I wrote a post the other day that got me accused of rampant transphobia. Not by a trans woman to be fair, in fact I had discussed the contents of that post with several women(trans women). Turns out I mixed up the little known academic terms Cis Privilege and Gender privilege. Something I was happy to remedy quickly, because I know I am wrong a lot.
The person who accused me of transphobia, consistently reinforced this misunderstanding, telling me ALL women were privileged over ALL trans people, and when I pointed out this was clearly not true or representative of the reality of womanhood on this planet, she laid into me.
The problem with this incident was, that my misunderstanding of this one little known academic term had actually upset someone I value a great deal, and I wanted to talk to her about it. And find out why, and apologise if necessary. I am an adult and consider this woman to be a voice I value, not because she is a trans woman and I want her as a badge to my right on collection, but because she is smart and intelligent and very kind. I was told by this privileged academic young feminist I was a raving transphobe and I was to leave my poor friend alone. She then went onto explain, that women who were born women ALL enjoyed privilege over trans woman. She was talking nonsense and she was also talking about gender privilege even if she was using the word ‘cis’. She accused me of making a differentiation between trans women and those who were born women, when the distinction was hers and the birth is just a fact.
My misunderstanding of the word Cis Privilege, came from the fact this word is not an accusation, it is not a perjorative, it is not even an assumption that cis privilege manifests itself in any way or a minimisation of the reality for women on this planet, a misunderstanding gained entirely by seeing it used to bully and give the fringes of our online radical political culture an excuse to shout at women,. The reality is that basic choice and even ownership of their own genitals does not exist for all or most women in our society, globally or nationally. Her misunderstanding was that all Cis women enjoy the privilege she does, mine was of an academic term she learned presumably in the course of HER education. The privilege she enjoys is not even enjoyed by the majority of women, and wont even be enjoyed by her peers once they procreate, unless they are independently wealthy.
Transphobia, homophobia, is not a misunderstanding of an academic term. These are not academic things. No-one is looking for another vanguard of young, blinkered, academic bullies to fight for equality on our behalf. Feminism failed because elitism, often academic, took it out of the hands of women and women’s lives. Trans women. or not. And made it an academic pursuit dominated by the views of women who think choice is the norm. The constant whining of privilege is grating, the only purpose for this term is address your own or to address someone elses that affects you. It is not a weapon for snot nosed post grads to abuse people at will.
That is not feminism or fighting transphobia, it’s a using privilege you hold to dictate what other people should think and say and using your academic advantage to excuse your bullying. Transphobia is not about an academic term it is about the reality of living in a country where you can’t even guarantee your doctor will speak to you like a human being, and where the risk of violence is the norm. And it is not the privilege of women born that way, that created transphobia. That’s patriarchy.
We live in a country where you cannot even assume the woman you are speaking to has choice in her own life and autonomy over her own decisions, and no feminism that will ever succeed will involved shouting at those women demanding they recognise a privilege they do not hold.
PS as I generally do when I want to guage whether a twitterstorm has substance I asked people in real life. Noone had heard the term Cis. Even the person I asked that really would have the right to accuse me of transphobia.
PSS I apologise for the delay but I don’t have the privilege of devoting my time to this at the mo. Gender shit.