Recognizing my Privilege as a #Ciswoman – Discussing #Transgender Issues (part 1 of many)
Standing before my mirror naked is an exercise I do to examine my flaws, learn to accept them and to remind myself how lucky I am. I am a Ciswoman*. Born with the ability to bring forth life and be recognized as a woman. I have been blessed with five children, so I am also what the damndable urban dictionary and the high and mighty human race elitist have coined ‘breeder‘. I may not be Christian but I do believe the Goddess blessed me to be the vessel of these five children because the world would be a less bright place without them. But as I stand here, looking at my scars from surgery, seeming my breasts, sliding my hands down to my pelvis and tracing the c-section scars to my hips which bore those amazing children, I am also reminded about my own blessing. To be born into privilege, one that these days is becoming a burden at times.
This year we have seen a lot of wonderful changes within the laws towards human equality. My son and his partner can now get married legally anywhere they want in the US. Washington State was one of the early states which passed the right for equal rights within the bonds of matrimony and now it is across the board despite the strong feelings of many leaders within our government. We live in a day of great beginnings and greater freedoms in the US. But it will be a long time before the majority of people stop objectifying and hating something they have very little knowledge of, the immense struggle of transgender individuals.
Laura Jane Grace is a new discovery of mine. Listening to her music with tears falling down my face and a mixed look of anger, sadness and determination crossing over my face I am moved to speak out. I have many transgender friends and over the last year have learned more about our shame as a progressive collective of people here in the US over our treatment of those who were misgendered during genetic assignment of sex. Which I probably said it wrong, but the way I understand it to be, this woman before me was identifiable due to sex organs as the male gender, when she should have been born privileged like me. With the hips, the sexual organs, the womb and breasts I see before me as i stand in the mirror.
I want to ask the feminists in my life to stop and think about it before they shout about having the door held open for them, or the man oogling their breasts, their bosses patting their heads and asking for coffee and their paycheck 30% less than their equals in the office to remember our own struggle to even get this far. The lesbians who have been fighting a bloody and deadly fight to be open and free to express their love of another woman without hatred and cultural bias. Don’t get me wrong, this is discrimintory behavior and should not be happening, but my point is to stop and remember how lucky you are, having your boss say “she” is a priveledge we take for granite because we do not understand the struggles those who are in transition are going through. We still have a long way to go, but for a transgendered woman, she has a longer and more bias fight than we have ever had. To say “we have come a long way baby” is putting it mildly in 2015. Now we need to step back and fight another fight for our trans sisters.
My son is gay and at one point my father was sure my brother was. He has struggled with his own homophobia and for a man who is one of the stars of fighting for what is right, even if it was the right to buy beer at the student union at U of O (laughing at the memories). He has fought for many green movements and as a corporate lawyer this has been his own struggle. However, I will never forget the afternoon we both sat and watched the Gay Pride parade in San Francisco. I saw it come over him, the emotion and shame. “Kristine, I have been so wrong,” (paraphrasing here) “How could anyone think gay people would choose to be hated and feared. Their courage humbles me.” He was moved and he also broke down his walls of fear. This has stuck with me for over 30 years. I have applied it to many things, but none as much as the plight of transgender men and woman.
I want to shake people and scream at them like Laura Jane does in her amazing lyrics. I am a bundle of screaming nerves and outrage because of our societies lack of evolving cultural awareness. I know Time has had an article about the transgender tipping point, but we are just not there. The fight is still so new, people do not want to have to adjust their easy way of thinking. A man is a man because he has a penis and a woman is a woman because she has breasts. No, it really isn’t the case. A woman is just that. She knows she is a woman, whether she has breasts or was (for her) unfortunately born with male genitals and body. Are we not taught that it is the person inside whom we should acknowledge, to not objectify their bodies. To find the beauty within. I want the pronouns to be correct, for those to use her or him. I want to live to see the DSM will change and remove transgender as a mental pathology and we as a society will evolve and we will no longer need the label of cis and trans.
I plan to write more on this, for now I have been reminded how lucky I am to have these breasts and womb. To be given freely by the powers of conception, of my womanhood. I do not have to fight being recognized as a woman. I can walk into a public restroom without thinking, as long as it has a skirt on the symbol or it is for both men and woman, I am able to take care of my needs. Transgender woman go up against not only the law, but the uneducated and ill informed society that does not recognize them as such. Would you choose to be hated? Would you choose on a whole to be thought of as somewhere inbetween because your body shows one thing, but your mind and soul says another? I don’t think any of us as a whole would chose to be hated. Your validity as a woman should be based on your identifying as such. Not on surgery, or genitals, or birthing of children. I am a privileged white ciswoman. And today I am ashamed of our culture and am vowing to speak up. I want to see the laws include all genders, that civil liberties be granted across the board, even those that mother nature messed up when she was drinking to much while stirring the pot.
*In Latin, the prefix “cis” means “on the same side” and “trans” means “on the other side”. So, a cis person is one whose assigned sex at birth is on the same side as the sex they are. Likewise, a trans person is one whose assigned sex at birth is on a different side from the sex they are.
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