I am likely to be bashed by certain feminists for this post but bear with me as I have a perspective and experience that is different from cisgender (not transgender) women. Female privilege. We do not hear much about that. There is a great deal written and said regarding male privilege and white cisgender straight-male privilege (WCSMP) in particular. But this is not going to be a rant about that other than to acknowledge that WCSMP is real, and those of us who do not fit that bucket know it is real based on the daily world we live in.
I am talking about female privilege. Now I am a white transgender lesbian female. And I will confess that the white bit issues me some privilege in society. However the transgender lesbian bit is a nonstarter in everyday society, and yes even in parts of the LGB community which is sad but true. However it is that last bit –- female – that I want to pick at.
I contend that trans women are uniquely positioned to comment on this as we have lived on both sides of the coin. We have witnessed the erosion, and in some cases eradication, of what limited WCSMP we may have had before transitioning. Trust me, a closeted trans woman is not enjoying WCSMP as much as you all may think. I have the recollection of being shunned in gym class because I could never throw or catch a ball to the satisfaction of others. And for a time I recall being beaten up on my way to school for simply being “weird.”
I made my first observation of this female privilege near the beginning of my transition. As you transition you often gain more and more confidence in public and on this occasion I decided I needed to get some furniture for the house I was moving into. Kids need beds you see and I had none. So I put “me” together and went to Ikea. It was one of my first “daylight” adventures. I was nervous and excited at the same time.
While in the store I had some trouble loading a few of those monster boxes onto the cart I had. As I was struggling in the warehouse a member of the female staff approached me. Thinking I had been “clocked” I did not know how to answer her question which was “Would you like some help with that?” Feeling relieved I said “Why thank you, yes I would.” The next bit astounded me as I had anticipated her grabbing an end of the giant carton and helping get it on the cart. She did nothing of the sort. Instead she yelled across the floor, “Hey Earl, can you help us here?” Earl came bounding cheerfully down the aisle, grabbed the box and got it up on the cart. I said thank you but he lingered. He offered to push the cart around and help me with any other item I wanted to load. I was flabbergasted.
After paying for my items I went to load them onto my truck, by myself, just as I had done in nearly 20 years of shopping at Ikea. Instantly there were two young strapping lads who insisted on loading the truck for me. I could not believe it. That had never happened before, ever. I pondered this on my drive home as to why these things happened to me. Then it dawned on me – female privilege.
Over time I have noticed other interactions, some with other women. Pleasant conversations with the late-night staff when checking out at the market. Having a real conversation with the woman (and mother I learned) at a drive-through restaurant while waiting on the food. The fella who insisted on installing my wiper blades at the auto parts place, even though I had done that job many times myself.
I found in general that female privilege in large measure results in a much more civilized interaction with people, even in confrontation. Some will likely say, “Sharon what do you expect, after having some facial surgery, etc.,” but those same folks forget that I am six foot tall and well over 200 pounds. I’m a very big broad. I have heard of “passing” privilege and I suppose I am enjoying some of that however what I am really enjoying is female privilege. Ladies please do not discount what you may have. The other team has none of it and frankly could use some.