11 December 2009

Ronald Gold - Patriarchy & White Male Privilege

In my previous post on Ronald Gold's insensitive, inaccurate, and offensive "'No' to the Notion of Transgener" blog at the Bilerico Project, I rebutted specific points.  Today, let's get right to the root of the problem:

Mr. Gold is a white man with white male privilege and his incoherent, factually inaccurate blog, which sites no research or even anecdotes yet purports to speak for the mental and physical experience of all transsexual and transgender people, neither of which he identifies as, reflects the fact that he is an active participant in institutional patriarchy and racism and the belief that his whiteness and maleness give his opinion automatic authority.

I have it too, that pesky white male privilege.  Whether I want it or not, my voice will automatically be heard more often, and given greater credit, whether I've earned it or not.  It's not fair, but I don't deny it or feel guilty about it like I once did, because I can't change it.  Guilt and denial won't help, but I can at least acknowledge it and refuse to actively participate in it  or actively use it to my (further) advantage.

Because I'm aware of my privilege, I'm never going to say (in the way that Mr. Gold did) that "transsexual people experience X, Y and Z," because I do not and cannot know from experience.  I might say "my transsexual friend told me that his experience was..." or "a study showed that 95% of transsexual people reported X."  However, for me to  say "transsexual people are/do/should/etc." would mean that I have stopped listening to the experience that I cannot have had and I have stopped pointing people back to the first person sources.  It would mean that I had become an active participant in my white male privilege, believing that my opinion mattered without any factual backup or shred of compassion for the non-white/male/cisgender experience simply because it has always been reinforced that that is my white male right to do so.

We will never make progress until we check our own privilege before we open our mouths, and before we open our mouths we need to do a whole lot or opening our ears and hearts first.  It's not easy, and it hurts, and too bad because it's the only way we're going to grow.  However, I can tell you that in doing so, I have come to love myself and others so much more.  I used to have myself for being fat, for not being butch enough to prove that not all queers were effeminate stereotypes, and all sorts of nasty, polluted thoughts that hurt me, my community and the world.  When I stopped hating and punnishing the "other" in myself, I was able to better hear and love all members of my communities.

We must stop, listen, hear, and love as it is our only hope for progress.  In love and soliarity,

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for managing to be so cogent about something so infuriating. I particularly (as always) appreciate your willingness to examine your own privileged perspective and your effort to work against your privilege to get at the analysis that Gold's post required.