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Hey, tranny…

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2010

There is currently a bit of a kerfuffle about the show Glee using the word “tranny” during their Rocky Horror episode. GLAAD is calling them in to have a little talk about it.

But here’s the thing, in a bigger sense, I still don’t know what appropriate term to use.

Yes, I know that the appropriate term is “transgender”, but I don’t think I’ve ever hear that used in a casual setting. It’s just too cumbersome and kinda clinical.

The first MTF transgender I knew was a loud brassy hippy-chick who was very kind to a naive young activist. She referred to herself as a tranny and, at the time, it seemed like everyone did. But while I know that term is still common among folks of a certain age who never thought of it as offensive, others find it to be an indication of disrespect.

Another friend of mine calls herself a T-girl. But I can’t say just how common that is. She may be the only one, for all I know.

So it’s a bit of an open question, I think. And one that is worth raising here as I know we have more than a few transgender readers. So I’ll ask you, our transgender folk (though others can opine as well):

Do you want to insist on “transgender”?

Some may. (I recall the lectures given to commenters on this site who made the fatal error of saying “transgendered”). But if so, is that a rule you keep for yourself? Do you always and only call yourself transgender?

Others may suggest that within friends other terms can be used. What might they be? What can we say that is not going to offend?

What can GLEE say that won’t offend? For that matter, is it even acceptable to be a sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania anymore?

Comments

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Anne Noise
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

The handful of trannies I’ve known have all been cool with the word “tranny,” or t-girl, although the second one is less common. I’ve never heard a single complaint about “tranny” outside of GLADD. They are f*cking morons sometimes.

Amicus
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I wonder aloud why I would use a word for someone that would cause offense?

Why would I reserve a “right” to do such a thing and call it “free speech”?

What important political or social of philosophical distinction do I violate so that someone would say I was just being “pc”?

“trans people” “transfolk” “trans person” all fine with me, even though “tranny” never come with negative overtones to my own ear, for whatever reason.

Het, if its the least I can do, I’d just quip, since it is no skin to do it, ‘never let it be said I didn’t do the least I could do’.

Amicus
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

er… “never come” s/b “never came” and “Het” s/b “Hey”

…and with that, that’s enough from me.

something2be
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I am cisgender; my partner is trans. What I’ve written below is based on my experiences and interactions with trans people but is not intended to speak for trans people.

Transgender is an adjective, not a noun. “A transgender woman”, not “a transgender”. A short form that’s less clinical and is commonly used is “trans” (also an adjective and never a noun).

Most trans people who I know find the term tranny very offensive, especially when used by a cisgender (non-transgender) person. I would also avoid using the word T-girl. Some trans women refer to themselves that way, but some find it offensive, and again, cisgender people shouldn’t use it.

The worst possible word to use is sh*****– not that anyone writing for Box Turtle Bulletin would do such a thing.

Anna
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

Apparently you have to be from “sensational” Transylvania instead.

They could have still used the word and had the teacher react like teachers should, by explaining to the student that some people find it offensive and why, instead of not reacting to it at all when it was meant as a slur in context (not really by the student, but by his parents, who he was paraphrasing).

Jane Laplain
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I’m confused as to your confusion. I’m sure you’ve met quite a few gay men who freely refer to themselves as “Queen” or “Fag” or “Nelly” and yet you would hardly be surprised if members of the gay community objected when a chaacter from a wildly popular TV show said “Nelly Queen” as if it were the proper term when referring to a gay man.

There is quite the wealth of information already availabsle online on how to respectfully address trans people. One has but to google if curious.

But somehow I suspect you are more interested in figuring out how you can continue to enjoy GLEE without people throwing around accusations of ‘transphobia’ to harsh your mellow.

Still, let me give you the benefit of the doubt and answer. The more appropriate term would be “Transwoman” or “Trans”… transgender is apparently phasing out as the umbrella term to refer to the trans community because it isn’t quite as inclusive as the brief pre-fix trans.

But there are also important terms and concepts you should learn such as Cis, Cisgender, Cissexual, Cissexism which would improve your understanding of the whole Trans thing by leaps and bounds.

Never heard of Cis? It behooves every ally of the trans community to learn asap!

Taking the chance that your post was genuine and not just rhetorical backlash against whiny “trannies” not letting you enjoy your favorite shows, please consult these excellent and timely blogs. They are but a few, but they contain the answers to everything you just asked here and more.

http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/
http://transgriot.blogspot.com/
http://skipthemakeup.blogspot.com/
http://quinnae.wordpress.com/

tim
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

@ Amicus

Who decides what free speech is?

You? The government? The American Family Association? Are you getting the point yet?

And honestly – each group in society refer to themselves with all sorts of terms that other groups may find offensive (due to some social norm). Gays call themselves queer and then get all bent out of shape when someone else calls them that. A few years ago my boyfriend and I were walking back from a restaurant and someone yelled out ‘queers’ from a passing car. My boyfriend and I burst out laughing.

And GLAAD serves no useful purpose.

Erin
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I’m trans – and often refer to myself (and my other trans friends) as a tranny. I see nothing wrong with it – but different folks have different reactions. My aunt (a lesbian) still cringes at being called “queer” – but I attribute that to generational differences.

And for sweet transvestites from transexual transylvania? I think it’s a song and people shouldn’t get up in arms about it – even if “transvestites” are now crossdressers.

Amicus
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

tim, should I call you “tim”?

It’s easier for me to call you “Bruce” (Monty Python fan?).

If I didn’t know you, it’s probably be wise, not just “pc”, to call you tim. And, you could probably get upset with me, if I didn’t.

Among your friends, i.e. in-group, you could have some sort of naughty nick.

If I got to know you, I might yet be able to call you “Bruce”, without offense…

Timothy (TRiG)
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

The usages I see most often in writing are transgender and trans. The problem with transgender is that it’s a bit too long, and the problem with trans is that it could, theoretically, be short for transvestite. But I think the word transvestite is dying out anyway, and trans is only theoretically ambiguous, not actually ambiguous.

I’m sure tranny is occasionally used in a friendly fashion, but I’ve never seen that myself in practice. I’d say it’s best avoided for general use, though it may be acceptable with friends. I’ve never seen T-girl before.

Source: Reading stuff written by trans activists, mainly on Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend.

TRiG.

David Malcolm
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t know, the Tranny that I know refers to himself that way (ftm) to be honest I think most Trannies just like to know that people aren’t pretending they don’t exist in a lot of cases. To be honest I think GLADD getting mad at Glee is kind of stupid, especially after today’s episode.

Greg
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

@Amicus
“No one died, Ma’am. Just some ni*gers.”

It’s just a word to describe someone, so it shouldn’t cause offense right?

And that’s the rub. I prefer to let the people described define themselves and do my best to adjust as they let me know how they feel. Sometimes I screw up (once in college, I inadvertently called an Asian-American friend of mine “Oriental”, but never a second time once she explained to me she thought it exceptionally rude), but I can only hope that if one tries to be polite, people will accept honestly given apologies.

The T-word, F-word, N-word, and O-word have all been use to treat people as objects rather than people. When that happens, it’s no wonder people start taking offense.

