How do you feel about the term "Cisgender?"

MidnightStorm MidnightStorm
The first time I encountered the word "cisgender" (frequently abbreviated "cis") was like a slap in the face to me and every time I heard it used after that it continued to rub me the wrong way. While I don't exactly feel that the term "cisgender" is necessary to begin with, the thing that bothers me most is the way that it is typically used. I hear people refer to me a "cis" in the same tone a wizard might refer to a muggle. "Oh, well, you're cis--you wouldn't understand."

This offends me and breaks my heart. I've had many transgender friends and people who mean a lot to me have struggled with their identity on more than one occasion. While I'm not transgender myself, for many of us "cisgenders" gender is still a fluid identity and many people, myself included, do not identify as 100% male or female but don't consider themselves transgender, either. Like sexuality, gender isn't black and white (and likewise, you aren't simply "transgender" or "not transgender.")

Please comment to share your experiences or feelings on the topic!
Answers (private voting - your screen name will NOT appear in the results):
I identify as transgender (or some variation thereof) and I like the term "cisgender" because...
12
I identify as transgender (or some variation thereof) and I dislike the term "cisgender" because...
I identify as transgender (or some variation thereof) and have never thought about it.
I identify (publicly) as the gender I was born as and I like the term "cisgender" because...
5
I identify (publicly) as the gender I was born as and I dislike the term "cisgender" because...
3
I identify (publicly) as the gender I was born as and I have never thought about it.
5
These options do not fit me or I feel differently (other).
3
Cisgender? I've never heard that term before.
7
I have heard the term "cisgender" used in a negative way.
10
"I have never heard the term "cisgender" used in a negative way.
9
Total votes: 54 (42 voters)
Poll is closed
10/21/2012
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Jesyra Jesyra
I think people need to stop taking labels so seriously. I get the need for words and definitions, but really we don't have to take these things so personally.

Technically I can call someone a snuffleupagus and say it in a negative fashion but that doesn't make it true, or negative, or anything really. It's a word and words only have the connotations that we allow them to have. Any word can be used with negative or positive connotation. Don't let it bother you and connotation no longer matters.

That said, I think way too many people are getting way too hung up on gender labels. Boy, girl, he, she, cis, trans... who cares? Are you human? Yes? Well, that's the only label I need to treat you like a person, and that's the only label that really matters.
10/21/2012
Lildrummrgurl7 Lildrummrgurl7
I don't have a problem with the term itself but I do agree it has been used negatively by some groups of people. While I've never experienced this term negatively myself, I know others who have. Same with terms like "breeder" or "het". I think you can find a negative term for any group of people, really. Used in a scholarly context (I'm studying Queer Studies), I have no problem with the term cis or cisgendered.
10/21/2012
Llewey Llewey
I appreciate the term because it's the most succinct way to describe a group of people whose bodies are in alignment with their minds. I occasionally hear it used in a disdainful way, but so do I hear EVERY label being used negatively at times. Also, I mostly hear it used in a scholarly/unbiased sense. All it means is that a person's gender identity matches what society assumes it "should be" based on the person's body.

Saying the term "cisgender" has no use or shouldn't exist (presumably because almost everyone is) is, in my opinion, as unfair as saying the term "straight" shouldn't exist since most people identify as it.
10/21/2012
Gone (LD29) Gone (LD29)
Maybe I'm naive or have been living under a rock or something, but I've really only heard the term used as a classification. I haven't picked up on anyone using it negatively, although it wouldn't surprise me.
10/21/2012
Vegan Silk Vegan Silk
I like the term because it makes transparent something we (as people who are cisgender) take for granted in society, and thereby allows us to see out privilege in that arena. It is not a slap in the face, but people who don't have the same shared experience, and haven't had to live through the discrimination of transgendered people, probably don't really understand what it is like.
10/21/2012
Llewey Llewey
Quote:
Originally posted by Vegan Silk
I like the term because it makes transparent something we (as people who are cisgender) take for granted in society, and thereby allows us to see out privilege in that arena. It is not a slap in the face, but people who don't have the same ... More
I agree completely with this -- thank you.
10/21/2012
deltalima deltalima
Quote:
Originally posted by Jesyra
I think people need to stop taking labels so seriously. I get the need for words and definitions, but really we don't have to take these things so personally.

