The Cisgender and/or Cissexual Privilege Checklist

July 10, 2008

Kudos to Peggy McIntosh for her White Privilege Checklist, inspirer of this list and all-around rad resource worth reading more than once. An older version of the cis privilege checklist is available at T-Vox.

Very frequently people like to direct other people to privilege checklists in order to “prove” to them the reality of that privilege. If that’s why someone sent you here, you have my sympathy–it’s obnoxious, isn’t it? So, before you read this list, check out some caveats, explanations, and definitions I’ve set up; they might make it a bit easier for you to read from the right headspace, and easier to understand.

So, for everyone: don’t quibble with privilege lists. If you read them from a standpoint of wanting to deny your privilege, you’ll come out having successfully denied it but learning nothing. Read sympathetically and think about it. If there’s something you want to refine, or make better, add, or something you want clarified, let me know. This list is subject to continual revision without notice.

  1. I expect non-discrimination acts that apply to me to cover the most prevalent vectors of discrimination against me. I expect laws banning the creation of a hostile work environment will ban the use of offensive language about me.
  2. I expect my government-issued identification to accurately represent who I am.
    1. If my identification does not, I expect to be able to remedy this quickly and easily, without added expense, undue delay, arbitrary criteria, or a necessity to present evidence or medical documents. I expect change procedures/criteria to be clearly outlined in readily-available documentation, and for those procedures/criteria to be followed consistently, independent of the political beliefs and gender, racial, etc prejudices of individuals serving me.
    2. I expect all my forms of identification to “match”—to display the same value in any fields held in common. If they do not I expect to be just fine, anyway.
    3. My identification does not reveal private information that I may not want others to know.
  3. I expect my private medical information to remain private if I am attempting to non-healthcare-related government services, or if I am involved in a lawsuit/criminal investigation that does not involve healthcare. If the government is making decisions based on my medical history, I expect the persons making the decisions to be medical professionals grounded in the relevant medical literature.
  4. I expect access to healthcare.
    1. I cannot be denied health insurance on the basis of my gender.
    2. I expect that I will not be denied medical treatment by a doctor on the basis of my gender.
    3. I expect that if I am treated inappropriately by a doctor, my concerns will be taken seriously, and I will be able to find another doctor who will treat me appropriately.
    4. Treatments which are medically necessary for me are generally covered by insurance.
    5. Treatments which permanently or semi-permanently change my body are available to me immediately, based on my informed consent, ability to pay, and, if applicable, medical need.
    6. If I am accessing medical treatment, my informed consent is verified in, at most, a one-hour consult made before the beginning of treatment.
    7. I expect that medical professionals competent to treat my conditions exist outside of major cities, and in proportion to the demand for them. I expect no undue delay in access to routine medical services, and for such services to be available (at least) five days a week.
    8. I expect that the specialists in medical conditions affecting me have received formal training about them, and are abreast of current medical developments in the subject.
    9. I expect that there exists formal training about medical conditions affecting me.
    10. I expect that medical therapies offered to me have been the subject of rigorous medical studies & approval processes.
    11. I expect that medical studies are being done to improve & approve treatments available for people with my conditions.
    12. I expect that my access to medical treatment that I need and can afford will not be affected by:
      1. My sex life
        1. How much, how often, and with how many people I enjoy sex
        2. Whether or not I am sexually stimulated by a mode of dress
        3. What sex acts I enjoy
        4. The gender(s) I am sexually attracted to
      2. The story I tell about my condition
      3. My adherence to gender roles
      4. The length of time I have wanted treatment
      5. My desire for a different, but related, medical treatment
      6. My definition of my gender
      7. The gender in which I live
      8. My age, independent of parental consent
      9. Local politics
      10. Subconscious racial prejudice
      11. The opinion of a therapist (other than the medical provider)
      12. My willingness to accept side effects which could be avoided by lower dosages
      13. My willingness to reveal my private medical information to the government, family members, employers, and friends
    13. I expect that medical care will be crafted to suit my own particular needs. I expect to be able to access treatment A without accessing treatment B, if treatment B will do nothing to advance my particular needs.
