Gender and Privilege

I had an interesting thought the other day.

Well, I thought it was interesting.  

The very first trans person I was friends with (as far as I know) was someone I met when I was in my twenties.  At first I knew them when they were still presenting as male to the world and we became good friends.  It wasn’t long until I met her and over the course of time I saw him less and less and soon all I knew was her.  Not only was there a change in how they presented and the pronouns and names, I watched this person become happier and more comfortable. 

For a while.  As she started to live full time and start her transition I also listened to her as she came out to other friends, her co-workers, and her family.

It would be a colossal understatement to say some of these steps were heartbreaking.  But she persisted.    

Her story is her story and I don’t feel comfortable telling any more of it without her blessing but my point is that for someone transitioning this is a familiar story.  There are consequences when someone comes out, when someone changes their gender (at least to the rest of the world), their name, pronouns, and wardrobe (at least the wardrobe they show the rest of the world).

My “interesting” thought is that my gender identity doesn’t have the same consequences as my friend.  She didn’t really have a choice when it came to coming out.  She HAD to.  She wasn’t bi-gender, she wasn’t a crossdresser, she was she.  I have a privilege that she didn’t have.  I can choose whom to come out to.  I can choose if I want to.  I don’t have to come out to anyone.  

I know I have privilege.  I have it based on my skin color, when I present as a boy, when people assume I’m straight (this isn’t to say that I’m not straight).  I am reminded of this privilege when I am en femme.  For the most part I am treated just fine or at the very least people are indifferent.  But I get the occasional stare, the random cashier who treats me like crap, the passive aggressive comments.  I know these comments and reactions are because I am obviously trans when I am en femme.  But that rude behavior doesn’t exist in boy mode.  

I am lucky to be who I am.  I am happy I am bi-gender.  I don’t know if I could ever be brave enough to come out to EVERYONE in my life, consequences be damned.  I can choose who knows Hannah, I can choose almost everything about who I am.    

When I started blogging years ago, the idea was to celebrate this side of us.  To embrace and accept and to fall in love with who we are.  I make this side of us sound so fun (and it is!) but I can’t forget that being trans is a source of great anxiety, stress, and sadness for so many of us.  It shouldn’t be that way.  The world shouldn’t make us feel that way. 

Related reading

Identity and Responsibility

Love, Hannah

2 thoughts on “Gender and Privilege

  1. Individuals who can exercise the choice you describe, Hannah, are very fortunate not only in having the financial and emotional resources to make it work but also to have found an accommodating if not supportive place to live. Each of us are allowed to be the people we are through the cooperation of those with whom we interact daily. I am grateful for all of my interaction partners. They allow me to be who I want to be.


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