Loving this blog – The Fallacy of “cis privilege”
I agree and disagree with this blog in a lot of ways. My gender exploration has lead me to believe that in actuality gender in itself is oppressive, regardless of trans or cis. The entire system of gender roles and what it represents is oppressive, which leads to the undesired power over people, a lacking of personal expression, and expectations that lead many very young people to lack self knowledge.
Let’s start with the male gender role. Males are expected to keep their emotions to themselves and crying is shameful. Outward sexual expression is expected, regardless of their orientation. Those in the male gender box are usually expected to use tools, fix things, do heavy labor, protect their loved ones, be the hero, and be strong regardless of body composition. Blue and dark colors are expected as well as what might be classified as a male haircut. There are many other things but when you first think of that box that is what you find. I have had many conversations with gender outlaw type men that agree that they are expected to control their lovers in some way, they are expected to be in control, but in a lot of cases they have no desire. For this they are seen as weak.
Then when you get into the female box women are expected to speak less, clean and cook, take care of children, be sensitive, withhold sex or at least not enjoy it, wear dresses – pink – light colors, caretakers, over emotional, among a lot of other unspoken ideas about what it means to be a woman. Women of course are also expected to “take care of their husbands” which often implies having sex with them even if they don’t feel like it. Also, women are still paid less for the same jobs because men are seen as better assets to a company because of their lack of responsibility for the children they help produce. Men are less likely to take care of newborns, it seems to be expected of a mother. Many roles that keep women under the control of men are still withheld in our world.
Then we add transpeople to the mix whom, once they transition fully, they are “passable” – So the passable transpeople simply move into another box of gender roles and oppression, depending on which way they went. Sure there is some judgement about them and so on, if people know about it. Interestingly most transpeople, after transitioning, stop identifying as trans at all because they have completed the transition and no longer want that label. The point of fully transitioning is to get a sex change…. in most cases.
When a child is born the first question we ask is, is it a boy or a girl? Gender Roles really mess us up as children because we teach children what they are supposed to like or not supposed to like. We tell them what kinds of jobs are appropriate for them when they grow up, we tell boys not to cry, we tell girls to not get dirty, we tell boys to not wear pink, we don’t support the learning of tools and money management among our girls, along with tons of other things that force our children into gender roles. Then we are thrown into life as adults and can’t understand why 25 year olds don’t know themselves. We are not encouraged to be ourselves as children we are encouraged to fill a gender role, usually along with some other social roles. We could save a lot of heartache if we encouraged our children to be themselves and to fully embrace who they are at a very young age.
I realize there are some of us out there that either don’t choose to take hormones or surgery for personal reasons of all kinds. I found that most of those folks are not big fans of gender roles or the clearly binary terms of it. Why must we move into one box or the other? One of the greatest conversations I enjoy having with transwomen is how they had to “step down” in society to be accepted as a woman. Literally they had to change how they look at people and how they stand to be more submissive or it might trigger someone to think they were raised as male. Transmen also talk about how suddenly they were excused from chores and expected to move heavy items and carry things for women. SImply their oppression changed from one box to another. Fascinating how they rarely talk about the emotional oppression of men, but I noticed it when I became more butch. If I was emotionally sensitive I found that it was seen as feminine and I challenge this idea. Everyone has emotions and I think oppressing anyone’s emotions leads to an unhealthy emotional landscape and could be classified as abuse.
So as a gender outlaw, gender bender, or drag person I notice that gender roles are based on how you appear to people. When I am dressed as a male certain behaviors are expected from me including crude sexuality and even aggressiveness. Women encourage this behavior even though they claim to dislike it. They also oppress emotions just as much as other men and again claim to dislike their male lovers that hold back their emotions. Gender roles are disliked by most of us but encouraged by many of us.
I even find myself doing it at times and make serious efforts at completely removing gender roles from my life and relationships. I love romance and don’t mind being the creator for it, infact I prefer to create romance in my relationships. But my lovers will witness me cry and have emotions, just like the rest of us. I love to be a caretaker for my loved ones including caring for them when their sick and also carrying heavy things for them… simply because I CAN! But I won’t always open doors and stuff – just because I don’t think of it. I might if I take her out on a date. I will not always assume any male or female role but often I tend towards what would be defined as masculinity.
Now referring to priviledge I would have to say that those that choose the binary, cisgender and transgender people alike, are certainly priviledged. No one questions them if they fit into the gender box they are assigned, they are seen to be just like everyone else. At work I am judged because of my shaved head mixed with my flowery scrubs. People will say to me “So do you like to be called a boy or a girl?” When I tell them I am both they claim to be confused and I then get into how confused I am with gender roles. Why does it matter? I am stared at, given funny looks, and assumed to be a pervert because of my gender bending. I am still confused as to why gender bender = pervert. There are some people that like to eat whipped cream off their lovers, we don’t see whipped cream as perverted! This assumption of perverted tells me one thing about the one imposing that assumption on a gender bender, they have oppressed sexual fantasies involving some sort of gender outlaw. Whether its them bending or being with someone else. We all know that when you oppress something in every day life it comes out in the bedroom, everytime!
So in the end who is privileged? Well that might require a look at defining privilege because although people may look at me funny I wouldn’t choose the binary for any price!