Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hierarchy of bodies From discrimination to violence, transgender people face issues that many of us are blind to

I have a new article up at the Guardian

When your body and gender identity are aligned you exist with what is known as cisgender privilege. For those of us that are born this way, there are many forms of discrimination we do not have to face as long as we live with the gender image that has become normalised in our social understanding. Khadjiah Farmer learnt that transgressing the strict understanding of gender as male or female (what is known as the gender binary) – by challenging what it means to be understood as female and by dressing in what society has declared as male clothing – can be enough to get one forcibly removed from a public bathroom. This is an issue that those that are transgender face every day if they fail to "pass" as the gender to which they identify.

As a cisgendered woman, many of the issues that plague the trans community do not exist for me. We regularly load our language with terminology that is demeaning and stigmatises transgendered peoples. Terms like he/she regularly fall from our lips without regard for the pain that it causes. Purposefully calling someone by the wrong pronoun continues to be understood as acceptable, despite the repeated statements from the trans community that it is painful. Yet how we choose to refer to someone is important because language is about communicating ideas.

When I dress for work I do not have to choose between expressing my gender identity and keeping my job. Due to discrimination, many trans people are under-employed or not employed at all. Even those that are able to maintain employment report emotional and physical abuse. Being sentenced to a life of poverty for daring to challenge gender norms is just one of the consequences of society's coercive attempts to enforce gender conformity.

Finish Reading Here

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