Cisgender

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A cisgender person (sometimes cissexual, informally abbreviated cis) is a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. [1] For example, someone who identifies as a woman and was identified as female at birth is a cisgender woman. The word cisgender is the antonym of transgender . [2] [3] The prefix cis- is not an acronym or abbreviation of another word; it is derived from Latin and the word cissexual was invented in the 1990s from the German zissexuell.

Contents

Related terms include cissexism and cisnormativity .

Etymology and terminology

German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch used the neologism cissexual (zissexuell in German) in a peer-reviewed publication. In his 1998 essay "The Neosexual Revolution", he cites his two-part 1991 article "Die Transsexuellen und unser nosomorpher Blick" ("Transsexuals and our nosomorphic view") as the origin of the term. [4]

Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis- , meaning 'on this side of', which is the opposite of trans- , meaning 'across from' or 'on the other side of'. This usage can be seen in the cis–trans distinction in chemistry, the cis and trans sides of the Golgi apparatus in cellular biology, the cis–trans or complementation test in genetics, in Ciscaucasia (from the Russian perspective), in the ancient Roman term Cisalpine Gaul (i.e., 'Gaul on this side of the Alps'), Ciskei and Transkei (separated by the Kei River), and more recently, Cisjordan, as distinguished from Transjordan. In the case of gender, cis- describes the alignment of gender identity with assigned sex. [5]

Sociologists Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook define cisgender as a label for "individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity". [2] A number of derivatives of the terms cisgender and cissexual include cis male for "male assigned male at birth", cis female for "female assigned female at birth", analogously cis man and cis woman, [6] and cissexism and cissexual assumption . [7] In addition, one study published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society used the term cisnormativity, akin to sexual diversity studies' heteronormativity . [8] [9] A related adjective is gender-normative because, as Eli R. Green writes, "'cisgendered' is used [instead of the more popular 'gender normative'] to refer to people who do not identify with a gender diverse experience, without enforcing existence of a normative gender expression". [10] In this way, cisgender is preferable because, unlike the term gender-normative, it does not imply that transgender identities are abnormal.

Julia Serano has defined cissexual as "people who are not transsexual and who have only ever experienced their mental and physical sexes as being aligned", while cisgender is a slightly narrower term for those who do not identify as transgender (a larger cultural category than the more clinical transsexual). [11] For Jessica Cadwallader, cissexual is "a way of drawing attention to the unmarked norm, against which trans is identified, in which a person feels that their gender identity matches their body/sex". [12]

The terms cisgender and cissexual were used in a 2006 article in the Journal of Lesbian Studies [13] and Serano's 2007 book Whipping Girl , [11] after which the term gained some popularity among English-speaking activists and scholars. [14] [15] [16] Jillana Enteen wrote in 2009 that cissexual is "meant to show that there are embedded assumptions encoded in expecting this seamless conformity". [17]

Serano also uses the related term cissexism, "which is the belief that transsexuals' identified genders are inferior to, or less authentic than, those of cissexuals". [18] In 2010, the term cisgender privilege appeared in academic literature, defined as the "set of unearned advantages that individuals who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth accrue solely due to having a cisgender identity". [19]

While some believe that the term cisgender is merely politically correct, [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] medical academics use the term and have recognized its importance in transgender studies since the 1990s. [25] [26] [27]

In February 2014, Facebook began offering "custom" gender options, allowing users to identify with one or more gender-related terms from a selected list, including cis, cisgender, and others. [28] [29] Cisgender was also added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, defined as "designating a person whose sense of personal identity corresponds to the sex and gender assigned to him or her at birth (in contrast with transgender)". [30] Perspectives on History has stated that since this inclusion, the term cisgender has increasingly become common usage. [31]

Critiques

From feminism and gender studies

Krista Scott-Dixon wrote in 2009: "I prefer the term non-trans to other options such as cissexual/cisgendered." [32] She holds this view because she believes the term "non-trans" is clearer to average people and will help normalize transgender individuals.

Women's and Gender Studies scholar Mimi Marinucci writes that some consider the "cisgender–transgender" binary to be just as dangerous or self-defeating as the masculine–feminine gender binary, because it lumps together people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) arbitrarily and over-simplistically with a heteronormative class of people as opposed to with transgender people. Characterizing LGB individuals together with heterosexual, non-trans people may problematically suggest that LGB individuals, unlike transgender individuals, "experience no mismatch between their own gender identity and gender expression and cultural expectations regarding gender identity and expression". [33]

From intersex organizations

Intersex people are born with atypical physical sex characteristics that can complicate initial sex assignment and lead to involuntary or coerced medical treatment. [34] [35] The term cisgender "can get confusing" in relation to people with intersex conditions though some intersex people use the term, according to the Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth Inter/Act project. [36] Hida Viloria of Intersex Campaign for Equality notes that, as a person born with an intersex body who has a non-binary sense of gender identity that "matches" their body, they are both cisgender and gender non-conforming, presumably opposites according to cisgender's definition, and that this evidences the term's basis on a binary sex model that does not account for intersex people's existence. Viloria also critiques the fact that the term "sex assigned at birth" is used in one of cisgender's definitions without noting that babies are assigned male or female regardless of intersex status in most of the world, stating that doing so obfuscates the birth of intersex babies and frames gender identity within a binary male/female sex model that fails to account for both the existence of natally congruent gender non-conforming gender identities, and gender-based discrimination against intersex people based on natal sex characteristics rather than on gender identity or expression, such as "normalizing" infant genital surgeries. [37]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>LGBT</i> Initialism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons

LGBT or GLBT is an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which began to replace the term gay in reference to the broader LGBT community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. The initialism, as well as some of its common variants, functions as an umbrella term for sexuality and gender identity.

