This past evening, the Sexual Violence Awareness Week Committee facilitated a discussion on Queer identities and sexual violence. This was the first time I have seen these conversations happen at Goshen College, and it is important to recognize the power dynamics involved.
I identify as cisgender, and I have cisgender privilege. My gender identity has been naturalized since birth. Though I assume a far more effeminate identity than other individuals that identify as men, I have been raised in a society that affirms masculine-presenting qualities of my identity. Though it may be by narrow margins, I have fulfilled society’s expectation for my gender identity.
I can access public facilities upholding binary thinking without fear, anxiety or risk of my own safety. I can participate in gender-specific activities without fear or question. I am represented in history, media and television. I can identify myself as the name I was given at birth, and no one questions it.
I identify as Queer, and I cannot claim heterosexual privilege. My sexual orientation has not been naturalized since birth. I identify beyond the boundaries of heterosexuality, and I have been raised in a society in which this identity is questioned.
Heterosexual privilege means that potential employers may not be comfortable with my identity. It means I need to worry about introducing my spouse/partner to a coworker or neighbor. It means I cannot actively explore different churches and religious communities. It means I cannot walk safely at night, and I cannot walk with my partner/spouse in public. I am not represented in history, media and television. I am not supported by my family.
In these conversations on Queer identities and sexual violence, it is important to acknowledge the ways in which we engage in our own gender and sexual identities and address genuine differences in a constructive and supportive manner.