On gender, privilege and influence

Earlier this summer, the Washington Post ran a fascinating article called Crossing the Divide, which profiled four transgender people who transitioned from female to male in adulthood. Having lived as both men and women, they had firsthand knowledge of -- and empathy for -- the experience of both genders in our society. 

I'm familiar with the concept of male privilege, and how men in this society have it easier than women in a lot of ways. But what I loved about the article is that it helped me see benefits of being a woman that I'd completely taken for granted. Things like the kindness, trust, and goodwill extended to me by strangers, and the support available to me when I feel threatened or afraid.

It's not that these things are explicitly or intentionally denied to men, but the subtle social rules for them are different. As a woman, I can get away with doing and saying things that would have great repercussions if I were a man -- and vice versa.

If I changed my gender (or, for that matter, my skin tone, or age, or weight, or able-bodiedness, or attractiveness), all of a sudden I would have a new set of privileges, as well as new rules to learn about what's appropriate and how to be effective in the world.

I am curious about the kinds of privilege that you recognize in your own life, not just from your demographics, but also based on your unique skills, traits and life experience. What gifts or advantages do you have that not everyone does?

More importantly, how can you use them to make a positive difference?