White. Educated. Middle class. Employed. Christian. American. Cisgender. Male. Heterosexual. Those are all privileges I’ve enjoyed at one point in my life or another. And there are privileges I never enjoyed– I was never very masculine so I did not receive cisgender and heterosexual privileges from my peers. Instead, I got teased for being a faggot. There are probably hundreds of blogs on the internet where people are bitching about their crappy childhoods, so I doubt that is particularly shocking, and besides, I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to say “oh, poor me,” because I’m not.

I bring that up because I think everyone wonders what life might be like if things had been different; among trans people, everyone always asks one another some variant of the following question: if you could take a magic pill and wake up tomorrow, and the GID would be gone, completely erased, and you never experienced it, and you could be a happy cisgender boy, would you do it? A lot of us—being trans as children, growing up and not knowing we could do anything about it, dealing with the depression and the misery—would love to erase large portions of our pasts, but when you really start thinking about what that would mean, the magic pill is really just another form of suicide, it’s another way of killing myself, but pretending that I’m doing something good instead.

When I think about how different my life (and as a result, I) might have been had I never had GID, I shudder to think about what an asshole I might be. If there was no check to my privilege, nothing I lacked, would I just walk all over everyone? How could that even remotely be a good thing? Now that I’ve spent some time in a transgender identity, I realize I’d rather be trans and be permanently regarded as less-than rather than take my place as the asshole I didn’t become.

I recently got involved in a discussion elsewhere about whether MtF trans people are recipients of male privilege. Most trans women used to benefit from male privilege, but they probably don’t anymore, assuming they have transitioned at least partway. I mean to say that if you have a woman’s name, and your driver’s license says that you’re female, and you sound like a female when you’re speaking on the phone, and people call you ma’am more than they call you sir, you probably don’t benefit from male privilege anymore.

A trans woman can still benefit from the effects of male privilege she received earlier in life: as a male she may have received additional help or encouragement in science and math while in school; been encouraged to be more athletic, which may have helped earn a college scholarship. On the job, she’d probably earn 20% more than her fellow cisgender female alumni , and she’d probably stay at least that far ahead every year until transition. In fact, even after transition, she’d probably still be ahead of their cisgender female colleagues.

Despite the accumulated benefits of male privilege that many of us enjoy, we do not receive that preferential treatment any longer—trans women are often treated as less than second class citizens. The fact that we used to be treated like human beings and now get treated like less than animals makes us very interested in fighting back, especially through women’s and gay rights groups. The unfortunate part is that cis women tend to forget they have very natural allies in us, forgetting that their struggle has becomes ours, as well. We will never have it as tough as they do because of the male privilege we’ve already accumulated, but we do understand something about the here and now. One of our strengths, if we want to call it that, is that we’ve experienced firsthand how people get treated on both sides of the gender divide, and we know that it’s bullshit. I do not, for example, consider myself to be a second class citizen. In that sense, I am a feminist: as a woman, I am not worth less than I was as a man, and I resent the implication that a person is somehow more or less valuable simply because of their sex.

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