When the subject of heightism and justice for short people is raised, many people will act as though it must be a joke. The topic tends to generate either eye rolls or patronizing amusement. Most would consider the idea of height discrimination as a ridiculous notion not worthy of serious discussion.
If that doesn’t stop the discussion, then they would say they’re tired of all the political correctness and can’t stomach yet another group who claims to be oppressed. They would say something like “too bad, life is not fair, short people need to learn to live with the hand they’ve been dealt.” Even people who would cringe in shame at the mere suggestion of racism, sexism, homophobia or xenophobia. And yet, that had long been the response given to women and racial minorities when they began to seek social change. It is a canned answer of those who are not affected by an injustice, so they think that the injustice itself is somehow inconvenient or irrelevant.
The term “Tall Privilege” refers to the social deference that tall people receive in our society just because of their height, without them actually doing anything to deserve it. Taller individuals are advantaged by this deference, and their taller stature presumes greater influence and leads to greater social benefits such as more leadership opportunities, higher pay, etc. Of course, those who benefit from such advantages cannot be expected to give them up. They themselves believe that they are entitled to them because that is all they have known. But these advantages are unearned, and therefore, are not legitimate.
The idea that justice for short people would have to come at a high price for tall people is not based on correct reasoning and is immoral. How exactly would tall people suffer if short people were treated with more respect and earned equal pay? And if we are not seeking somehow to benefit short people at the expense of taller people, then why should it be “too bad” for us short people that height discrimination exists? If we as a society can demand respect for racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, the disabled, the elderly, LGBT individuals, among many others, then short people should be able to demand it too. We must start by being honest about the fact that heightism exists, and that it is harmful. Then we must work to raise awareness and help bring an end to this injustice.