Cisgender Privilege

Cisgender Privilege

One of the things that really stood out to me while reading Dean Spade’s chapter “Administrating Gender” is how just the classification on so many necessary documents contain a gender category and how many hoops a transgender person needs to jump through in order to even get that classification changed.  Spade says, “some require evidence that the person has undergone a specific surgery; others ask for evidence that the person has had some surgery but do not specify which; and some require a doctor’s letter confirming that the person is trans and attesting to the medical authorization for or permanence of their membership in a particular gender category” (144).  I feel that this all stems from a fear of gender.  With all the progress that has been made, I believe that a lot of this country is still run with the white male in mind and he is afraid of everyone who is not like him.  Gender is as fluid as any other part of someone’s identity.  Biology is not a part of gender so a doctor’s note should not be required to change it just as a doctor’s note is not required for me to dye my hair and change my hair color on my license.  However, the category of hair color does not affect how I am able to claim the benefits of health care or any other government-run program. 

I had never realized how much privilege I had as a cisgendered person until I read an article last semester called “Cis Privilege Checklist.”  After reading Spade, I went back and read again the list of privileges that trans people are not able to receive simply because they do not fit into the two box category of gender, and because there are so many hoops to jump through in order to get a different box checked on any official document.  So many of the privileges in that article could be given to everyone if the system of gender classification could be changed.  However, I do not think that adding more boxes is the answer; I think that the only way to effectively take away the disadvantages trans people face is to discard the category from all government documents.  There are so many other identifying features that could be used that would not disadvantage an entire population of people that could be used other than gender.  I would argue that, just as Spade says, there is no law reform that would be able to fix all of the problems of discrimination.  An entire system reconfiguration that is based on true equality, not the equality of the United States, is what would be needed in order to get anywhere.

Nicole Amodeo

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