It’s a Cis!

What the heck is cisgender?

Good question. I had no idea either and then when I looked it up I found out, I’m it. It’s a person who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. The word cis comes from the Latin, “on this side of/on the near side of”. If I were on a transatlantic voyage, I would be heading to Europe. If I were on a cisatlantic voyage, there would probably be more Jazzy scooters and college kids.

When a community is trying to educate people about their experience and advocate for themselves, language can be very important. Asking people what gender pronouns they prefer as opposed to making assumptions or using the term cisgender can serve as a signifier to show that you are an ally to their cause and that you support equality and inclusion. Saying cisgender also can serve to remind people that there are transgender people and cisgender people, not trans and normals. Although, I’ve always used the term “normals” to identify people who don’t do comedy. Here are a couple links to nice explanations of the thing: Trans 101 and Queer Dictionary.

Now, here’s a short counterpoint. I have nothing particularly against the word but it feels like it’s elbowing its way into my lexicon a little bit like that period of time during which certain feminists looked at me with pity for bowing down to the oppressive patriarchy if I didn’t start spelling “women” with a “y”.  I will use any terms that people want me to use in reference to them. If you identify as queer, gay, lesbian, trans, straight, andro, etc. I’m up for it. I might screw up the first time and say the wrong thing, but just kindly correct me and I’m on board. I’ve been called sir at the bodega near me despite the fact that I don’t even have short hair. I just have a low, forceful voice and a pushy demeanor. At my old bodega (I need a lot of pasta at strange hours) the clerk had a sign letting people know he was Sikh and to ask questions if they had any. We all need lessons in assumptions sometimes. My beef (sorry vegans) with the word cisgender is that I felt like before I even realized that there was a new word, people were already really angry about me not using it. It felt a little bit like, “We are using the word cisgender in discussion, and how dare you not be doing the same you oppression monster?” I only have feelings of support for equality, education, and a world where every minority group can stop having to fight the world just to attain the same rights as everyone else. I’m assuming that my feelings about this particular term come more from the fact that I’ve been reading the internet too much. As we all know the internet’s temper has a tendency to run a little hot.

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