Liberation II

“You’re looking very good today,” said the beggar. Just in case I did not understand the compliment, he continued, “I think you’re very brave.”

I had stopped when he asked me for 35p. “I’m not on the street or anything,” he said. “I can give you 35p,” I said, and started rooting around for the exact change. I had only looked at him so we would not collide on the street. I was feeling good, striding along in the bright warm sunshine, in a summer dress I love.

When he said that, I sprang backwards and put my purse away. I turned my back on him and was walking away as he protested, hurt: what was the problem, he was trying to be nice, he has a friend going through the same thing, he thought I looked good. At that I turned round, facing from a few yards away, and explained.

“Because it’s my thing, and I don’t want it remarked upon. Because it is a source of pain and misery for me, and a great deal of work.”

He continued to expostulate, but I had stopped listening.

On the platform, three people were Signing. I did not tell them how brave they were, going out on their own, and showing off their difference. Even had I known more Sign than the word for telephone, which has entered widespread use, I would probably not have interrupted.

Or the black woman I sat beside on the train, who reminded me to pick up my book on getting off- I had indeed forgotten it, so that was not impertinent of her. She is checking up for Lambeth council what services are still running, and which will take self-referrrals. I overheard her phone call, and might even have remarked on the closure of public services had we been going further. But not on her blackness and how that must give her special insight and sympathy with the Windrush immigrants so cruelly deported.

Sitting on the train, I wondered if I were taking the wrong approach. I should stand and say “Hello everyone, I am a trans woman.” And they would all feel better for my bravery, and empowered to accept their own idiosyncrasies. After, a little huddle would form of people wanting to praise me, and come out to me about the secret shame they had never shared with anyone before. I would absolve them, they would gain instant self acceptance, and then start writing their one-person shows about what it was like to be a person like that. Then ripples of self-acceptance would disrupt the Space-time continuum, and no-one would vote Tory ever again.

Lucy got it. “It’s privilege,” she said, which is hard to imagine in a beggar. He is arrogating to himself the right to define my existence, and comment on it. He has no right. Or, he is putting me in my place, and patronising me. I am so much more than “a trans woman”. Yet, if we could share our secret shames, how much freer we would all be!

I got the late bus home, leaving Swanston at 11.05pm. After years when the last bus left at around six, and given that the bus service is so quiet, so much of the time, I joked I won’t believe in it until I am sitting on it, and perhaps not even then. The bus from Nupton was ten minutes later than I thought the timetable said, and I don’t think I am that bad at reading timetables, so I feared missing it, and sat in miserable resignation, unable to affect my fate. But I closed a window with a satisfying snap, which motivated two women on the other side of the bus to close theirs, and then go down the bus closing the others. I caught their eye and smiled.

A feminist

I love what Dr Jen Gunter writes, on abortion, empathy, privilege, feminism, and incidentally on trans people.

An advert on facebook led me to an article from last month’s NYT on vaginas. Male partners sometimes criticise healthy vaginas as too loose, or smelling wrong, or tasting wrong, as a way of controlling women and making us feel insecure. This is not OK. I decide how I want to look. Women may actually harm themselves trying to make their vaginas acceptable. As a gynaecologist, Jen Gunter hears a lot of women describing the men’s manipulation.

In the comments here, I see different lines on “Not all men”. It gets clearer to me how that is offensive. Indeed, not all men rape women, and perhaps some men have never pushed women’s boundaries or wronged them in any way, but when a woman complains of shitty male behaviour, why should a man feel the need to say not all men? That’s irrelevant, she is not complaining of all men, but some men. The man may not be saying it never happens, but is derailing: it happens, it matters, and we should consider the experience of it, rather than judging the way it is shared. And, why feel any need to protest, if you do not feel guilty? What she wrote was “This is a form of control men often use”- not, all men; not, women don’t do something similar, though women may have less power in a relationship so might not, so much; but, men do it. Let us agree it is a bad thing, and try not to ourselves.

I dislike the line that “men suffer the same way”. Yes; but she was not claiming a right of retaliation, only saying it happens and is wrong. Someone signing a woman’s name accused Dr Gunter of an offensive, gross mischaracterization of an entire classification of people based on gender. That was not what I perceived. “Not all men” becomes a way of saying SHUT UP rather than a reasonable response.

