By James St. James
Jun 5, 2015
Quite a bit changed for me over the first couple of years I started testosterone.
My health and mental wellbeing improved, my happy button grew over an inch in length, my natural musk became so fragrant that now I gross even myself out if I don’t shower pretty much every day (no deodorant can contain this beast).
So many awesome, big-deal body changes and mind improvements flourished.
Then there were the smaller, odder things: I finally gained an appreciation for peanut butter and chocolate, my favorite color went from blue to green, my most hated school subject suddenly became a favored pastime.
All sorts of things, from the big to the small, altered themselves.
I was indeed exactly the same person as I’d always been, just the 2.0 version.
In the long run, I don’t always know which things were an actual, physical reaction to the T, which were a result of getting out of a toxic environment, and which were simply my tastes naturally changing as I put on a few years.
But just as fascinating as it was to witness my mental and physical changes, it was just as equal of an adjustment to comprehend how other people were responding to me.
In short, I was being treated better by everyday America because people were reading me as a young, white, straight (?!) male. And I recognized many new privileges that came my way because of it.
For the record, this isn’t an article meant for transphobic people to share around and say, “See?! See?! Trans guys are totally reaping all the benefits of patriarchy, and WE MUST HATE THEM!”
If you think this is true, you’re not paying attention. And clearly haven’t educated yourself appropriately on trans issues. Or patriarchal issues. Or feminist issues. Or really any issue that has to do with inequality based upon this toxic culture of ours.
Rather, this article is simply meant to focus on male privilege at large, primarily owned by cis men who think they’re bestowing it only upon other cis men.
Yes, plenty of (passing) trans guys do feel the effects of male privilege. Especially us white ones. I wouldn’t argue against that for a second.
But we can’t be wasting time griping over trans guys because they happen to gain male privilege for transition reasons that have nothing to do with it. What we need to be focusing on is—you know—male privilege, which is the actual problem. The patriarchy is being unfair, so it’s the patriarchy we need to attack.
The fact of the matter is that male privilege makes me feel awkward.
I recognize the unfairness that’s happening, so my job is to help further call it out.
I’m read as a man now, after all. And the irony there is that other men are more apt to listen to me about these issues.
So here’s a (very) short list of the everyday ways people have changed their behavior toward me – for no logical reason whatsoever.
1. I’m Suddenly Funny
I’ve always been dry, sarcastic, and satirical with my humor.
In Ye Olden Times, I was considered unfunny at best – and a bitch at worst.
Now that I’m a short white guy, people automatically peg me for a comedian and laugh at the bulk of my mouth zings.
But nothing has changed. I’ve even recycled some of my old material that people didn’t find funny before just to make sure.
2. Yet I’m Still Taken (More) Seriously
I’m still amazed at the amount of people that now immediately shut their mouths the second I open mine.
Believe me, my ideas haven’t improved at all.
I’ve even tried to derail serious conversations with ludicrous stuff just to see what would happen – and I’d still be regarded highly.
3. I Rarely Get Interrupted
I used to be interrupted so often while presenting as a woman that I in turn started to talk over people as a form of conversational survival.
Unfortunately, because it became so ingrained in me, I still find myself doing it from time to time even though it’s rarely necessary anymore.
4. I Get Paid More
The proof is in my paychecks. Actual, numerical proof.
5. It’s Easier for Me to Be Poor
Aside from usually getting paid more, it’s been easier to find work when the person doing the hiring is a white guy.
It’s like helping out a buddy or something.
6. My Clothing Is More Practical
And better made and longer lasting and cheaper and less judged…
7. I Get a Ton of Free Passes
For the record, I’ve never done anything horrific enough to invoke the all-saving phrase of “Boys will be boys,” but I often forget to watch my mouth in front of superiors and authority figures.
And while I was getting into tons of trouble for the smallest thing through school and my earliest jobs, these days I can’t recall a single time I’ve been called out or reprimanded.
8. I’m Not Held Accountable for Keeping Rape from Happening
I remember all of the rape prevention education I got, which always focused on how I should behave, where I should walk when, how to appropriately cover my drink, and so on.
