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".



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