She is worth reading for the facts on late abortions: after 25 weeks, a woman with a wanted pregnancy but health problems making continuing pregnancy too dangerous would have a C-section or induced labour. The child would be cared for. Concealed pregnancies, perhaps of a frightened teen or a rape survivor, are very rare. Sometimes a foetus has severe defects but the mother elects to carry anyway; but a foetus lying horizontally cannot be delivered vaginally.

She continually calls for our empathy. Some women don’t want a C-section in this situation for baby who can’t live. I think you can understand that. And Some women just can’t bear continuing. Imagine everyone touching your belly asking if you are having a boy or a girl and you know your baby has no brain? I have heard that story. It breaks people.

This post is particularly good on empathy, privilege, and thinking your way into someone else’s situation. You can’t experience the same situation, every situation is different, yet you should be able to imagine theirs. Assuming what someone else felt or might have felt based on your own experience (or wanted experience) is the opposite of empathy.

Once as a resident I rolled by eyes when discussing a woman who was presenting for her third abortion. I mean really, I thought. She’d been sent home after both of her previous abortions with 4 months of free birth control pills and here she was just six months later. My attending, an older man, took me aside and reamed me for that display of privilege. I’ve never forgotten that. In fact, it prompted me to design a study to look at that very question, why do women have repeat abortions? Guess what it turns out is a big factor? Domestic violence. Though empathy may be too much of a stretch for Republican authoritarians concerned for their own moral rightness.

I checked whether she had anything on transgender. She mentions it in passing, but always in a friendly way. The agency tasked with enhancing the “health and well-being of Americans” now believes that certain religious beliefs are more important than health care. This could apply to contraception, abortion, vaccines, addiction medicine, sexually transmitted infection screening, and transgender care just to name a few… government planning will be all based on some non science ideas such as life begins at conception, pre marital sex is wrong, anything but marital sex between cis women and men is wrong. If we think too much about the hostile people it colours our view of humanity. Here is a woman working for the rights of women, who is positive about trans people, and uses our words such as “cis”.


Do trans women have male privilege?

I avoid actions, and ways of being or responding, because of disapproval in the past which no longer exists. I acted, I sensed another’s disapproval, I absorbed the judgment that I should not act that way, I internalised the judgment that I, my instincts and actions, were wrong. Internalised transphobia is internalised self-phobia. Even if the judgment is my own, and no-one else’s, it still paralyses me.

There is a deep well of rage inside of me. Rage about how I as an individual have been treated…; rage about how others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I’m sure affect many women and minorities, … and have caused many others to leave. Well, my own rage is there, but fruitless: I still am fearful of certain expressions, and the fear holds me down. I am depressed and lacking motivation. The rage could be energy for action, but my own judgment holds it down.

Women live in a society that presents as “natural” what they experience as arbitrary constraints. This can provide them with a particular sensitivity to injustices that are due less to individual ill will than to the structures of established practices and institutions. And I don’t. I accept the judgment on my femininity as weak and as less than masculinity, not an arbitrary constraint but the natural order of things, not historically constructed social categories. I find the quotes in italics, about feminist philosophy, here.

That feminist understanding of her own worth is an attitude I could learn from. The elephant could break the chain on its ankle easily, but remembering infancy when it could not, it imagines the chain as effective a restraint as it was then. My chain only exists in my imagination, but a chain there is strong.

This is the answer to the allegation that trans women have male privilege. The feminist says that my upbringing, encouraging me to act assertively, should benefit me. I argue, against that, that their internal qualities, allowing them to reject the arbitrary constraints on them, place them in a better position to be themselves and overcome the structural injustice. I could not assert myself, only assert a masculine act, which tortured me and which eventually I fled from.

Beside that masculinity which society values, my femininity seemed weak and worthless, even to me. We project our own judgments onto others. Others may read our lack of self-confidence and downgrade their judgment of us. So I am paralysed in acting. That article quoted a definition of “woman”- S is a woman [if and only if] S is systematically subordinated along some dimension — economic, political, legal, social — and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction. I am systematically subordinated, at least. Or maybe I would be a woman if I passed as a woman rather than a trans woman. Because our oppression is so different, I could sympathise with a feminist caring more about hers than mine, or even not seeing mine as oppression.

Presence may be the answer. I still the critical voices in my head, and act from a single volition rather than my conflicted state. Others suffer from Imposter syndrome, and still act. Living in Presence does not mean not setting goals or seeking to achieve them, but being present to one’s atelic activities. “Atelic” means non-goal related, from Greek “telos”, purpose, I read here. One might also be present to telic activities. One might develop self-confidence, I theorise.

