In September 2015, I participated in the 30 Days Social Justice blog series as proposed by my friend and mentor, Rev. Gina Pond. You can find there here on doubleinvert and on the blog for my ministry, The Barc of the Blue Bard. One of the topics was Body Shame/Policing, which I addressed from the point of view of being transgender. That post included the following paragraph:
I’ve encountered many in the trans communities who will deny the concept of the privilege of passing for cis, based on the fact that this privilege often comes after a great deal of expense and work. This is completely true: there are those persons who do invest a great deal of time, money, and effort into passing. This can often be for their own safety, because there are cis persons who will violently police the bodies of trans persons. If we don’t pass, we can be in lethal danger. So those who can pass are indeed afforded a measure of safety and this is indeed a privilege. So, being able to pass can prevent cis persons from policing the bodies of trans persons.
I was living in San Mateo, CA, when my transition began in January 2011. In late August 2014, I moved to Berkeley and then to San Leandro with my partner in December 2014. Since moving to the East Bay that August, the amount of cissexism (transphobia) that I’ve encountered has increased dramatically, and it’s been happening more and more lately. So much so, that my nerves are starting to get frayed. As I also mentioned in my Body Shame/Policing blog post, I can still pass for male, if need be. But, I don’t want to. I’m really lamenting that I got rid of my breastforms and the pocket bras I used with them, as the cissexism and misgendering was at an all-time minimum when I used them. Why? because it sent the necessary visual cues for those who were able to perceive them that I was to be addressed as woman. And, no, it’s not just men who harass me. It’s women, too.
I maintain that being able to pass for cis is an effort that results in privilege. I maintain this point of view as I’ve experienced it first-hand. This regional increase demonstrates, to me, that privilege and oppression can and does vary depending on one’s location. And those who believe that the San Francisco Bay Area — sometimes called the Gay Area — is some kind of paradise for all persons who are gender-expansive or gay/bi/what-have-you has taken leave of their intellects. Cissexism and heterosexism are most lethally alive and well here.