RE: Cis

On how and why I changed my mind.

I once myself opposed usage of the term cis. I thought that having “trans” was sufficient to describe the differences between what I then called “transwomen and women, transmen and men” I went on rants in tweets and wrote several articles about it and dangers I thought it presented, but I was wrong.

Everyone who holds that view is wrong, and I would challenge them to consider some of the same criticisms I considered myself in my journey to change my mind.

Your idea of “transwomen and women” and “transmen and men” may make sense to you, but what do you think of the idea of “transpeople and people”?

Most people who think like I used to think will make a dramatic shift here. Of course, they know trans people are people and not “transpeople” and they recognize the othering power such a word could carry, and it causes dissonance such that they will immediately distance themselves from the idea in some way, or simply accept the linguistic logical inconsistencies that come with it and admit that trans people are in fact people.

Some, in spite of how clunky it may seem to the rest of us, might maintain their view in spite of these inconsistencies.

For them, and indeed everyone who stands against usage of the term cis, I would simply ask why it’s so important in their mind that they oppose to being described as not trans, when they are in fact not trans.

We can use the phrase “not trans” instead, but after repeating not trans so many times, the mind begins to long for a simpler, easier way to describe the state of being not trans.

Most people, I’d guess, have no frame of reference to understand when and how being cis is relevant, because they simply don’t talk about trans people and trans issues enough.

One important fact that I came to realize on my journey to changing my mind is that being cis is directly equatable to being “normal” as many cis people like to call it, while implying that being trans is abnormal.

Since realizing that, it’s become ironic to me seeing how irrationally people react to being called cis. It’s because they are something they didn’t realize they were and don’t understand it, so they react– never realizing the reason they didn’t know is because they never had a reason to think about it before.

Trans people on the other hand, we know we’re trans. For us, that reality is inescapable. I don’t think a day has gone by since I transitioned that I haven’t thought about it. It impacts my life every single day. How much does being cis impact your life?

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Being a cis man or woman is the default. It is common. It is what you might call the “normal” way to be a man or woman. That is what cis means.

How can it possibly offend you so much?

As a cis person, the ONLY way being cis impacts your life is when you are compared with a trans person. Otherwise, you are normal. You are default. When we talk of you relative to >99% of the world, being cis is completely irrelevant to you.

But, when you are compared with me, a trans person (NOT transperson tyvm) THEN you are cis. THEN being cis becomes relevant to your life.


One thought on “RE: Cis

  1. I notice that it is people with privilege who usually get most upset about being labelled. Because when you think you are the norm, the default, the natural inevitable way of being, it is apparently uncomfortable hearing anything that doesn’t totally support that idea. From a safe distance, the fragility of privilege is quite a thing to behold.

    Liked by 1 person

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