Unwelcome advances

I was writing the email in my head. “I’m not coming because your flirting creeps me out.” I am not used to men making passes, and I was angry and upset: I cycled like the wind because my anger physically invigorated me.

I have said I am not interested, clearly. “I am gynephile”, I said, and proceeded to explain that. And he keeps doing it, and yet again as a trans woman I am learning things cis women learn in their teens. It was so enlightening talking to Mhairi.

Mhairi told me of ceilidhs in Steòrnabhagh. There were the young men, who you wanted to dance with, and the old men- say, 35 or over- who wanted to dance with you. Some you might do Strip the Willow with, but not a St Bernard’s Waltz as a ballroom hold would be fatal. You would set a boundary, but even if they crossed it you would take pains to care for their feelings: you find an excuse to stop dancing. You need to keep the peace. You will need to socialise with them later.  Some men could be vindictive, feeling insulted if you would not give yourself to them and finding ways to punish you. It is your responsibility to extricate yourself, and let them down as gently as possible.

So I can’t punch him on the nose, then. That is a man’s reaction.

He hints to me that he can get me what I want- even, financial security, though that seems mere fantasy. The more I think about it, the more impossible it seems. Something less, though, but still something I really want: he hints to me that I could be useful, that I could do something worthwhile. Increasingly, though, I don’t see that is possible either. He wants to tell me I am beautiful, to hold my hand, possibly to hold more of me. He has discussed an “open relationship” with his wife, he tells me. She is very friendly to me. She knows how to manage him, I suppose, knows his faults and foibles and how to get what she wants, what she mun put up with. The relationship might be happily co-operative, or a constant striving for mastery- I find it harder to understand how the latter could appeal to anyone, but it appears that it does to some.

It worries me that it turned me on, a bit; but Mhairi is only as sympathetic as she reasonably can be. That too is for me to deal with.

My self-concept is involved. “I am not the kind of person who-” In that imagined email, I got on my high horse. “Even if a woman was positively delighted that her husband had found another woman,” I expatiated, sententiously, “because it stopped him bothering her, and put a spring in his step-

I would still not want to be that other woman.” That might be moral disapproval, or a feeling of being dishonoured, or otherwise completely unrelated to reality. We are civilised beings, and we are animals. I wrote that my No, my tendency to withdraw and hide, is far too strong- but I really can’t see any other way to deal with this.

Later- I had agreed to go over again, and I have not. What happened? He took my hand, lightly enough that I could pull away but not actually letting go. I did not pull away, did not particularly indicate discomfort that I felt. I then went home and felt so enraged that I wanted to tell everyone what a vile pervert he is. Now I just withdraw from the situation. None of this is satisfactory to me. Perhaps I might learn and find better ways of responding, but right now I just want to hide away: hiding is the best way I have found of managing my feelings. Though when I was engaged with X I realised after that I had not been obsessively thinking about Y, which was a relief; and practice, rather than analysis, might be a better way of finding my way forward.

Aubrey Beardsley, illustration for the Oscar Wilde play Salome

Male socialisation

Are trans women socialised into male privilege?

Here’s Diane is Weird on the difference between autistic boys and girls- socialisation. When a boy complains… people generally give him the benefit of the doubt because boys are tough and never complain for no reason. When a girl complains about seemingly nothing, she is labeled a whiney drama queen.

When means that an early school aged girl on the autistic spectrum, when she is overstimulated, in pain, or confused has been programed from birth to shut up and try to make herself as small as possible while she figures out what is going on. Boys are entitled, girls are shamed. In order to function invisibly at the level that most autistic women do, you need to hate yourself and be afraid all the time.

That got me researching. Here’s the Sexual assault prevention and awareness center of the University of Michigan, on how socialisation to stereotypes causes battering. Girls are taught to be passive, smile, be nice, accommodating, take care of and be sensitive to other’s needs. Beyond “teaching,” our culture actively punishes girls who violate those rules. Such punishment includes social ostracism, ridicule, poor grades in school, and often times sexual harassment, assault, and physical violence…Batterers express emotions of anger, pain, grief and loss very well. They do cry…Men have been taught through social roles modeling and the media that they are entitled to the attention and services of women. Women are required to listen, be supportive, enhance their partners’ status with other men, fulfill the man’s sexual needs, and care for their children, cook, clean and maintain the household.

