Before I get started, I need to say this post is entirely about *my narrative*. I speak ONLY for myself. This post is not about other trans women – It’s about MY life.
I grew up with male privilege and then I gave it up.
I grew up as a relatively “normal boy”. I never had any struggles with my gender identity until my late 20s. I was homeschooled. As a child I played Legos with my brother, built tree forts, played sports, rode bikes around the neighborhood, swam all day in the summer, played manhunt, collected random things, played videogames, and was generally a pretty normal boy with normal “boyish” predilections.
I loved school and academics. I always did well. I had the privilege of never having my intellectual abilities questioned. I had the privilege of never being discouraged to pursue science and philosophy. I had the privilege of never being defined as a “emotional being” but instead had the privilege of being defined as a “rational being”. I had the privilege of being seen as the “default” – the prototypical person.
I had the privilege of having my hand-eye coordination encouraged and praised. I had the privilege of having the option of not caring about my appearance without having my masculinity challenged. I had the privilege of not worrying about whether I was skinny enough to be attractive. I had the privilege of avoiding the “pink tax”. I had the privilege of playing with all the “cool” toys as a child.
I had the privilege of being able to walk in my neighborhood at night without any fear of being attacked or raped. I had the privilege of never having to worry about my drink being drugged at a party. I had the privilege of not worrying if I was getting too drunk.
I had the privilege to speak up in class and dominate class discussions. I had the privilege to go through grad school in philosophy without people assuming I’m not “cut out” for philosophy, rational thought, or argumentation. I had the privilege of choosing any topic to study even if it did not relate the real world. I had the privilege to speak with authority and not have my intelligence questioned. I had the privilege of mansplaining.
I had the privilege of examples in thought experiments usually being male-gendered and I had the privilege of language being male-centered (”All of mankind”, “all men are created equal”, “mailman”, etc).
I had the privilege of not being interrupted as much when I was speaking.
I had the privilege of my reproductive system not being regulated by the state.
I had the privilege of my “male gaze” being the focus of pornography and I had the privilege of having my objectifications validated by society. I had the privilege of not ever being sexually harassed or hit on by strangers. I had the privilege of never being cat called.
I had the privilege of reading about history and having almost every story center around men. I had the privilege of most of the protagonists in media being men with positive representation. I had the privilege of not having to deal with the Bechdel Test.
I had the privilege of having almost all elected officials being men. I had the privilege of most research being done on male subjects.
I had the privilege of being able to take up as much space as I wanted.
I had the privilege of not having to worry too much about household chores and cleaning, so-called “women’s work”.
I had the privilege of everyone assuming that my career would take precedence in a relationship.
I have given all that up. I no longer have those privileges, or if I do retain some of the privilege, I am slowly losing it. I have lost my male privilege while also gaining the extra problems of transphobia and cis-sexism.I have begun the process of unlearning all socialization I received growing up. I have tried my best to learn more about feminism, women’s rights, and the system of patriarchy that I used to benefit from. I try to be a better listener now, I try not interrupt people as much as I used to. I try not to talk over people like I used to. I try not to dominate discussions in class like I used to. Part of my newfound “quietism” is due to me not liking to use my voice and drawing attention to myself as a trans woman, but it’s also partly due to my recognition that I cannot take my privileges for granted anymore.
I recognize it is highly controversial in the trans community to talk about my having grown up with male privilege. I SPEAK ONLY FOR MYSELF. Other trans women might have had completely different childhoods that didn’t have as many privileges. But it is unquestionable to me that I had certain privileges in virtue of being raised as a boy.