I’ve noticed a very upsetting trend recently. The idea that if you are an cis LGB activist or cis het LGBT ally you are through your work then rewarded with access to trans only spaces and discussions, and that trans people telling you that you are not welcome is an offense.
This is the height of cis privilege. Cis people are conditioned in our society to believe they are the ” normal” and “right” way to be. Everything in discourse, from music to bathrooms and jobs is built to celebrate and accommodate cis people. We trans people go through a lot. We often need space to feel safe, a place where even for five minutes being trans is the dominant way of being.
Being an activist is a wonderful thing. But only the oppressed get to declare who is an ally and what ally behavior looks like to them as a group. Members of the dominant privileged group do not get to determine what these standards are. Ally is not something you can just slap on. It is something you have to earn.
Cis LGB and Cis het people are not allowed into trans only spaces and discussions because they are not trans.The amount of activism or their hrc sticker or the fact that they partner romantically and sexually with trans people STILL does not give them access. These spaces, whether in real life, internet forums, Facebook groups or comment threads designated as such are off limits. Barging in and yelling about how it is unfair, how you are an activist and deserve/have a right to be included is oppressive, cissexist behavior. Derailing discussions trans people are having with posts and shouts of ” what about me!” Or worse yet passive aggressively using activism and the idea that you have ” done so much for the trans community” is oppressive. The second type shows what internalized cissexist attitudes you have.
As an activist, as an ally you should never do this. It shows that your ally ship is conditional upon the compliance to your needs and ideals by trans people. This behavior is immensely problematic and oppressive. Trans people owe you as a cis person jack squat. You are not given a magic pass when you become an activist. Activism and ally ship requires constant self analysis. If you feel that trans people not including you in trans only spaces is upsetting or wrong you need to do self analysis as to why you feel entitled to that access. It’s probably unchecked cis privilege.
Being a good ally is knowing when to shut up. If you are cis and in a trans space or see a trans space sit down and shut up.
Aud Traher is a Bisexual-Trans Activist, local LGBT organizer, blogger, local craftperson and board member of BiNet USA living in working in a rural community in Western Central Pennsylvania.