Privilege lost and patriarchy recognised

Last but by no means least (and soon I will have to shift into a more general political analysis of all this) is what I have learnt about transphobia – and some of the worst tricks it has up its sleeve.

Its been an eye-opener, with me learning something new and important just when I thought I now knew it all.

A couple of years back – I’ve mentioned this before – I wrote about the trans world from the outside. Always intrigued, attracted: but also bemused at how so many could get so worked up about what seemed to be such trivial things.

Then I crossed over…and irony of ironies…I found myself living the same issues I had previously not understood.

And then there was this thing that people mentioned: its called “loss of privilege”. Hey! I can cope with that. It means people saying rude things about you in the street: finding it less safe to walk home at night; having people stand closer when they talk and…former colleagues patting your bum at social events.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Hmmm…and maybe tick! (there were four things on that list). I’ve now experienced them all and am rapidly adapting to them. They’re a pain but – apart from the threat of real violence – they’re pretty dealable with.

So I know what “loss of privilege” means?


Loss of privilege is what happened on Friday. It is also what today’s church friend told me about in her workplace. And it is about the experience of women, whose cases I am gradually collecting for future write-up.

It is about this: the blatant and absolute negation of you as an individual and the sheer arrogant presumption on the part of another that they get to define who or what you are.

Sure: it happens to blokes; and I have no doubt that women in positions of power do it to other women – and men too. But by and large it feels like something inflicted by a male establishment on anyone and everyone outside.

It’s the surgeon telling one woman who lost all sexual function following an operation that there was nothing wrong and that maybe she needed counselling. Its another surgeon insisting to a woman in pain and emotionally hurt following another botched operation that all was normal and she had just got it wrong.

Its doctors operating on intersex babies in order to ensure they have a “normal” female upbringing. And its charlatans (ooops…I mean, psychiatrists!) categorising as abnormal and “disordered” homosexuals, transsexuals – or any other sexuality they can’t quite get their head around.

Yep, its those charlatans again locking women up in asylums because they got a bit hysterical…and its those selfsame charlatans telling women that masturbation was a sign of mental illness.

And its an unfeeling, unempathic professional telling a trans woman – me – that he will condescend to “refer to me” as Jane for the duration of an interview. Not acknowledging me as a person: not accepting that I have any existence or validity in any way other than as he sees fit to grant me.

That’s loss of privilege…and on Friday, I think I finally discovered what it feels like.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    The next step is to learn how to scare the shit out of people when they do that. 😉 It won’t set right every injustice but it can teach a few people to think twice. Remember that loss of privilege works two ways. It can only be imposed if it is also accepted, internalised – if you learn to feel cowed. Nothing scares those who try to impose it so much as the simple, personal assumption of integrity, being sure of oneself. Do not let yourself be stamped, indexed, filed, catalogued, etc. You are not a number.

  2. 2

    Natacha said,

    Absolutely right Jane. but it is not just the surgeons, charlatans and other “professionals”. It is the bloke on the tube, the wanker yelling something out of the car, the writer in the press who “knows” moer about trannies then we do, the ignorant shop assistant, the arsehole barman/woman, the arrogant “client” (or more often ex-client), the rich city “gent” and the scumbag on the bus who seems to be a challenger for most uncool man in London compettition…

  3. 3

    Sophia said,

    In terms of therapy provision, okay there’s clearly a privileged power that therapists will carelessly use, but I don’t think one can totally separate it from institutionalized
    Looking at the UK option, though it’s similar elsewhere,I was rather struck by the level of expertise needed by a gender specialist and the number of responsibilities that only they were able to fulfil. Then I heard the figure of 300 an hour chargable to the NHS and wondered no more.

  4. 4

    karen said,

    There is a book That I’ve read years ago that speaks of using your Power of Positive Thinking. Here’s an opportunity, to use the incredible strength you created when you start your life changing journey Now use it. I”ve been reading blogs from your country and other bloggers there are unhappy with doctors it seems they are the worse but, we MUST remember most doctors only know what the books tell them (20 years old) and none of them ever consider you as an individual. You are just a number and he’s got 20 more after you and don’t care about your feelings. Best alternative don’t antagonize them (only if you know can win) and find people doctors included whom understand the emotional side as well as the phyiscal. You need to find other like people that understands your position in life today. Hopefully these friends can help you find understand doctor etc.

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