See also Heterosexual Privilege. Remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are two entirely different and separate things, and that notes on cisgender privilege and heterosexual privilege should be each taken on their own merits and not considered to be the same thing.
How to use this document
This list is intended for those who are interested in considering how their privilege as a cisgender (non-trans) person affects their lives, and how that makes their experiences in the world substantially different from those of transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people; it is intended to show the reader how ze benefits from being cisgender. It is not intended to be a list of things that all cisgender people have and all transgender people do not have.
Importantly, many of the privileges covered here are specific to having two or more kinds of privilege; 2.2 and 13, for example, are also dependent on being a citizen of one's country of residence. Many of the privileges here have parallels in white privilege and male privilege. However, in these cases, there is still significant reason to list them as cisgender privileges—either that there is a difference in scale, a difference in likelihood, a difference in what situations that privilege is relevant in, or in that having either kind of privilege gives one a substantial step up over those who have neither (notably, 13, 14, and 15).
Lastly, any privilege checklist is at least somewhat specific to a particular time, place, and identity. This list was originally written in the United States in 2007; its applicability to citizens of other countries and to other times will vary. The original content was created by a white, young, transfeminine spectrum genderqueer, who strives to create a list that does not reinscribe white privilege (or other kinds of privilege) within the analysis of cisgender privilege.
This list was originally created under the following definition of the word cisgender:
A person whose determinations of hir sex and gender are universally considered valid.
It is the opposite of transgender, or a person whose determination of hir sex and/or gender is not universally considered valid. This definition was chosen in preference to more common definitions
- someone who identifies with the sex and gender ze was assigned at birth, or
- someone who conforms to gender norms
- Draw attention to the central role of gender policing in cisgender privilege/trans oppression;
- Validate the identities of gender conforming transpeople as their gender of choice, rather than assignment; and
- Take account of a large variety of gender variant identities and expressions that are not necessarily in direct contradiction with identifying as a member of one's assigned sex/gender, such as crossdressers, butches, genderqueers, drag performers, bigenderists, two spirit, travesti, and so forth. Even highly feminine men and masculine women who in no way identify with the term transgender may find themselves lacking some privileges in this checklist--that is to be expected.
This list uses the term "cisgender" as opposed to "non-trans(gender)" because the purpose of the list is to make visible the specificity of experiences of members of the the dominant, invisible identity, and the place held by cispeople within a system of gender, which the term "non-trans" is unable to do, as it simply reflects back on being the opposite of trans experience. This term was used in preference to words like bio, genetic, real, normal, etc because all of those terms reinforce cisgender privilege by implying that there is some basis in which a person's gender can be rooted other than their own self-determination.
"Ze" and "hir" (pronounced like "here") are gender-ambiguous, singular pronouns. They are used in preference to "they" and "their" because many transpeople find those words dehumanizing, as well as to make ze and hir more accessible options for transpeople who choose to use them for themselves. For the purposes of this document, they are used not only about people who actively prefer those pronouns to be used, but for anyone whose gender is not specified. (example: Ze went to the grocery store to buy hirself some ice cream.)
Cisgender privilege checklist
- 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.
- I expect my government-issued identification to accurately represent who I am.
- 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.
- 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.
- My identification does not reveal private information that I may not want others to know.
- I expect my private medical information to remain private if I am attempting to access 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.
- I expect access to healthcare.
- I cannot be denied health insurance on the basis of my gender.
- I expect that I will not be denied medical treatment by a doctor on the basis of my gender.
- 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.
- Treatments which are medically necessary for me are generally covered by insurance.
- 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.
- If I am accessing medical treatment, my informed consent is verified in, at most, a one-hour consult made before the beginning of treatment.
- 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.
- 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.
- I expect that there exists formal training about medical conditions affecting me.
- I expect that medical therapies offered to me have been the subject of rigorous medical studies and approval processes.
- I expect that medical studies are being done to improve and approve treatments available for people with my conditions.
- I expect that my access to medical treatment that I need and can afford will not be affected by:
- My sex life
- How much, how often, and with how many people I enjoy sex
- Whether or not I am sexually stimulated by a mode of dress
- What sex acts I enjoy
- The gender(s) I am sexually attracted to
- The story I tell about my condition
- My adherence to gender roles
- The length of time I have wanted treatment
- My desire for a different, but related, medical treatment
- My definition of my gender
- The gender in which I live
- My age, independent of parental consent
- Local politics
- Subconscious racial prejudice
- The opinion of a therapist (other than the medical provider)
- My willingness to accept side effects which could be avoided by lower dosages
- My willingness to reveal my private medical information to the government, family members, employers, and friends
- My sex life
- 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.
- I expect that I will be able to access medical care without lying.
- Accessing respectful STD testing and reproductive care is (relatively) emotionally and logistically easy for me
- There is information about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other diseases in my community.
- Clothing works for me, more or less.
- I am a size and shape for which clothes I feel comfortable wearing are commonly made
- Clothes are designed with bodies like mine in mind.
- If I am unable to find clothing that fits me well, I will still feel safe, and recognizable as my gender
- 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.
- I expect my gender to not unduly affect my ability to travel internationally.
- My gender presentation is legal in all countries.
- 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.
- I expect that a visa and passport will be sufficient documentation for me to enter any country, however difficult these may be to obtain.
- I expect that my documentation will decrease suspicion about me.
