As someone who has presented as a cis gender man for much of my life, and as someone who still does most of the time, I am usually unaware of the privilege that this offers me.
And yes, I know some men argue that they don’t have any sort of privilege and to be honest I didn’t really see how, as someone who presents as a male most of the time, have an easier time in many interactions compared to my wife… until I did. When repair people come to the house they request to speak with me, even if she is the one who made the appointment. When we met with the banker to purchase our new house last year he only looked at me. My wife will drop her car off at the mechanic who will then call her… and request to speak with me about the needed repairs.
When Hannah is out in the real world, I am shown how differently it can be for people who aren’t presenting as men. The world interacts with Hannah as a transgender woman.
While it’s true that the people Hannah comes in contact with don’t tell her “I am using THIS language because you are transgender” there are enough differences in HIS experiences compared to HER experiences to assume that this is indeed happening.
When he is running errands every single encounter with others is completely unremarkable.
But Hannah’s adventures can be very different.
There’s a gas station that I visited several times in male mode and the owner was usually friendly and chatty. Hannah went there ONCE and he was a complete asshole. He kept referring to Hannah as BUDDY and SIR. He went completely out of his way to use this language. His verbiage was deliberate.
When HE goes to stores or whatever no one gives him dirty looks. HE never feels threatened. HE never feels unsafe.
But Hannah looks over her shoulder. Hannah avoids parking spots at night if they are too far away.
Although they happen far less than I had expected, Hannah still gets rude comments and what feels like threatening looks. Violence against trans women seems to be rising each year. It’s not a safe world for girls like us.
This is an example of male privilege. HE doesn’t worry about a thing.
It’s… interesting, to say the least, how different the world is for both of my identities.
This contrast also manifests itself in online interactions, specifically on Twitter. Hannah gets a few direct messages each day and most of them are very short, lol.
Some dude: “hi”
And that’s the end of that.
You might be thinking that my response is kind of bitchy. My perspective is I respond with the same energy and effort that the sender initiates.
Some exchanges go on a little longer and it’s in these conversations that I am reminded of the world that many women, cis and trans, live in.
Some dude: “hi”
And then, BAM! A picture of their penis.
The… boldness, the audacity is… remarkable. Not good remarkable, mind you. It’s just, wow. What part of someone’s brain thinks that it’s a good idea to send that picture that quickly into a conversation??
Of course, I also wonder if they really do think a picture like that will endear me to them or that I will think it’s impressive. I mean, if I wanted to see a penis I could look at my own, lol.
A photo like this is an indication of what kind of person the sender is and what they are hoping to accomplish with the conversation. It’s also a signal that the conversation will end very soon and very abruptly.
My response to these photos?
“Why did you send that to me?”
Almost every answer to that is “I don’t know”.
Of course it’s impossible to guess what is going on in their mind at this point but I get the impression that they really DON’T know why they did that. I mean, they likely had a reason to send that such as hoping it would lead me to have sex with them (regardless of what continent they are on) but… it’s kind of like a moment of clarity for them.
Almost as if they are asking themselves “Why DID I sent that..?”
We’ve all done things where we wonder why we made a decision that we did. It could be a cringe moment in a conversation or something rude we said to someone, or in this case, it’s sending a photo of your genitalia.
I’ll tell the sender that I didn’t ask to see a photo like that.
Usually an apology happens. Like they realize that they went waaaaaaay over the line. And then I block them, lol. LOVE doing that.
I’ve done this enough times to the point I wonder if the dude realizes that he is being held accountable for his actions and doesn’t really know how to respond to that.
I believe in accountability. In my male life I don’t see enough of it. Some of the men I’ve known or worked with over the years have treated me like “one of the guys” and it’s unnerving to hear about the things they have done as well as the lack of any repercussions that have come with their actions.
Please understand. I don’t think I am perfect. I have done and said things that I am ashamed of.
Seeing how (some) men treat Hannah helps me, as a male presenting person (most of the time), be more conscious of the world that women live in. I choose my words more carefully and I am more aware of my body language. This awareness can sometimes be surprising in regards to things I never think of. If I am going for a walk (in male mode) and I see a woman doing the same thing I make sure she can see my hands. This was something I never thought about but I have heard from many women that they are less uncomfortable with men they don’t know (or sometimes with men they do know) if they can see their hands.
I am a better person than I used to be. Much of my growth has come from experiencing the world as Hannah. We need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see things from another’s perspective. For women, walking a mile in stilettos will absolutely shine a light on how different the world can and is be.
2 thoughts on “A Mile in Stilettos”
Hello Hannah! I love this article for two reasons. I totally agree with the two differant reactions. I have several ckose friends that know about Nikki and are very supportive of her. They see the differant reactions in people when we’re out. The second is what you mentioned about walking a mile in stilletos. I participate in an event called Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. This year will be my tenth year doing so. Last year we had over 500 walkers and raised over $30,000 for the local rape crisis center. I do this walk for two reasons. One, I have two close female friends that were raped a yong age. Two, Nikki gets to show the world who she really is! It’s kinda weird how all of the people there, not just the walkers mind, but the crowds that gather to watch, treat us. Not one word has ever been criticle! Again I love this article!!
Great article. Well written and thought out. I would say in almost NO way is the world easier for a trans person compared to cis gender males OR females. And I agree for that cis women in most ways there are distinct disadvantages and assumptions that are made. My wife does most of the household repairs and she is constantly treated like she is ignorant when talking to clerks in hardware of home improvement stores. The only distinct advantage I can see for women is that most of them do not feel the added pressure of supporting a family like a man with wife, children and a mountain of mortgages. However for the single mother even that doesn’t apply!