Anonymous said: What's your opinion on male privilege? As a transman, sometimes I feel I should be aware of the privileges I may gain by transitioning, and fight against the typical status quo so to speak.
Zak: This is an interesting question. I don’t really consider myself to have an opinion on male privilege, per se. It exists, whether I believe in it or not, and my opinion about it is, as you can imagine, negative. As a trans man who has been on testosterone for nearly four years and who is read as male in nearly every circumstance, I benefit from male privilege. People are more likely to listen to me and take me seriously because they view me as a white male. I am less likely to be cat-called or harassed on the street. When I go out with my wife, I’ve noticed the subtle, everyday sexism in the way people relate to us. When we went to the bank to open an account, the person working with us directed most of his pitch to me. When I informed him that my wife is the one who primarily handles our finances, he made a little joke about men liking to feel in charge at home but women really controlling things. I laughed nervously and made a comment about how it isn’t really like that either, that we’re each in charge of different things. Overall, it was awkward but indicative of the way I’m viewed in the world (especially where I live in the midwest), I’m viewed as the man of the family, the decision-maker, the person who handles the money. My wife, who is infinitely better at math than me and has a lot more common sense, isn’t taken as seriously. If she’s in charge of the money, it must be either because she’s a nag or a homemaker. This is the privilege I’ve inherited in my transition (this is just one example, there are obviously many more), and I think it’s important for me to take these things seriously. Awareness of privilege is important in general, and I position myself to be thoughtfully aware of my male privilege alongside my white privilege, class privilege, etc. As for our responsibility to challenge the status quo, I think we have as much responsibility as any man. By that, though, I don’t mean that we have a responsibility to be more androgynous or anything like that, but more that we have a responsibility to be careful not to talk over women or invade their spaces. So, I guess that’s my opinion on the subject.