This is the Women and Gender Advocacy Center of Colorado State University: it is trans-friendly, and more kind to those men (which may be an aspect of the socialisation or personality of the writer). The most dominant form of manhood is called “hegemonic masculinity” which is characterized by several key tenets: 1.) distance oneself from femininity; 2.) restrict emotions; 3.) be tough and aggressive (avoid vulnerability); 4.) be seen as highly sexual with women; and 5.) prove one’s heterosexuality via homophobia. The site shows the Man Box:

The man box

Inside the box is a list of socially valued roles and expectations that constitute conventional masculinity, and the words outside of the box are used to confine boys and men into a narrowly constructed definition of manhood.

Luna Merbruja puts a trans woman’s perspective in Everyday Feminism. She argues that you must be male to benefit from male privilege. We are not male. Cis women were raised to cook, clean, smile, endure sexual harassment, be silently ashamed about their menstrual cycles, and prioritize child bearing and marriage. These are the supposed commonalities that bind cis women together as shared experiences that trans women don’t have. The truth is, as b. binaohan states in the “fe/male socialization” chapter of decolonizing trans/gender 101, we all have the same socialization. We are all taught what boys and girls are like, and trans girls are punished for not being manly.

Also on Everyday Feminism, Kai Cheng Thom argues that the denial of our true selves as children, the punishment for not being manly, is like gaslighting, denying the victim’s perceptions of reality, which traumatises us.


SAPAC is angry. Men are entitled, and women suffer. WGAC less so: men suffer too. It points out that most murderers are men, but also most victims of male murderers. Anger matters: it affects what arguments someone will hear.

That list- Cis women were raised to cook, clean, smile, endure sexual harassment, be silently ashamed about their menstrual cycles, and prioritize child bearing and marriage– well, I was not raised to that. My sister was taught to cook, and when I went to University my mother did not want me starving, so gave me four simple recipes, which I still use, and a cake recipe I do not. The argument is that the violence we experience is equivalent, which is close to playing oppression olympics– at least, while the violence may not be directly comparable, so the question which is worse does not make sense, the violence we experience is traumatising. If you see on TERF sites women trivialising the violence we experience, you know that is hate, and violence in itself.

I puzzle these things out through my own experience. My questions:

How am I wrong?
How can I change to fit in?
How may I support myself without help?

and my virulent inner critic torture me. I seek to be invisible. These are not the responses of a Privileged individual; they are closer to Diane’s experience, programmed to shut up and make herself small.


There is a difference. I fit the female socialisation I did not have better than many women: wanting to support others, and create reconciliation, if not particularly to clean my house- to be subservient– fits me. I could be called a caricature, and enrage women who do not fit it. So I insist: I do not manifest like this because I imagine it is womanly, or feminine, but because it is the real me. It was how I was, before I realised I am transsexual.

How that is linked to my desiring to express myself female- hair, make-up, clothes, self-expression on the feminine end of women’s expression- I don’t know. Either could cause the other. They could arise from some hormonal or genetic cause, or be unrelated. I don’t think I am saying,

people with that personality are supposed to look like that

because I don’t think that would be strong enough to make me seek physical transition. But if me associating my personality with women, rather than men, is the cause of my transition, then it is a clear case of me being oppressed, rather than empowered, by socialisation.

Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne

An empowered woman

I am not “an empowered woman”.

I did not see an empowered woman, but a caricature of women, said that TERF. I plead guilty.

There I was in the local Quaker business meeting, thinking, how can I serve these people? I have an idea that we are not using the Quaker business method properly, and what using it would mean; and it feels to me that this is where we are and we need to find our own way out of it, by an organic growth process, and it is not for me to guide or force that process. Let it be: I am having difficulty tolerating uncertainty, but I trust the process. We started talking about conscription. One of us was conscripted as a Bevan Boy rather than to the armed forces. One said that at a Quaker school, the headteacher would write a statement which would mean that his pupils would not be conscripted for National Service. The Armed Forces did not want them anyway, did not have anything to do with them, and knew conscription would soon end. This was not the business before us, but it is where we are.

I expressed my distress. I do not know how to serve you, but I do not think this is proper business method. I have been criticised for pushing business through too quickly. We have not done much in an hour. One said that fifty years ago a local business meeting could take ten minutes. The chatting is pleasant, interesting, easy, I suppose.

My friend appreciated how I had served the meeting this afternoon, and I was so grateful she said it.

