The bed of roses isn’t

A blogger drew up a Cis Privilege Checklist in 2007. I took a look. I was unsurprised to find that I disagreed with much of it. Some of it I don’t agree is really privilege, but that doesn’t matter much. The part that does matter, I think, is the radical simplification and absolutism about what “cis” people experience. It’s another version of that yes or no thing I made such a point of refusing last summer. It’s profoundly wrong.

Like –

6. Clothing works for me, more or less.

  1. I am a size and shape for which clothes I feel comfortable wearing are commonly made
  2. There are clothes designed with bodies like mine in mind.
  3. If I am unable to find clothing that fits me well, I will still feel safe, and recognizable as my gender
  4. If I have a restriction on what clothing I will buy (e.g. vegan, allergy, non sweatshop), I can expect that specialty stores will have them in my size/shape.

No. Not at all. That’s never been my experience of clothes. It doesn’t worry me much now but that’s because I’ve been able to arrange my life so that I don’t have to show up in a workplace every day looking normal. And people can and do feel unsafe for a million reasons that have nothing to do with clothes – and for plenty of reasons that do have to do with clothes but have nothing to do with being “cis.”

9. Perception/acceptance of my gender is generally independent of:

  1. Anything mentioned in 8.*
  2. My clothing choices, how my clothing fits
  3. My adherence to traditional roles of my gender (both “too much” and “too little”)
  4. Holding sexist, sex-negative, or rape-culture beliefs
  5. Holding feminist or sex-positive beliefs
  6. My sexual choices/desires
    1. With whom? (gender, number)
    2. Frequency
    3. Circumstance (marriage, love, one-night-stand)
    4. What (e.g. penetrating/enveloping, fetishes, dominance)
  7. Being assertive, aggressive, or passive
  8. Being in a position of power
  9. Being intellectual or not
  10. My dietary habits
  11. My weight
  12. My height
  13. My occupation
  14. My musical taste
  15. My hairstyle
  16. My hobbies
  17. Wanting gendered things/actions labeled “immature” or “childish”
  18. Whether or not I have had a specific medical procedure

No, no, no, no, no. Not at all. Perception and acceptance of everyone’s gender is far from independent of all those things except the last one. It’s true that most cis people mostly don’t have to clarify what sex they are, but it’s not true that they’re all always free of criticism for how well or badly they fulfill their duties to their gender. I get that it’s far sharper and more intrusive and often more dangerous for trans people; I don’t dispute that. But the fact that it’s worse for trans people does not mean that it’s non-existent for cis people.

16. Commonly used terminology that differentiates my gender from other genders/sexes implies that I am normal, and that I have unquestionable right to the gender/sex I identify with. The implications these terms make about my gender, my body, my sex, my biology, and my past are all acceptable to me.

No. Absolutely not.

22. My gender is acknowledged universally, immediately, and without hesitation

  1. My birth certificate, drivers’ license, social security card, etc are correct from the moment I get them.
  2. I have no need to establish that I am a different gender than someone already thinks I am.
  3. I lived my childhood in a gender that felt appropriate for me at the time, and still does. I lived my childhood in the gender that I want to have lived it in.
    1. I was trained into whatever gender was appropriate for me, and so I am prepared to live in my current gender, without having to go back and learn vital skills I was not taught when I was young.
    2. I experienced puberty, and being an immature girl/boy, at a time in my life when there were allowances for puberty and immaturity.
  4. My preferences for my gender have been honored my whole life, by my doctor, my parents, my teachers, my professors, my relatives, my classmates, my bosses, etc., except before I was able to state preferences, when I was forced to adopt the gender which I now inhabit.

Oh, no, no, no, no. 1 is ok, 2 is ok-ish, but after that, it’s complete nonsense. No, my gender did not “feel appropriate for me at the time” and no it doesn’t still. Every time I turn the damn tv on I’m made aware that I’m not “a woman” as the world of tv-makers understands women. That idea of what “a woman” is has never, ever, ever “felt appropriate” to me. Aha! says the alert privilege-spotter – so you’re trans then, you just won’t admit it. No, I’m not – I’m not “a man” either. Ok then you’re non-binary.

But in that sense maybe everybody is non-binary. Or the vast majority of people. Or well over half. Or half, or a substantial fraction. We don’t know. But it’s complete bullshit to claim that everyone who isn’t trans is described by that list under 22. It’s a mistake to think that everyone who doesn’t have your particular complication or difficulty or disadvantage is therefore wallowing in bliss and perfection. Life isn’t like that, and most people aren’t like that.

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