Rather beautifully put, I thought. Though I do tend to find that referring to things as hetero-privilege, or cis-privilege, white-privilege is often a bit short sighted. I’m not sure it’s a privilege to not always think things through properly or to simply be unaware of an issue or to not be able to quite wrap your head around it.
An example — my own editor is, psychologically, quite androgynous despite identifying as female and as such can at times be rather confused about things that matter to cis-men or cis-women alike around her and some aspects of transgenderism don’t quite … click … for her without a little hand-holding and analogy to help her fathom whatever concept is in question. She’s not suffering from this disease of cis-privilege, there’s room to even debate if she is or is not cis for one thing, she just doesn’t understand because it’s not her issue. She’s bisexual and her issues are not those of the homosexual nor the heterosexual people around her and just as those trans and cis friends of hers must explain things to her, she in turn must explain her androgyny or bisexuality to them. Do they, then, suffer trans-privilege or homo-privilege in addition to the others purportedly possessed of cis and hetero privileges?
This isn’t to say that there isn’t some privilege extended to men, to cisgendered of either side of the binary, to heterosexuals. This is rarely anything that can be helped by the individual, only by society and its expectations. This is the man being, perhaps, more likely to get a job. The white person who isn’t watched by security as closely in the department store. The person dressed in a fashion that suggests wealth being treated with greater deference than the one who, by their clothes, may well be poor. The cisgender who is taken more seriously at work and who is never asked to go to a special restroom at their job or asked for ID by some zealous clerk when taking a pee in some public facility. Cis and straight, regardless of race, are not denied their basic civil rights by any country in the western world that I can think of. That is privilege.
Still, regardless my pet-peeve on the overuse of ‘privilege’ in our language these days, this post makes a fantastic point: If you cannot accept a trans-woman as a lesbian or a trans-man as gay then you are being a) quite sexist and/or b) you are saying that this person whose sex and gender simply do not match is not who and what they say they are. Are we so insecure in our own gender-identities, are we so ashamed or proud of our sex and our sexuality, that we should deny others their right to be who and what God made them?
Friday, May 11, 2012
Cis Lesbian Dismissal of Trans Lesbians, and Why it’s Wrong
Ying posed the following scenario/question: “Recently, I heard a lesbian woman comment about a trans woman (who happens to be a lesbian). She said the transwoman was not “really” a lesbian like she was. It was upsetting to me. No one can define another person’s identity, right? It seemed so petty, too. What skin is it off her nose anyway? What are your thoughts on people not accepting a trans person’s sexual orientation as being valid?”
Something to consider is going into this is that even though many of the LGB portion of our acronym are supportive and allies, that makes them no less cisgender. Just like any non-LGB person, they’re acting from a position of cis privilege, and don’t understand the implications of their actions, because, frankly, they don’t have to think about it much. We pop up once in a while, in a single circumstance here or there, and that’s generally the extent of it. And while they’re our allies for political purposes, I’ve come to find in my experience that LGB people are often woefully ignorant of the issues of the transgender community they support. Which is no surprise, really: We’re a vastly smaller group, a minority within our lgbt minority, so appropriately less time is spent on issues relating to us. (Just a shout-out to the LGBTU student group at The University of Akron, as they break this trend and give trans issues a much larger chunk of the spotlight than we deserve by population, because they’ve recognized the importance of these topics. Well done on them)
So what does this mean for the lesbian in question? Well, she’s invalidating our trans lesbian’s identity, plain and simple. By saying she’s not ‘really’ a lesbian, she’s implying an awful lot, and none of it is good. First and foremost, let’s go ahead and define “Lesbian”: a lesbian is a woman* who is attracted exclusively to other women*. Pretty simple definition, right? Well the two key elements are “Woman” and “Attracted exclusively to other women”. By saying she’s ‘not really a lesbian’ she has to be excluding our trans lesbian from one of the two criteria: and since, presumably, the trans lesbian has been with, or is currently with another woman, and has shown no interest in men, we can assume that ‘Attracted to other women’ is true. This means the only remaining conflict is in fact, our trans lesbian’s womanhood. There’s no other way around it. (Continues here)
- Accepting Transgender People as People (jaggedfoundation.wordpress.com)
- 57 genders (and none for me)? Reflections on the new facebook gender categories (rewritingtherules.wordpress.com)
- Trans Feminism: There’s No Conundrum About It (deludedserano.wordpress.com)
- What does “CIS” gender mean? #lgbt #trans #educateyourself (kchapmangibbons.wordpress.com)
- Post the Hundred and Twenty-Ninth: Transgender Day Of Remembrance (paisleyglen.wordpress.com)