM from Aydian and we got started immediately.
The podcast discusses masculinity, all the ways it shows up in the world, and how, as transgender men, we reimagine it or we fortify the nasty bits of it in order to be “regular guys.”
We record at least 3 episodes a month. It’s just a matter of how quickly we can get it edited and published. We’d love to do a few live episodes but Aydian and I live on two different coasts (he’s in Oregon, I’m in Toronto) so it’s a challenge. We hope to link up at a few conferences this year.
Let's say it's 2024 and you're looking back at the work you've done with Masc Undone and reflecting on the show's success. What would you be most proud to have accomplished?
I’d be super proud if our show became one of the leading podcasts in the country and had lead to deeper conversations about organic masculinity and how to engage it. My hope is that folks will be able to see through the bullshit of toxic masculinity and come through with a clearer vision of what it means to be men and masculine people.
You and Aydian sometimes talk about trans guys feeling the need to overcompensate, to prove their masculinity per se, and end up performing their gender in a way that is toxic. I'd love for you to give some examples of this.
I know a few transguys who are committed to being sexist or homophobic. I know of some who are 100% stealth and have adopted transphobia as a way to fortify their masculinity, completely turning their backs on the community that nurtured them pre-transition and held space for them as they came into their manhood.
The guys who always talk shit about lesbians or butches, as if they weren’t one at some point in their past. This is how toxic masculinity shows up in transmen, and I’m not here for it.
Do you think trans guys' have to prove their "realness" in a way that is different than cis het guys? Or is masculinity equally fragile for everyone?
Some guys may feel like they have to prove something, but that comes from their own insecurities, just like with cismen who are hellbent on proving something. Insecurity and masculinity is a toxic combination for all men. I personally don’t feel like I have anything to prove to anyone but myself. My masculinity, my personhood is about being a better person than I was the day before.
Masculinity isn’t fragile when you’re not allowing anyone to define what that’s supposed to look like or how you show up.
How do you fortify yourself against the pressures of toxic masculinity? Do you have strategies or particular methods that you have used?
To protect myself against these pressures, I had to throw away everything I thought I knew about being a man and start from scratch. Become a Man of My Own Design (shameless book plug) and build a manhood that felt right for me. What I’ve learned about conventional modes of masculinity is that it’s defined by its relationship to power, possession, and competition. What happens when we decouple manhood from how much power it wields, who it can possess and stop using competition as a measurement of manhood? Once I started to ask myself those questions and work towards the answers, the pressures started to fall away. I’m not perfect and sometimes I perform the masculinity I speak against, ie. not listening, feeling entitled or not leading with empathy. When that happens, I’m open to critique, I’m listening to be further pushed, and I make an effort to be better.
What other projects are your working on right now? Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’m writing a book, Man of My Design. I hope to have published by late 2020. Other than that, I’m touring several universities this spring and I’m hosting an evening at The Tribeca Film Festival in April.