The other day I was having coffee with a friend.
“I love trans people, but I do not feel like I need to identify as cisgender,” my friend stated. She went on to say, “I am not transgender, I was born a woman and identify as a woman. Why should I say I am “cis” and how do I have ‘cisgender’ privilege? I’m just normal. How is being normal a privilege?”
What she didn’t realize was that saying she was normal – while speaking to me, a transgender man, as unintentionally “abnormal” – is exactly where cis privilege starts.
Here are a few cis privilege examples I gave my friend and I hope they help other ally folks too!
Most cis people, excluding those with disabilities, do not have to worry about whether they will be able to find a safe and accessible bathroom or locker room to use. Let alone, whether or not the state you live in will attempt to pass legislation making it illegal to use a public restroom that aligns with your gender identity.
Cis people do not have to choose between either feeling invisible through "passing" or being regularly "othered" by being out/ not passing. The "othering process" makes it so that trans identity is often not taken seriously, leads to the person being misgendered, and tokenized based on their gender. Most cis people don't have to deal with this.
For the most part, strangers call you by the name you give them, and they don’t ask what your “real name” (birth name) is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name (or dead-name you).
The media depicts people of cis identity in films and television, all day - everyday. Cis identity isn’t only used as the concentration of a dramatic, exploitative, storyline or the punch line for a joke, the way that trans stories and bodies often are. Although, shows like Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, Faking It and Sense 8 are working to change that, there's a long, long way to go.
When you make a new friend, you don't have to contemplate whether or not you should tell them about your gender identity. Because being in a position to possibly have to educate them feels too exhausting or they might reject and hurt you.
Despite strides for trans visibility in 2015, the year also recorded the most murders of trans people on record. Obviously, cisgender people are targets of for crime, but trans people are often called out merely on the basis that they are trans.
Cis folks can easily start online dating profiles, go on dates, cruise, or form a relationships and not worry that your sex assigned at birth may be cause for dismissal or assault, nor will it cause your lover to feel like they now need to question their sexual identity.
Trans folks experience job discrimination at an astonishing rate. According to GLAAD, trans folks are four times more likely to be unemployed than cis people, and due to this, face homelessness. Most of the United States and other countries do not offer legal protections in housing, employment, health care, and other areas where folks experience bias based on their gender identity.