Anna
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I like trans-as-adjective for a less wordy word. One can attach it to nouns other than man/woman to be cute.

My philosophy is not to use a reclaimed slur unless I am one of the people it was used against. That is how I would feel even if a friend of mine referred to themself in such a way on a regular basis.

Lucrece
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

If some people say it’s offensive, what will it cost a person to change their word usage for a widely seen show?

Refusing someone’s offense just seems like wanting to be a contrarian more than anything.

Should Glee be crucified? Nah. Is it wrong to send them a letter saying “Yeah, that word, please don’t use it again.”? Nah.

I just don’t see why it is such a burden for people to switch their vocabulary depending on the audience. We’ve learned not to say “fuck” or words of such nature around our parents or formal setting– why can’t it be the same if all it does is spare someone else discomfort?

Tiff
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I’m a trans woman and would like to say that the term “tranny” is offensive; not terribly offensive, but I’d still rather you not say it.

I’d like to echo that trans and transgender are adjectives, not nouns.

Also, ditto to what Jane and something2be said.

Rossi
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I think the post from tim above is over the top. Words DO matter. I’m glad you’re able to laugh off the scream from a car at you and your boyfriend. But your heroic bravery in that instance probably doesn’t make it right to just dismiss everyone else who’s offended.

My take is that you have to own it to use it. You’re not black? You’re not going to call someone the N word. Not gay? Queer is out of the question as is Fag.

Maybe others have different thresholds. But those words give license to a lot of really awful things. Just read up on the recent bullying if you don’t believe me.

I really didn’t know about “tranny” being offensive. I’m glad to know someone’s bothered by it, and glad that GLAAD (they serve a purpose for those who don’t burst out laughing when someone screams “queer” at them) is around to remind gently. That said, I hope it’s a gentle nudge.

Evan Hurst
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I think it would behoove all of us to stand back and consider whether this is a battle worth fighting. As someone on another blog said, if Glee and Susan Sarandon are the enemy now, we’re all screwed.

Ryan
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

This blog taught me that “transgendered” was offensive, and “transgender” wasn’t. I’m not sure why “tranny” is offensive, either (or for that matter “Oriental”). But if it offends, I’ll gladly change the terminology to whatever the majority in that group prefer. There’s no reason to provoke anyone unnecessarily, or cause offense.

Timothy Kincaid
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

As I expected, there are quite a few different perspectives. I especially appreciate the transgender folk as it is their opinion on this matter which really is more important than mine or GLAAD’s or anyone else’s.

Please continue.

Oddly enough, I played trivia at a local bar tonight with a group of friends. It’s our regular Tuesday night thing and many of the trivia teams are the same week to week and all have team names.

But tonight there was a new team which called themselves Tranny McFee Returns. As best I could tell it was gay guys and no transgender folk, and in the context of this discussion I wondered if they had any idea that their name was offensive.

I suspect they just thought they were being funny, making a play on the name of the movie. But it did remind me that at times we offend others without intention out of carelessness or callousness or just ignorance. And I’m sure the trans community is the butt of far more “jokes” than the rest of us imagine.

Patrick
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

I guess I’m confused in that I always thought the character in “Rocky Horror” was transvestite, not transgender.

I think of the tv shows currently on air, “Glee” is the least to be condemned for insensitivity toward the lgbt community, while at the same time opening itself up to criticism more than any other program. It does so simply because it addresses issues faced by the lgbt community in a relatively honest way. That’s more than most tv programs right now can say.

enough already
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

Well put, Evan.
Personally, I was uncomfortable with the term back in 1975, and Rocky Horror is still one of my favorite films.

So I don’t use it. Except when talking about the automatic money eater in my car…which is what, to me, a tranny is – an object for changing gears and NOT a person.

What is troubling to me about these discussions is the degree of assumed violation, the pre-judged sense of intended hatred and nastiness by so many in our queer community.

Look at the anger, the fury in the attacks on Tim here in several postings.

Goodness.

Who needs christianists when we have ourselves?

It is time to remove the assumption of implied insult. It is time to stop looking for rhetorical attack as the true missive behind every statement within our community which has not been pre-approved by every single person.

I’m not happy with the term “transgender”, but I find it non-productive to use seven or eight words extra every single time the matter of this particular variation on humanity comes up – that would be absurd.

Absurd because it also carries with it an implied insult to the many further sub-divisions which are not covered by those seven or eight terms some are now demanding I use. Why have I named others and not them?

We are spinning our wheels here, permitting our justifiable anger at being treated as sub-human and second class citizens to be wasted upon attacking ourselves instead of fighting for our rights.

If somebody can offer me a better term for all of us than “queer”, I’ll take it. If somebody can offer me an embracing, non-exclusionary term better than “transgender”, I’ll be very happy to take it – despite my poor spelling skills on this appalling virtual keyboard, I do understand the various parts of speech.

Ultimately – gonna be torn to shreds for this, too, in 1-2-3…the “T” in our community is given far too little help by the rest of us. And it’s the “T” group who is being beaten, raped, murdered, thrown under the bus on legislation the most.

I should have thought, if we have learned anything at all over the last few decades, that one’s sexuality and one’s sense of true body are a response to one’s natural being, and not a protest against a synthetic cultural demand, imposed by christianists.

Less beating each other up rhetorically and more standing together. We have real enemies who want us tortured and dead.

Barry Deutsch
November 9th, 2010 | LINK

“Trans man,” “trans woman,” and “trans” are the terms that all the trans folks I know prefer.

tinagrrl
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

As a post operative transsexual, I prefer the term WOMAN.

I am not “transgender” — if other folks are, that’s fine. I have no argument with them. At the same time, I prefer not to be defined by other folks.

If you were to refer to me as a “tranny”, we could never be friends.

I’ve been a woman long enough to not have to define myself as something I was treated for.

That’s me. I do not care what other folks do — nor do I allow myself to be lectured by folks who have not walked in my shoes, have not lived my life.

I certainly support the LGBT communities (we all know there are more than one), and support the quest for EVERYONE’S civil rights. If someone calls a person who is not a friend a “tranny”, it’s offensive. If it has NOTHING to do with the story being reported it’s even more offensive.

“Tranny” defines a person, to most folks it demeans the person (in spite of the fact that “some of my best friends are trannies”), and is usually not necessary.

MIhangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’m more than happy with trans people deciding what they want to be called: but what gives them the right now to assign “cis” to the rest of the population?

We are also allowed to choose our naming conventions

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’m a 41 year old m2f transsexual – I began transitioning 16 years ago. What was common online at the time was t* folk, TS, TG, TV, CD and a whole host of acronyms because well, we were online. Tranny, to my ear, when used by other trans-people is not offensive. I have used it to refer to myself and to others. The latest batch of trans-activists have declared it’s use “offensive” and I suppose it can be depending on the context, just as queer can be, or perhaps more similarly “homo” and “lezzie.” (I use t*folk most of the time but my wife says it makes her think of transsexual leprechauns)

To truly understand the whole story, you’d need to research the divisions and separatism within the trans community as some transsexuals don’t like “sharing terms” with cross dressers, drag queens and others who are not women-identified (or male identified for f2ms). Tranny began as a short form of transsexual, as a way to remove the “sexual” part, and among TSes it wasn’t a problem, but when the general public started using it as a derogatory term (and using it in a way that lumped transvestites, cross dressers and transsexuals all together), the word gained negative baggage within the community.

