Is It Because I Am Transgender or Female? Mila Madison on society’s perception of women, transgender people and male privilege in “The Weekly Rant”.

It was the moment when I had realized I had become invisible. A coworker of mine pointed out how I used to be the “go to” person at work and now it as if I didn’t even exist. It was said as an observation and not out of criticism, but the point is clear that even though I am the same person, with the same brain and ideas, I am no longer valued the same as I was while presenting a “male” persona. I asked my coworker why he thought that was the case. Was it because I am transgender, female or both?

Now the cisgender women out there are probably letting out a collective sigh as they read this and say “welcome to life as a woman,” but lately I find myself having to figure out exactly why I am being seen as less than as I try to make it through the world as my true self. My coworker really didn’t have an answer for me regarding why I was no longer the “go to” person, but it was clear to both of us that I was experiencing a loss privilege or stature in some regards.

“..it is the kind of thing you can’t fully understand until you are on the other end of it.”

I used to be able to walk into a meeting and immediately have the attention and respect of everyone in the room as they all paid careful attention to what I was saying. My ideas weren’t easily dismissed as they are today. When I worked in the music business people would answer the phone right away when I called, now I find it hard to get one even returned. No don’t get me wrong, I am not here to whine about this or feel bad for myself. It is a badge of honor for me to go through the same crap my cisgender sisters have been dealing with since the beginning of time. What I am saying is that the further along in my journey I get, the more I understand the concept of privilege and the disadvantages of losing it. Though it was something I was always aware of, it is the kind of thing you can’t fully understand until you are on the other end of it.

Is It Because I Am Transgender or Female? Mila Madison on society’s perception of women, transgender people and male privilege in “The Weekly Rant”.

So my coworker and I had a discussion about privileges. Actually being or even incorrectly perceived as a white, Christian, male is at the very top of that pyramid. It is just the reality of American society. If you are anything contrary to that status, you begin to lose advantages. As my coworker began to understand what I was saying, he pointed out that he lives in an all white neighborhood and everyone on his block thought he was a drug dealer because his skin was darker than everyone else on the block. The fact that he is a hard working family man and a good father was irrelevant because he was judged off of these preconceived perceptions that many people have. It took him years of living in that neighborhood for people to let go of their perceptions and finally realize what a good person he was and that he was not a criminal.

“The sad truth is that people assume what society tells them about others.”

The sad truth is that people assume what society tells them about others. Did I some how lose my ability to think once everyone became aware that I was female? Did all the talents that I may have possessed as musician suddenly get removed from my soul once I came out as transgender? Female strike one, transgender strike two. And with that came the true understanding that I still have many privileges. There are people out there who have many more strikes than me. The more diverse you get, the more strikes you have. Even though I am still a transgender woman, I have white skin and there are people out there still wishing they had it as good as I do.

In the end, I matter less to society because I am both transgender and female, but I still have it much better than many others. In spite of the strikes against me, I am still handed privileges because of other advantages I have. And with that I feel I have a responsibility to help not only my community, but also anyone else who may be disadvantaged by perception. Regardless of who you are – your background, skin color, religion or gender, if you are out there feeling perplexed as to why people are marching in droves and organizing, you may just be sitting on a perch of privilege. You may actually be one of the umpires who are dishing out those strikes. People need to be judged by whom they are inside, not by your perception of them as a race, gender or religious group. This is something we hear every day, but nobody really listens. So I am asking everyone to listen and then do something about it. It is time for us to stand up for each other regardless of our differences, regardless of our perceptions.

  • Sam Shovel

    Ditto. I was also a well-respected white man whose opinion was sought after when big decisions were being discussed in my workplace. After I came out as transgender and then transitioned to woman, I was treated nicely but I disappeared into the rank and file and my past just seemed to vaporize. There is no doubt about it, the white Christian male stands dominant on the tip of the pyramid, and those who are “different” lay at his feet.

  • Paula Neeson

    I read this article with great interest. In my previouse life i was a very experianced infanteer (37 years service) and have served at verying ranks as instrutor for specialist roles. As such my opinion was activaly sought by many people. Hovever since my transition it is as if i had morphed into somebody whos only knoledge of soldiers was cutting them up for the kids eggs at breakfast time. And even the guys i worked closely with, no longer ask what i think because as a woman i couldnt know anything that they didnt.

  • Kira Wertz

    Seems more and more relatable as I get further into my transition.

  • arithrianos

    just remember the REAL privilege, the one that REALLY brings the blessings of reality, is being able to strip the power of all the various and sundry prejudices we all carry, so in reality you are much more privileged now than you were then. remember what very wise guy who happened to be gay had to say, in the kingdom of heaven, or as I call it, reality, the first are the last, the most privileged are the most blind.

  • Lee Anne Leland

    Trans men experience the opposite. All of a sudden they are taken more seriously.

  • Correctrix

    Everyone listens to me way more now that I have transitioned. Women are no longer scared of me, and men don’t have to compete with me. These people who go on and on about losing male privilege are either full of crap (jumping on the oppression bandwagon), or living in some sexist shithole like Saudi Arabia or Texas.

  • Wendy102

    Mila, you nailed it!.. this story could not be more true. Makes us all realize how difficult it’s been for cisgender women in the workforce. On jobsite meetings it’s like I’m invisible.
    Wendy..

  • Katherine Collins

    In 1993, I came out to my professional peers as a MTF transsexual. My career stopped dead in its tracks within a few days. For twenty years, it was as if I were dead — I was ignored completely. Phone calls and emails were never answered. My proposals for new projects were treated as if they didn’t exist. I had to change careers completely — from being a comics cartoonist to being a social worker.

    Yes, the comics business was the one that rejected me, with never a word. It’s not too surprising, really, given that macho superheroes were and are the lifeblood of the commercial side of the field. Female creators have had to fight, for over a century, to get any respect or opportunities. So if one of them damned trannies wants to keep publishing, why would The Boys allow it?

    Finally, in 2013 I heard again from the comics community. It was here in Canada, my native country, where a group of comics fans and journalists who run The Joe Shuster Awards named me to their Canadian Comics Hall of Fame. This set off a mini-wave of interest in me, now regarded as an honoured old-timer, and finally sparked off renewed publishing offers — in Canada, not the U.S.

    This year a big fat book of my collected work was published, and I received a second Hall of Fame award, this time from The Doug Wright Awards. Canada has two Comics Halls of Fame, oddly enough. I am now starting work on new projects, as I have been deemed publishable again. I suspect that if Trans issues had not hit the big-time in the media, this would never have happened. I was saved by a generation twice removed from my own age group. Better late than never, obviously.

    I am now 70, and in rather poor health. I will never be able to do all the projects I had in mind when I was forced out. But I am trying very hard to maintain functionality, and hope to have a successful “second act”. Very few professionals of any sort are forced to abandon a career at the height of their powers. My career is like a doughnut, with a big hole in the middle.

    So what’s my point? Here it is: oh poor me! I’m just another hard-done-by Trans person. At least I have not been murdered. I guess you get the life you get. I shall continue to try to make the most of it.