Discrimination: Speaking Privileges

Is a misogynist a misogynist if they don’t consider you a woman?

That’s the conundrum I’ve been chewing over today. Is being excluded for being a trans woman a function of exclusion of trans people. Or of women. When you’re also the only woman in the room it’s hard to know.

Let me give an example. We have a weekly meeting to review strategy for clients. It’s a meeting between the highest level folks in the firm. I’m just as qualified as anyone in the room. My role is smaller then others but i’m no less qualified to be there. Yet I don’t have “speaking privileges” at these meetings. If I want to say something I have to raise my hand and be acknowledged by someone else. All of the someone else’s are men.

In these meetings I am the only woman and the only trans person. It’s hard to know what status reduces my humanity in the room but something does. Yet my alternative is to boycott the meeting which means I miss out on important discussions and am that much easier to ignore. So I suffer the indignity with grace. I’d rather be an obvious presence then hide myself away.

There are countless methods people use to reduce you. I find it hard at times to find the strength to continue. Every rational part of my mind screams at different times that I’m crazy. That I’m subjecting myself to horrors for no reason. Except one. If I walk away I tell the world it’s okay to treat people like me poorly to get rid of them. I say that you can remove someone you consider a problem if you mistreat them long enough.

I don’t know what the source of their aggression is. Whether it’s hate or fear or ignorance. I just know I’m not ready to let them win.