Cis Privilege Checklist


Since I have a good number of people visiting the site who don’t otherwise know trans women outside of porn, I think the following can be helpful to understand some of the issues that we face. I think that most people know stuff is hard for us, but they seem to think that we have this magic moment where we “pass” and all of the trouble evaporates. Like the “struggle” is purely internal and once the emotional/physical issues are managed everything becomes smooth sailing.

This is a list of things that Cis (Non-Trans) people take for granted that impact daily on the lives of trans men and women. The list below comes from here along with a longer updated version found here.

  1. Strangers don’t assume they can ask me what my genitals look like and how I have sex.
  2. My validity as a man/woman/human is not based upon how much surgery I’ve had or how well I “pass” as a non-Trans person.
  3. When initiating sex with someone, I do not have to worry that they won’t be able to deal with my parts or that having sex with me will cause my partner to question his or her own sexual orientation.
  4. I am not excluded from events which are either explicitly or de facto[2] men-born-men or women-born-women only.
  5. My politics are not questioned based on the choices I make with regard to my body.
  6. I don’t have to hear “so have you had THE surgery?” or “oh, so you’re REALLY a [incorrect sex or gender]?” each time I come out to someone.
  7. I am not expected to constantly defend my medical decisions.
  8. Strangers do not ask me what my “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call me by that name.
  9. People do not disrespect me by using incorrect pronouns even after they’ve been corrected.
  10. I do not have to worry that someone wants to be my friend or have sex with me in order to prove his or her “hipness” or good politics.
  11. I do not have to worry about whether I will be able to find a bathroom to use or whether I will be safe changing in a locker room.
  12. When engaging in political action, I do not have to worry about the gendered repercussions of being arrested. (i.e. what will happen to me if the cops find out that my genitals do not match my gendered appearance? Will I end up in a cell with people of my own gender?)
  13. I do not have to defend my right to be a part of “Queer” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude me from OUR movement in order to gain political legitimacy for themselves.
  14. My experience of gender (or gendered spaces) is not viewed as “baggage” by others of the gender in which I live.
  15. I do not have to choose between either invisibility (“passing”) or being consistently “othered” and/or tokenised based on my gender.
  16. I am not told that my sexual orientation and gender identity are mutually exclusive.
  17. When I go to the gym or a public pool, I can use the showers.
  18. If I end up in the emergency room, I do not have to worry that my gender will keep me from receiving appropriate treatment nor will all of my medical issues be seen as a product of my gender. (“Your nose is running and your throat hurts? Must be due to the hormones!”)
  19. My health insurance provider (or public health system) does not specifically exclude me from receiving benefits or treatments available to others because of my gender.
  20. When I express my internal identities in my daily life, I am not considered “mentally ill” by the medical establishment.
  21. I am not required to undergo extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
  22. The medical establishment does not serve as a “gatekeeper” which disallows self-determination of what happens to my body.
  23. People do not use me as a scapegoat for their own unresolved gender issues.
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~ by laughriotgirl on October 25, 2009.

6 Responses to “Cis Privilege Checklist”

  1. It’s a sad comment on our world where trans folks have to demand these rights instead of automatically being granted them. Everything you have listed contributes to the dignity of a person and yet so many want to take away your dignity. Some of the issues that you bring up (such as, but not limited to, the first ten points) are common sense, but it shows how little common sense some people have when it has to be spelled out for them. Other points (such as for example access to bathrooms, freedom to use the proper change rooms, medical treatment and information) unfortunately will have to be legislated. Even then I’m afraid that it will be a continual struggle.

    I will never know what it is like to experience what transwomen and transmen go through every day. I can try to understand and I can empathize, but most importantly I must try harder to work for change. If we are to progress as a society we must all work towards that goal. Being a neophyte to working for social change and acceptance I would gladly accept advice on what I can do.

    • Jim,

      These aren’t so much “rights” as they are things that just happen invisibly for non-trans people. Stuff that gets taken for granted and not even thought about. This isn’t to say that some things couldn’t be improved with legislation – but that too is part of the issue. None of these things had to be legislated for non-trans folks – they just happen (or don’t).

      I guess one could say that not having to get a law passed to be able to take a pee at the mall is another privilege.

  2. This is totally spot on.
    It reminds me a little of Julia serrano’s writings.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Sliver Party, Anne Marte. Anne Marte said: Cis privilege checklist: http://bit.ly/91uWlr […]

  4. This would be so funny if it wasn’t so annoyingly true. I know I have to work to keep my mouth shut around my trans-friends because otherwise I would do all of this all the time.
    I wonder what it is that causes this strange behaviour? Low respect for others privacy probably.

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