adalger: Earthrise as seen from the moon, captured on camera by the crew of Apollo 16 (Default)
posted by [personal profile] adalger at 04:07pm on 2009-07-06
Here's my question.

I was born male. I "feel" heterosexual. Because of some quirks of my personality and style, people commonly assume I'm homosexual.

Am I still cisgendered? I certainly don't self-identify as gay or trans or any other member-class of the subset of society under discussion, but I frequently don't exactly get to assume the "privilege" this subsection would assume I have just because I have male genitals and like to use thme on female genitals.
You were assigned the identity of male at birth. Do you now identify identify as female? Do you now identify as a gender that lies outside of the gender binary? If you answer both of those questions with "no", you are cisgender.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are two different demographic categories, each having their own separate issues. You will face different kinds of prejudice and assumptions about your person when someone perceives you as homosexual/bisexual as compared to when someone perceives you as transgender.

Most lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are not transgender. Some transgender people identify as heterosexual (attracted to a sex other than the one they identify as). Some transgender people identify as bisexual and some identify as homosexual (attracted to the same sex that they identify as).

Put another way:

Sexual orientation concerns who you are attracted to. Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, and pansexual are some of the possible variations on sexual orientation.

Gender identity concerns who you identify as. Transgender, genderqueer, and cisgender are some of the possible variations on gender identity.
As has been stated, there's a difference between heterosexual privilege and cis privilege. What you're talking about is het. privilege.

Privilege is complicated. As others have said, "passing privilege" can look a hell of a lot like cis privilege sometimes. But privilege encompasses not only how others treat you, but also how society tells you to think of yourself. If people frequently think you're homosexual, you probably have a better appreciation of the plight of actual homosexuals because you probably have more experience with people treating you as though you were gay. BUT, at the end of the day, you AREN'T gay, and you can afford to dismiss a lot of the attacks on you that directly reference your perceived homosexuality.

For example--imagine a hypothetical trans woman. People assume she's a cis woman because that's the assumed default. She doesn't see privilege exercised against her in the form of people raising hell about bathrooms or what-have-you because it simply doesn't occur to most people that a trans person might be walking in their midst. But she still lives in a cis-centric society, and she still sees her identity mocked, derided, and made a joke of. At the end of the day, she can't walk away from those attacks because she IS trans; that's just a part of her identity. Thus discrimination doesn't require a specific person standing in front of you and attacking you; it doesn't even require that one's minority condition be easily perceived.

So you may experience discrimination based on perceived homosexuality. That discrimination IS real and it's a problem. But you AREN'T gay and thus you probably don't feel the attacks as personally as someone who IS--in your case, someone attacking you can be dismissed as a judgmental, ill-informed jerk. In the case of an actual gay person, there's always that nagging voice--"What if that guy that made fun of me was RIGHT?"
posted by [personal profile] flamewarrior at 08:21pm on 2009-07-07
Thank you all for this conversation about passing. I'm cisgendered, but I'm a bisexual woman in a relationship with a queer man. You've inspired me to have these kinds of conversations (about privilege vs. passing) with lesbians who don't want me around them because I "benefit from heterosexual privilege".
posted by (anonymous) at 01:38am on 2009-11-29
I have a different take on it.

I use the term "transgender" to describe anyone whose gender identity or expression varies from that assigned to them at or shortly after birth. Your gender expression sounds like it is the target of oppression. Thus, the way I use the word transgender it could include you - if you feel comfortable with it.

Transsexual on the other hand, specifically refers to moving to a different gender identity than the one assigned to you at or shortly after birth. A cissexual has the same identity. (And an intesexed person was assigned outside of the binary at birth, but probably re-assigned into it shortly thereafter)

I would usually refer to FAAB butch women and MAAB nelly men as "cissexed and transgendered" as I feel it's important to acknowledge their oppression by gender policing, and how that has much in common with people on the rest of the trans spectrum



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