If you have had a woman’s conditioning, been taught not to express anger or leadership, and have not done so because of outside threat or even internalised the controls, and then liberated yourself, and felt the disapproval of others for your righteous anger- you may indeed resent me who seems without such conditioning. There is a huge male privilege. That has not been my struggle. I have struggled to find who I am, and find it valuable rather than weak, sick and delusional, but that is so different. And I can express anger sometimes.

Yet when I have expressed anger, rather than felt it gnaw at me, it has been in defence of others or of the group.

As British society has got steadily more fragmented, unequal and competitive over the last 37 years, ambition and aggression become more necessary and valued. That is not me.

That moment- the TERF saw a “ridiculous, little girl pose”- a parody of everything she did not want to be-

the trans woman became a symbol for her of her oppression. Her struggle towards empowerment was away from that.

I can imagine myself in “little girl pose”, either as in experimenting, finding what felt right, or expressing a part of myself, or even being most me.

In my weakness is my strength. I am that girly caricature, and when in shame I try to hide it I fight myself to a standstill. My empowerment expresses itself completely differently from hers. If only she could see beyond that.

Caravaggio, the cardsharps

Trans privilege

Do trans women have privilege?

Ukip poster: "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?"At first you will think, all the privilege is on the cis side, but we should check our privilege. I have found arguable trans privilege. But first, a question: When did my country get so nasty? she asked.

It’s been going that way for a long time- since about 1979. That got a laugh of assent. How much we hate hearing about “Hard working families”: it is corralling the wagons, in defence against the Bad People outside. Conservatives BingoThat UKIP poster is horrible, and the Tory one just as bad- vote for us, and you can drug yourself into apathy tuppence cheaper.

The woman at the bus stop was desperate to chat. As I sat on the perch, it creaked and rocked forward, and she said they should make those things safe, you know. That was enough, as I am keen to chat too. She told me of going to the convent in Lucknow, when her mother was a sergeant-cook in the Army (just before India awoke to life and freedom). Her brother was at St Joseph’s. It is still going, but it is all Indian now. She knows because it is a small world: she had been in Oxford having her brain tumour removed- she turned her head, I gently felt the scar- and she got chatting to an Indian from Lucknow. He said he had been to St Joseph’s. She would not have believed him, as it is the sort of thing they would say, but he gave sufficient detail. Then they came to Swanston, and where they lived everyone was Indian. They’re all Polish now, she said, disappointedly. Though she is a foreigner, too. Her mother was Greek. “She tried to speak English as much as possible.” All this racial stereotyping- “These people” are individuals, Liberal democratwho react in an idiosyncratic not a monolithic way- gets to me a bit, but I forebear from challenging. I am female now. I account it privilege that she wants to start a conversation with me.

On the bus a big bloke sat beside me, and told me how cold the weather was. And it was so beautiful last week. What work do I do? Feeling no obligation to tell him the truth, I say I am an adviser. He used to drive a crane, but has not done that for years. He plays in a six piece steel band, for weddings and all occasions. He gives me a card. He would play for my wedding. Are you married? Good looking woman like you should have a fine choice of men. Do you often come into Swanston? Where do you live? He got off “to go and see a friend”, he explained, and kissed my hand.

There you go. Trans privilege. I did not feel threatened- more surprised than anything, though not particularly flattered. Perhaps, rather, it is size privilege, as any woman my height and weight would feel less bothered than someone petite. Don’t tell the TERFs I said so.


A feminist’s perspective

Then I made friends with a feminist academic, and had friendly, careful discussions about radical feminist theory. Do trans folk subvert patriarchal gender norms, or support them? In one case, she may be an ally. She believes there is trans privilege, and at first convinced me.

H was at a formal dinner, the guest of a trans woman. The trans woman was particularly glamorous, in pink silk dress, hair, makeup, nails all beautiful, performing Femininity squared. H is vegetarian, and the staff repeatedly brought her meat. The trans woman perhaps should have taken this up with the staff, as the hostess, but H felt she was behaving in a somewhat masculine manner, in care-taking. As perhaps I was, when I insisted on paying for the wine.

Then the trans woman stood to address the assembled multitude, giving a loud, extrovert, girlipink performance, like a drag queen. You may have done this yourself. It is risqué, but only to an extent. It is a queer performance of gender which the culture has just about accepted.

