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Cissues

Thinking about the term "cis" or "cisgender" this week and that leads to some discussion topics.

So, against better judgement really, I joined Threads this week. It's been, from what I have seen so far, better than the dumpster fire of a white supremacy bird app, but that's really a low bar. Remains to be seen if it stays that way, Zuckerberg's sites haven't been especially good at dealing with hate either, but so far it's okay.

Having said that, I'm definitely seeing cis fragility rearing up there with the usual "don't call me cis" nonsense that emerald spoon baby has been banging his fists into the pablum about. And that, of course, leads me to want to talk about a couple of cissues!

So, earlier this week, I saw a cishet white guy get all up in arms claiming the term cis as being "heterophobic" and that trans people need to stop using it because it's offensive. So two things with respect to that:

  1. Cis is short for cisgender and is a medical term used to define a person whose gender identity matches the one that they were assigned at birth. It's the opposite of trans or transgender. Telling us we can't use it when it's contextually valuable is telling us that we must be complicit in othering ourselves for benefit of the opporessor. This is universally an unreasonable demand rooted in transphobia, period.
  2. There is no such thing as "heterophobia" at all. It's nonsense. Aside from the fact that sexuality isn't gender, so already he was on bullshit footing, straight people do not get oppressed for being straight. It's doesn't happen, the concept is utter nonsense. This is a bigot trying to play a victim card and I wasn't having it.

Anyways, this member of the Manbaby Industrial Complex (as a friend so aptly called male fragility) ended up blocking me when it became clear to him that he not only was losing the discussion, he was losing his ability to "sound reasonable" to potentially neutral observers.

The other topic is a variation on the "not all men" theme and that is the use of "not all cis" by cis people. When it comes to the dynamic of oppressing group and oppressed group, members of the oppressing group who want to make a difference for the oppressed need to continuous work for trust. Most importantly, they need to manage their fragility when it comes to the language used by the oppressed. Specifically, if they find themselves saying, "but that's not me" then they should stop right there and recognize that the discussion is in broader terms and not specific ones.

Let me illustrate with a very common, and very basic, example: going to pee in a public bathroom as a trans woman. Every single time I do that and encounter a cis person, the risk of violence from that person exists. It doesn't have to be physical, it can be verbal, but the risk exists and I won't know if that cis person is safe until after the encounter. So, while clearly not all cis people are going to turn violent at the presence of a trans woman going pee in a woman's bathroom, it can happen and I have to assume that it might.

In other words, I will say that "I am at risk of violence from cis people when I use a public bathroom" and if a cis person says, "not all cis people will be violent" then they have told me that my experience is invalid and they have centered themselves in a conversation about my oppression. That's not an ally speaking.

Here's the thing, it's not up to a marginalized community to police their language for the benefit of others. It is up to those who call themselves allies to work hard to create a world where that language is no longer needed and not tone police us in the process. I will absolutely never allow men or cis people dictate my language when it comes to my experiences as a woman and as a trans person. Full stop.

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