Ed Team

The Non-Trans Privilege Checklist

Filed By Ed Team | October 26, 2006 1:16 AM | comments

Filed in: Transgender & Intersex
Tags: transgender

Since my previous post was promoting a talk given by a guy addressing the issue of white privilege, it got me thinking about gender privilege and I went hunting for this checklist that I recall being distributed at a conference I went to a few years back. Check it out. It really helped me to understand trans identity and experience better when I started to realize my own non-trans (cisgendered) privilege.

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* men-born-men or women-born-women only. (*basically anything involving nudity)

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* repurcussions 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 tokenized 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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Melissa Williams | October 26, 2006 6:44 AM

I make this comment fearful that no matter what I say, it will be gender priveleged. Even in the face of all the issues mentioned above, in a world that is pretty ignorant about these issues, don't trans people have an obligation to speak out/speak up if they want to be seen on their own terms? I understand not wanting to "out" yourself, because I "pass" as straight all the time, but if trans people are not loud advocates for themselves, then others will take liberties to make unfair and erroneous conclusions about their life choices. I understand that I may be completely unaware of what it feels like to fear stigmatization or even physical harm for my choices. Please share with me your experiences. I am at the table.

Recognizing privilege in ourselves (in the many forms it comes in) is helpful to understand the experiences of others. I did not post this message to batter people with it, so no fear is necessary in discussing/responding to it. Rather I posted it because it helped me, a non-trans person, to work on my own baggage regarding gender and it helped me to recognize some of the screwed up crap I and others do to trans people.

I'm also bisexual (for lack of a better term). I think that some of the privilege in this checklist crosses into the exclusively-attracted-to-one-gendered community as well. Those of us whose attractions transcend gender can actually relate to some of the items on this checklist from the other side too I think.

I'm confused about your response indicating that despite the items on the checklist, trans folks having an obligation to speak out. Is it your experience that trans folks are all closeted? My experience is different in this area.

I intended this post to help the rest of us reflect and grow in understanding rather than lay the burden at the feet of trans people to educate us.

For those interested in educating themselves, consider attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) on November 18th.

And then consider coming to an INTRAA meeting to meet with trans and allied advocates who are working to change the world so that memorials like TDOR will become obselete.

We are a fun-loving, vibrant group. More info at: http://www.intraa.org/

I whole heartedly endorse brylo's description of INTRAA. I know of no better company. I look forward to our meetings every month. Also please come to the Reel Gender screenings once a month . You can learn a lot about yourself from the films we show. The discussions are illuminating and the fellowship warming. You will also learn about trans people and be confused; it is good for you.