Nowadays we are hearing a lot in the media about issues such as Gay Marriage, Gay Rights, etc. But what you don’t hear most too often are issues of a much deeper matter within the LGBT community; such as Transgender rights and safety. Yes folks, I’m talking about the almost invisible T in the LGBT which most of us, even within the Gay community tend to overlook. I want to focus on the oppression that’s being overlooked when it comes to these individuals such as violence, discrimination, and not understanding what it means to have cisgender privilege. I’m hoping that issues like these will be addressed and handled over time as a support and activist group that is being put together in my area to help transgender individuals network and find resources.
The first question in you mind might be “What is cisgender privilege?” That’s a very good question because it’s not a term used n the general public. Let me first start off by defining the word cisgender. A cisgender person is defined as someone who identifies as the gender/sex they were assigned with at birth. For example, if your birth certificate says female, and you identify as female, then you are cisgender, the same applies to a male. Basically anyone who is not transgender is cisgender.
Now we get to cisgender privilege, in the most simplest of terms are all the privileges cisgender people have living in society. There is a huge list you can find by going to :
But I’ll briefly state and explain a few very important ones that I feel need addressed most specifically.
1.) You don’t have fear of using public restrooms because of verbal and sometimes violent abuse by cisgender people.
2.) Strangers don’t assume that they can ask you what your genitals look like.
3.) You validity as a man or women is not based upon how much gender re-assignment surgery you have had or how well you pass.
4.) When you express your internal identities in your daily life, you are not considered “mentally ill” by the medical establishment.
5.) You have access to gender inclusive organizations like fraternities, etc.…
And one which I find to be very important and affecting the transgender community….
6.) You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, apartment, or secure a loan is not denied based on your gender identity.
As I stated earlier these are only a few points of transgender privilege, there are plenty others. I urge you to visit the links I provided as well as doing your own research and becoming educated on such matters and I urge you to educate others as well.
This subject really hits home for me because I belong to the transgender community and have suffered some of these acts of discrimination. I’m currently unemployed because as of right now there are no laws in the state of Ohio that protect transgender individuals. Employers can fire or choose not to hire someone because of their gender identity. I was extremely put down by an employer who bluntly told me that the reason why I wasn’t being hired was because I didn’t dress as my assigned gender in an Interview. This incident happened at Valvoline in Warren, Ohio. I’ve had various interviews where I met all qualifications for the job being provided, but after being met in an in person interview, I was not called back. Other occurrences have happened to individuals I know, some in my community here, and others across the country.
Safety is a very big issue as well, like everyone with a functioning bladder and kidneys; transgender people need to use the restroom. For us, this can be very frustrating and cause anxiety for those needing to use public facilities. The individual can be met with stares, dirty remarks, and sometimes in the worse case violence. This can also happen in other public places such as changing rooms or gym locker rooms. I can say that so far, gym locker rooms have not been a problem thus far for me as an individual but I have heard some horror stories.
Earlier this year I made a vow to myself that I would not only stand up for my rights, but also the rights of my brothers and sister in the Transgender community. That’s when Northeast Ohio Transgender Support was created. I wanted to start an organization to help put an end to oppression, not only in my area, but I feel the need to network with other groups and organizations so that we can provide support, resources, and possibly start petitioning to get laws placed for protection. The group is quite small at the moment but I hope it will continue to grow as I’m finding more individuals like myself in my community, and more moving into the community. In my heart I do believe that Ohio will be one of the next great places to add support for the LGBT community as a whole.
Just this week in the media President Obama announced a new Employment non-discrimination act:
Which will protect all people of the LGBT community including transgender people. The act has passed the senate and is now going to the House, as we speak. This will be a great milestone if it passes.
Planning events would be the next step in building up the community. Having everyone communicate and be involved is a major factor to create an oneness within the community so that we can have a bigger voice regarding our opinions, views, and concerns.
Despite the negative impact that has been put on the transgender community, I think that things are looking brighter in the future. With such laws like this hopefully going into effect. I’m doing my part in my community to spread the word about the group Northeast Ohio Transgender Support. The group is still in its infancy but I think overtime we will grow and network with not only the community but close by states as well. I think resources should come from all levels, whether it be local or on a national level. The support group is open to transgender individuals, their families, and allies. In conclusion, it does Get Better!