Hello dears. I have been deep in thought recently over terminology concerning gender and sexuality.
Particularly I have been thinking on the terms cisgender and non-trans and just what they mean to me, you and the dog next door.
Already I can hear some of you groaning “Oh no, not another bloody label.” Please bear with me dears, as I do believe it is important.
More and more people are beginning to use and accept the term cisgender which can be defined thus;
“A cisgender person is someone who identifies as they gender/sex they were assigned at birth. For example, your birth certificate says female, and you identify as a female woman.” (source: Queer Dictionary – yes, I was surprised there was one too: http://queerdictionary.tumblr.com/)
Some of you may think why this is important. Well I’m sorry dears, but it is. I am trusting that none of you think like the character Baldrick in the BBC sitcom Blackadder the Third when he defined a dog as “Not a cat.”, are you? Look it another way lovies. Ladies, how would you feel if women were described as “non-men”, and boys, how would you like to be called “non-women”? I would argue therefore that to describe cisgender people as “non-trans” is immediately making a distinction whereby one is considered the “accepted norm” and the other is not.
It is a reverse in a way however. In South Africa and the USA up to the mid to late 20th century, anyone who deviated from a white European ethnicity was often called “non-white”, and this suggested that white people were somehow superior. I would argue that to refer to cisgender people as “non-trans” is immediately saying that cisgender is the “accepted norm” and anything which deviates from that is abnormal and, by inference, inferior.
The simple truth however that when it comes to gender and sexuality, there is no “norm”, and anything is only “accepted” through public perceptions and fears. There is no such thing as a wholly heterosexual man or woman; we are all somewhere on a spectrum. Any man who doubts that is denying that they have a certain amount of eostrogen in their bodies, just as women who doubt it deny they have a certain amount of testosterone. Trust me, any man or women who was like that would be abnormal. That is a chemical and biological fact.
And even in sexual behaviours there is no such thing as normal. Each and everyone of us has our own little peccadilloes and kinks we like. Oh yes you do, you putting your hand on your heart and saying “Oh no, not I.”, stop that right now. You maybe think you can fool others but you don’t fool little Xandra – and deep down you know you can’t fool yourself. And want to know what? As long as you are not hurting anyone or any creature, that is fine, nothing to be ashamed of, and it also means that not one person has the right to judge you, just as you have absolutely no right to judge others.
Whether you are are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual for that matter, that is just the way you are and it does not make you any less of a person – or any more for any of the bigots out there. You didn’t choose that, it is the way you were made. In fact the only sexual states I can think of which are a “lifestyle choice” to use a thankfully now aged phrase are abstinent and celibate. And those who practice them tend to be hateful bigots in any case, so tits to them.
I would not even judge anyone, of either or whatever gender, who has more than one spouse and/or sexual partner, so long as all concerned are happy with that arrangement. A friend recently stated on Facebook that “Monogamy” is boring, to which I asked “I thought it was a type of hard wood?”, which brought the reply “Yes, and wet beavers love hard wood.” Then I thought that monogamy was lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine, before I realised that is the definition of monotomy. Hmmm. Some would say that’s the same thing really.
Joking apart, we human beings are fickle and I know that labels can be tedious. To my mind however, in a world which is becoming increasingly accepting of the huge diversity which makes up mankind, I feel that cisgender is the acceptable term for heterosexual people who do not in any way identify with the gender opposite to them. I would be interested to hear what others think?
I was born a girl and remained a girl until I became a woman, and have been a woman ever since. If the trans community gets to define itself on its own terms surely I get to, as well. I’m a woman. No modifiers needed.
Well no-one is denying you your right to call yourself a woman Femingen. It is not a matter of the trans community defining themselves on their own terms. It is more that to use a term like “non-trans” is derogatory, whereas to use cisgender makes more sense in that context. Trust me, I dislike labels myself but when a wrong one is used, that needs to be corrected.
Calling me a woman isn’t wrong.
Xandra hasn’t suggested that calling you a woman is wrong femingen. This has more to do with how trans are identified.
Or rather, not using the trans term when describing a cisgendered woman.
I never said calling you a woman is wrong. I said using the term “non-trans” is wrong. Would you refer to a heterosexual as a “non-gay”? No. Therefore I would argue that to say “non-trans” is equally wrong. I repeat what I said above that I mean in the context of defining the difference between someone who is trans and someone who is not.
The real problem here is the human tendency of putting everything into neatly defined boxes even when something clearly does not fit.
Oh I so agree Kira, and as I say in the blog, labels are tedious. Sadly however as human beings we tend to do that, despite the fact they are ever-inaccurate. Just look at the people who say they are “ALL woman” or “ALL man” when in fact that is a biological impossibility. We are all on the spectrum dear and the sooner the vast majority of humankind wakens up to that fact, the better – and we can all have soooo much more fun. 😉
Until that day however I would simply prefer for people who identify with their birth gender to refer to themselves as “cisgender” rather than “non-trans” – when speaking/writing in that context.