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Cis or gender. What’s Your Privilege?

Transphobia is not about an academic term, it is about the reality of living in a country where you can’t even guarantee your doctor will speak to you like a human being, and where the risk of violence is the norm.

High heeled shoe

Cis as a word sounds like a cleaning product and has never been heard by most.

It means the privilege of being born with the gender you are, and is shouted by those privileged with the ability to assert their gender and sexuality outside patriarchal control at all. Shouting it as an insult is just a way to assert your own privilege, the privilege of the knowledge you hold. Unless you are a trans woman it makes you sound like an arse.

White privilege I can assume. Class privilege I can assume. Male privilege I can assume. Cis women’s privilege I cannot, and if all you can do to assist trans women in fighting for acceptance is to use that term as an excuse to further subjugate born women, then you are an idiot.

control over women is held by patriarchal violence

 

 

Fluid transition through gender requires equality to have been achieved, the numpties on the internet shouting ‘Cis women’s privilege!’ show a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be a woman on earth in 2013 for most women. In a society where control over women is held by patriarchal violence, there will be women who find it difficult to recognise and immediately accept someone who to them has made a choice, but who was a man.

This is not the fault of any trans woman, but then it is not a problem of ‘Cis privilege’ either. I have been accused of rampant transphobia. Turns out I mixed up the little-known academic terms ‘Cis Privilege’ and ‘Gender privilege’.

Something I was happy to remedy quickly, because I know I am wrong a lot. The person who accused me of transphobia, consistently reinforced this misunderstanding, telling me ALL women were privileged over ALL trans people, and when I pointed out this was clearly not true or representative of the reality of womanhood on this planet, she laid into me.

The problem with this incident was, that my misunderstanding of this one little-known academic term had actually upset someone I value a great deal, and I wanted to talk to her about it. And find out why, and apologise if necessary. I am an adult and consider this woman to be a voice I value, not because she is a trans woman and I want her as a badge in my right-on collection, but because she is smart and intelligent and very kind.

I was told by a snotnosed privileged academic young feminist I was a raving transphobe and I was to leave my poor friend alone. She then went on to explain that women who were born women ALL enjoyed privilege over trans women. She was talking nonsense and she was also talking about gender privilege, even if she was using the word ‘Cis’. She accused me of making a differentiation between trans women and those who were born women, when the distinction was hers and the birth is just a fact.

My misunderstanding of the word Cis Privilege, came from the fact this word is not an accusation, it is not a perjorative, it is not even an assumption that Cis privilege manifests itself in any way, or is a minimisation of the reality for women on this planet. My misunderstanding was gained entirely by seeing it used to bully, and to give the fringes of our online radical political culture an excuse to shout at women.

ownership of their genitals does not exist for all or most women in our society

The reality is that basic choice and even ownership of their genitals does not exist for all or most women in our society, globally or nationally. Her misunderstanding was that all Cis women enjoy the privilege she does, mine was of an academic term she learned in the course of HER education. The privilege she enjoys is not even enjoyed by the majority of women, and won’t even be enjoyed by her peers once they procreate, unless they are independently wealthy.

Transphobia, homophobia, is not a misunderstanding of an academic term. These are not academic things. No-one is looking for another vanguard of young, blinkered, academic bullies to fight for equality on our behalf. Feminism failed because elitism, often academic, took it out of the hands of women and women’s lives. Trans women, or not. And made it an academic pursuit dominated by the views of women who think choice is the norm.

Feminism failed because elitism, often academic, took it out of the hands of women

The constant whining of ‘privilege’ is grating, the only purpose for this term is address your own or to address someone else’s that affects you. It is not a weapon for snotnosed postgrads to abuse people with at will. That is not feminism or fighting transphobia, it’s using a privilege you hold to dictate what other people should think and say, and using your academic advantage to excuse your bullying.

Transphobia is not about an academic term, it is about the reality of living in a country where you can’t even guarantee your doctor will speak to you like a human being, and where the risk of violence is the norm. And it is not the privilege of women born that way which created transphobia. That’s patriarchy.

We live in a country where you cannot even assume the woman you are speaking to has choice in her own life and autonomy over her own decisions, and no feminism that will ever succeed will involve shouting at those women demanding they recognise a privilege they do not hold.

One Reply to “Cis or gender. What’s Your Privilege?”

  1. Avatar Thomas Hardly says:

    Fantastic article. All too often we make collateral enemies in the struggle to assert our own independence rather than seeing the larger issues like ‘choice’ aren’t universal. Though I wonder whether we can’t still argue to local and remain in solidarity with wider struggles for choice and autonomy.

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