Trans-women, on the whole, do not get slut-shamed. H admits that I will have had shame and restrictions as a child, but we do not have the experience aged 12 or 13 of burgeoning sexual feelings along with strong social messages that they must not be acted upon.

Oh you can’t lie back
You must stay cold at heart
You must never let your feelings show
For the moment you feel it might start
Why then the only answer’s No.

Girls must be modest. The man who sleeps around is Jack the Lad. Do not disclose Lord Palmerston’s philandering, or everyone will vote for him. The woman who sleeps around is a slut. H was with Green Party activists, who referred to a Conservative candidate as “the town bike”. That shocked me, too. I would expect Greens to be sensitive to such things.

We are careful and courteous. I said I did not object to the word “transsexual” used as a noun, though some of us do. H was surprised that I was so revolted by the expression “biological woman” to mean cis-woman. It says I am not a woman. Well, maybe I am not, but the implication still hurts. In an ideal world, would people have The Operations? I explained how delighted I was to have my op, how horrified I am at the thought of losing my toe, and how I don’t think social pressures alone, strong as they are, would convince me to be castrated against the most basic survival instinct. I am not sure she accepted this. Well, I grew this breast, and the thought of losing it horrifies me as much as you- but top surgery is right for trans men.

She was an ally on the matter of autogynephilia. I explained James Cantor‘s concept of euphilia, and the thought that M-F transsexualism in gynephiles is perversion, and she said that she found that meaningless. The thought that there could be a “perversion” would mean that there was a “normal” to be perverted from. It has no relation to reality.

I loved the conversation, all four hours of it. I find her fascinating.

Boldini, Alice RegnaultA week later, I have very different views. First, she complained of that trans woman making a performance like a drag queen. It is an OTT performance of gender which is accepted from trans women but not real women. To show how objectionable this is: no-one would think of saying “She did that thing you black people do” so why would anyone imagine that referring to cliché trans behaviour was OK?

And it is an Uncle Tom act. We behave in a way the cis straights expect, understand, and laugh at. I want to keep my options open, to do that, as more choices mean more freedom, but am unclear how to do it in power.

And, yes, we don’t get slut-shamed, but I was shamed out of my sexuality, seeing it as disgusting, and not having words for it: so I had four girlfriends between 18 and 30, none at school, none lasting more than two months because I could not be myself with them. Worse, not within the protection of Feminine Virtue and Honour, we are seen as available. Steve, who has some charm and intelligence but has gone to seed, old and fat, drove me home from J’s U3A games morning. He said he found me attractive and asked if I would go to bed with him. At Oldham CAB, a dirty old man, poor, a miserable specimen, propositioned our work-experience Asian girls. They had rebelled against Asian modest dress, head-scarves and all that, but had no idea how to dress as Westerners so came to work dressed to party. He said their fathers in shame should throw them out, but he would take them in; and when he saw me about his income support, he touched up my bottom. Low status as he is, he imagines me as immediately sexually available to a path…

Do you see me at all? Here am I, without a house, partner, children, savings, job, pension fund, anything, completely vulnerable,

and you call me Privileged???

J’s joky tales of Steve’s misadventures on the dating scene, which he tells her to relieve his feelings and she tells me and her husband Pete for a laugh, rub it in. He takes women for coffee, because why take them for dinner when there will be only one fuck and who wants to be stuck with someone the whole evening? One said to him she would like him as a friend, and he expostulated that he has enough friends.

-He wants a fuck-buddy. Why not advertise for that?

Some people do. One woman basically said “Here I am- Take me.” Steve has a particularly unsuitable woman, Andrea, she’s alcoholic…


Privilege I clearly have

With a shock, I realised. She’s- working class!

I had not noticed until sitting with J and another friend of hers in her kitchen. I found their conversation of little interest. Then J complained that some people resent her large house, thinking she had “got above herself”. She often comments that she and her husband have done so much of the work on the house themselves, that she has got furniture second-hand, that her (beautiful) clothes are from charity shops. Clearly some friends do not object; but the stifling pressure of fearing being judged as “getting above yourself” might prevent a person reaching her potential, or traumatise her as she left behind her social group.

I have one particular privilege: it was expected that I would go to University, and my sister did not, initially; as our teacher my father saw that our IQ scores were similar, though I have the edge; she wanted to be a nurse, not then a degree profession, and got her nursing degree in her 40s while holding down a job and caring for a family. Though she was in rebellion against our parents in her teens, and peer pressure rather than parental expectation would have been more important. I remember writing “It is time to rebel against my parents” in my diary. I was in my thirties, or at least late twenties.

