Checking my cissexual privilege #transdocfail

The current situation

We’ve recently been faced with our failings, as medical professionals, in the care of people who are LGBT*I. If you do a Twitter search under the #transdocfail, you’ll see how privilege and prejudice are colouring our interactions with people who need our help- and who are more at risk of mental illness and suicide than the general population.

As mental health professionals, its important to take action, but we sometimes feel confused about what that looks like, particularly if we feel we haven’t got anywhere or anyway of discussing it frankly. We often fear doing anything, in case we “get it wrong”, even though we recognise how important the issues are.

In the media, there are frequently blazing rows as some of the oppressive attitudes that people face are brought into the light- it’s been particularly clear of late in respect of trans* people.


There is a lot of current feminist discourse as the second wave feminists are giving way to the newer generation of feminists who approach issues with a mindset focused around intersectional analysis. This produces a tension between feminisms, where some people see their ideas threatened as people “call them out” on their privilege. Western, white, middle-class feminism has been traditionally seen as offering less for minority groups such as Women of Colour, or trans* women, so challenging ideas that hold us back from being a more inclusive movement can only be a good thing. Can’t it?


A good definition is found on the geek feminism wiki:

Privilege is a concept used in anti-racist, anti-sexist, and similar anti-oppression movements.

Anti-oppressionists use “privilege” to describe a set of perceived advantages (or lack of disadvantages) enjoyed by a majority group, who are usually unaware of the privilege they possess. It is a term of art that may not align particularly well with the general-use word “privilege” or the programming term “privilege”.

A privileged person is not necessarily prejudiced (sexist, racist, etc) as an individual, but may be part of a broader pattern of *-ism even though unaware of it.

…Many people, when asked to check their privilege, respond with “So? Am I meant to feel guilty? I didn’t choose to be white/male/whatever.”

Possessing “privilege” in the anti-oppression meaning is not intended to imply that life is objectively easy, just that on that particular axis of experience it is likelier to have been easier than a person similarly situated but without that particular privilege.

A person who experiences lack of privilege on more than one axis is said to experience intersectionality.

I really haven’t got any more to add to that definition I think it explains it all very well.

My recent privilege

One of my privileges is that I’m a cis-woman. This means that I’m happy to identify as the gender that I was assigned at birth: I had genitals that strongly indicated I was a girl: my parents raised me as a girl: I grew up into a woman without ever sensing that perhaps I was a boy and the rest of the world had got my gender identity wrong. This is a privilege, when compared to people who identify outside the gender binary, or strongly with a gender that they have not been assigned. These people are called trans*

Feminists have found it hard to understand the trans* experience, and whilst I am appalled at some of the actions of people describing themselves as feminists, I have always considered myself to be more inclusive in my feminism. As the famous Tiger Beatdown post says,

My feminism is intersectional or it is bulls*it

Recently, I was called out on my privilege and unconscious cis-sexism. I’ve Storified it as an example, so that I remember in future how words that I use (and hashtags!) can hurt, and to be more mindful of my privilege.

The Storify can be found here:


I am an Occupational Therapist, who writes about health, particularly mental health. I am interested in social media and Web 2.0, and where these technological advances can support wellness and health.

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Posted in CPD, Interprofessional practice, Reflection, Twitter
2 comments on “Checking my cissexual privilege #transdocfail
  1. [...] Checking my cissexual privilege #transdocfail by Claire OT. [...]

  2. [...] public, real-time CPD on Twitter. Claire also considered her own attitudes towards others in Checking my cissexual privilege #transdocfail as a social media discussion revealed how some healthcare professionals fail to treat some [...]

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I'm an OT called Claire. I write about health, particularly mental health, and also about Social Media and Web 2.0 technology. I am particularly interested where these two fields overlap.
I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.

TWIM Blog Awards 2012
This Week In Mentalists Blog  Awards 2012

I'm chuffed to bits to have been shortlisted!

Kred top 50 Health Bloggers
Creative commons licence
  • @Naomi_Barrow assimilation is not, nor can ever be, inclusion x 9 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow it's an assimilationist view of diversity: everybody is welcome who displays the exact behaviours of dominant group 9 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow it *looks* more diverse, e.g. Muslim woman, but do we see any different behaviours e.g. Regular praying? 9 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow what do you think? Could *any* disability remain hidden through days that start at 5.30am until 11pm plus? 9 hours ago
  • @Naomi_Barrow "invisible" disabilities don't tend to remain invisible when living with someone 24/7, only on casual acquaintance? 9 hours ago

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