Should we fighting Glee? probably not. Should we be educating? Yeah, especially given Ryan Murphy’s past transphobic series Nip/Tuck. Should we use the word “Tranny”? Not unless you know it’s ok with the person you are referring to. For some of us, it can be a playful, short term that has no baggage depending on the usage, for others, it’s like being called faggot. I think it’s an overreaction, but who am I to tell others what to be offended or not offended by?

andrew
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

THANK YOU for bringing this up.

Vocabulary is *critical* to the shaping of any debate, argument, or understanding — we’ve seen how important this is in hot-button social issues. The person who wins the war of vocab takes an early lead in shaping the argument, and usually wins.

So I run into the “terminology issue” a lot with non-LGBT friends. Everyone’s skiddish about what words to use, and where.

I personally don’t like “gay” (but will use it if it makes me sound more approachable, depending on the audience). It makes me think of boys skipping through fields with flowers. In private, I prefer “poofter” because it makes me laugh, or “fag” because it sounds strong. (I still remember riding home from a bar with a gorgeous date on my bike, and some kids noted his arms around my waist and shouted “fag” — to which I responded with a huge grin and true delight – referring to hunk on the back… “hell yeah, and LOOK WHAT I GOT !!”)

I “bat for the other team” or, more often, “am just married to a dude”.

Because I lived through the 80′s, I still think “angry activist” when I hear “queer”. And when it comes to “homosexual”, I loathe it. It brings to mind the clinical diagnoses and horrible pre-Stonewall reparative “therapies” that accompanied it.

When it comes to transgendered, I’m a baffled outsider. “Transgendered” sounds (again) clinical. Tranny sounds affectionate to my ears — but my ears aren’t what count. [Note: I dig Tinagrrl's easy response: "woman", although I'm guessing others may want credit for the journey they have traveled to get there, I don't know !!]

It all brings to mind the Jewish friends & family I grew up with. One could appropriately say “Jew” as a noun. The exact same word could also be sneered into an insult…

I guess my point is that identity politics is a minefield. First and foremost is context, but even then so much will depends on the ears & sensitivies of millions within the community (who will never agree). Oh, the poor breeders (whoops!) who get whiplash trying not to cause offense by using the wrong nouns !!

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@MIhangel apYrs
cis-gendered arose because the need arose for a term for a non-transgender person that didn’t involve defining them them by what they are not. Most other terms we used previously had a sound of of superiority or degraded trans folk (gg’s – genetic girls, born women, natural women) Cis is just the opposite of trans, and thus works to describe someone who is not trans-identified without making any value judgments or saying something about trans folk (such we aren’t natural women or born women)

andrew
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

oooh… “natural women” is pretty offensive from even my 20,000 foot distance…

i like the even playing field of cis-gendered, but are we splitting the hair too thin? do we win the battle but lose the audience?

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

MIhangel apYrs wrote:

“I’m more than happy with trans people deciding what they want to be called: but what gives them the right now to assign ‘cis’ to the rest of the population?

We are also allowed to choose our naming conventions”

Désirée wrote, in part:

“I’m a 41 year old m2f transsexual – I began transitioning 16 years ago. What was common online at the time was t* folk, TS, TG, TV, CD and a whole host of acronyms because well, we were online. Tranny, to my ear, when used by other trans-people is not offensive. I have used it to refer to myself and to others. The latest batch of trans-activists have declared it’s use ‘offensive’ and I suppose it can be depending on the context, just as queer can be, or perhaps more similarly ‘homo’ and ‘lezzie.’ (I use t*folk most of the time but my wife says it makes her think of transsexual leprechauns) …”

To both of you, I say THANK YOU! I completely agree! For those of you who are offended with current terminology, that is certainly your right. However, that does not automatically deny those individuals who are NOT offended by older terms their right to NOT be offended. Case in point, I grew up and identified myself as being “gay.” I always associated the word “queer” as being offensive. When I was in the upper-division courses of my Bachelor’s degree studies, the “reclaiming ‘queer’ movement” — as I like to call it — took hold. Suddenly, if I called myself “gay,” I was holding on to the prejudicial hegemonic structures, and not my true QUEER IDENTITY loose. Everyone was identifying as queer, and it was completely un-PC to state that I found the word “queer” to be offensive.

In similar fashion, to those who state that “transgendered” is offensive whereas “transgender” is acceptable, I pose the following: Why? It is because a majority of people have decided this to be true? At which convention? What polling methods were used? What about those transgend-ER individuals who — and whose voices HAVE been represented here — ARE NOT offended by such words as “tranny”? Are their transgender cards revoked because they have offended those who have cast their “what is offensive” vote?

I ask these questions not in isolation of the transgender community, but in the same fashion as the community which somehow (at least in my perception) voted queer or LGBTQII or LGBTTQIISA… as the new term. When is the new “community convention”?

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

re: cisgendered. I have no illusions about non-trans folk suddenly adopting it to describe themselves. To me it’s a “default” position in need of a term only by those outside of it (much like “atheist” exists only because theists need some way to describe those who don’t believe in a god. To an atheist, the term is meaningless). Cisgendered is used among trans folk so we don’t have to keep calling you non-transgendered, not because we want you to start calling yourself that.

andrew
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Johnathan, there never will be one lol…

The onus will always be on us to both receive (with grace when possible, with firmness when necessary) and to share / teach.

We all experience a lot of negative b-s, and it’s easy to stay in a posture that presumes attack… It’s important but VERY HARD to be present so as to hear the intent and the context — and to educate / relate (when possible) in a way that will make the other person say “oh, okay” as opposed to “wow… so I guess, rather than ‘gay’, I should call you ‘cranky self-righteous a$$hole’” I say this from personal experience, of course…

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Desiree,

Who knows. Perhaps one day, the restrooms will no longer read MEN and WOMEN, but CIS- and TRANS-

:-)

P.S. Before any P.C. Police issue a warrant for my arrest, be forewarned, the restroom doors are often too small to read CISGENDER or TRANSGENDER, although these would, in my opinion, be best.

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Of course that would not happen for two reasons.

1: It would be illegal.
2: It would be impracticable.

I think both reasons are important, but again, IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL.

Rebecca Ashling
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I find the epithet “tranny” to be offensive. In the past, I have used “transgender” to describe myself but these days I prefer “trans” or “trans woman” or just plain “woman”.

Valerie
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Everyone has opinions. Personally I like to look at the intent of a comment first before I pass judgement on it. Although I’m surgically post-op I consider myself first and foremost a woman. Saying post-op trans woman is, to me, equivalent to saying i’m post-op appendix or post-op tooth removal. It’s nuts the gyrations we go through over what to call ourselves but there is also what we are called by others that have meaning outside the trans community. If I call myself a “tranny” does that give you or anyone the right to use the same word? In the context of the Glee episode I would imagine it was for shock value over political correctness. My preference is that you can call me Valerie, miss or hey-you. “Madam”, however will get you a black eye.