Technically I can call someone a snuffleupagus and say it in a negative fashion ... More
Agree.
10/21/2012
deltalima deltalima
Quote:
Originally posted by MidnightStorm
The first time I encountered the word "cisgender" (frequently abbreviated "cis") was like a slap in the face to me and every time I heard it used after that it continued to rub me the wrong way. While I don't exactly feel that ... More
To be honest, I've heard this used by people who identify within that community. I'm having a problem due to that right now.
10/21/2012
ToyGeek ToyGeek
As I have all of the privileges associated with being born with a body that matches my gender, it costs me very little to use a clarifying label, while transfolk have no real choice -- the alternative is erasure, which is problematic.

Sure, sometimes people sneer at someone's opinion with a "but you're cis/straight/white/etc ." dismissal, and sometimes on the Internet they can be pretty rude about it, but it's not that people are getting angry at you for being different than them, it's that some people are tired of straight cis people being seen as "normal" while they by default are the opposite. The cis label is an attempt to start at a neutral default instead. I'm not interested in standing against that effort.

And if sometimes as a straight cis woman I'm silenced for not understanding, oh well, seeing as the topic is generally something specifically pertaining to trans issues, and I'm therefore not really qualified to have an opinion on those things anyway, because I'm not living them. It's not like there are trans people demanding that I not have an opinion on Mitt Romney's shady financial dealings or a bad call against the Packers on Sunday because of my identity, as I think it's pretty well accepted that one's gender identity doesn't really factor in on those points. Since I have privilege in society as a whole, I might be surprised to find myself silenced in any realm, even one where I'm not particularly qualified, but it can't even compare to the silencing faced by any minority group in most given situations.
10/21/2012
bodymodboy bodymodboy
Quote:
Originally posted by Vegan Silk
I like the term because it makes transparent something we (as people who are cisgender) take for granted in society, and thereby allows us to see out privilege in that arena. It is not a slap in the face, but people who don't have the same ... More
Agreed.
10/21/2012
bodymodboy bodymodboy
You are cis, and no, you will never, ever, ever understand what it is like to be a trans* person. The fact you do not feel a word is necessary to you is due in part to the fact no one tries to label you or put you in a box the same way marginalized people have been for centuries. Now that marginalized people have been giving names and words to codify and quantify the marginalization (we) they experience, and identify those that largely participate passively or overtly on said marginalization, then suddenly folks are up in arms.
10/21/2012
violets violets
It's not a negative term any more than transgender is. It simply is. It serves a purpose to distinguish "cis" people from "trans" people. Without the term 'cis,' trans people are... what?.. -'normal'? 'not trans'?- It's just like the term 'straight'. It's just meant so that 'trans' is not the 'other' label. Without it there would just be the label 'trans' and they would be the 'others.' If that were the case everyone else would just be 'not trans' and that isn't right at all.

Without that term, and the way your post seems to make it seem like you want it... identifying with the gender you were assigned at birth is the 'default.' And that's how most people think. By terming that cisgender instead it points out that that shouldn't be considered the default or the norm. Honestly when I was first coming to terms with being trans it was helpful to know I was simply 'trans, rather than cis' instead of the alternative being 'I was trans, rather than -normal-'
10/21/2012
Missmarc Missmarc
Quote:
Originally posted by MidnightStorm
The first time I encountered the word "cisgender" (frequently abbreviated "cis") was like a slap in the face to me and every time I heard it used after that it continued to rub me the wrong way. While I don't exactly feel that ... More
I identify as transgender
10/21/2012
Danneh Danneh
Quote:
Originally posted by Vegan Silk
I like the term because it makes transparent something we (as people who are cisgender) take for granted in society, and thereby allows us to see out privilege in that arena. It is not a slap in the face, but people who don't have the same ... More
This.
10/21/2012
butts butts
REGARDLESS of ALL of the privilege bullshit that has been rampaging the internet over the last year or so, I am transsexual and I like the word cisgender, and I have nothing against cisgendered folk, I don't use the term negatively. I've seen it used negatively (especially on Tumblr and Facebook) but I personally don't appreciate it in the same way that I don't appreciate the "fuck your white privilege" bullshit that's going around. Saying that "cisgender" is unnecessary is like saying "straight" is unnecessary. It's just a label to describe non-minorities, labels are essential in language to make communication clear and quick. You may not entirely identify as transgender, but you still shouldn't be offended by the word "cis", it's in no way meant to be offensive or black and white, it's JUST a general word to describe people who are happy with their birth sex and present as such regardless of the tiny details that vary with every person. If you don't personally like the word cis and want people to recognize your slight gender variance, pick a different label or take the time to describe it publicly. It has nothing to do with privilege or any of the bullshit you hear floating around today (not the WORD ITSELF anyways), it's literally no different than saying "I'm straight." The only reason I could think of that someone would find the word "cisgender" as offensive is if they wanted to be a special snowflake while still being straight and cis, which isn't a very legit reason anyways.
10/21/2012
UnknownGirl UnknownGirl
Quote:
Originally posted by Jesyra
I think people need to stop taking labels so seriously. I get the need for words and definitions, but really we don't have to take these things so personally.

