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Cross-post: Cisgender Privilege List

15 Dec
I found this laying around the office the other day, and was deeply moved by it. I think it’s worth a read and a discussion.. Can you think of any other cis privileges that come to mind?

Cisgender Privilege List


From Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

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. (*possibly 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 safe and accessible bathroom or locker room to use.
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” space or movement, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual people will not try to exclude me from our movements 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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Concept Introduction: Bisexuality and Beyond

31 Oct

In this blog post, I hope to introduce some terminology to describe sexualities beyond heterosexual and homosexual. If I miss a term you have heard or identify with, or define something slightly differently than how you may view it, please comment with your opinions, and add your voice to the conversation!

Bisexuality: Kinsey was one of the first few researchers to suggest that sexualities beyond homosexual and heterosexual may exist, with his development of the Kinsey Scale. According to this scale, people may be anywhere from entirely attracted to one gender or another, to attracted by certain degrees to different genders. Some people suggest that bisexuality is only true bisexuality if somebody is equally attracted to both genders. Others contest the use of the term bisexual, because the prefix bi- indicates a gender binary, and is only inclusive of male-identified and female-identified persons and attractions.

Pansexual/Omnisexual/Polysexual: These three terms are frequently used interchangeably to mean similar ideas. Pansexuals often reject the gender binary, opening their romantic and sexual attraction to individuals of all gender identities and expressions. A pansexual individual may root their attractions in qualities other than gender and genitals. For example, as a pansexual, I may say, “I am attracted to kindhearted, long haired, nontraditional individuals that enjoy cooking, are curious and adventurous, and are avid communicators.” These qualities exist outside of gender.

PoMosexual: This label is short for Post Modernist Sexuality. It springs from a kind of rebellion against community labels that come with a set of expectations of dress, behavior, or attraction. It is essentially a label that rejects labels, embracing a sexual orientation and identity that is dynamic, fluid, and evolving. This suggests that the qualities and gender identities somebody is attracted to may shift and change throughout life stages, and labels are not inclusive of the diversity of romantic and sexual attraction people may feel throughout their lives.

Heteroflexible/Homoflexible: This term may be used to refer to people who are primarily attracted to one gender, but find a partner or partners of the other gender that they are attracted to romantically, and/or for specific sex acts. This may be a general relationship kind of attraction, or only exist in certain contexts.

Despite over 50 years of social discourse about the possibility of individuals identifying as something other than heterosexual or homosexual, it still remains a contested identity in many circles. Bisexual individuals may be viewed as closet homosexuals reluctant to give up hetero privilege, heterosexuals experimenting for fun or to attract a lover of the opposite sex, confused, greedy, or over-sexed. Media representations of bisexual individuals often feed these stereotypes.

I would like to challenge tendency to develop labels and stereotypes that trap and constrain. I think, especially within the queer community, it is important that we are able to celebrate all experiences of sexual and romantic attraction and affection, and not discount any group for failing to stringently adhere to one definition or another. Individuals should not need to put their identity on trial every time they experience attraction outside of the label society has come to accept for them, nor should ones past attractions dictate the future of their romantic endeavors.

Storytime: Identity Assumptions for Advocates

20 Oct

Funny thing about being a radical sexual pluralist and sex positive activist. A lot of assumptions seem to be made about who I am, what I do, and how my body and sexuality are designed. Granted, we all have assumptions made about us on a regular basis, based on how we dress, act, look, or some other arbitrary feature. But I’ve noticed that when I am verbally in support of a group of people that one cannot immediately tell whether or not I am a part of, I am assumed to be a part of that group- because why else would I care?

Nobody has ever mistaken me for a gay leather man, or a nice young pair of men looking to adopt, even though these are lifestyles I vocally support. Of course, you can look at me and tell that I seem to be presenting to the world as a woman, and thus (probably) don’t identify as a gay man (the funny thing here is that, on some days, I do!). However, you can’t look at me and tell if I’m a trans woman, HIV positive, polyamorous, kinky, a sex worker, a Domme, a submissive, a sexual assault survivor, a lesbian, or queer. I am some of those identities, and I am not some of those identities. As I say to strangers who ask me directly: That’s between me and my partner(s), thank you.

I think it’s curious that when I do not immediately confirm or deny association (it feels very strange to say “I advocate for the rights of ____! But, oh, no, of course I’m not ____.”), the assumption is made that I clearly care because I am a part of that minority. I think it speaks to the second, invisible assumption: Who would care but members of that minority?

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Stop the butch bashing: Why her gender expression isn’t any of your damn business

13 Oct

Today’s guest post is by a Northwestern University Graduate Student Helen.

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You wouldn’t know it from looking at me now, but I used to be the kind of queer who basically had a big neon sign over her head shouting “GAAAAY.” I had a pixie cut, sported lots of spiky earrings and wore cargo pants and men’s t-shirts or button-downs most days. I stomped around in work boots and wouldn’t touch makeup. It wasn’t really surprising that most people surmised my sexuality before I finally crept out of the closet.

I feel like preferring boxers to lingerie is ingrained in my DNA, just like my hair color or the fluorescent paleness of my skin. I was only three or four when I begged my mom to buy me my first tie (bright red, clip-on) while we were shopping at a department store. Growing up, I ran around clad in my older brother’s hand-me-downs, army vests that reached my knees and t-shirts that swallowed up my small torso. I was all skinned knees and gritty palms, climbing trees and orchestrating Nerf gun wars with the boys who lived in my neighborhood. I was happy. I was myself.

Then I hit puberty, and it suddenly became very clear that I was doing this being a girl thing all wrong. I can’t count how many times people called me ugly. Women and girls mostly whispered it behind my back, but boys and men had no problem saying it clearly within earshot or right to my face. In middle and high school, boys goaded their friends into pretending to ask me out. I was always painfully aware of the set-up and promptly told them to fuck off when they approached me, their friends gathered in a sniggering group behind them. I can’t say it didn’t sting a little, though. “Of course I wouldn’t really ask you out. Ugly dyke.”

I wish I could say that having people label me freakish and repulsive over and over again didn’t have any effect on my self-esteem. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the emotional fortitude at ages 14 through 19 to withstand that barrage of cutting comments unscathed. I’d be lying if I said getting told I was unattractive on a regular basis—and feeling ugly as a result—wasn’t part of the reason I decided to start growing my hair out and wearing eyeliner a couple of years ago. I don’t get called ugly anymore, but I still don’t feel attractive. That damage is done.

Next time you see a butch girl and you’re about to scrunch up your nose and call her gross, stop. It’s not her job to cater to your erotic preferences. Remember, ugly is subjective. Some people (like me) find masculine women sexy. So, don’t be that asshole. Stop the butch bashing.