Melissa
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Whoa! I know a lot of trans people who think “tranny” is as bad as “faggot”. We can argue about that all day, but I do believe that just because a few members of a group are okay with a word, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. And trans* people may refer to themselves as such, but others may not. Glee can say trans* or transgender, or crossdresser (since that’s what they were referring to when they said it). I’m sorry it’s soooo hard to say “transgender” or “trans” than anything else, but it’s respectful. What if I thought it was easier to say “fag” than “gay”? People may not think it’s the same thing, but it’s offensive. Even this article alone, I found to be terribly offensive, and some of the comments were so hateful. “They can be morons sometimes”? REALLY? This why the trans* community is frustrated – the LGB people treat them like crap. I revoke your license to use the T at the end of your acronym if any of you are going to 1. Ignore them (which is usually what happens) 2. Say what is or is not offensive to them (which you, as a cis person do not get to do). and 3. Say such hurtful and hateful things about a whole community it seems most of you haven’t tried to find out about (outside of your “friends”).

Melissa
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Rebecca, I like your intent, but we are getting to a place where we can have bathrooms that are unisex, or “family” bathrooms, rather than all gendered spaces. I would not want bathrooms that say “transgender” or “cisgender”. That’s even further marginalizing, like “white” and “colored” (yuck).

Also, there are more than men and women. Trans folk who identify as one or the other, are of course automatically whatever they define themselves as (a trans man or a trans woman would simply be a man or a woman). However, many of us trans* folk identify as between genders, outside genders, flowing between genders, or a combination of genders.

WMDKitty
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Do I really need to point out that there is NO RIGHT to not be offended?

If you don’t like the word, you’re free not to use it, you’re even free to say that you find it offensive, but you have no right to tell me — or anyone else — how to speak.

For example — and I’m just pulling this example out of my ass — if you’re white, you can’t say “ni&ger”. But if you’re black, you can say “ni&ger” all you want and nobody will bat an eye. In fact, people will praise you for it.

I believe that words themselves are not offensive. To quote the late Saint George of Carlin:

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid.
then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for
that thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the same
words that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.
There are some people that are not into all the words.
There are some that would have you not use certain words. [...] That’s what they told us they were, remember?
“That’s a bad word!” No bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions,
and words.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

At this point it is obvious that with the right intent, any term can be used as a nasty insult.

Over the last two months, I have seen three absolutely hateful, horribly spiteful bouts of this phenomenon – once on the term “breeder”, once on the alphabet sandwich of the day:
LGBTTQIISA….
And now, “tranny”.

People are individuals and nothing shows this more than does the current PC fights within our community. Largely, they are the result of our spinning our wheels on being recognized as fully human and franchised citizens in the US.

The PC police need to accept that their approach is not producing the change their (meanwhile largely debunked) NLA psychological theoretical underpinnings told them it would.

Those out to be offended by any excuse need to grow up.

For the rest of us, vocabulary changes. It always has, it always will.

On a minor note – I think it is not good to say, as some here have done, that they speak “for” the transgender community on the subject of “cis”.

Personally, I have no problem with the Latin prefixes…note, however, that if you insist on “cis”, then you are going to make it very hard, indeed impossible, to avoid “trans”. It’s a bit like accepting “left” but not “right”, “up” but not “down”.

Can’t we please turn our attention to fighting those who want us tortured and dead and leave off beating each other up?

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

getting back to Glee, which began this whole thing (this time anyway) I think GLAAD attacking them for the use was a bit overboard. The student was clearly repeating what his parents said. What GLAAD (and like minded activists) seem to want, is some other character to then step in and provide some obvious lesson about how that’s a bad word. From a dramatic standpoint (as well as being a transsexual woman I am also a filmmaker) such a break from the dialogue wouldn’t have fit. I’m all for GLAAD reporting on LGBT in the media, but I draw the line when they demand that the writers/creators subsume their craft to whatever message GLAAD wishes to make. In this case, story comes first. In context, “tranny” was an insult, but also in this context, it would have stopped the show cold to have another character say “ya know, you shouldn’t use that word” which would be condescending to the student who was repeating what others had said – the follow up line would then have to be “Yeah, I know that jackass. I was telling you what my parents said” at which point the whole show has been derailed because *A Point Is Being Made*

Emily K
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

i say “trans.” it’s short and has no offensive connotation. “tranny” does. context is everything, so a cis person who says “tranny” will have to deal with far more consequences than a trans person or even a gay person who uses the term. i personally am uncomfortable with “tranny” and will not use it.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I have two women friends that were born males. I call them by their first name.

I suppose if I had to use any other word, I’d use Trans. It sounds kinds cool–but not on my friends; they’re women.

The Cis thing is ridiculous. What is it? Why?

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

WMDKitty:

Do I really need to point out that there is NO RIGHT to not be offended?

If you don’t like the word, you’re free not to use it, you’re even free to say that you find it offensive, but you have no right to tell me — or anyone else — how to speak.

You’re half right. Yes, people have no right not to be offended. Therefore, you have the right to be offensive. Equally, people have the right to tell you that you’re being offensive. And this isn’t your blog, so you can be told how to speak (if Timothy Kincaid or one of his co-hosts tells you how to talk, you’d better obey if you want to stay: they have a light touch with the moderation, generally, but it’s their blog, and they make the rules).

Personally, I like Shapely Prose’s approach to this issue:

We are proudly PC and have absolutely no intention of stopping. Racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and sexist comments are as unwelcome here as sizeist ones. That goes equally for unintentionally offensive language. If someone gets pissy at you for using the word “retarded” for instance, that doesn’t mean they think you’re an evil person who hates developmentally disabled people OR that they’re hysterical, overreacting thought police. It means there are people around here who find that word hurtful, and we’re a lot more interested in protecting their feelings than your god-given right not to think of a better word.

(emphasis added)

TRiG.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@truth teller: without the word Cisgender, trans folk are left referring those outside the trans community as “non-transgendered” which is like refearing to people as “non-deaf” “non-sighted” “non-developmentally disabled” or “non-tall” Referring to people but what they are not is both rude and inaccurate (there’s a lot things I’m not, but that doesn’t put me in a group with everyone that’s not that). Cisgendered is a terms trans people use to refer to the non-trans world in a way that doesn’t involvement value judgments or negative connotations. Is that really so difficult to grasp?

Sarah
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

A couple of my friends refer to themselves as “transies,” but likewise, I don’t use those words, as I’m cis-gendered. Like someone above said, I refer to them by their first names. It’s my personal opinion that we refer too much to one another by what happens to be in our pants and it’s simple no one’s business but the person in question and possibly their partners.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

The Cis thing is ridiculous. What is it? Why?

I think things got a lot better for gay people when straight people began to think of themselves as straight, not as default. Trans and intergender people will probably have an easier time when more people think of themselves as cis. The only alternative to cis is non-trans, which is (a) uncomfortably othering of trans people, and (b) perhaps leaves intergender and genderqueer people out in the cold, as they may be both non-trans and non-cis.

Terminology matters. (Article written by a friend of mine.)

What I’m saying is that the development of the word cis is a Good Thing. I’m certainly happy to adopt it for myself.

TRiG.

MIhangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Désirée

Cis-gendered was coined by a trans person, or at least first publicised by one, and has now been adopted by the gender-studiers. It seems rather pathological.