    14. I expect that I will be able to access medical care without lying.
    15. Accessing respectful STD testing and reproductive care is (relatively) emotionally and logistically easy for me.
  5. There is information about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in my community.
  6. Clothing works for me, more or less.
    1. I am a size and shape for which clothes I feel comfortable wearing are commonly made
    2. There are clothes designed with bodies like mine in mind.
    3. If I am unable to find clothing that fits me well, I will still feel safe, and recognizable as my gender
    4. If I have a restriction on what clothing I will buy (e.g. vegan, allergy, non sweatshop), I can expect that specialty stores will have them in my size/shape.
  7. I expect my gender to not unduly affect my ability to travel internationally.
    1. My gender presentation is legal in all countries.
    2. I expect that information on a country relevant to travelers of my gender will be readily available, and supplied to me by travel guides, travel agents, and study abroad officials.
    3. I expect that a visa and passport will be sufficient documentation for me to enter any country, however difficult these may be to obtain.
    4. I expect that my documentation will decrease suspicion about me.
  8. Information important for me to keep private will not be revealed by:
    1. Pictures from my childhood
    2. My identification
    3. My diploma, transcript, or other educational document
    4. The language used to refer to me
      1. Greetings
      2. Pronouns
      3. Gendered relationship words (e.g. daughter, boyfriend*, father)
      4. My legal name or previous name
    5. My voice
      1. Having a cold
      2. Coughing, sneezing, yelling
      3. Singing
    6. Seeing me naked
    7. Menstrual blood stains
    8. Pregnancy (except re: how I/my partner got sperm in hir body)
    9. My face and neck
    10. Greetings, missives from people/organizations I have not contacted recently
  9. Perception/acceptance of my gender is generally independent of:
      1. Anything mentioned in 8.*
      2. My clothing choices, how my clothing fits
      3. My adherence to traditional roles of my gender (both “too much” and “too little”)
      4. Holding sexist, sex-negative, or rape-culture beliefs
      5. Holding feminist or sex-positive beliefs
      6. My sexual choices/desires
        1. With whom? (gender, number)
        2. Frequency
        3. Circumstance (marriage, love, one-night-stand)
        4. What (e.g. penetrating/enveloping, fetishes, dominance)
      7. Being assertive, aggressive, or passive
      8. Being in a position of power
      9. Being intellectual or not
      10. My dietary habits
      11. My weight
      12. My height
      13. My occupation
      14. My musical taste
      15. My hairstyle
      16. My hobbies
      17. Wanting gendered things/actions labeled “immature” or “childish”
      18. Whether or not I have had a specific medical procedure
        1. My willingness to risk loss of sensation in my genitals/chest
        2. My financial resources
        3. My willingness to accept an unknown amount of health risks
        4. My ability to access treatment that is deliberately made hard to access (see 4.*)
  10. Bodies like mine are represented in the media and the arts. It is easily possible for representations of my naked body to pass obscenity restrictions.
  11. I expect the privacy of my body to be respected. I am not asked about what my genitals look like, or whether or not my breasts are real, what medical procedures I have had, etc.
  12. Wronging me is taken seriously*
    1. Those who wrong me are expected to know that it is hurtful, and are considered blameworthy whether or not they intended to wrong me.
    2. I have easy access to people who understand that this wrong is not acceptable, and who will support me.
    3. I have easy access to resources and people to educate someone who wronged me, if I am not feeling up to it.
    4. If I am being wronged, I can expect that others who are around will notice.
  13. I expect that a short term arrest (e.g. for protesting) will not have serious consequences.
  14. I expect access to, and fair treatment within, sex segregated facilities
    1. Homeless shelters
    2. Domestic Violence shelters
    3. Dormitories
    4. Drug Rehabilitation
    5. Prisons
    6. Bathrooms
    7. Locker rooms
    8. Gyms
    9. Hostels
    10. Juvenile justice systems
  15. Institutions and authority figures do not force me to adopt a different gender presentation, or deny me medical treatment.
    1. Parents, foster care
    2. Juvenile justice systems
    3. Schools (all K-12 schools, some religious universities)
    4. Drug rehabilitation
    5. Nursing homes
    6. Prisons
    7. Hospitals/Mental Hospitals
    8. Close relative/spouse unless otherwise specified, in the event of a medical emergency
  16. Commonly used terminology that differentiates my gender from other genders/sexes implies that I am normal, and that I have unquestionable right to the gender/sex I identify with. The implications these terms make about my gender, my body, my sex, my biology, and my past are all acceptable to me.
  17. The sex/gender dichotomy does not have consequences in my life.
