noun \ priv-uh-lij, priv-lij\
verb priv·i·leged, priv·i·leg·ing.
1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.
2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.
3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.
4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.
5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.
noun \ˈlək-sh(ə-)rē, -zh(ə-)rē\
1. archaic : lechery, lust
2. a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort : sumptuous environment <lived in luxury>
3. a : something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary <one of life’s luxuries>
b : an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease <had the luxury of rejecting a handful of
at a discussion group for being out in academia for grad students, the group was pretty evenly split between those who are visibly read as queer/genderqueer and those that can fly under the radar because they are often read as/assumed to be straight. at one point, when addressing these two different situations, a trans-person on the f-to-m spectrum used the word luxury when he was talking about when queer people (perhaps more specifically, queer women) are read as straight. i don’t have the luxury of being able to not come out, he said.
i had never thought of it that way.
and i probably never will.
i recognize that being able to pass is a privileged position to be in. i recognize that i receive hetero privileges because i am often read this way. but i would never say this is a luxury i bask in. i understand the privilege of being able to choose to assert my queer identity when i am in a space that feels safe to do so rather than have my appearance out me all the time in instances where i would rather go incognito. i also understand that if i’m rolling through a conservative (or unfamiliar) town i know nothing about on a roadtrip, which i seem to have done quite often in the past 5 years or so, i do feel like my appearance outs me in some way. i do not feel safe. (for some reason, it’s this setting i think of first when i think of feeling unsafe – which i recognize is much different than feeling unsafe in the day-to-day [in one's neighborhood, workplace, school, etc.]) this unsafe-in-an-unfamiliar-town feeling stems part from being read as a woman [and who knows what men will do to women who look like they don't come from their conservative small towns], and it’s also part being read as weirdo [tattoos, hairy legs and armpits, unusual haircut, not the standard jeans and tshirt that seem to be the dresscode for that town.] and perhaps even a kind of deviant/queer, even if it doesn’t register as a sexual queer… a kind of ‘we know you don’t belong here’ outsider sort of queer. i understand what it’s like to feel like i can’t hide myself even if my life depended on it. i understand what it’s like to fear the possibility that others might want to hurt me. might want to do horrendous things to my body. might want to kill me. i understand what it’s like to fear how my mere presence/existence might anger others.
but, back to luxury.
when i think of luxury, i think of its verb-state. luxuriate.
a kind of sinking back into, a softening. like, laying back into a hottub with my arms draped on the edge. perhaps a champagne in my hand.
- Extremely comfortable, elegant, or enjoyable, esp. in a way that involves great expense: “the bedrooms have luxurious marble bathrooms”.
- Giving self-indulgent or sensuous pleasure: “a luxurious wallow in a scented bath”.
which is nowhere near the bodysense, the emotionality of what passing as straight feels like. it is not something i lean back into with my hands behind my head and say “oh yeahhhh. this is the life.” about. it’s not something i say “i want more. i just want to sink myself into it” about. it’s not something i indulge in.
while i certainly didn’t go into this much detail at the discussion, i did at least say it. i understand my passing as straight to be a privilege, but not a luxury. which i followed with something inarticulate about how passing or not passing both have their ups and downs. i’m not sure how clear it all got across, but i think it got somewhere. it felt good to offer a disagreement that didn’t feel like a fight. i am proud of feeling the sting of that word (luxury) but not responding with a slap back or a kind of blanket dismissal of that person.
this is something i’m working on. offering my perspective when i feel the sting of frustration/anger/hurt/rage, but not offering the perspective from that place. this instance, a tiny tallymark on moving forward in this work.
all this is not to say i don’t experience luxuries/don’t live in luxury. the fact that i have my own little studio (shelter) and am working my first salaried job ever (/making more than 2 dollars a day) and own a little machine that i am typing this on which is plugged into an outlet in the wall which brings it all to life… these are all luxuries. so, i just wanna be clear that this entry is not to dismisss the luxuries i am surrounded with. it’s just to say, there’s no way you can name passing as straight (especially when compared to not being able to pass as straight/cisgendered) as a luxury. even if it is in luxurious circumstances (sheltered, fed, health insuranced, salaried, etc.)