Heteronormativity is the belief that heterosexuality is the default, preferred, or normal mode of sexual orientation. It assumes the gender binary and that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of opposite sex. A heteronormative view therefore involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia. The effects of societal heteronormativity on lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals can be examined as heterosexual or "straight" privilege.

Non-binary gender Umbrella term for gender identities

Non-binary or genderqueer is an umbrella term for gender identities that are neither male nor female‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary. Non-binary identities fall under the transgender umbrella, since non-binary people typically identify with a gender that is different from their assigned sex, though some non-binary individuals do not consider themselves transgender. Another term for non-binary is enby.

The following outline offers an overview and guide to transgender topics.

A trans man is a man who was assigned female at birth. The label of transgender man is not always interchangeable with that of transsexual man, although the two labels are often used in this way. Transgender is an umbrella term that includes different types of gender variant people. Many trans men choose to undergo surgical or hormonal transition, or both, to alter their appearance in a way that aligns with their gender identity or alleviates gender dysphoria.

Transfeminism

Transfeminism, also written trans feminism, has been defined by scholar and activist Emi Koyama as "a movement by and for trans women who view their liberation to be intrinsically linked to the liberation of all women and beyond." Koyama notes that it "is also open to other queers, intersex people, trans men, non-trans women, non-trans men and others who are sympathetic toward needs of trans women and consider their alliance with trans women to be essential for their own liberation." Transfeminism has also been defined more generally as "an approach to feminism that is informed by trans politics."

Gender expression, or gender presentation, is a person's behavior, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender in a particular cultural context, specifically with the categories of femininity or masculinity. This also includes gender roles. These categories rely on stereotypes about gender.

Sexual attraction to transgender people has been the subject of scientific study and social commentary. Psychologists have researched sexual attraction toward trans women, cross dressers, non-binary people, and a combination of these. Cisgender men attracted to transgender women primarily identify as heterosexual and sometimes as bisexual, but rarely as homosexual. Sexual arousal research has confirmed that their response patterns are unlike those of gay men and resemble those of heterosexual men, except that they are highly aroused by transgender women in addition to cisgender women. They show little arousal to men. A substantial proportion of cisgender men attracted to transgender women report also experiencing autogynephilia, sexual arousal in response to the image of themselves as female. There has been some discussion of attraction to trans men, but it has not yet been the topic of scientific study.

Gender binary is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief.

Gender variance, or gender nonconformity, is behavior or gender expression by an individual that does not match masculine or feminine gender norms. People who exhibit gender variance may be called gender-variant, gender-non-conforming, gender-diverse,gender-atypical or non-binary, and may be transgender or otherwise variant in their gender identity. In the case of transgender people, they may be perceived, or perceive themselves as, gender-nonconforming before transitioning, but might not be perceived as such after transitioning. Transgender adults who appear gender-nonconforming after transition are more likely to experience transphobic discrimination. Some intersex people may also exhibit gender variance.

The study of the causes of transsexuality investigates gender identity formation of transgender people, especially those who are transsexual. Transgender people have a gender identity that does not match their assigned sex, often resulting in gender dysphoria. The causes of transsexuality have been studied for decades. The most studied factors are biological, especially brain structure differences in relation to biology and sexual orientation. Environmental factors have also been proposed.

Transgender Gender identity that differs from sex assigned at birth

Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual. Transgender, often shortened as trans, is also an umbrella term; in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, it may also include people who are non-binary or genderqueer. Other definitions of transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize transgender people as a third gender. The term transgender may be defined very broadly to include cross-dressers.

Transsexual People experiencing a gender identity inconsistent with their assigned sex

Transsexual people experience a gender identity that is inconsistent with their assigned sex and desire to permanently transition to the sex or gender with which they identify, usually seeking medical assistance to help them align their body with their identified sex or gender.

A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. Trans women may experience gender dysphoria and may transition; this process commonly includes hormone replacement therapy and sometimes sex reassignment surgery, which can bring relief and resolve feelings of gender dysphoria. Trans women may be heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, asexual, or identify with other terms.

Transmisogyny is the intersection of transphobia and misogyny. Transmisogyny includes misogyny, sexism, transphobia, and cissexism toward trans women and transfeminine people that may not be experienced by cisgender women or trans men.

Discrimination or prejudice against non-binary people, people who do not identify as exclusively male or female, may occur in social, legal, or medical contexts. Both cisgender and binary transgender people, including members of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities, can display such prejudice.

<i>Whipping Girl</i> 2007 book on transgender issues by Julia Serano

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity is a 2007 book by the gender theorist, biologist, and writer Julia Serano. The book is a transfeminist manifesto that makes the case that transphobia is rooted in sexism and that transgender activism is a feminist movement. The second edition of the book was published in March 2016.

Outline of LGBT topics Overview of and topical guide to LGBT topics

The following outline offers an overview and guide to LGBT topics.

Gender and sexual diversity (GSD), or simply sexual diversity, refers to all the diversities of sex characteristics, sexual orientations and gender identities, without the need to specify each of the identities, behaviors, or characteristics that form this plurality.

An endosex person is someone whose sex characteristics fit normative medical or social ideas for female or male bodies. The word endosex is an antonym of intersex.

References

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Further reading