Technically I can call someone a snuffleupagus and say it in a negative fashion ... More
+1000

It's like you pulled the words right out of my brain.
10/21/2012
moongirl moongirl
Quote:
Originally posted by bodymodboy
You are cis, and no, you will never, ever, ever understand what it is like to be a trans* person. The fact you do not feel a word is necessary to you is due in part to the fact no one tries to label you or put you in a box the same way marginalized ... More
I think you're doing the trans community a disservice by saying that, that a non-trans person could never, ever, ever understand. Isn't that what compassion and empathy are, and isn't that what the human response is? Trying to understand? I don't know if you realize that, by adopting that as your perspective, you're alienating everyone who is not like you and would *like* to understand, because you're assuming and indeed shouting at them that they can't and will never have that capability. I just don't think that furthers your cause.
10/21/2012
moongirl moongirl
Quote:
Originally posted by butts
REGARDLESS of ALL of the privilege bullshit that has been rampaging the internet over the last year or so, I am transsexual and I like the word cisgender, and I have nothing against cisgendered folk, I don't use the term negatively. I've seen ... More
I find "cis" offensive when it's used offensively. If it were used as just a descriptor, like you are saying, I don't think it would really bother me. But all the instances in which I've heard it used (even in these comments!) have been like the original poster said - "Oh, well, you're cis and you just don't get it." So, yeah, that's a little offensive to me. I think it's all about context.
10/21/2012
bodymodboy bodymodboy
Quote:
Originally posted by butts
REGARDLESS of ALL of the privilege bullshit that has been rampaging the internet over the last year or so, I am transsexual and I like the word cisgender, and I have nothing against cisgendered folk, I don't use the term negatively. I've seen ... More
Lmao, okay. White privilege magically doesn't exist.
10/22/2012
bodymodboy bodymodboy
Quote:
Originally posted by moongirl
I think you're doing the trans community a disservice by saying that, that a non-trans person could never, ever, ever understand. Isn't that what compassion and empathy are, and isn't that what the human response is? Trying to understand? ... More
Guess what? You're cis. So your opinion on the trans community, thusly, doesn't count. My "cause"? It's my life. A life isn't a cause.
10/22/2012
MidnightStorm MidnightStorm
I'm going to do a generalized sort of response -- I wish more people who disliked the label would have commented because I suspected that people who DO support it would be more likely to get up in arms over its usage. And that's fair: obviously many transgender individuals have reason to feel very strongly about the term cisgender, the terms that describe them, and any of the relating terms.

I have a couple different things to address that I saw in multiple posts, so I'll go ahead and not address anything individually, but as a whole...

First off, just because you don't use it negatively doesn't mean that no one else does--or that it's "okay" that a few people use the term negatively since most people don't. I'm going to be blunt, knowing that perhaps my situation is rare, but still valid: the only people I know who use the term "cisgender" are people in my campus's Gay-Straight alliance. They largely consist of GLBTQ individuals and saying that it's "gay-straight" alliance isn't entirely the truth. Largely, it is a gay/gay/more gay clique. Although I identify as pansexual, I do not actively participate in the group for this reason. I feel that many of the individuals in this group represent, fairly, a large number of young GLBTQ people. These people, gay, straight, "cis" and trans gender, all use the term "cisgender" in an extremely rude, and derogatory way. The ONLY time they find reason to use the word "cisgender" is when telling us "non-trans" folks that we "don't get it" and "will never get it." Also basically that we are heartless, unfeeling aliens--And frankly, I've gotten this same impression from a few people who posted in this thread.

Second, if you want to argue that non transgender people will never understand transgender people because no one HUMAN can have the exact same life experience as another HUMAN, then I will accept the arguement that "I will never understand." You're right: I can't live your life and I will never fully understand what has happened or is happening to you. But in that regard, no one will ever understand you--not even another transgender person. Beyond this, by saying: "YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND ME!" you are ENCOURAGING "non-transgender" people NOT to understand you. When I hear a transgender person yell at me that I "have it so easy" and that I'll "never understand" it makes me want to brush that person off and disregard them completely. If you refuse to connect to me, then I will refuse to connect to you, empathize with you, or even offer you my pity for your situation--believe it or not, the rest of the world has problems too.

