Is “cis” offensive?

Cursed E
Jul 2, 2018 · 5 min read

I got banned from Mumsnet for the mere utterance, and I see other people who aren’t your average TERF saying that calling them “cis” is offensive. So I wanted to have a quick explore of this topic and try to understand their point of view.

Before we get going, what does “cis” even mean? Well, its short for cisgender, though I think cissexual makes more sense — as the word gender can also apply solely to gender roles and stereotypes. And well… my whole trans thing isn’t about that, and I don’t think its about that for many of my friends either. But I digresss…

The word cisgender usually means “not trans” or in its longer form “someone who identifies with the sex they were assumed to be at birth”. Meaning they looked at their body and were like “yeah no, this is fine.” Whereas someone who is trans looks at their body and shrieks “ew no get it off me.” (Note: this is jokey hyperbole.)

This explanation of assigned or assumed sex at birth also has its own counter argument from the anti-trans brigade which I’ll quickly address here too. “Sex isn’t assigned its observed!!!” — well that isn’t what we’re talking about. Yes. The sex of my body was observed at birth, but it was assumed that my sex identity matched that, It was assumed or assigned to me that I would grow up male and a man because of my sex. Hence, assigned or assumed at birth.

Again, part of the issue here is the blending of word we use for gender and words we use for sex, which is again why I try to make it clear which one I’m talking about anytime I mention them.

Anyway, back to cis. What’s the main arguments against cis? The two I hear the most are really simple and easy to dissect. First is usually said by TERF types and its “Don’t call me cis, I do not identify with my assigned gender! gender is patriarchal oppression how dare u”. Which as we’ve covered already — is all about how gender can refer to stereotypes of sex and roles. Which obviously, the TERFs are against…

and that’s fair enough — I support anyone who wants to dismantle gendered expectations, gender roles and fix all the problems this stuff has created in society. Including overlooking men’s issues as trivial or not as serious as women’s and also treating women like children for being women. Amongst so many others.

However, this isn’t really what’s meant by gender in the context of trans people. Gender usually refers to gender identity (I prefer sex identity), which is the egg that comes before the chicken, the chicken in this case being the gendered roles and stereotypes.

I did a long post about this here — but the short story is that people gravitate towards what roles and expectations society has for them based on who they believe themselves to be. So society says women should X and a woman who knows she’s a woman will be more likely to X (even if she is assigned male at birth based on her sex characteristics). The same goes for dudes too. Which kinda blows this argument out of the water.

The second main one, the slightly more credible one? Well that’s “Don’t call me cis, I do not want to be labelled by an ideology I didn’t consent to”. Which at first glance? is kind of compelling. A lot of people view the language trans people and trans inclusive people use as its own separate ideology of gender.

It’s not an ideology any more than a binary view of sex and gender ( ie women are adult human females reee) is an ideology though. I don’t think we consented to the original view we have either — we’re just invested in it now because we’ve shaped our worldview around it. It was still forced upon us without our consent from birth, or rather… assigned… to us… at birth… (COHESION BABY. YAS.)

You could easily have been born into a society which didn’t categorise people by sex/gender at all and instead did it by eye colour. This too would be a forced ideology (I think, lens is probably a better word to use here) for you to view the world through.

Either you don’t want a forced lens and you want to view things your self and come to your own conclusions or you don’t — if you do, perhaps you should drop the traditional view too? and not solely reject the trans inclusive view?

But for the sake of argument, lets just ignore that they’re both just lenses and skip to the “I do not consent to being labelled by an ideology I don’t agree with” bit. Specifically, the bit about consenting to labels…

The amazing power of the anti-trans brigade to argue for things without thinking about the consequences of that has struck again. Because if you get to veto a label because it comes from a gender ideology you don’t agree with? Then why can’t I do that also?

I don’t agree that all adult human males are men — and I can prove that with evidence and reason. So why should I agree to call myself a man, just because you and your view of the world does believe that adult human males are men? You’re basically arguing for self ID here, saying that we should all get to choose what labels we apply to ourselves. This seems extremely counter to the other things you’re saying which is “NO UR A MAN HOW DARE U”.

Frankly, you can’t have your cake and eat it. If you don’t agree that other people should be allowed to label you without your consent based on their perspectives of the world and not your own? You’re literally arguing for trans inclusiveness and self ID — because that must apply to trans people too. And if you think it shouldn’t apply to trans people? That you should get to label them based on your perspectives of the world? Then how are you any better than the person calling you cis?

As always, if I’ve missed anything — hit me up. I love chatting with you guys about all this heck and its always good to know I’m writing stuff which is fully engaging my readers. Thanks for the support pals ily ❤. PS have some TERF cringe:

Cursed E

Written by

Cursed E

enlightened alt centrist woman™ / shitpostin' feather rufflin' and talkin' bout things and stuff.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade