Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Is the term "Cisgender" now a super slur weapon for the Trans community?

Ot-Oh Wot-Oh! There's a super slur doing its rounds in the trans community. This time it doesn't seem to be aimed at trans people! Phew what a relief. Yet what turns out to be deemed a new "slur" is only really the semantic shifting by some right wing academics of a term that's been used by transfeminist and queer academics for decades. I always thought "cisgender" just meant someone who identifies with the gender which fits their biological organ status; i.e. a man who was born with a penis/testicles who self-identifies as a man is a cisgender man. Thus a rather posh way of saying "non-trans". It's strange to see that "cisgender" and "cissexism" are terms which are now easily deemed worthy of alienation, to be thrown in that super mega full trash can of antiquated terminology that litters old editions of OEDs that reside on dust filled bookshelves the world over. What IS so controversial about calling someone "cis"? Does it play into a deliberate alienation narrative being "perpetrated" by some in the transfeminist discourse community? Are some trans people denying others the "happiness" gained through gender assimilation? Or is this just
another pointless semantic battle that has the intention of undermining genuine discussions about the differences between non-binary trans and other trans people masquerading as a form of gender binary assimilation fetish being egged on by non-trans critics?

Arguments against using the term cisgender:
  • What happens if a man is born without fully functioning sexual organs -e.g. a eunuch still self-identifies as a "macho man"? Should he still be termed cisgender by transfeminists? 
  • Cisgender isn't used in everyday speech and not many "ordinary people" would understand it outside of academic discourse. "Non trans" sounds more colloquial and what "real people" use.
  • Cisgender wasn't a term created by non-trans people to describe themselves. The label is being "forced" upon them by transfeminists and queer theorists. It's not fair.
  • Cisgender "sounds" offensive; trans activists only use the term when they want to denigrate/berate those who they consider to be bigoted/prejudiced.
  • Twitter Trolls who are trans use the term "cis" to be nasty towards hetero people.
Arguments for using the term cisgender:
  • Cisgender is a neutral term; it's etymology matches that of transgender: "cis" in Latin means "on the same side" and trans means "on the other side".
  • Who is to determine which words are "real" and which are "fictional"? If critics are using the word with the meaning they ascribe to it, which seems to be an agreed meaning, it must logically be a "real word", even if its usage is selective!
  • Straight people never collectively agreed on whether they wanted to be called "heterosexual" or not; most never bother using the term except when answering official surveys so why suggest all non-trans people should have to agree on the "cisgender term".
  • To some transgender "sounds" offensive because it doesn't describe their gender identity in its entirety. Sometimes labels can only draw attention to differing identities; cisgender is not considered either to be a panacea or a demonising label.
  • Social media is a smouldering cauldron of different views, of which trans slurring cis people is a component. Yes some trans people are trolls. Some get provoked whereas others do it for the sheer hellraising. We should all condemn the use of the term "cis" to be negative but don't blame everyone using the term for the mistakes caused by a few miscreants.
Conclusion:
There will always be activists, academics and "ordinary people" who find certain terminology that is used by others (especially detractors) to describe them as ineffective, inappropriate or slanderous. I can understand a man who has a vested interest in maintaining a false dual gender-binary because of his "macho" identity can feel he is being wrongly defined. To him, he is a "man", plain and simple.
However, to say that calling this man "cisgender" should be regarded in the same vein of slander as outwardly calling a trans person a "pussy" or "she-male" is to slightly blow the semantic debate out of proportion. Those on the alt-right, defenders of the "gender binary" as immutable claim there is an imbalance when it comes to classification of terminology as obsolete or useful. They ask why "tranny" or "transsexual" is getting replaced by "transgender" when it defines trans people "well enough" whilst bitching about an opposing label used to separate them. They also question why using the term "cisgender" cannot be interpreted as a hate incident on the same level as "tranny". Is it part of our free speech policy to allow such terms to be banded about without being challenged- i.e. why are "she-male" and "tranny" considered elements of verbal abuse that can be reported as a hate crime when "cisgender" isn't? Despite this line of thought, I've rarely heard many non-trans people be offended by the "cisgender" term because it isn't in everyday discourse. The level of harm caused by uttering "tranny" on the street as opposed to "cisgender" is incalculable because of its frequency of usage in daily discourse. Some trans people here "tranny" every day in their working class neighbourhoods full of misunderstanding about gender identity. Perhaps it is better to focus on eradicating semantic prejudices that actually affect people emotionally than spending time on trying to dismiss a perfectly acceptable term grounded in academic integrity!