The Fallacy of Cis-Privilege November 16, 2009Posted by FCM in feminisms, self-identified feminist men, thats mean, trans.
Tags: fun fems, privilege, trans
for those who dont know, cis- (meaning “on the same side as”) has been used by transactivists to describe people who “arent trans.” according to them, people who arent trans possess special powers, called “privileges,” parallel to the unearned privileges possessed by whites and men, who socially, politically and relationally oppress women, and people of color.
but when transfolk and transactivists use “privilege” in this context, i do not think it means what they think it means. specifically, their concept of “privilege” does not match up with my definition, or with any accepted definition of the word.
when a transwoman laments to a born woman, for example:
I wish I could understand where you are coming from, but I don’t think I ever will. I never had the privilege of growing up as a girl, with people automatically calling me she, her, girl, woman, etc. without having to think about it. I never had the privilege of being 5 years old and not having your mother beat the living shit out of you because you were trying on her makeup. I say this will [sic] all respect that is due to you: from where I sit, you are the one with the privilege.
what she has revealed is that her idea of anyones particular social or political privilege is “i have something you want.” in the case of born-men thinking that girls and women had it easy or preferable in that they grew up being recognized as female, it would be more accurate to say their idea of privilege is further diluted to mean “i have something you *think* you want” because theres no way a born-male could really know if he wanted to grow up like a girl, because as a boy/man, he doesnt, and indeed *couldnt* know what it was like.
to take a little tangent here, but to illustrate and underscore that point, i was assaulted by 4 neighborhood boys when i was 5, because i was a girl, and they wanted to look into my underpants. so, they trapped me in a camping tent that was set up in the backyard and wouldnt let me leave, and they said i could either give each one of them a kiss, or they were going to look inside my underwear. does this sound like fun to you, transwomen? frankly i would take a beating from my mother on any day of the week, rather than ever be trapped inside a closed space by a bunch of sexually predatory boys who gave me such a disgusting “choice.” i kissed them all and they let me leave. luckily.
but heres the problem with “i have something you want” = “i have privilege”. if i had a candy bar, and you wanted it, i would not have “candy-bar privilege”. if i had a nice dog and you wanted a nice dog like mine, i would not have “dog privilege.” you cant just say that any old goddamn thing i have that you want is a privilege. privilege means that there is *power* there, and girls and women dont possess any kind of gender-based power. exactly the opposite.
like race-based power, gender-based power operates in one direction only: male-oppresses-female. just as with the uni-directional operation of race-based privilege, in which whites oppress non-whites, girls and women will never oppress either men or women through a manifestation of gender-based privilege. thats not the way gender-based privilege works. distressingly, there is another trans-identified group on the scene of late, that wants us to believe that the disabled are privileged, because although they are perfectly healthy able-bodied themselves, the trans-abled “see themselves” as disabled and they want to be disabled, too. but again, privilege based on physical ability operates in one direction, and one direction only: able-bodied-oppress-disabled.
heres a shweet little diagram crafted by miska, very accurately describing the logical fallacy of the concept of cis-privilege, whereby born-women *allegedly* possess a gender-based power to oppress men, and other women, because we have something that transfolk want or think they want: its the same problem as calling someone “privileged” if they have a nice dog, and you want/think you want one too:
you could replace “dog” with literally anything unable to raise its possessor into a position of social and political power, but that someone has and you want (or *think* you want). dustbunny-privilege. slightly-less-boxy-car-privilege. glod-privilege. (nope, theres no such thing as a “glod”. but it works just as well to give me increased social standing as does a candy bar, a dustbunny, or a slightly-less-boxy car).
i call bullshit on that. and as i have added to my FAQ, no, i am not cis-privileged. and i refuse to give a shout-out to trans-politics every time i introduce myself, as too many feminists have lately decided to do (hi! i am a straight, white, cis-female etc). to require it (and oh yes, its become a requirement) is an utter manipulation and extortion on the part of trans-activists, and i am not falling for it.