The “C” Word

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve struggled with the cis prefix since I became aware of it, not from a desire to decide that, as a cisgendered person, that I was normal and should then not need a prefix. I see the problem with how we as a society understand things like gender and identity and autonomy, so I’ve been all for better terms to foster understanding and communication. I’m a write above all; I want clarity and precision with written communication.

No, what I struggled with was the newness of the term (to me) and my apparent bias against inventing words to fill a need.

I had no idea it came to us via science terms. This is totally cool. Maybe it shouldn’t make a difference, but it helps me not be distracted by “but why ‘cis’?? What does it even mean? Why those letters, and how?” because that’s really not what’s important. So, thank you for this post. And I’m sharing. So there.

Busy Nurse Research

Probably not the one you’re thinking of.

I got into a conversation of Facebook about the use of the term “cis.”  Some page that I follow had posted a comic strip illustrating how things said by well-meaning non-transgender allies often sound to transgender people.  Normally, I avoid the comments.  (Actually, normally, I avoid Facebook, but my niece was in labor and Facebook was the means she and her fiance would be using to tell as many of us as possible when the wee one arrived*, so there I was.)  So anyway, yes, I read the comments, and sure enough, someone was very upset over the word (or rather, prefix) “cis.”

Here’s the thing.   Coming from a scientific background as a nurse, I found that it took about two seconds from the first time I heard the term used to figure it out.  Just like with molecules, where some are…

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3 thoughts on “The “C” Word

  1. My issue is why we even need to use terms such as “cisgender.” I did a whole rant on FB once about – if identify as a woman, call yourself a woman, introduce yourself as a woman – in all ways possible, BE a woman. (Or man. I only use woman because I’ve only ever known one transgender man, whereas I’ve known (of) a number of transgender women). The whole world doesn’t need to know whether you’re naturally-born female or transgender.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine in regards to the transgender community. They’re the ones that make such a huge deal about terminology and what not – not us. I introduce my best friend with her preferred pronoun, her chosen name, etc. If I get questioned as to why I don’t mention the whole “transgender” thing… honestly, it doesn’t even occur to me anymore. She’s a she… who bleepin’ cares how she was born?

    I don’t have an issue using the “cis” prefix. Then again, I don’t use it. I see no difference between me and my m2f transgender friends. I see them more as, “Nature sucked and made her barren.” Doesn’t take away from them being women at all.

    Sometimes stuff just needs to be reclaimed to mean what it really means, though. That requires education on all fronts. We live in a world filled with cowardice when we would rather continue to be victims of derision as opposed to educating ourselves on reality.

    • It’s a pet peeve of mine in regards to the transgender community. They’re the ones that make such a huge deal about terminology and what not – not us. I introduce my best friend with her preferred pronoun, her chosen name, etc. If I get questioned as to why I don’t mention the whole “transgender” thing… honestly, it doesn’t even occur to me anymore. She’s a she… who bleepin’ cares how she was born?<<

      My understanding of “I don’t see gender” places it parallel with “I don’t see color/race” statements. These things may be true on a personal level — I don’t see sexual orientation, for example. When a dear friend of mine finally worked up the nerve, early in our friendship, to come out as a lesbian to me, my lackluster response did not go over well. ” . . . and? So?” — but we’re not talking about a personal level sort of interaction, when we talk about gender issues or when we talk about racism issues. We’re talking about a society-wide level, and at that point, “I don’t see color” and “I don’t see gender,” is a matter of erasure. It may be true that you don’t, and that’s awesome that you can be in a world and in a place where you don’t! But when suicide rates are devastating high among these communities, it’s clear to me that as a society, we do see gender and we do see race, and it needs to be talked about.

      Ultimately, in these sort of discussions, the people involved in them get to decide what words are used or disregarded. I know that it’s not an across the board thing that even those who fall under the trans category like the cis-prefix. We need terminology to better be able to discuss things, though, and I don’t mind the cis-prefix. It was an extremely useful tool for me, to help me to see my privilege as a cisgender woman in a society that values (typed that repeatedly as ‘failues’; tell me how you really feel, Jo!) those who conform to the cultural standards. It’s one more fight I don’t have to fight unless I choose to — and that alone taught me how important it was to have words that point out that there are standards, by using words to call attention to them, and to help illustrate how far we need to go as a society, still.

      • I had a whole big long response written out, but then I realized it really just boils down to one issue for me…

        I wrack my brain over how – in so many situations (public and private) the emphasis is still on “I used to be (m/f), so stop treating me like I am” or “I’m not (m/f) anymore, so stop treating me like I’m a (man/woman)” instead of “I am a (man/woman), so I deserve the same treatment as any other (man/woman).” I just think the focus of both the community and it’s allies is on the wrong place, if they’re making such an uproar over a prefix. If the fundamental issue is addressed, then things like terminology and what not loose their power and become a nonissue… but then again, since when has humanity as a whole been that open?

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