I have privilege. I don’t notice whether or not there are ramps because I don’t look for them. I don’t notice whether or not there are vegan options because I don’t need them. I didn’t even notice how inaccessible for disabled people the portable toilets on the sidewalks made Mardi Gras until a friend pointed it out.
I’m aware of my privilege, and I try to be better about it. I try to use it to the advantage of those who don’t have it. I try to be aware of everyone else, making sure I bring snacks to events that are vegan and gluten-free and making sure the events I host are wheel-chair accessible. I’m not perfect about it, but I try my best.
Unfortunately, not everyone does. Not every government takes action thinking of the minorities who need it. But it does happen sometimes.
In 2007, Nepal became the first country in its region to make discrimination against LGBT people illegal. Later, in 2011, the country took a census in which they counted males, females and a third gender. This third gender includes people who don’t identify as the gender they were assigned at birth and those who don’t identify as male or female.
This is great to me, because it almost validates the existence of many people who otherwise have to group themselves in where they feel they don't quite belong.
It's also great because it allows for more accurate censuses. For instance, if surveys include the other gender option, it allows us to see that maybe something is really popular with the other genders, where it isn't as popular with binary folks.
Although gay marriage still isn’t legal, these actions have paved the way for a more progressive Nepal in the future.
These actions are thanks to people who saw the need for change and did what they could to make it happen. This certainly included those who needed the other gender category, but it was also due to those who recognized their privilege and fought on behalf of those without it.
Those with privilege have to use it for those who don't. If you're straight, you have privilege. If you're white, you have privilege. If you're a man, you have privilege.
These privileges don't cancel each other out. I once heard someone say that they don't have white privilege because they're a girl, and that's just not how it works.
With the whole COVID-19 panic, every time I see an Asian person wearing a facemask in a store, I hope they're wearing it because they want to, and not because they were peer-pressured into it for a disease they don't even have. I'm on edge until they leave my sight, ready to argue on their behalf should someone try to say something to them about it.
The fact of the matter is, people are more likely to listen to people who are similar to themselves. If you're a white person and you see someone being racist, call them out. If you're able-bodied and notice a lack of accessibility somewhere, call attention to it and ask for it to be fixed.
It's not always easy. People might argue with you, and you might lose a friend over it. But it's the right thing to do. It's worth it.