Sorry, Mx: you can’t bring that privilege in here

I’m a big fan of good therapy. I don’t think it’s a last resort or something only people with serious problems should do. It seems to me that it’s next to impossible to get through life without some bad habits or misconceptions or hang-ups, and that since it’s normal and human for that to be the case, it should be normal and human to go get some assistance from somebody who happens to know a lot about sorting that kind of stuff out.

All of which is a prelude to me saying “So, I went to see my therapist today …” I guess I worry that when I talk about having a therapist, people will imagine I’m seriously troubled, clinically depressive, or what have you. On the other hand, if I were, should that be a problem? Anxiety, depression, and all the rest–that’s just regular human beings having exactly the kinds of problems regular human beings have.

But in my case, I’ve been really lucky not to have serious emotional problems except for writing these long-ass qualifying introductions to make sure I’m not misunderstood even a little bit. Anyway!

So, I went to see my therapist today (there, James-Beth, was that so hard?) to talk about the possibility of eventually coming out completely, to everyone. I’m pretty far out already: I have been coming out to friends and friendly acquaintances at the least excuse; I’m out to my landlord, two siblings, everybody in Montreal and in Northampton, a sampling of people from one of my dance groups, former coworkers, and so on. Two of the main areas where I’m not out are my parents and work, the first one because OPHTWAGI (Older People Have Trouble With Alternative Gender Identities), and the second because I’m worried about causing any kind of ruckus with my income stream, considering I have no reserves.

But something else came out in my discussion, another big reservation I hadn’t even realized I had: coming out to everyone would mean giving up a bunch of privilege. When applying for jobs, for instance, I get male privilege, white privilege, seemingly-cis person privilege, and seemingly-straight person privilege … as long as they aren’t too dubious about the long hair and earrings and, let’s be honest, pretty eyes. If I ever need a new job, I guess I could still show up to interviews in male mode and play don’t-ask-don’t-tell, but that seems … kind of lame.

Even in the context of my family, I feel like I have male privilege. For instance, my brother, who mansplains a lot to my sisters, only mansplains a little to me.

I’m still not resolved on coming out universally, though my therapist helped me understand some steps I should take to get closer to knowing whether and when. But when I reflect on this unearned privilege and how many people have to make do without it, I feel much more riled to just come out and trash some of the privilege I have. If people aren’t going to respect me as a queer person whose gender flip-flops between male and female and sometimes god knows what, then screw ’em.

And if I find it inconvenient or difficult or unsafe sometimes because I no longer have male, cis, straight privilege, well, then I’d find myself in the company of uncountable wonderful people from all times and places who get the same deal, and at least I’d be able to link arms and help fight the good fight. Also, possibly giving up some of this privilege can help underscore how unnecessary and wrong that privilege is, or (for people who haven’t yet noticed) that it exists in the first place.

Brave words for someone who isn’t yet ready to come out to all. And I don’t have to–nobody has any kind of moral obligation to come out. But I don’t know … check in a few months down the line or something and see if anything has changed. It could get interesting.

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