These days, I’m told nothing. Not even not to rape.
9. I’m Very Likely to Arrive Home Safely After Walking Alone at Night
Assuming nobody is out looking to f-g bash, but that’s a somewhat different matter.
It remains that I walk alone at night far more than I used to purely because I’m a dude.
Put up my hoodie, and people have even been known to cross the sidewalk to avoid passing me.
10. I Don’t Have to Worry About Keeping an Eye on My Drink at Parties and Social Gatherings
Unless it’s at a gay venue where there seem to be some questionable, creepy chickenhawks around, drink safety doesn’t even cross my mind anymore.
11. I’m Not Told by Strangers (Or Anybody Else) to Smile
Not once has it happened since.
12. I Don’t Have Strangers Giving Uninvited Opinions About My Body as I Pass By
(Or then expecting me to thank them for it).
Again, not once has this happened in the usual, everyday world.
13. I’m Allowed to Have Body Hair
14. I’m Allowed to Grow Old
And likely will even be considered “handsome” or “sophisticated” because of it.
15. I’m Allowed to Eat Without Being Policed
I’m actually still really damn skinny, but people no longer do things like judge me about what I’m eating or ask if I should be eating it at all.
16. My Abilities Speak Louder Than My Appearances at Work
When I work on-site gigs, I tend to just wear jeans and a t-shirt.
It’s all about the quality of my work.
17. The Bulk of Porn Is Made with Me in Mind
Well, the general sense of a guy who has any sexual interest in women.
Even “lesbian” porn is often geared toward the male gaze.
18. Older White Guys Treat Me Like a Best Friend
Especially when I have to wear professional slacks and a tie, I’ve been amazed at how many strangers happily strike up conversation with me in this kind of…fatherly way.
Their smiles are warm, their eyes are bright, and they seem eager to bestow any wisdom upon me that I could ever think to ask.
It’s like I’m automatically their patriarchal protégé or something.
19. I Can Be a Gamer Without Worry of Being Threatened, Insulted, or Demeaned
The gaming industry is still very much a man’s world.
Female characters are frequently sexualized, brutalized, and demeaned when they’re represented at all – right along with the female gamers themselves.
20. My Comfort Comes Before Anyone Else’s
Nobody expects me to sacrifice a thing for them anymore.
21. I Have Significantly Less Sexual Liability
I can now have as much sex with as many people as I want and nobody says boo about it.
22. I’m Allowed to Take Up Space – And Lots of It
If I feel like spreading out on public transportation, nobody – regardless of gender – tells me to move over anymore.
They just act like I have full right to be obnoxious.
(Please note that I’ve only ever done this for experimental purposes.)
Being asked to grab someone their coffee, help decorate for a work party, or help clean up said party is simply a thing of the past.
24. People Think My Successes Have Been Made Purely By My Own Gumption
I’ve worked hard, sure, but I’ve also had plenty of luck and help.
People just don’t question my supposed right to be praised anymore, nor imply that I earned what I earned by playing some sort of card.
My same exact successes are somehow now all me, all hard-earned, and all things that had absolutely nothing to do with the cultural system we have in place.
25. I Can Say the Most Ridiculous Things Imaginable
And people will still think I’m right.
Seriously. I’ve tested this.
I would go on, but you know, space issues.
But the above examples poured out of me just about as fast as I could type them.
Having been treated as both a man and a woman, these privileges are glaringly obvious to me. And there are far, far too many to count.
To those of you who aren’t surprised by the stuff on this list, share it with someone who will be. And if you in turn never fathomed these everyday issues before, reflect on why that is.
But most importantly, speak out about it.
Don’t let these discussions fade into the background.
And if you’re a guy anywhere on the spectrum, do your part by calling out issues as you see them. Participate in charities, organizations, and walks. Vote on important propositions. Tell male youths what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
Please do your part. Because clearly people will listen to you.
James St. James is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. He isn’t particularly fond of his name, but he has to admit it makes him easier to remember. When he’s not busy scaring cis gender people with his trans gender agenda, he likes to play SEGA and eat candy. Follow him on Twitter @JamesStJamesVI.