I happen to like the qualifier “trans” because it evokes the image of a journey, or a barrier to be crossed – something I think all trans people are involved in, while those of us where gender and identity match haven’t got that particular journey.

Having said that, the use of “trans” is applicable really only in circumstances where it is necessary to define a problem or solution. In every day life there are people who identify as female or male (in general, not excluding all the other flavours of non-standard sexuality)

Mortanius
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

GLAAD is becoming the PETA of the gay community. IMO.

If, looking in context of the show, the father, typical het and not familiar with the vast complexities of the transgender world, is simply reacting to his son’s role in the play. How believeable would it be for a het (fearful of anything glbT) were to say in a heated discussion, “I don’t want my son to appear to be a transgender person”. It simply doesn’t flow. Out of his ignorance he uses the old term, familiar to the generation he is representing “tranny”.
It brings to light the fact that we have generational gaps. My mom, for example grew up saying “Bitching” as common as we say “Kewl” now.
What did Glee succeed in doing? I think exactly what was intended. ALL THIS DISCUSSION OUTSIDE OF THE SHOW FORCING PEOPLE IN THE STRAIGHT AND GLBT WORLD TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE OFTEN FORGOTTEN “T” PART OF OUR COMMUNITY.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

TRIG, so you’re saying that in conversations with other non-trans people, where the topic of transsexuality isn’t even being discussed, you’ll still refer to yourself as “cis”? That seems like a pretty tall order to me. I don’t see why “biological” male or female is offensive or judgmental. I said before that if “tranny” or “midget” of “Oriental” or any other term offends that group I’ll gladly switch it, even if I don’t really know why. But I won’t be changing my own “name”, thanks. “Cis” just seems like an absurd parody of hand-wringing liberalism run amok.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

to those object to the use of “cis,” Trig already clarified – it’s akin to non-gay people being called straight. would you rather they were refered to as “normal” or “natural” or even “biological” while we are “gay” (“see, there’s normal people and then there’s gay people”). If you can come up with a better term to refer to people whose assigned physical birth gender matches their mental gender, then please tell us.

Otherwise, to me, you are cisgendered. I will not refer to you as “biologically male” (which despite what I may wish, I am as well, so that doesn’t work). “normal male” or “natural male” as that implies I am not normal or natural, nor will I refer to you as non-trans, as it’s rude to you and sets trans folk apart as something else. Humans are gendered being. Some of us have found it necessary to deviate from our assigned birth gender and some people haven’t. What’s wrong with having value-neutral, non judgmental terms for each?

Debbi
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Heres how it is for me. If there is any reason to refer to myself as other than a woman, ‘woman born male’ is how best to understand me. The point is, like Tina, my transition is over, I no longer stradle universes so that one term is all thats needed, unless you happen to be one of the privy few who have shared my journey.
Heres my objections to the use of ‘tranny’ as well as the abhorent ‘sh@#$q@’ is that they are porn terms. If you google those terms and see the nasty stuff that shows up, could you then look at your friends the same way?
Early in my transition I thought it would be safe to live among Clevelands LGBT community yet found very little comfort there. It seems that as soon as (some) people met me, they knew everything about me! I was reduced to being a tranny and thats the only dimension of my being they could see, I was reduced to being an object. In a way it was good as they help force me to mainstream so these issues are behind me.
I will broach a new topic, one that also is about the how cis gendered LGB people (btw I am cis gendered now!) parody the transexual experience with drag shows. To me and many, drag shows, featuring mainly gay men, mock us in the same was Al Jolson in blackface mocked blacks to serve entertainment to other whites. Yes, some transgendered, even transexual people take part too which saddens me even more.
With that said, my daughter identfies as queer and is in love with a man born woman. Let Freud figure this one out!

Be well

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

H@Debbie:
I’m curious, you refer to yourself as “cisgendered” (in direct opposition to the way the term is designed to be used and as a way to reject/renounce your transsexuality) and yet you refer to drag shows as mock[ing] *us* (now including yourself in the trans group). So which is it? The word cisgender is meant to be for people who are not and never were trans, not for transsexuals looking to bury their past.

I can call myself a porcupine, but that doesn’t make it so.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I think the answer to this conundrum is simple AND complex.

1) People should be addressed the way THEY want to be addressed.

2) Just because some people within a minority may use “slur” words among themselves does NOT give people outside the minority the automatic right to use them.

3) Entire communities of people should NEVER be called by a “slur” word by people outside the community.

4) If you are personal friends with a person in a minority (which you are not a part of) and that INDIVIDUAL encourages to use, or is cool with you using, “slur” words with HIM/HER, as a term of endearment, then, if you are comfortable with it, use it ONLY with that INDIVIDUAL.

5. a) People outside of a minority DON’T get to decide what is and is not offensive to that community, or to people within that community, PERIOD! White or Straight or Christian or Male people don’t get to decide about what is offensive and what is not offensive to Black or Gay or Muslim/Jewish or Female people.

b) Just because something is cool with some people within a community doesn’t mean that everyone outside the community gets a free pass to say it/do it.

darkmoonman
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’m a gay man. I have 5 friends who have told me they are F-to-M’s (there might be others, but it’s not something I generally ask). I usually use the phrase “F-to-M” or “M-to-F” with them. On a rare occasion, I use the word “transgender”.

I’ve always considered “tranny” offensive. However, people do use the word. As for using it on GLEE, I concur with Anna: there should have been 2nd or 3rd person reaction to it’s usage to indicate to the viewing audience that the word is offensive – just like they’ve done wit hthe word “faggy” and “faggoty”.

Bobbie-Jane
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I much prefer that people just call me Bobbie-Jane or Bobbie with out any adjectives. If you must indicate gender I am female. She and her are the preferred pronouns.

Transitioning did not change my gender which always has been female. Transitioning just changed my body not the inter sense of who I am. Before transition I was living a lie pretending my gender was male and hating the need to do so.

When referring to me, no one needs to indicate what plumbing I was born with. In descending order tranny, drag queen, she male, and transvestite are the most offensive terms to me. In most cases is it really necessary to call me a transsexual female or a transgendered female. I don’t go around referring to other women as ciswomen unless it is really pertinent to the conversation. Isn’t it much better just to call me Bobbie-Jane rather that Transsexual Lesbian Bobbie-Jane.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. I take major offense at the statement that a person not be permitted to correctly identify themselves as “cis-gendered”.

It is ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT whether their current physical manifestation is the same one they were born with – if their current physical manifestation is in alignment with their true being and they consider themselves now to be as they were meant to be, then they have every single right in the world to use the term “cis”.

How dare you insist this person conform to YOUR worldview!

Frankly, the more we learn about our own biologies, the less tenable it becomes to insist that we are all exclusively male or female. Some of us are, some of us aren’t. Science, more and more, reveals that we are very much all sui generis (unless you are cloned or an identical twin/triplet) and it is high time our language catch up with this.

Not to mention, time the PC-Police stop telling people how they are to perceive themselves.

