Cis Privilege

I wanted to talk about a very expansive topic that actually could take days to discuss but I’m going to attempt to sum it up in one post; cisgender privilege. If you are cis and have been granted these benefits and privileges you shouldn’t be ashamed that you have them but rather understand that these benefits don’t come standard for trans people.

As a trans woman of color I battle against many different groups who hold privilege; male privilege that I
don’t have because I’m female, white privilege that I don’t have because I’m black and cis privilege that I don’t have because I’m trans. I believe that it’s important to take a step back and realize that your privilege doesn’t have anything to do with how you see yourself, but rather how society sees you. You may say you’ve worked hard to pay your way through college or that you don’t come from money or one of my personal favorites, “I don’t see color”, well that’s very endearing but guess what? Even if you choose not to acknowledge it the rest of the world does and it’s relevant.

One of the most irritating experiences for me is when I feel as if someone is trying to investigate my identity and give me their approval or denial of my womanhood. For cis people (generally) there is no investigation into your identity you are read and respected as who you claim to be. If you don’t blend as cis or appear to be the gender you identify as then you’re seen as a fraud or pretending to be something you aren’t. Furthermore there is this rigid understanding that “real” women only have vaginas or “real” mean only have penises and there is no exception to those normative standards and the only way to truly test your validity as a man, woman or non binary person is to ask about your genitals. This leads into another point, the frustration of people assuming that because I am a trans woman I must have a penis. I specifically remember a man telling me “just because I think you are beautiful and look like a ‘real’ woman you can’t think that I’d believe for one second that you actually have a vagina.” Needless to say I have never spoken to him again. Asking if someone is post- op or pre- op is NOT casual conversation it’s deeply personal information and is not necessary in order to get to know someone. The only people who know the physical details of my body are those whom I choose to share that information with, those who have seen me naked and those who I have sex with, which is the way it should be,my body is not public information or public property. Being cis, blending as cis or “passing” is a privilege that helps you avoid these questions and investigations of your identity.

Another very serious set of privileges cis identities do not have to consider is your gender identity playing a role in why you may not be able to acquire a job or in my case lose your current one. In a majority of states across the country it is legal to be discriminated against (not be hired) because of your gender identity. You could also be denied housing because of your gender identity and while there are more housing acts and policies that are in place to protect against discrimination when it comes to housing there are still a number of places who don’t have these policies. Even something as simple as using the public restroom is a privilege. It’s not uncommon for trans identities to endure verbal abuse and even arrest for using restrooms and facilities that align with their gender identity.

A while ago I was in a courthouse in Mason, Ohio where I was repeatedly referred to as mr. Jackson and I was told that I was no longer welcome to use the women’s restroom because the last time I did it caused an “uproar” and if I was seen entering the women’s restroom again when I came out there would be an officer waiting to arrest me. The woman then proceeded to inform me that if I wanted to use the women’s restroom I needed to have the “necessary surgeries and procedures to do so but that’s none of my business” she was right it wasn’t any of her business, but it was her way of checking me and putting me in my place while again making assumptions about my body. She wanted to let me know and reaffirm that my identity was not real and my womanhood was not valid. Not only did she violate my right as a human being to use the restroom in a safe non hostile space, but she purposely misgendered me using he and him pronouns and referring to me as mister. One of the biggest obstacles for many trans people is to live in a space where your identity is seen as true and your pronouns are respected. When you understand and respect someone’s identity and believe who they say they are pronouns all of a sudden become an easier idea to understand. The way that each trans individual deals with the incorrect use of pronouns varies but one thing is certain, it’s draining to repeatedly correct friends, family, and the public on appropriate pronoun usage.

Dating has been and continues to be one of the most challenging experiences for me. I am exclusively attracted to men, cis or trans, and dating cis men has proved to be a continuous learning experience. I often question if who I am dating understands me and my life. In certain ways I equate it being famous, can he handle the lime light, the paparazzi, the added attention, those who don’t wish you well? I question if he is prepared to learn and live his life openly as someone who loves a woman who happens to be trans. So many questions and thoughts run through your mind. When do I disclose my identity to him? Will this change the way he views me or the dynamic of our relationship? Does my identity cause him to question his sexual orientation? How does my trans identity compare to the cis identities that he has dated in the past? How do I evaluate of he genuinely likes me for my autI wanted to talk about a very expansive topic that actually could take days to discuss but I’m going to attempt to sum it up in one post; cisgender privilege. If you are cis and have been granted these benefits and privileges you shouldn’t be ashamed that you have them but rather understand that these benefits don’t come standard for trans people.

