Cashing Checks: The Errant Touch of Cis Privilege

English: 'FREE HUGS', Leipzig, Germany.

English: ‘FREE HUGS’, Leipzig, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

My posts have been less frequent lately. I was without a computer for a while and I have been a bit busy since I acquired a new one (thank you Mr. Kunkle) so let me apologize to all my readers. The posts I have written have taken on a particularly personal subject and tone. I get into ruts of melancholy over such issues. I will not apologize for that, it is what writers do.

 

On that note I want to write a little about intimacy again. I just read two excellent blog posts, one about male intimacy, and another on women and intimacy. They were both great articles, but they got me wondering, where do I fit in?

 

I come from a very huggy family, at least on my mom’s side.  To me physical expressions of affection are as natural as breathing. Yet intimacy is something that has so often been denied me outside a few friends. Oh occasionally someone outside of that group will hug me, but it is guarded, as if they do not know what to make of it in light of the knowledge of my gender status and my sexuality.

 

I relish my time with my friends that are comfortable with me. I need that time, that contact, just as we all do. Last summer I spent an evening with a friend. Nothing more than two pals hanging out. After a little wine and a little music, feeling down she rested her head on my shoulder. That was it, just one friend looking to another for comfort. I never had, and still do not have any romantic inclinations toward this person, but just the fact that she felt at ease with me enough to do that felt really nice. It happens so seldom and we all need that human contact to feel, well, human.

 

I realize I am lucky to have that friend, or Ms. Green who wrote the above article on female intimacy, or the friend who introduced us. Many trans* folk, in particular trans* women, do not get this. Radical feminists have painted us as men trying to invade women’s spaces. At best, to them, we are selfish and just trying to take away the few safe spaces women have, at worst, we are predators (especially those of us that are lesbian, bi, or pan) camouflaging ourselves in women’s clothing the better to rape them. Most women do not believe this overtly, but have internalized it and it shows in how they behave around us.

 

Men can be as tricky if not more so. Our still very homophobic culture makes them reluctant to hug their trans* friends for fear of what that means for their own sexuality. Again, I have been lucky that way, but I know too many who are not, and even with my relative good fortune, I seem to have a more difficult time with intimacy than my cis friends do.

 

We all need that occasional contact. As I mentioned earlier, we need it to feel human. If no one wants to touch us, how worthy are we as people? It is something most cis folks can take for granted to varying degrees. Trans* folk, however cannot. We go through our life guarding ourselves because society has taught us our very existence pushes people’s boundaries. We find ourselves deprived of one of the most basic human needs. It is something I rarely, if ever, see a trans* person write about, and it is something I never see or hear a cis person address. For the sake of our health, and of a more open society, that is something that needs to change.

 

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3 thoughts on “Cashing Checks: The Errant Touch of Cis Privilege

  1. Christine,
    It is this type of personal narrative that I hope will help people gain a better understanding and inspire more people to embrace and celebrate our trans brothers and sisters and stop looking at gender as a binary.

  2. Hi Christine,
    You should never apologize for writing in an melancholy tone! If it’s how you write, then so be it, so ‘here here’ to that! And I agree, which I tend to do with you, human contact is essential for our wellbeing. It must be very difficult and hurtful for people to react in a strange way when you go for a hug from them–especially when such reactions seem to stem from misunderstandings and stereotypes. Rejection hurts.

    I would like to add something as well. As a self-identified “radical feminist” who works in the oppression field as a social scientist and surrounds herself with large groups of other “radical feminists”, I must say that what you stated below took me by surprise:

    “Radical feminists have painted us as men trying to invade women’s spaces. At best, to them, we are selfish and just trying to take away the few safe spaces women have, at worst, we are predators (especially those of us that are lesbian, bi, or pan) camouflaging ourselves in women’s clothing the better to rape them. Most women do not believe this overtly, but have internalized it and it shows in how they behave around us.”

    This is certainly nothing that I have ever come across and, in fact, it’s the radical feminists that tend to be the most left and most accepting (as in promoting the rights of) of trans* folk. It is very disturbing to think that there are people who claim to be feminists that actually take that stance, as it directly contradicts the actual purpose of feminism. It is extremely unfortunate and horrible that you have had to encounter such so-called feminists. The goal of feminism is to end the marginalization of ALL groups (it’s no longer, thankfully, just about white, middle-class, Christian women).

    I would also like to add a reminder that at least 1 in 4 women will be raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime (and it’s agreed that this is largely an underestimate), most often by someone they know. ANYONE approaching them for intimacy, like a hug, may be a trigger for the PTSD or mental health symptoms they are experiencing due to the sexual assault (or the sexual assault of a friend/family member…). For most, it may not be that they’ve internalized the invalid and ridiculous idea like you stated. But rather, it might be the trauma they experienced.

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