November 19, 2014

Quick Guide to Cis-Privilege and Trans* Allyship

Transgender day of Remembrance was first created in honour of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered due to anti-transgender hate in November 1998. Similar to many transgender murder cases, her murder has yet to be solved. November 20th has become a day to acknowledge those who have died due to transphobia, while working towards solidary and allyship within and from outside of the trans* community.  

As someone who does not identify as transgender, I benefit from cis-gendered privilege. I will never know what it feels like to walk a day in the life of a trans* person, and will never be faced with perpetual trans* phobia and prejudice.

10 examples of everyday cis-privilege:

1)      I can be sure that when I am in a public space, there will be a washroom that accommodates my gender identity  

2)      When filling out a form from pretty much any institution, business or service, I will have my gender identity represented

3)      Strangers don’t feel that they can ask about my genitals and/or how I have sex

4)      My gender identity is not medicalized and considered a disorder

5)      I can be sure that people of my gender identity are widely represented in the media and popular culture

6)      I don’t have to remind people to use gender pronouns that I identify with

7)      If am incarcerated, I can be sure that I will be sent to a jail or prison with other people that are congruent with my identity

8)      I can usually assume that I will be able to find a job, take out a loan and rent an apartment without having my gender called into question

9)      I can be sure that there are homeless shelters, transition houses and sexual assault support services that accommodate my gender  

10)   I don’t have to worry about being denied access on a plane, services at a bank, hospital
or other institution because my gender expression does not match my gender on my identification card

*This list is far from being exhaustive –cis-privilege is endless!

What does it mean to be an ally to the trans* community?

First of all, what is allyship? In this context, an ally is someone who supports the rights of trans* people. An ally would work to acknowledge their own privilege and how it contributes to the marginalization of trans* folk. An ally would be an active bystander, striving to eliminate transphobia and discrimination.

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