As a trans woman of color I battle against many different groups who hold privilege; male privilege that I
don’t have because I’m female, white privilege that I don’t have because I’m black and cis privilege that I don’t have because I’m trans. I believe that it’s important to take a step back and realize that your privilege doesn’t have anything to do with how you see yourself, but rather how society sees you. You may say you’ve worked hard to pay your way through college or that you don’t come from money or one of my personal favorites, “I don’t see color”, well that’s very sweet but guess what? Even if you choose not to acknowledge it the rest of the world does and it’s relevant.

One of the most irritating experiences for me is when I feel as if someone is trying to investigate my identity and give me their approval or denial of my womanhood. For cis people (generally) there is no investigation into your identity you are read and respected as who you claim to be. If you don’t blend as cis or appear to be the gender you identify as then you’re seen as a fraud or pretending to be something you aren’t. Furthermore there is this rigid understanding that “real” women only have vaginas or “real” mean only have penises and there is no exception to those normative standards and the only way to truly test your validity as a man, woman or non binary person is to ask about your genitals. This leads into another point, the frustration of people assuming that because I am a trans woman I must have a penis. I specifically remember a man telling me “just because I think you are beautiful and look like a ‘real’ woman you can’t think that I’d believe for one second that you actually have a vagina.” Needless to say I have never spoken to him again. Asking if someone is post- op or pre- op is NOT casual conversation it’s deeply personal information and is not necessary in order to get to know someone. The only people who know the physical details of my body are those whom I choose to share that information with, those who have seen me naked and those who I have sex with, which is the way it should be,my body is not public information or public property. Being cis, blending as cis or “passing” is a privilege that helps you avoid these questions and investigations of your identity.

Another very serious set of privileges cis identities do not have to consider is your gender identity playing a role in why you may not be able to acquire a job or lose your current one. In a majority of states across the country it is legal to be discriminated against (not be hired) because of your gender identity. You could also be denied housing because of your gender identity and while there are more housing acts and policies that are in place to protect against discrimination when it comes to housing there are still a number of places who don’t have these policies. Even something as simple as using the public restroom is a privilege. It’s not uncommon for trans identities to endure verbal abuse and even arrest for using restrooms and facilities that align with their gender identity.

A while ago I was in a courthouse in Mason, Ohio where I was repeatedly referred to as mr. Jackson and I was told that I was no longer welcome to use the women’s restroom because the last time I did it caused an “uproar” and if I was seen entering the women’s restroom again when I came out there would be an I officer waiting to arrest me. The woman then proceeded to inform me that if I wanted to use the women’s restroom I needed to have the “necessary surgeries and procedures to do so but that’s none of my business” she was right it wasn’t any of her business, but it was her way of checking me and putting me in my place while again making assumptions about my body. She wanted to let me know and reaffirm that my identity was not real and my womanhood was not valid. Not only did she violate my right as a human being to use the restroom in a safe non hostile space, but she purposely misgendered me using he and him pronouns and referring to me as mister. One of the biggest obstacles for many trans people is to live in a space where your identity is seen as true and your pronouns are respected. When you understand and respect someone’s identity and believe who they say they are pronouns all of a sudden become an easier idea to understand. The way that each trans individual deals with the incorrect use of pronouns varies but one thing is certain, it’s draining to repeatedly correct friends, family, and the public on appropriate pronoun usage.

Dating has been and continues to be one of the most challenging experiences for me. I am exclusively attracted to men, cis or trans, and dating cis men has proven to be a continuous learning experience. I often question if who I am dating understands me and my life. In certain ways I compare it being famous, can he handle the lime light, the paparazzi, the added attention, those who don’t wish you well? I question if he is prepared to learn and live his life openly as someone who loves a woman who happens to be trans. So many questions and thoughts run through your mind. When do I disclose my identity to him? Will this change the way he views me or the dynamic of our relationship? Does my identity cause him to question his sexual orientation? How does my trans identity compare to the cis identities that he has dated in the past? How do I evaluate if he genuinely likes me for my authentic self and not to fulfill a curiosity or fetish that he may have? These are the questions that circle my mind every time I date. As a woman and as a trans person it’s so difficult to walk around without a guard up. These are also the things that many cis identities don’t have the burden of thinking about but it’s the reality for myself and many other trans people every single day.
I believe all lives are equal but through the lens of society it is not always seen that way it’s important to recognize and appreciate the privilege you do have but also acknowledge that the world is not an even playing ground and access certain advantages or benefits that you didn’t even realize was an advantage or benefit are not equally attainable especially to the trans community.

Next topic: Body Image

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