For that, we have the christianists and their hateful agenda.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Desiree, you wish to be called “trans”, correct? I’ll honor that. I don’t want to be called “cis-male”. Because it sounds stupid. Please honor that.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Bobbie Jane–thanks! What you’re saying makes a lot of sense. And @Debbi–you’re right, tranny and she-male are derisive porn terms, and I could see why transgender people would find that offensive. Thanks, I finally understand that part of it, at least. :)

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “Another friend of mine calls herself a T-girl. But I can’t say just how common that is. She may be the only one, for all I know.”.

I’ve heard it fairly often.

Timothy said “So it’s a bit of an open question, I think. And one that is worth raising here as I know we have more than a few transgender readers. So I’ll ask you, our transgender folk (though others can opine as well):

Do you want to insist on “transgender”?”.

No, not necessarily, T-girl, transwoman, transperson are also fine.

Timothy said (“I recall the lectures given to commenters on this site who made the fatal error of saying “transgendered”). But if so, is that a rule you keep for yourself? Do you always and only call yourself transgender?”.

No.

Jane said “But there are also important terms and concepts you should learn such as Cis, Cisgender, Cissexual, Cissexism…”.

Anytime I hear someone using those terms I think “What a pompous ass.”.

Mihangle said “I’m more than happy with trans people deciding what they want to be called: but what gives them the right now to assign “cis” to the rest of the population?”.

I agree. Seems to me people like to use those terms because they think it makes them sound smart or important.

Jonathan said “In similar fashion, to those who state that “transgendered” is offensive whereas “transgender” is acceptable, I pose the following: Why?”.

I don’t find “transgendered” offensive and was pretty surprised to find that some do. I avoid it for that reason alone.

Desiree said ““atheist” exists only because theists need some way to describe those who don’t believe in a god. To an atheist, the term is meaningless…”.

Wow, I don’t know where you got that one, but to me and all the atheists I know the term is meaningful and its now we refer to ourselves, not something theists have forced on us.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I forgot to add: I don’t find the term “tranny” particularly offensive although I’d prefer to not be referred to in that way. When someone refers to gays as “homosexuals” or gayness as “homosexuality” I find that far more offensive.

Further to “cisgendered”. Just as a lot of transpeople find “tranny” to be offensive I’m sure a lot of biological men and women would find “cisgendered” to be offensive. Its pretty hypocritical to get indignant about people forcing the word “tranny” on us and then to try to force the word “cisgendered” on others.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@enough already. I do have a problem with a transsexual person claiming to be cisgendered as it destroys the meaning of the word. Words have meaning. I can call myself a police officer or a prcupine or a pool table by claiming it doesn’t make it so. Reality has to be acknowledged sometimes. A cisgendered person is someone is not and has never been trans. Any other use renders the term meaningless. It’s like stepping into a Tom Stoppard play. If a gay man said “I’m straight” while being attracted exclusive to other men, we’d question his self identity. I am just doing the same here.

@Ryan – in discussion of gender issues, I am transsexual, yes. You are cisgendered. It’s a word to refer to non-trans folk, not an identity I am asking you to adopt. You would no more ask me not to refer to you as male, gay, Caucasian (assuming you are), or American (again, assuming you are).

@Pryia Lynn – my apologies re: atheist. As a non-cognativist, I find “atheism” to be an absurd label that gives credence to the idea of god and only has meaning as an opposite to those who believe a god does exist. In a “default” state, there would be no need for the term since there is no god outside of people creating one.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’m curious as to all the resistance to the term “cisgendered.” Are you really so attached to the idea that there are normal people and then there are transgendered people?

Anna
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

People have been saying that Glee should not be called out for poor treatment of trans issues because it deals well with gay issues and is therefore “on our side.”

I’d just like to say, that makes no sense.

@Priya Lynn

But cis does not have any history as a slur, and it is engineered to be without value judgments. The only cis people I know of who have taken any offense to the term were reeeeaallly homophobic, transphobic internet trolls.

Jim Burroway
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’m very impressed with the many perspectives everyone has shared. Obviously, a lot of people have thought about it and have responded thoughtfully.

Someone earlier in this thread offered what is essentially the “golden rule” of labelling: Call people what they would want to be called. Which I think eveyone agrees makes a lot of sense, despite the practical problem that, as we see, not everyone agrees on what terminology to describe people like themselves.

But that aside, sentiments like this clearly break that rule:

For that, we have the christianists and their hateful agenda.

I know of no Christian of any stripe who does not look at the term “Christianist” in any other way other than deroggatory. Of course, the same goes for “breeder” for straights or “pro-abortionist” and “anti-choice” for the two sides of the abortion debate.

I think this thread gives us a lot of food for thought, not only in how we talk about transgender individuals, but also how we talk about members of other groups as well. Should we not also practicve the golden rule there? I think it’s instructive to observe that the golden rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — contains no qualifiers.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Desiriee, I never said that non-trans people were “normal”, and trans people were not. I simply said that cis-male or cis-female sounds unbelievably dumb, and I won’t ever refer to myself as such, or use those terms. They frankly sound like something conservatives would make up if they were parodying OTT liberals. You deciding that I should be referred to that way is just as rude as me insisting that you should be called a tranny. I’m a biological male. A trans man isn’t. There’s no judgement there, no declaration of “normal” or “abnormal”. Merely a statement of fact.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Jim, that’s a really good point. Christianist is a pretty ugly term. Though I always thought “breeder” was pretty tongue-in-cheek, with no real malice intended.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

For the Cis people whining about Cis, here is what cis and trans mean

CIS is latin for “on the same side as” TRANS is latin for “crossing over to” roughly translated of course but the terms imply MOVEMENT and LOCATION. They are innocusous terms. They are NEUTRAL.

Cis means movement within and staying on the same side as the gender you were assigned at birth.

Trans means movement away from the gender you were assigned at birth.

THAT SIMPLE.

The ANCHOR, the thing that binds all of us together in this whole binary gender system thingie, is the fact that we were ALL assigned a gender. This assignment was made based on a quick glance at anatomical details by a doctor, enshrined in a birth certificate, and it determines the trajectory of each and every one of our lives from then on.

Most people, the vast majority of people, CIS people, it seems don’t take much issue with this process because it more or less seems to “fit” them. OR rather the rewards for accepting it like it is aren’t worth causing much fuss or even thinking too deeply about why gender must be handled in this way. Therefcore most people get to take their gender assignment for granted and believe that its “natural” and “normal” to have your entire life trajectory assigned to you and legally regulated.

But trans folk, at some point in their lives, come to feel the need to go against the binary grain and either express their genders and bodies differently than they’ve been assigned to do.

For the Cis people who object to being called cis and how dare somebody define your identity for you.. UMM hello that already happened the day you were born, there just wasn’t a name for that process until now.

If you don’t like the word feel free to invent another, but the fact remains that you too were assigned a gender identity based on anatomical details that society claims is the end all be all to who you are, how you should walk, talk, dress, identify, what rights you should have and which ones you shouldn’t. If you’ve never thought deeply about the ways in which your own gender is policed and enforced and legally restricts your movement and self expression, its probably because the gender assigned to you was a good enough fit and youve never HAD to think long and hard about it. But don’t go getting upset at us trans people for begging to differ and don’t go blaming US for naming the actors in an oppresive system based upon privileging people who consent to live and perform the identities assigned to them while punishing and eliminating those of us who do not.

