Laverne Cox On Why Not All Trans Women Experienced Male Privilege Pre-Transition

She explains, point by point, why male privilege is not afforded to all 'men'

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Recently, there has been a swathe of comments by prominent feminists about whether trans women - that is, people that were biologically male at birth who have elected for surgery to switch genders - can really understand the plight of women that have been biologically and identifiably female since birth.

First, there were incendiary comments from Germaine Greer, but much more recently, Jenni Murray and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have both spoken out about their acceptance of Trans women, but also of their reservations about how trans women are able to understand what it feels like to have experienced a state of woman-ness since birth.

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Both, in their own way, have explained that Trans-women seemingly have an experience which is divorced from the female experience, due to the fact that for all the years they are pre-transition, they experience male privilege.

Jenni Murray explained in an article how this opinion was formed - although she was supportive of people's transitions, she found it difficult when discussing feminist issues.

And, many women actually agreed, they too had found that certain trans women seemed focussed on what could be seen as sexist things, like a preoccupation with make-up and an ignorance of larger political issues.

As we know, 'passing' is an important element of the trans experience, but for many women, things like make-up, surgery, heels are seen as fetishised aspects of a feminine ideal, and not imperative to the female experience.

The case in point for this theory seems to reside withCaitlyn Jenner, who has spoken countless times about her new wardrobe of dresses and the relief she felt at finally being able to wear nail varnish.

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Caitlyn Jenner was an all-American male ideal, who was rich, revered, respected and glorified.

One could argue then, that although she bore many of the pressures and burdens of someone making an important transition, her journey was somewhat easier, thanks to the blessings of money and public reverence.

Many trans women cannot get work and due to their socio-economic status, sex work is often the only solution to gaining the medical care they need.

But their's wasn't the story we were seeing, it was Caitlyn Jenner's.

She compounded this by often using her platform to discuss problems like wearing heels and painting nails as well as staying a Republican.

In one sense, it was the story of someone finally being able to enjoy and celebrate their identity, and in another, you could also say that it was the story of someone who was too spoilt to see their own privilege, despite their own struggles.

This, though, is only one story, only one person. And it is hugely important to remember that a trans experience is not all trans experiences.

Laverne Cox, it seems, did not grow up the pinnacle of masculine ideals, like Caitlyn, nor was she white.

She explained her thoughts in this Twitter thread.

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Laverne explicitly states that some trans women may have experienced male privilege, but that that is not her own.

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Saying that a trans woman may have experienced male privilege isn't wrong essentially, but saying that all trans women have experienced male privilege is.

It is exposing a bias that all trans women are the same, which, obviously is not true.

Class, race, socio-economic status, and so many more things can play into someone's experience, and the only way we are going to know this is by inviting more people to share, by ensuring more women, trans or not, get a platform to speak.

Chimamanda and Jenni are not wrong for voicing their opinions, but just because a woman is right about one thing, doesn't mean she's right about everything.

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