    1. Insistence on strict adherence to one interpretation of difference between “sex” and “gender” (if the dichotomy is used “accurately”) does not mean that different words should be used to describe me than adherence to another interpretation does (if ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are “conflated”).
    2. “Accurate” use of these terms, when heard by people who subconsciously “conflate” them (i.e., all people), does not imply false or offensive things about me.
    3. “Conflated” use of these terms does not imply false or offensive things about me.
    4. I am not categorized differently if someone categorizes by “sex” when “gender” is more relevant. (e.g. my ID will read the same thing whether it says “sex” or “gender,” no matter how the authority interprets the dichotomy; I will have the same access to “sex” segregated facilities, etc.)
  18. I expect no medical evidence to be necessary when changing my name.
  19. For me, there is little-to-no conflict between being recognized as a member of my gender, and resisting sexism. (see #9)
  20. My control of my body is independent of the good will of oppressive institutions.
  21. Recognition of my gender is independent of the good will of oppressive institutions.
  22. My gender is acknowledged universally, immediately, and without hesitation
    1. My birth certificate, drivers’ license, social security card, etc are correct from the moment I get them.
    2. I have no need to establish that I am a different gender than someone already thinks I am.
    3. I lived my childhood in a gender that felt appropriate for me at the time, and still does. I lived my childhood in the gender that I want to have lived it in.
      1. I was trained into whatever gender was appropriate for me, and so I am prepared to live in my current gender, without having to go back and learn vital skills I was not taught when I was young.
      2. I experienced puberty, and being an immature girl/boy, at a time in my life when there were allowances for puberty and immaturity.
    4. My preferences for my gender have been honored my whole life, by my doctor, my parents, my teachers, my professors, my relatives, my classmates, my bosses, etc., except before I was able to state preferences, when I was forced to adopt the gender which I now inhabit.
    5. If someone is uncertain about how I am gendered, they are likely to use criteria that will influence them to choose the gender I identify with.
    6. I expect be referred to respectfully without stating my preferences, or even being asked, no matter where I go, how I dress, or whom I’m talking to. If this does not happen, whatever level of anger I express will be acceptable, and I will expect the offense to be immediately corrected.
    7. Regardless of my gendered behavior as a child, or how I felt about being forced into the gender I inhabited then, if I require medical treatment to keep up an appearance that matches my gender, it will be granted immediately and without question.
    8. I have unquestioned access to all appropriate sex-segregated facilities.
  23. My potential lovers expect my genitals to look roughly similar to the way they do, and have accepted that before coming to bed with me.
  24. I expect the privacy of my body to be respected.
  25. I expect to be able to shower at public facilities such as gyms and pools.
  26. Others accept my control over when, whether, and how I talk about any given event/period in my life, according to what meets my needs and desires best. Others accept my determination of what events and periods in my life I wish to talk about or deem significant.
  27. My gender, and my access to gender-specific services and medical care, are upheld no matter how important or unimportant I consider that to be. Even if I consider medical treatment to maintain an appearance matching my gender to be inconsequential, it will still be available to me, covered by health insurance. Likewise, even if I find the use of the appropriately gendered language about me inconsequential, it will still be taken as a serious, unproblematic need by others.
  28. My right to inhabit my currently chosen gender is universally considered valid, regardless of my gendered behavior as a child, or how I felt about being forced into the gender I inhabited then. If I require medical treatment to keep up an appearance that matches my gender, it will be granted immediately and without question.
  29. If someone else thinks I’m in the wrong bathroom, I am in no danger. When (or if) people mistake my gender, there are unlikely to be serious consequences.

There is another (problematic, but helpful) cis-privilege checklist here, but it’s decidedly less thorough. There’s also the non-trans privilege checklist, which I dislike for any number of reasons.

Version History

The first version of this document was written on my livejournal on the 23rd of February, 2007;
after a few revisions in response to comments made by my friends, and a dust-up about another privilege checklist, I uploaded it to T-Vox on May 17th, 2007, so that it could be available to a greater number of people without bringing them to my personal journal. Then on 7/7/07 it went to a different wordpress, whose URL I’m no longer comfortable with, was put here (w. the addition of #29) on 7/10/08.

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