And working class boys were not expected to go to university, generally, by parents or peers, though an inspiring teacher might drive them on, and one trans friend was, from her grammar school.

It is not as simple as “male privilege” that boys have more education than girls, and in any case I have squandered any advantage from my degree, and always earned less than my sister, whether because of a miasma of cis-sexism, or other psychological difficulties.

Indeed I won’t get slut-shamed, but my sexuality still frightens and confuses me, and is arguably immature as I have had little experience of adult sexual relationships.

Here is a male privilege checklist. Despite the last, I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege, I don’t think the ones relating to ones current position apply. I get read. If I am not seen as a weirdo, my fear of that is as restricting as the reality. I doubt being trans is ever an advantage in a job interview.

Boldini- Madame Doyen“If I complain to the person in charge, the person I see will be of my sex.” No. I am considering visiting my new Tory MP, to confront him about some of his attitudes. I will have power as my authentic feminine self and not otherwise. The problem here is the woman feeling powerless. She has power if she only realised it.

To me, the greatest trans privilege is my weirdness. Other people may muddle along, more or less, in conventional or fashionable ways of being, because they fit well enough. I have had the great blessing of completely not fitting, so being forced to find my True Self. (Every cloud has a silver lining.)

My emotions overwhelm me- the analogy I use, with bitter irony, is being pre-menstrual. It may be down to the hormones. I started them to feminize my appearance, not thinking they would so intensify my anger, fear and misery. But at the time, I was beginning to get in touch with my feelings, and perhaps suppressing then finding is the cause. So “We get medical treatment with unknown side-effects”. Not a privilege.


Female Privilege talking of female privilege are terribly whiny. Is there any merit in the concept at all?

I looked at Men’s Resistance, and the occasionally valuable Thought Catalog. They seemed ridiculous. TC: 1. Female privilege is being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re automatically afraid of you. Oh, brilliant. And male privilege is not needing to cross the street. Go figure. This is not the only one which is a corollary of male privilege, and I know which I would rather have.

2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.” And male privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labelled a slut, unfeminine, or desperate. You are creepy if you are out of your league.

3 is where it gets really nasty. Female privilege is being able to get drunk and have sex without being considered a rapist. Female privilege is being able to engage in the same action as another person but be considered the innocent party by default. Well, sex is a bigger deal for women than men. It depends how drunk, doesn’t it? If she is unable to consent, then don’t. Given the level of evidence necessary to prove rape, convictions for drunken sex where the woman was too drunk to consent are rare.

6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child. Mmm. So he says the birth control is the woman’s problem, then objects to the result. Wear a condom!

OK, enough. I read this and feel disgust and contempt. Is there anything in these lists I could agree? Just a grain of truth among the exaggeration, victim blaming and stupidity?

8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.” Indeed. I was told “Big boys don’t cry” aged 4. My escape from that has been transition, which is further than most men want to go. Acceptable male roles are Procrustean. They fit very few. But then, male privilege is not being called “bossy” as if that’s a bad thing. Assertive girls with leadership qualities get put down. Women normally get custody of children in divorce. Yes. But this comes from traditional conceptions of women’s roles. OK, guys, you can have custody when women’s pay and promotion chances, and representation in Parliament, are equal. How’s that? This might be soon: 15, more women go to college.

Men’s Resistance, now. 7, Women don’t get conscripted. Actually, in Israel they do, though their term is two years rather than three for men. In a volunteer army with a high degree of technical training this may be seen as an advantage for men.

16. If I am a partner in crime with a man I will likely be charged with lesser crimes even though I committed the same crimes even if I was the ringleader. This is the basis of Dickens’ Mr Bumble the Beadle saying “The law is a ass- a idiot.” However rather than impose a strict rule, courts now consider evidence.

20. Males make up nearly 100% of workplace fatalities. Mmm. There are “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”, still: I tend to feel that the balance is against women- consider earnings. But, yes, this has bad consequences for men too.

But- 42. Women initiate the majority of domestic violence. This is not true, in Britain at least: 1.2m female and 800,000 male victims estimated by the British Crime Survey in 2010/11: physical assault figures were too low to be extrapolated.

70. Women’s loos are nicer. As a trans woman, I would agree; but a trans man told me he much preferred men’s loos.

Try harder, chaps.