What is “cisgender,” and what does having “cisgender privilege” mean?
In this article, Sam Dylan Finch artfully breaks down what it means to be cisgender in our society, and lists all different kinds of privileges come with identifying as cis. He gracefully reminds the readers that, even though reflecting on privilege can make us feel guilty, sad, uncomfortable, and intimidated, that is not the point of “checking your privilege.”
It is, however, about becoming aware of perspectives and experiences that are not within the norm, not within the position of power. It is about building compassion, understanding and sensitivity. It is about proactively learning how to be an amazing ally and unlearning harmful ways of speaking or behaving. It is, in the words of Finch, about “hold[ing] yourself accountable for the impact your actions and words have as a person who holds privilege.”
As a cisgendered person, for a long time I did not recognize my own privileges, such as using the bathroom without being harassed. I assumed it was the universal experience—or, probably more accurately, I did not think about it at all. I didn’t have to.
That is why it is absolutely necessary for those of us who are cisgendered to both become aware of the privileges that we hold, and in doing so, become aware that these are privileges that transgender or gender nonconforming people do not have. This kind of awareness is essential in building meaningful change in our society; to create spaces that are inclusive, sensitive, and accountable.