Almost three decades ago, Peggy McIntosh published her now-legendary piece on White Privilege. McIntosh likened white privilege to an invisible knapsack of advantages that white people carry with them, listing a selection from the abundance of everyday rights withheld from people of colour. This post is the second of two parts, in honour of McIntosh’s birthday this month. The first addresses the ethnic privilege I carried as a student growing up in international schools. This piece considers a few of the many ways that I benefitted from my invisible knapsack of heterosexual and cisgender privilege as a student in international schools:
- I was free from concern that a teacher or classmate would misgender
- I never had to worry that a teacher would deadname me while taking attendance.
- The standardized tests that pre-entered our personal information always checked the box that corresponded with my gender identity.
- I could be certain that both anatomy and relationships similar to mine would be discussed in sexual education lessons.
- I could enjoy the playground and other common campus spaces without worry that I would be the target of verbal or physical harassment because of my sexual orientation or gender identity.
- My parents were able to attend school functions without concern that their relationship would be an uninvited topic of discussion.
- If a classmate turned down an invitation to visit my home, I never suspected that it had to do with my parents’ relationship.
- I could audition for a part in a play or try out for an athletic team without being asked to discuss my gender.
- I was able to use the school bathroom that corresponded with my gender identity.
- I was never assigned entire reading lists with characters and plots that completely ignored or invalidated romantic relationships like mine.
How do you see heterosexual and cisgender privilege playing out in international schools today?
 McIntosh, P. (1998). Unpacking the invisible knapsack. In P.S. Rothenberg (Ed.), Race, class, and gender in the United States, p. 165-169. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.