- Information important for me to keep private will not be revealed by:
- Pictures from my childhood
- My identification
- My diploma, transcript, or other educational document
- The language used to refer to me
- Gendered relationship words (e.g. daughter, boyfriend*, father)
- My legal name or previous name
- My voice
- Having a cold
- Coughing, sneezing, yelling
- Seeing me naked
- Accidental pregnancy
- My face and neck
- Greetings, missives from people/organizations I have not contacted recently
- Perception/acceptance of my gender is generally independent of:
- Anything mentioned in #8
- My clothing choices, how my clothing fits
- My adherence to traditional roles of my gender (both “too much” and “too little”)
- Holding sexist, sex-negative, or rape-culture beliefs
- Holding feminist or sex-positive beliefs
- My sexual choices/desires
- With whom? (gender, number)
- Circumstance (marriage, love, one-night-stand)
- What (e.g. penetrating/enveloping, fetishes, dominance)
- Being assertive, aggressive, or passive
- Being in a position of power
- Being intellectual
- My dietary habits
- My weight
- My height
- My occupation
- My musical taste
- My hairstyle
- My hobbies
- Wanting gendered things/actions labeled “immature” or “childish”
- Whether or not I have had a medical procedure
- My willingness to risk loss of sensation in my genitals/chest
- My financial resources
- My willingness to accept an unknown amount of health risks
- My ability to access treatment that is deliberately made hard to access (see #4)
- 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.
- 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.
- Wronging me is taken seriously<ref>This is common to many forms of privilege. While it is also true of white privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, able privilege, etc, lacking one form of privilege in this arena does not equal lacking any others.</ref>
- Those who wrong me are expected to know that it is hurtful, and are considered blameworthy whether or not they intended to wrong me.
- I have easy access to people who understand that this wrong is not acceptable, and who will support me.
- I have easy access to resources and people to educate someone who wronged me, if I am not feeling up to it.
- If I am being wronged, I can expect that others who are around will notice.
- I expect that a short term arrest (e.g. for protesting) will not have serious consequences.
- I expect access to, and fair treatment within, sex segregated facilities
- Homeless shelters
- Domestic violence shelters
- Drug rehabilitation
- Locker rooms
- Juvenile justice systems
- Institutions and authority figures do not force me to adopt a different gender presentation, or deny me medical treatment.
- Parents, foster care
- Juvenile justice systems
- Schools (all K-12 schools, some religious universities)
- Drug rehabilitation
- Nursing homes
- Hospitals/mental hospitals
- Close relative/spouse unless otherwise specified, in the event of a medical emergency
- 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.
- The sex/gender dichotomy does not have consequences in my life.
- 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”).
- “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.
- “Conflated” use of these terms does not imply false or offensive things about me.
- 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.)
- I expect no medical evidence to be necessary when changing my name.
- For me, there is little-to-no conflict between being recognized as a member of my gender, and resisting sexism. (see #9)
- My control of my body is independent of the good will of oppressive institutions.
- Recognition of my gender is independent of the good will of oppressive institutions.
- My gender is acknowledged universally, immediately, and without hesitation
- My birth certificate, drivers’ license, social security card, etc are correct from the moment I get them.
- I do not have to establish that I am a different gender than someone already thinks I am.
- 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.
- 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.
- I experienced puberty, and being an immature girl/boy, at a time in my life when there were allowances for puberty and immaturity.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the offense will be immediately corrected.
- 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.
- I have unquestioned access to all appropriate sex-segregated facilities.
- 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.
- I expect the privacy of my body to be respected.
- I expect to be able to shower at public facilities such as gyms and pools.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Strangers don't assume they can ask me what my genitals look like and how I have sex.
- My validity as a man/woman/human is not based upon how much surgery I've had or how well I "pass" as a non-Trans person.
- When initiating sex with someone, I do not have to worry that they won't be able to deal with my parts or that having sex with me will cause my partner to question his or her own sexual orientation.
- I am not excluded from events which are either explicitly or de facto<ref>Basically, anything involving nudity.</ref> men-born-men or women-born-women only.
- My politics are not questioned based on the choices I make with regard to my body.
- I don't have to hear "so have you had THE surgery?" or "oh, so you're REALLY a [incorrect sex or gender]?" each time I come out to someone.
- I am not expected to constantly defend my medical decisions.
- Strangers do not ask me what my "real name" [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call me by that name.
- People do not disrespect me by using incorrect pronouns even after they've been corrected.
- I do not have to worry that someone wants to be my friend or have sex with me in order to prove his or her "hipness" or good politics.
- I do not have to worry about whether I will be able to find a bathroom to use or whether I will be safe changing in a locker room.
- When engaging in political action, I do not have to worry about the gendered repercussions of being arrested. (i.e. what will happen to me if the cops find out that my genitals do not match my gendered appearance? Will I end up in a cell with people of my own gender?)
- I do not have to defend my right to be a part of "Queer" and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude me from OUR movement in order to gain political legitimacy for themselves.
- My experience of gender (or gendered spaces) is not viewed as "baggage" by others of the gender in which I live.
- I do not have to choose between either invisibility ("passing") or being consistently "othered" and/or tokenised based on my gender.
- I am not told that my sexual orientation and gender identity are mutually exclusive.
- When I go to the gym or a public pool, I can use the showers.
- If I end up in the emergency room, I do not have to worry that my gender will keep me from receiving appropriate treatment nor will all of my medical issues be seen as a product of my gender. ("Your nose is running and your throat hurts? Must be due to the hormones!")
- My health insurance provider (or public health system) does not specifically exclude me from receiving benefits or treatments available to others because of my gender.
- When I express my internal identities in my daily life, I am not considered "mentally ill" by the medical establishment.
- I am not required to undergo extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
- The medical establishment does not serve as a "gatekeeper" which disallows self-determination of what happens to my body.
- People do not use me as a scapegoat for their own unresolved gender issues.