Unlearning privilege

Last Sunday Jello and I went to a local breakfast place for a nice Sunday breakfast. The last time we had been there was a couple years ago (long before Jello’s transition started). We got out of the car and were talking about the lamb meat at the place was always a little over cooked (it is a Greek/American place). The waitress was outside cleaning the outside tables and she noticed us, the first thought I had was that she had heard us talking about the restaurant and its tendency to overcook lamb.

Sunday Morning BreakfastWe went into the place, she sat us at the table. Her whole demeanor was ice cold, she wouldn’t even look at us. She kept glaring at Jello, who had been the one talking when she heard. A few minutes later a much younger waitress came over and helped us for the rest of the meal (the other, older waitress, wouldn’t even look at us).

We got home a little bit later and Jello was talking about our treatment (especially how the waitress was eyeballing and giving subtle micro-aggressive acts towards him). We got into a small verbal “debate”. I felt the waitress was being a jerk because of the subject we were talking about when she saw us, Jello maintained that it was because of his trans status. I thought that was ridiculous, and it couldn’t have been that.

Jello told me about some of the interactions he witnessed behind my back, in the kitchen, regarding the older waitress and the younger one after we got into the restaurant. Things that obviously were transphobic including eye rolling, nodding and pointing to our table. I stopped and thought about it and realized he was right (which made me really angry at the waitress). I was briefly upset that Jello hadn’t told me when he saw it at the restaurant. He explained he just didn’t want to deal with it. He had been dealing with this kind of crap when everyone assumed (and partially so) that he was a lesbian (since it was before the transition).

Now that I am thinking about it I can see what Jello was talking about. I had assumed there was nothing about us that bothered the waitress specifically other then our initial interaction. I thought that maybe she was being bitchy and over-reactive to our words about the restaurant.

This is where I realize I still live mentally in my cis/het white male world (even though three of those four things are not really true). I hadn’t even considered that someone would dislike me because of my gender, orientation or partner. I have lived in a pretty privileged situation (not withstanding the extreme poverty I grew up in, which had made me not realize my other privileged statuses until I got older). My partners have all been white women that at first glance passed as cisgendered, heterosexual females of white coloring (actually none of them have been heterosexual or necessarily cisgendered, but it isn’t obvious when you are with an opposite gender partner).

At this moment I still am not worried about my physical safety (6’4” 280lbs means a group of men don’t usually scare me, as long as they don’t have a gun), but the safety of my husband worries me. It also worries me that he will be treated poorly. I don’t care if I get treated poorly, I LOVE confrontation, however Jello isn’t as confrontational and not even counting the gender status, he still has Grave’s Disease and even though he is in remission, stress can set it off.

I need to change two things.

  • Take my cis/het blinders off and learn to notice the subtle issues going around. Take note of it, write about it but don’t forget it.
  • Back off my first response for aggression and confrontation. This will actually be harder then the first one. I still love fighting with people, confrontation gets my adrenaline pumping. It isn’t good for my husband though, and honestly I know the overall effects on me are bad as well.

It is just annoying when I realize I have so much more to work on. I guess this is just another step on that road.

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10 Responses to Unlearning privilege

  1. Jello says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I was in your camp until she yanked my glass of water away so she wouldn’t risk touching me. I’ve just seen that before. She really went out of her way not to risk touching me.

  2. straywheel says:

    You both make me happy to know you. I can totally relate to the tendency to confront, but to realize that this could put your husband in danger shows some ability to move forward with change.

    Oh, and fuck those assholes. They’re probably the kind of jerks that think Obama is a Muslim.

    (check out my blog and you’ll know who I am.)

    • Jello says:

      It was definitely that kind of place. Although we are close to Seattle, our city has a lot of ‘Murica!, good ‘ol boys. It’s a weird mix of super liberal Pacific NW hippy, and county redneck.

      • underfrog says:

        Wait, you all are close to Seattle? I live in the city! Glad to hear y’all are nearby – especially because I know there are so many restaurants in the PNW that WON’T treat you this way. This kind of treatment is such crap. I went through this myself in early transition – people grabbing onto their kids’ hands super tight if they saw me in a store, etc – if happens a lot, and this might just be the beginning for you all with this stuff – but never forget – it really is unacceptable. It can wear you down, but that never makes it OK.

      • Thanks for that. I think you are right. I did notice a lot of it when Jello was younger and people thought he was a dyke up in Bellingham.

        Ya we live in Everett actually, and all my work area is south of us.

        The world is a small place 🙂

      • underfrog says:

        Aw, I came out as trans in B’ham, and I grew up in M’ville — (lived in Everett last summer, even) and my family still lives there. 🙂

        Also, have you heard of or been to meetings with the Washington Gender Alliance? If not — They run support meetings for T folks (partners & friends welcome) in Everett and Shoreline every week if you’re ever needing a little extra support up that way. I actually might be coming up to a couple of Shoreline meetings here in the next month or two.

        I just moved into the city and am finding so much community here among trans* folks it blows my mind. People who aren’t shy about not putting up with the kind of BS this waitress gave you all. I know I find it really inspiring — after feeling, deep down, so ashamed of myself for so long for being trans. 🙂

      • That is awesome you are finding people. Jello has been in school up until this month so we did go to a couple meetings last summer, but now we will have time to actually attend.

        If you do go to one of the meetings let us know, I know Jello really wants to be around more trans folks and now it seems we might have more time.


    • Funny enough sometimes when one of the rednecks get to know you, they are more accepting of the situation then liberals who try to put on a “good face”.

  3. Jamie Ray says:

    It comes with the territory. Just write that place off your list and find a more friendly joint.
    You may also want to send the Diner owner a note telling them that they lost your business through the waitresses rudeness. Business owners know that one bad experience is talked about much more than one good one.

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