Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack II

Learning Objectives–At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Understand what straight privilege is
  2. Understand what cisgender privilege is
  3. Understand the daily effects of straight and cisgender privilege

Before we begin there are a few terms we need to share:

Bisexual a person who has emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction for people of more than one gender (e.g. feeling attracted to both men and women).

Gay or Lesbian is a person who has emotional, romantic or sexual attraction for people of the same sex.

Heterosexism is a behaviour that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more “right” than queerness, or ignores/doesn’t address queerness as existing.

Heterosexual is a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the other gender (or, literally, biological sex) than they have; often referred to as “straight”.

Homophobia is fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, or discomfort with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people, often focused inwardly as one begins to question their own sexuality.

Sexual orientation is how a person identifies whom they are emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to (e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, etc.).

Cisgender/Cissexual/Cis is a person whose gender identity matches society’s expectations of someone with their physical sex characteristics.

Cissexism is a harmful beliefs that being non-trans is the only acceptable and “natural” form of gender expression.

Gender/Gender Identity is how we perceive our identity as male, female, both, neither, regardless of our physical bodies.

Trans is an umbrella term for a person whose gender identity does not match society’s expectations of someone with their physical sex characteristics.

Transphobia is an irrational fear and/or hatred and/or intolerance of people who are trans, perceived to be trans, or who cross societal gender norms.

Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Please note that transgendered is not acceptable term to use as it implies that something happened to the person to make them transgender.

Queer is an umbrella term used proudly by some people to defy gender or sexual restrictions. Not used by all. Can be considered offensive.

This exercise is from the National Juvenile Defender Center website

Image from Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Joadl on Wikimedia Commons

Daily effects of straight and cisgender privilege: This article is based on Peggy McIntosh’s article on white privilege. These dynamics are but a few examples of the privilege which straight people have. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified folk have a range of different experiences, but cannot count on most of these conditions in their lives.

Sexual Orientation

On a daily basis, as a straight person…

Gender Identity

On a daily basis, as a cisgender person (a person whose gender identity matches society’s expectations of someone with their physical sex characteristics)…

Download this exercise as a PDF: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack II Handout

Summary Questions

  1. How many statements did you answer yes to in the sexual orientation section?
  2. How do you feel; what do you think about the questions and your answers?
  3. How many statements did you answer yes to in the gender identity section?
  4. How do you feel; what do you think about the questions and your answers?
  5. Do you feel you understand the concept of straight privilege?
  6. Do you feel you understand the concept of cis privilege?
  7. Has this exercise increased your awareness of straight and cisgender privilege?
  8. Do you think this exercise will help you change how you work with/support LGBTQ2S youth?

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