This Tuesday’s New York Times Op-Ed offerings included a piece by a college professor, Jennifer Finney Boylan, who has taught and lived as both a man and a woman. I’ve been pondering a reference in the column to
“…having gone from a world of male privilege to being a member of one of the most marginalized groups in the country…”
In my experience, male privilege dies hard. Since publishing my own story, I’ve heard from the wives of transitioning husbands who tell me they see their own experiences reflected in mine: men they once loved, trusted and admired transformed into aggressive, narcissistic bullies in their quest to become women. Perhaps even more telling, I’ve also heard from a handful of transgender women who say that they’ve encountered these same qualities of self-righteous belligerence in the trans world, and have chosen to distance themselves from what might otherwise have been their community.
Trans people have historically endured many adverse circumstances, including instances of violence that make marginalization look like the least of their troubles. I don’t know what sort of marginalization the writer, a white, middle-class professional, has endured as a result of joining this group. Economic? Social? A struggle to access health care? Those are three of the kinds of marginalization I have experienced as a single mother. Many people in our country are marginalized by race, class, ethnicity, disability, and other factors. I wonder if transsexuals who find themselves cast to the margins of society are losing a life of privilege because of their choice to transition – or if maybe, due to factors like these, they never had such privilege to begin with?
One thing’s for certain: marginalization, can’t, in this case, mean no one speaks your name. These days there seems to be upbeat media coverage of trans issues daily.