Cisgender Privilege: Unlocking the Invisible Bathroom

By Emily Butler

An Homage to Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh [PDF]

If you’re asking yourself what in the world “cisgender” (often shortened to “cis”) means, then don’t worry. If you’re not familiar with the queer community, it can sound like an intimidating word, but it’s not! In the way that transgender can describe how someone’s gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, cisgender simply describes an individual whose gender identity matches with the sex they were assigned at birth. Simple!

Unfortunately, it’s so simple that it’s accepted as the norm. It can be easy to remain ignorant of the many privileges that identifying as cisgender provides, but it’s important to be aware of these privileges and how they influence our feminism. Here is a list of cisgender privileges to get your brain working on how you can make your campus a more trans* inclusive, friendly, and safe space!

1.      I can introduce myself to a group of strangers without having to explain my preferred pronouns.

2.      I don’t have to deal with people asking me about my genitalia as though it’s their business.

3.      I can be certain that my professors will call me by my preferred name and pronouns.

4.      I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my gender identity most of the time.

5.      I can wear clothing traditionally belonging to the opposite gender without being asked if I’m “a boy or a girl.”

6.      I can use the bathroom without fear of being yelled at, harassed, or attacked.

7.      I am never asked to speak for all the people of my gender identity.

8.      I don’t have to justify my gender presentation on what others believe my gender should be.

9.      I can get dressed without worrying about “passing.”

10.  I don’t have to worry about my driver’s license matching my gender expression if I get pulled over.

11.  I don’t have to justify my gender based on preconceptions on the right ways to be “feminine” or “masculine.”

12.  I can date people without having to explain my gender identity.

13.  I can introduce myself to people without being asked about my “real” name.

14.  I can seek medical attention without fear of being mistreated by health care professionals.

15.  I can trust that my health care will cover necessary surgeries and treatments for my physical and mental health.

16.  I can go to gendered places, such as locker rooms, without fear of being harassed or kicked out.

17.  I can fill out an employment form knowing there is a gender selection option that matches the identity I am comfortable with.

18.  I can dress for my job in clothing that matches my gender without worrying about being fired.

19.  I can expect my friends to use my preferred pronoun without having to correct them.

20.  I can apply for an apartment or house without worrying that my application will be denied on my gender alone.

21.  I can turn on the TV and see my gender represented as more than a comedic tool.

22.  I can be sure that my children can go to school without being bullied because of my chosen gender.

23.  I can use my debit/credit card without a cashier believing it is credit fraud.

24.  I can walk down the street without fear of violence because of my gender presentation.

25.  I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment by or hostility from those who deal with us.

26.  I do not have to justify my partner’s sexual orientation within the context of my gender expression.

27.  I do not have to answer questions about my sex life to satisfy other people’s curiosity.


Gender Neutral Restroom by Jeffrey Beall

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