Particularly as I embark on some majorly expensive transition steps, I am reflecting a lot on how much privilege I have to even be attempting this.
I have partners who fully support my transition and a spouse who has the ability to work remotely from San Francisco during my recovery. I have a job where I not only have an affirming team but I have the ability to take 6-12 weeks off and the insurance coverage to make this possible. I have a community of friends that are generously contributing to my transition costs. And I have the class, racial, and urban privilege to make this a relatively safe thing to do.
On a regular basis I see trans people living on the streets in Seattle who can barely afford to have gender affirming clothing, much less any sort of medical transition. So as you support the people around you who are taking those steps, take a moment to remember those who can’t. And please support organizations like Gender Justice League who fight to make policies that allow transition for people on state health plans and shelter beds to get trans people off the streets and out of unsafe situations.
Most trans people in the world can’t afford the costs of transition, aren’t allowed to transition, don’t have the possibility to transition, or aren’t in a safe environment to transition. They still deserve respect and dignity. (Credit to Sophie Labelle – Assigned Male Comics)
2 thoughts on “The privilege of transition”
I, too, see those trans people living on the streets of Seattle very often. It’s not too hard to come to the conclusion that “there, for the grace of God, go I.” It took a lot of time and energy for me to take the chance of being rejected in my coming out and begin living as the woman I was born to be. I don’t think I could have continued, had rejection gone so far as to put me in the same position as some of those poor souls I have seen or encountered.I am, indeed, privileged!
I decided, before I made the move to come out, that any privilege I had in doing so would also be accompanied by a responsibility. It’s easy for me to forget that, at times, however. Although I may not be in a position to help financially, I do try to live my life so as to be a good example – if not as inspiration for other trans people, at least to show the general public that a trans woman is not to be feared or dismissed. This, of course, should have nothing to do with privilege, as it is really a human right. Still, the world in which we live is more apt to recognize privilege above human rights, it seems.
Thank you for reminding me of my privilege, and, in turn, my responsibilities.
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I am relatively privileged because I feel no need to transition. (I don’t have physical dysphoria; my gender doesn’t match my physical morphology but I’m OK with that even if the rest of the world is not). Those whose brain tells them that the body structure to which they were born doesn’t match the internal “map” have to navigate a course that is much harder than mine, and, as you said, a lot more expensive. I do often feel marginalized within conversations about being gender variant but by and large I recognize that I’m in a privileged position. Bathroom laws, hormone access, gatekeeping doctors, the pressure to “pass”, access to surgical interventions… I don’t have to cope directly with any of that. I’m trying to carve out a social awareness of people like me, male girls and female boys and so forth, people not interested in transitioning. But I never want to make it at your expense.