John Boyne responds to comments that he is 'a cis man speaking from a position of cis privilege'

John Boyne has responded to a comment that he was speaking from "a position of cis privilege" when he wrote about not wanting to refer to himself as a cis man.

Cis refers to a person's gender identity matching the sex which they were assigned at birth.

Boyne wrote in the Irish Times saying that he doesn't think of himself as Cis, saying rather "I consider myself a man.”

In a piece written by Aoife Martin, a director of Transgender Equality Network Ireland, she said that “Boyne, whether he likes it or not, is a cis man speaking from a position of cis privilege.”

Speaking on the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio 1, the best-selling Irish author said he took exception with comments made by Ms Martin.

He said: "Cis male privilege is basically because you haven't gone through the struggle that I've gone through, you don't know anything about it and you're coming from a place of ignorance and privilege."

He continued: "I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Ireland. As a boy, I knew I was gay and it was in a country where homosexuality was still illegal.

"So I grew up in a school being told I was wrong, I would probably get Aids and I would probably or go to jail. Was that my Cis male privilege?

Then I came to senior school and it was the same priests who were telling me these things, were the same priests that were putting their hands down my pants.

"Was that my Cis male privilege?

"Then I left school and I became an adult and I was afraid to go into places like The George, I was terrified of it because I felt dirty, I felt shamed, I felt like a less than human person, so I was unable to be my own sexual person.

"Was that my Cis male privilege?

"When I started writing I had to fight like any writer does to get published. I had two unpublished novels when I finally got published, my books didn't sell. I got dropped by my publisher and at the age of 31, I was basically out on the street with a career over before it began.

"Was that my Cis male privilege?

"I then spent years, trying to get myself into a place where I could feel comfortable being a gay man and forming a relationship. I had many bad relationships then I found a wonderful human being who I thought I was going to spend my life with, and that after 11 years didn't work out and I went through three years of pain.

"Was that my Cis male privilege?

And finally, when I ended up in hospital...having tried to take my own life because of all these experiences put together over 40 something years of my life and going back home and feeling if I could clap my hands and go to sleep forever that is what I would do.

"Is that part of my Cis male privilege?"

Responding directly to Martin, the author said: "I would say to Aoife Martin - you don't know me; you have never met me; you haven't picked up the phone and called me or texted me, and you haven't even responded to conciliatory mails that I have sent...So do not take a position that you know who I am, any more than I know who you are. You do not."

John Boyne will be in Cork on Wednesday, April 24 for Teen Day as part of Cork World Book Fest 2019.

You can listen to the full 30-minute interview below.

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