Ten thoughts on: Jenni Murray: “Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman'”

8. I may have enjoyed male privilege, but I also suffered at the hands of it

I lived as a man for sixteen years and a boy for eighteen before that. I have certainly benefitted from my socialization. I knew how to operate within a male dominated environment; I was a dominant male. Trans skeptical feminists often cite this as a reason that I am disqualified from being a woman: “How can ‘he’ claim to be a woman because he benefitted from the system for so long?”

The reality is that living as a closeted transgender person is not much fun. I may have appeared to be a strong, successful man, but inside I was unhappy. I was too afraid of how the society I lived in would react to what I felt inside. I had heard people in my industry openly making transphobic and homophobic jokes and slurs not understanding that they were hurting me. I was terrified to even think about living authentically. I was oppressed by the patriarchy before I transitioned. Now I am living as a woman I experience the more classic oppression of sexism and misogyny that almost every woman faces.

I am very fortunate in that I have a solid career that pays me well. Have I benefitted from sexism? Would I have had the same career trajectory as a natal born woman? I don’t know. I chose to believe I am successful because I’m intelligent and talented not because I was born with a willy. In fact, if trans women benefit so greatly from their socialization as men, then why is unemployment and poverty so rampant amongst trans women?

On to the penultimate one… Number 9…

  • skyler

    Thank you! Some people tend to think that male chauvinists treat people based on their chromosomes rather than on behaviour! I think everyone should be free to live the way they feel comfortable! We can’t brand people as mentally-ill for being homosexual, likewise we can’t pinpoint transgenders for their difference! Everyone’s different, if we follow the trans-exclusionary logic, we should create a wide spectrum of categories to tag people. Not everyone’s got the same experience of life, but we must keep in mind that persecution is not acceptable anyway, people don’t need you to be a woman or black person to harass you!

    • Amy Collins

      Thanks for reading and your comment. Your point about excluding different groups of women was precisely what I was alluding to on the last page. Middle class, educated, straight white cisgender women shouldn’t get to dictate which classes of women they want in their club.