Also, I take it personally when it's directed personally at me. I'm offended by the term when it's used offensively. To say that it's "just a term" is basically saying; "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me!" Are we children in that we still need to make this argument to justify cruelty in adults? We shouldn't have to defend ourselves and rationalize other people referring to us in derogatory manners: people should recognize and respect each other.

Finally... I disagree with people who think that labels are "normal" or "necessary." There is a constant struggle in every minority community--black, gay, trans*, and everything in between, simply to be treated normally and equal. By insisting on labeling everything, we simply widen the gap between ourselves. So no, I do not think that it is okay to label people who are sexually attracted to the opposite gender or people who identify as the gender they were born as or people who are brown or people who think that they're actually a cat in a human's body or people who were born the wrong gender or people who just love everyone. It's not fair and it drives me crazy how obsessed with labels people are--and this is no exception. I suppose from now on, I ought to just start being the person that identifies as "human." People will be annoyed by it, but maybe eventually someone will catch on.
10/22/2012
moongirl moongirl
Quote:
Originally posted by bodymodboy
Guess what? You're cis. So your opinion on the trans community, thusly, doesn't count. My "cause"? It's my life. A life isn't a cause.
Your cause of transgendered equality. Sorry I wasn't clear, but not sorry for my opinion.
10/22/2012
comatose-kitty comatose-kitty
I have no clue what that means
10/22/2012
butts butts
Quote:
Originally posted by moongirl
I find "cis" offensive when it's used offensively. If it were used as just a descriptor, like you are saying, I don't think it would really bother me. But all the instances in which I've heard it used (even in these comments!) ... More
any word can be offensive if it's used negatively though, same with white, American, male, whatever. They're all just descriptive words, labels, people obsess over them and try to attach negative connotations to the ones they feel somehow oppressed by. People are so dramatic.
10/22/2012
butts butts
Quote:
Originally posted by bodymodboy
Lmao, okay. White privilege magically doesn't exist.
I'm not saying it doesn't exist. I'm saying that the word white, or cis, shouldn't be offensive unless it's USED offensively. There's nothing wrong with being white, cis, straight, american, whatever, it's the ones who take advantage of their privilege, or make a big fuss about it, that give those labels a bad connotation. They're JUST labels, that's all I'm saying, they aren't offensive on their own.
10/22/2012
moongirl moongirl
Quote:
Originally posted by butts
any word can be offensive if it's used negatively though, same with white, American, male, whatever. They're all just descriptive words, labels, people obsess over them and try to attach negative connotations to the ones they feel somehow ... More
No matter how much the reality of this is denied, the person the word is aimed at is not always the one attaching the negative connotations to it. Sometimes it *is* meant to be derogatory. This idea that anyone who identifies as being a part of a minority is an innocent angel who would never, ever say anything negative about anyone is just bull. I'm sorry but if you're trans, you're human, just like me, and just as capable of being a jerk to people who aren't exactly like you. And yep, I absolutely agree with the idea that people are "so dramatic" - this thread seems a prime example.
10/22/2012
butts butts
Quote:
Originally posted by MidnightStorm
I'm going to do a generalized sort of response -- I wish more people who disliked the label would have commented because I suspected that people who DO support it would be more likely to get up in arms over its usage. And that's fair: ... More
Just a small comment; There's a big difference between whole-heartedly UNDERSTANDING someone's issue/whatnot, and having EXPERIENCED it first hand. Sometimes people CAN'T experience other's issues first hand, but they can understand them through education and open minds, people can be empathetic and sympathetic to other's issues without personally GOING THROUGH them. People forget this a lot, especially in the trans community.
10/22/2012
moongirl moongirl
Quote:
Originally posted by butts
Just a small comment; There's a big difference between whole-heartedly UNDERSTANDING someone's issue/whatnot, and having EXPERIENCED it first hand. Sometimes people CAN'T experience other's issues first hand, but they can understand ... More
Absolutely.
10/22/2012
weeee weeee
'you are cis, blah blah blah.' statements that begin like this are rude. you are generalising a whole part of society, the same way someone else might say 'you are trans*, blah blah blah' or 'you are black/gay/tall/thin/fa t/etc.'

a person can choose to refer to themselves however they want.
it is not okay to make dumbass statements using any identifier, be it (non)gender, sexuality, romantic inclination or anything else.

people are indeed people. whether they are cis, trans, tall, orange, white, a lawyer. this is a fact.

but it is not fair to say 'lol labels are dumb you don't need labels you are all people.' you are taking away that persons right to have a label. do not force your beliefs on someone. if they want to identify with a label or tag or whatever they want to call it, they can.
10/22/2012
Total posts: 71
Unique posters: 30