And oh… Cis people were the ones who coined the terms Transsexual, Transvestite in the first place. So you can name us but we can’t ever dare to name YOU? NICE.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Tampazeke said “People should be addressed the way THEY want to be addressed….People outside of a minority DON’T get to decide what is and is not offensive to that community, or to people within that community, PERIOD!”.

I agree. For trans-people to slap the “cis” label on biological men and women without their permission is every bit as offensive as non-trans people slapping the label “tranny” on trans people. Some in both groups may be okay with those labels but many are not as we’ve seen here. Just as you wouldn’t freely use the word “tranny” unless you were alone with someone who was okay with it you shouldn’t use “cis” unless you are alone with someone who’s okay with it, you should never use it in indiscriminate general communications just as you wouldn’t use “tranny” in indiscriminate general communications.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane said “Cis people were the ones who coined the terms Transsexual, Transvestite in the first place. So you can name us but we can’t ever dare to name YOU? NICE.”.

And you’ve rejected those terms in favour of your own and ask that biological men and women respect that and yet you don’t think they deserve the same respect you demand. NICE.

Daniel
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I think changing the lyric to “sensational” was a comment on the way high school (and college) drama departments censor the shows they do–the problem isn’t the “trans” it’s the “sexual”.

As to the issue at hand. I agree–I’m not sure what to call “trans” people. And this makes me not talk about them specifically. It’s also confusing that each group–transgenders, intersex, etc… seem to have a different term and expect us to know how they identify and what to call them.

Also, we should point out that Frank n’ Furter in Rocky Horror isn’t a transexual–he’s a transvestite.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane thinks two wrongs make a right.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Ryan

“I’m a biological male. A trans man isn’t. There’s no judgement there, no declaration of “normal” or “abnormal”. Merely a statement of fact.”

A perfect example of what I just posted about. Biological male as if trans man are some how non-biological or made up of girl atoms arranged in a convincingly boy looking way. NOT.

The term “biological male” or “biological female” is very much a loaded term. It has the effect of privileging a reproductive organs as definitive of an entire person, carrying even greater weight than a person’s own understanding of themselves.

What you seem to forget is that you too have the choice of changing your body. But you just don’t. In fact you would probably be pretty miserable if you suddenly started developing a female body, and people started taking you for a female and forcing you to live as such. And you would be miserable BECAUSE your brain knows that you are man and that its inappropriate for you to be treated as a woman.

But that scenario is never likely to happen to you.. so you get to privilege the way in which you lucked out and got a body that fits your self awareness right out the gate as NORMAL and BIOLOGICAL and you get to label trans people as NOT-biologically who they are.

You get to dismiss the importance of your own inner knowledge of yourself as a man because you have a BODY that fits who you feel yourself to be in terms of gender. And yet if something were to happen to your body you’d be trying to change it back so fast…

Do you even begin to see what i’m getting at? You are who you are because you know it already, IN SPITE of your body. But you get to pretend your body defines you. Trans people don’t. Nobody should be punished for the body they were born with and nobody should be praivileged for it either.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

And PRIYA WOW… all that i wrote and you picked on THOSE two sentences as if that was my whole point??? Really? REALLY?

At least Stop pretending you’re trying to have an honest exchange of ideas here. You are just taking sides and picking fights.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane, like Tampazeke said, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don’t like biological men and women choosing labels for you, so don’t go choosing labels for biological men and women. A number of people on this thread have told you they find “cis” offensive so its time for you to stop referrring to people that way. That doing so makes you feel self-important and fulfills your desire for revenge doesn’t justify the insult.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

yup, sorry, cisgender folk. Like it or not, you are cisgender. it’s not an identity, it’s just a term. It means you aren’t transgender. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t get to reject it, any more than you get to reject calling the sky blue because you prefer red. When I refer to non-transgender people, I refer to them as cisgender. You don’t get to “opt-out”… well, unless you become transgeneder.

I’m dealing with reality here, not identity politics were we all get to pick a word regardless of meaning and say “that’s what I am” or “That’s not what I am.” Reality is if you are not transgender, you are cisgender. And yes, claiming there is a term for transgeneder but not for you because “transgeneder” is a special term for those kind of people does demean transgender people and set us apart from you – you are the norm and don’t need a term, only trans folk need a word because they are different from the norm.

If straight people refused to be known as straight and just said “I just am, why do I need a label for my normal behavior? it’s you gays who are different and we need a word to describe your deviation from the norm, but not one for us” you’d be up in arms.

I just a few days ago here, attacked the idea of male privileged or at least it’s use as an accusation, and yet now we see the results of cisgender privilege in rejecting trans attempts to not allow us to be “othered.”

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Pryia – you think cis is offensive? that’s absurd. That’s like me saying “banana” is offensive. It’s a completely non-judgmental term for a group of people whose assigned gender matches their mental gender. And yet in your same post, you refer to “biological males” as if trans folk aren’t biological. The very reason for the term cisgender is because the term “biological (fe)male” is so loaded and indicative of some special privilege. Nothing in this discussion has led me to any reason to stop using the term and in fact has shown me even more why it is needed.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

PRIYA for the last time, because I see you have no intention in doing other than using selective reading comprehension to respond to people here, WOW.

I just explained why biological men and women is offensive and how it privileges certain bodies over others.

I just explained that Cis and Trans are neutral terms. They level the semantic playing field for what is otherwise stacked heavily against Trans people. If leveling the playing field is the same as committing two wrongs to make a right, then we have nothing further to discuss.

My body is just as biological as yours, i assure you. Your body is just as changeable with surgery and hormones as mine, I assure you. The fact that you saw no need to make significant surgical or hormonal changes and I did shouldn’t relegate one of us to a system that privileges you for existing and punishes me for existing. Your refusal to see “biological” as offensive and ultimately inaccurate is ignorant, and willfully so.

Your discussion is in bad faith and you clearly have no interest in understanding my points. Peace out.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t find “cis” offensive. Just incredibly dumb. I think you’ll find that you’ll get a lot further along in your quest to be taken seriously if you don’t insist on giving biological males and females silly names against their will. Oh, and being transgender is indeed a deviation from the norm. As is being gay, or being left-handed, for that matter.

Anna
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Ryan
So, we shouldn’t use the word straight, because people who like the opposite sex are the norm, and we shouldn’t use the word white because people with less eumelanin are the norm?

All terms that are new to people get the argument that it sounds dumb (aka unfamiliar) and therefore should not be used. It is a shitty argument, like the argument that despite the obvious sexism of using male terms as universal instead of gender neutral ones, we should keep using them because of the hassle of altering our language.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I really am learning a lot in this discussion.

For example, I’ve been an out gay man for over 20 years. I’ve had, and have, numerous trans friends yet, until today, I had NEVER heard the term cisgender. I’m surprised that I’ve never heard it before and I’m quite intrigued by the word and the discussion around it here. Hearing people voice why this designation is an important one to trans people/supporters is really eye opening. It’s presented me with a new understanding of my own gender identity. Though I doubt I’ll adopt the use of “cisgender” in describing myself (at this point it seems relatively unnecessary), I certainly wouldn’t take offense to other people using it to describe me. I don’t really understand the offense that some are taking, however, and I think this is what’s important, I respect the fact that others do and so I would encourage people to show them the same respect in allowing them to decide how they want to be addressed just as everyone else should be able to.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Ryan – that may be the case, and yet, we have a term for non-gay people. What’s wrong with a term for non-trans people? if you don’t like “cis” which is a logical term to contrast “trans” what do you propose? Or do you just prefer being “normal” and keeping “trans” as “other”?

