[Note: Cisgender (adj). - 1. to describe those who identify with their biological sex, and (a simplified definition) 2. not transgender.]
As a white woman I have white privilege.As a cisgender woman, I have cisgender privilege.
I know the issues are both very different, but for me it is helpful to connect the two in my mind to help guide how I educate myself and how I react in situations. I didn't want to try and tackle cisgender privilege all in one blog post-so I'm starting this off with a part I that focuses on general privilege in my experience.
Privilege is an uncomfortable issue. (I'm interested to see how people respond to this post.)
It's so natural to be defensive and even in fact, actively defensive in order to pretend that privilege doesn't exist. As a white woman, I will be the first to say that many white people constantly create fabrications or remain oblivious (myself included) to mitigate this guilt. "Reverse racism" and "post-racial" society are both false terms that help mitigate white guilt about privilege; even though there is no such thing as "post-racial" anything and reverse racism can't exist, these terms are totally popular even among the most liberal and progressive circles.
Instead of defensiveness with privilege, developing myself as an ally was a better reaction to start forming in the past few years. Below is a combined summary of blogs (citation below) I've read lately. The first is a list of some possible traits of a white anti-racist ally that I particularly liked as I've read them online recently The second is using this first list as a good starting point to think of cisgender privilege/being a trans ally:
Qualities of a White Anti-Racist Ally:
1. "Is responsible for self-education about privilege, racism, and oppression; does not expect people of color to always teach them."
2. "Does not require people of color to prove the truth of their racial experiences or injuries."
3. "Responds to racist statements even when a person of color is not present or does not object."
4. Does not expect recognition or gratitude; addresses racism because it is personally offensive.
5. Recognizes that allies will always fail, and when they do should remain non-defensive, apologize, correct (if possible) and self-educate (see #1).
6. Recognizes that their other minority identities don't erase their white privilege. (And to quote another tumblr article, "do you think white privilege is ever erased, period?")
7. Recognizes their white privilege and actively works to maintain that awareness and act in response.
For me thinking about ways to be a white anti-racist ally is a good starting point for being a better cisgender ally, which I have only begun to seriously consider this year. Here it is modified a bit for possible qualities of a transgender ally:
Qualities of a Transgender Ally:
1. "Is responsible for their own self-education on transgender topics and does not expect transgender people to teach them."
-I've heard trangender friends tell me that they recieve questions about extremely personal and sensitive topics, like genitalia; it can't be the responsibility of the minority individual to constantly educate those with a privilege status.
2. "Does not require transgender inidivudals to "prove" their transgender identity."
3. "Responds to transphobic statements even when a transgender person is not present or does not object."
- Including using correct pronouns (which I will be the first to admit that I have definitely failed at sometimes), including when the transgender person isn't there, etc.
4. "Does not expect recognition or gratitude; addresses transphobia because it is personally offensive."
5. "Recognizes that allies will always fail, and when they do should remain non-defensive, apologize, correct (if possible) and self-educate (see #1)."
6. Recognizes that their other minority identities don't somehow "erase" their cisgender privilege.
-I think this one is so crucial. I can't tell express how many white gay men dominate entire conversations, never listen/acknowledge women or people of color, only to claim they are "feminist!" or "progressive!" or "gay!" and therefore able to erase the possibility of being an "-ist".
7. Recognizes their cisgender privilege and actively works to maintain that awareness and act in response.
I know this is only a brief list and that it also might be common or first-hand knowledge to many reading this blog, but I hope it sparks dialogue and that others feel comfortable adding to the list with experiences (as identifying with or being an ally of either community). I'm constantly blown away by how little I've known for such a long period of time when it comes to confronting privilege, and I'd be excited to hear what everyone else thinks about ways to recognize privilege and becoming better allies.