elliotpp‘s post about privilege hit me really hard today. To sum up: When you’re seen as a girl, you can rebel and stand up, stick your chin out when you walk, look drivers in the eye and take the road. When you’re seen as a man — especially a white, clean-shaven, normal-looking man — that’s assumed. Rebelling is quieter, stepping back to give someone space. Not letting someone defer to you when they’re perfectly right where they are. There are no “others” to help. Helping anyone is helping ourselves.
This is something I’ve known and felt for a long, long time, and never expressed well. It’s become one of the paradoxes that I deal with, to be comfortable with the power I carry, and to keep it, to keep claiming it. And to use it to help everyone I can. At the same time, the changes in my life are ones that would stereotypically be putting me at a disadvantage — but do they? The more feminine I end up being, the more opportunity I have to support others by standing up, by not letting others push me about. My loss of privilege is my ticket to take what I can. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Thinking about Affirmative Action, and the perception problem it can create, that someone can rise because of their race, gender or other minority identity, past those of greater skill. I fear the same perception problem — that I disadvantage myself to prey on the good will of others. My fears make me aware of the opportunities of others, and make me devote a lot of my time to standing up for people, and to seek out those with no voice.
It strikes me initially that there’s a paradox about being transsexual, working so hard to divorce ourselves from the stereotypes of our birth sex, only to have ‘normal’, or even ‘healthy’ be to express those traits as freely as we can.