The Non-Trans Privilege Checklist

[I was following links to different “privilege knapsacks”1 (via Shrub.com’s sidebar, and also via this post at New Game Plus), but the link to the “non-trans privilege checklist” had died. I found the text in the google cache, but since that might not persist, I decided to reprint it on “Alas” to keep it available.

I also considered renaming this “The Cisgendered Privilege Knapsack,” because I like the word “cisgendered” and would like to propagate it, but the original author (whoever it is) called it the non-trans privilege checklist, and who am I to change that?

Author unknown. If you happen to know who wrote this, please let me know in comments. Like all the “privilege checklists,” this owes a debt to Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. –Amp]

The Non-Trans Privilege Checklist

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 explicitely or de facto* men-born-men or women-born-women only. (*basically 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 bathroom to use or whether I will be safe changing in a locker room.

12) When engaging in political action, I do not have to worry about the *gendered* repurcussions 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” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude me from OUR movement 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.

  1. Which are universally referred to as “privilege checklists,” and that’s pretty much my fault, I fear. But McIntosh, who started it all, called it “unpacking the privilege knapsack.” []
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119 Responses to The Non-Trans Privilege Checklist

  1. 101
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Jake,

    I wish you weren’t a squid because if you were a person I’d immediately propose marriage :)

    Please excuse me while I swoon.

    ::thunk!::

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  3. 102
    Abigail says:

    it’s the second one.

    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.

    No-one but me can validate myself as a person. The need for external validation is slavery.

    If you need external validation you will always be vulnerable and beholden. Yes, it’s nice, but Everybody has to be able to live without it or they are open to great suffering.

    My validity as a human being is based upon My opinion of it, which is improving. It has been a struggle, but I now feel I am pretty valid as a human being. Unconditional negative regard hurts anyone, particularly the small children who people want to “make a man of”, but we can recover from that.

  4. 103
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Abigail,

    That “privilege” doesn’t mean any of us need that external validation, only that others can’t use it against them. For example, despite being “female”, for some post-operative male-to-female transsexual value of “female”, under the laws of some parts of the state where I live, I am still “male”. Because I’m very “passable”, I’m very widely regarded as “female”, whereas transsexual women who have a more typically male build are more often regarded as “male” or “queer”.

    A genetical natural, of whatever sex, isn’t going to be legally considered “male” just because she (in this example) has broad shoulders, big hands, and a deep voice. She might be the brunt of jokes, but if she’s a XX-female-type, she’s female-female-female. While a transsexual woman with the same body habitus, etc. is “male” and everyone around her will be told “she’s really a man”.

  5. 104
    lori says:

    Abigail, it’s great that you have come to a sense of strength and confidence. It’s good to be able to get to a place where you do not feel overly dependent on the good wishes or high esteem of other people.

    But you wouldn’t be able to type those words if you hadn’t been validated as a human being: first by your mother (even while you were a fetus), and, at some level, by the social system into which you were born.

    I don’t know you, and I may be wrong, but, given that you have advanced literacy skills and are able to communicate over the internet, chances are very good that you were sustained by the body of your mother before you were born. Chances are very good that you were born into a (possibly hideously messed up but still functioning) medical system that weighed, examined you for illness and provided some sort of pre- & post-natal care for you. Chances are very good that you were born or adopted into a family that provided you (with the help of many other people) with language (& the whole process of learning depends entirely on external validation), food, shelter, clothing, advanced literacy, medical care, etc.

    If you really are not validated as a human from birth you will die.

    Human beings are first and foremost tribal; we cannot survive without the massive efforts of many people. We in the West are deluded into a false sense of our our grandeur and independence because of wealth and the ideology of individualism. This delusion of our own individual powers allows us to erase the labor it takes to sustain our very expensive lives. It is not a coincidence that much of this nurturing labor has historically been done by people identified as women and by the poor.

    When women, trans- people, nonwhites, poor people, people with disabilities, demand external validation, they are simply demanding the tools they need to survive. Because being dehumanized is deadly.

  6. 105
    Abigail says:

    FurryCatHerder: Indeed, people have called me male after my transition, and some still may. But that does not prevent me validating myself. So someone says I am male. I say they are wrong. I do not get that upset about it. My point is that if I can validate myself, then no-one can take that away from me.

    Lori, indeed I am dependent on billions of people who produce all that I consume. I could not live alone on a desert island, mostly because I could not bear that amount of solitude, even if I learned to find and prepare enough food. Perhaps it is that we are talking past each other. I understood “validity” in the list to mean worth. I remain worthy of respect however many people disrespect me.

    If anyone does not realise that she is worthy of respect, and depends on respect from others to maintain self-respect, she is vulnerable to the withdrawal of such respect. So someone says, “It’s a bloke!” and she is distraught. Me, I do not care how many people think I am male, they are simply wrong.

    I will survive despite a billion people calling me male, I will survive because of my own inner resources. I am female.

  7. 106
    jed says:

    Hmm, perhaps it’s time I composed an “Under-40 Privilege Checklist”. I expect we will see a lot of ageism in the coming campaign.

  8. 107
    Robert says:

    Probably in both directions. Better make an over-60 checklist too ;)

  9. 108
    Brandy V. says:

    I had no idea that the medical establishment still considered being transgender as an illness–believe me, the men and women in my life, both pre-and-post surgery, are usually saner than I am. That is ridiculous.

    I am reminded of Alexis Arquette from the Surreal Life. On VH1 they did a show about the worst Reality TV Show fights/rivalries, and she appeared to talk about an experience where she was being trans-bashed–verbally, thank goodness, not physically. It was a collection of all those privileges about–saying things like, ‘She has a penis’ and asking horribly offensive, hateful things that they had no right to know or answer–not just because she was transgender, but also because she was a woman.

    So what did she do, folks? Pick up an umbrella and charge them.

    Now I don’t necessarily condone violence, but I do think this was an actions-speak-louder-than-words situation. She was pissed. Who can blame her? If it was me, I’d want to do something even worse than she did. But you had to LOVE their reaction to it all. They were fucking SHOCKED. They did not expect this trans person to fight for her right not to be harassed. And Alexis is a big girl, she could have given them a run for their money, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a little afraid too. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, as they say. Over all? Most gratifying thing I’d seen on TV in a long time, and VH1 was right to call out those sexist, transphobic assholes on their behavior.

    Even more right of VH1 (though perhaps I am giving them too much credit), was to treat Alexis as a hero. She was. She was so very brave, and I want that to be a reminder to all trans people facing the same discrimination–that you should never be ashamed, that you shouldn’t be afraid to fight back because there is a whole big community of people like us that will give you the veneration you deserve and the support you need.

  10. 109
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Add this privilege, because I’m in a custody dispute and it’s a huge issue right now as I have to pick through friends to decide who to come out to –

    24) People can’t use my birth sex against me as a weapon to keep me from getting justice. I can tell anyone I want what sex I was born and it won’t cause a scandal because they already know what sex I was born.

    My closest friends, people I’ve known for years, people I wanted to never have to deal with the prying or personal questions when someone knows are the people who also know me best. That bit of privacy has now been taken away from me. And am I ever pissed.

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