Confessions of an Anxiety Case Part 9: Identity and Privilege

So I’m a white guy. And I’m a feminist.

I’m straight guy. And I’m not cis.

Technically that last part means I’m trans. But I don’t really “feel” trans, for the most part. Since coming to the understanding that I am non-binary, trans issues do hit a bit closer to home. And there are some body image issues that I’ve kind of always had that I now realize are tied to gender identity.

But really, I’ve got it pretty easy. Being a man, a non-binary transition really isn’t so jarring– For me, anyway. Typically androgyny brings you a bit more to the “boyish” side of things. I feel like a non-binary woman would potentially have a much harder time of things than I have/do. But that’s just me. Everyone has a different experience with this stuff.

I’ve been seeing some stuff going around about how the transition videos can be potentially damaging to non-binary trans people, because they pretty much all show a transition from female to male, or male to female. I can see the rationale behind it–some people  feel excluded from their community when all the media popping up everywhere doesn’t seem to represent them.

At the same time, I feel like this is to be expected. We are living in a society that recognizes gender as a binary concept. It should then follow that as transgender people become more accepted, the binary transition should be at that forefront. Baby steps…this is a country that is seriously considering electing Donald Trump…some things will take time. So give it time, it’s all about inclusion.

So anyway.

I’m white but an ally to the POC community (I try to be the best I can, but I know I can always be better). I’m a man but a feminist and an ally to women (see previous parenthetical statement). And despite being a member of the T part of LGBTQ, I struggle with feeling sometimes like an ally and sometimes like a member. Largely that’s because my privilege insulates me from so much of the discrimination that the LGBTQ community faces. A close friend told me when I was first sorting all this out that once you realize this type of thing, you sort of feel pressure to be a perfect example of a member of that community.

They told me essentially not to worry about it. That my identity is my identity and it isn’t about feeling like I fall short in being a representative.

As helpful as that was, though, I still do.

I mentioned my being a POC ally and feminist. That ties in here, because as I learned more about the challenges faced by both women and POC in the States and the world, I also learned the role of white men in creating those challenges.

***DISCLAMER–THOSE CHALLENGES ARE REAL, I AM NOT WRITING TODAY TO ARGUE THAT, GO AWAY AND COME BACK SOME OTHER TIME OR READ ABOUT IT IN OTHER POSTS OR ELSEWHERE IF YOU DISAGREE***

So. As I learned more and more about the history of the civil rights movement (dating back essentially pre-civil war) and the feminist movement in America, for some reason, I didn’t start feeling the guilt that so many start feeling as they become more aware of their privilege.

I learned early on that privilege doesn’t equal fault. That I don’t need to feel guilty, I just need to be mindful. I mean yeah, there’s a tinge of guilt sometimes, and more often I feel ashamed for the state of things and knowing that so much bullshit just doesn’t make it into my life.

But really, it stuck. Maybe it hit me differently than it does a lot of people. Maybe I’m just arrogant. Regardless, I don’t particularly have white or male guilt. I still feel like a strong ally, flaws and all. My bullshit gets called and I try to learn from it. And I know that’s part of it and that it’s ok.

But, that gender thing. At times I get it. I’m sitting here in my pink glasses thinking about the bike ride I took with my cat. I just think about how far I’ve come since letting go of a bullshit aspect of my identity that I only held onto because it hadn’t dawned on me that I didn’t really have any attachment to it. I’ve shed a lot of anxiety and accepted and come to understand a lot about myself that I had struggled with on levels I didn’t realize.

There’s still a long way to go. I still don’t quite understand why, while in some respects I feel more complete and understand so much more where and how I fit into things, I also feel like I don’t really belong. That’s why I’m writing about hit here.

In my life with anxiety, I’ve always just kind of wanted a mask. I never wanted to come out and talk about the things I liked, even with those with whom I shared an interest. I just never felt good enough.

I think that that same pattern is playing a big role here. I’m not the type to want exposure like that. I don’t really want anything but to be comfortable with myself. But in doing this…in sort of officially accepting and sharing the idea that I am non-binary, I’m pulling that mask off. I don’t know everything about my non-binary identity. I don’t know everything about trans-identities in general. I’m really not even sure how it will be manifested on a day-to-day basis, to tell you the truth.

But I do know that I feel unrealistically happier since. I might be insulated with privilege or with the fact that I’m not really bothering to explain to the less-than-understanding in my life about what being non-binary means. But this is the way I need to go. Might be confusing, might be uncomfortable at times. But it’s definitely where I need to go.

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About Pedal Powered Anthropology

I have a degree in anthropology from Rhode Island College. My focus was in biological anthropology but I also have a broad interest in cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistic anthropology. This blog is intended to be for the development of my own positions and ideas, mostly regarding paleoanthropology and paleontology in general, with a heaping helping of evolution on top...but also includes bits about a lot of different aspects of culture, primarily race, gender, privilege, the environment and my own personal relationship with anxiety.

Posted on 05/03/2016, in anxiety, confessions of an anxiety case, feminism, identity, introspection, mental health, personal perspectives, Sex and Gender and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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