Despite several posts on the subject you continue to refer to “biological males” as if that were meaningful here – we are not referring to biological males as cisgender, since a transgender male-to-female is also a “biological male.” So please, give me a term meaning “someone whose assigned birth gender matches their current gender identity.”

As for “giving biological males and females silly names against their will” I missed the poll where we were asked to vote on the words “human” “male” and “female” “Caucasian” “right-handed” or “redhead” which some may find silly as well. We don’t get to decide if the words that are used to describe us are ones we find silly or not. Cisgender is a term, not an identity. I am no more “assigning it to you against your will” than I am assigning the word “human” to you against your will.

Jim Burroway
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

It’s fascinating being in the “privileged” position as a male whose gender identity matches his sex. Priya Lynn I think articulates a very pertinent point in saying that “You don’t like biological men and women choosing labels for you, so don’t go choosing labels for biological men and women.”

Désirée counters that “cisgender” is just a word. But to Priya’s point, it’s a word invented by transgender advocates. For example, I haven’t seen it to describe people who are not transgender in any of the professional literature — at least outside the literature published in queer studies and other identity-politics oriented literature.

I personally don’t see cisgender as offensive, although to be honest it would absolutely be the very last work that would ever come to mind if I were asked to describe myself. I can also see that some would see it as offensive simply because it could also be seen as imposing an “other” status by others who really are trying to diminish the negative aspects of “otherness” among themselves.

And yet, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we need a word. Which, I guess, now brings me to Désirée’s point. I probably would never get around to coming up with a word to describe myself in the “not-transgender” sort of way. So if I’m not going to bother to do it (and I don’t think I’m in much of a minority), who does?

Jim Burroway
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Also, I agree with Désirée’s objection to “biological male” and “biological female” as labels. I don’t think they are helpful because they do apply to those who have transitioned. They also exclude intersex people, although it can be argued that “transgender” doesn’t apply to them either. I mean, “trans”-gender from what?

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

and Jim, that’s the problem – cisgender people see no need for the word. It’s a word that is only relevant to transgender people as a way to refer to not-transgender people particularly in a way that doesn’t “other” ourselves. Cis people are never going to invent the word, so it’s left to trans folk to do so, and we have. If you don’t like it, come up with something else, but don’t tell us not to use it.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Jim Burroway

“And yet, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we need a word. Which, I guess, now brings me to Désirée’s point. I probably would never get around to coming up with a word to describe myself in the “not-transgender” sort of way. So if I’m not going to bother to do it (and I don’t think I’m in much of a minority), who does?”

Trans people do. We need to. We need a term that defines the system in which we find ourselves drowning “cissexism= the privileging of birth sex assignment over all other aspects of identity and self expression.” We needed a term to describe the privileged actors in that system. Other than biological, normal, natural, “real” and every other term that system generates to normalize the privileging of birth sex assignment and those who cleave to it while punishing those who deviate from or question it.

When you (the universal Cis you) are experience being called “cis” or “cisgender” as resulting in you getting fired on the spot, or never hired, or people refusing to date you, people stalking raping and harassing you until you to start acting like the other sex, if cis people start experiencing getting murdered at astronomical rates just for being cis, experiencing homelessness at astounding rates by being outed as “cis” or as “having stayed in the gender they were assigned at birth” to your trans peers THEN i will say that you have a legitimate reason to gripe about being named cis against your will.

The fact is TRANS is a real site of oppression and we face struggles that Cis people do not simply because we do not conform to expectations of our sex/gender assigned to us at birth.

IF you are being genuine about wishing to learn more please visit the sites I first posted above.. as they offer excellent and enlightening discussions on this topic that simply aren’t going to happen in this forum, given the tone of dissent and outrage people have taken at the very idea that Trans people have a right to name what they see too.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I want to make one more observation based on a personal experience.

I go to a very GLBT affirming church with a couple of trans members. One trans-man in particular is VERY vocal and active in the trans rights/awareness movement. He also uses the term “tranny” incessantly.

Even though I am not trans, and I feel a bit strange taking trans person to task for the terminology that he, as a trans person, chooses to use, there are particular instances when his repeated use of the word really makes my skin crawl and makes me want to jump up and scream, “Stop using that word”! It’s when he speaking to mixed crowds (GLBT and non-GLBT) on trans issues. I find it in-arguably completely inappropriate to use this term when addressing a non-GLBT, or even non-T audience. He’s addressing people completely outside the community and using a word that many of them know is controversial and, to many, offensive. It would be like me doing a gay rights speech to straight people and repeatedly using the term “queer” or “fags”. It really confuses people; particularly those who are supportive GLB and T people and sensitive to the physical and verbal abuse that we’ve faced.

It seems to me that if you’re trans and you like the term “tranny”, you should at least refrain from using it when promoting respect for trans people among cisgender people (I hope I used that right) and ESPECIALLY among non-GLBT people.

Anyway, I asked him to not use the term when representing the church at events and when speaking at church. Being an open and affirming church is so rare that I don’t want anyone to overhear the use of a potentially offensive word and think that the church approves of words that many GLBT people consider slurs.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’ll go so far as to say “born male”, if biological male offends people so much. It’s funny to be on the other side of this, I will say. The next time I have a straight (or “non-gay” friend, if you prefer) friend tell me he doesn’t see why the “that’s gay” joke in The Dilemma is a big deal, or wonders why he can’t say “sexual preference” over “sexual orientation”, I’ll be a lot more sympathetic to his point of view.

Elliot
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I use transgirl for myself. If it’s FtM, people usually use transguy or transman. I’m not offended by the use of the word “tranny”, though. Making certain words forbidden makes no sense to me in general.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

*Ryan

Trans men are BORN that way too you know. They felt a need to change their bodies to assert their manood. You didn’t have that problem. You were ASSIGNED male from the start, Ryan. Your body was pre-affirmed as male and you eventually agreed that you were male. Your body allows you to live as a man in this society. You lucked out. Most people do. But everybody is BORN and everybody is BIOLOGICAL.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

sorry Ryan, “born male” doesn’t cut it either, as a female to male transsexual was also “born male.” You want to keep falling back on existing terms which we have shown you, simply promote the current privileged state of cisgender people and don’t accurately describe the group of people “cisgender” describes.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

No one’s asking you to take on the term “cisgender” as an identity. Majority populations generally don’t take on such terms as part of their identity. If you asked an average straight person and an average gay person to describe themselves, I’m sure the gay person’s sexuality would be mentioned earlier. But trans people need some way to refer to the rest of us, and normal is just not going to be it. Cis is the most value-neutral term you could imagine, and I really cannot see why anyone would object to it.

“Biological male” is rife with unfortunate implications (besides being sex-specific (“Biological male or female” is just as bad, and also a mouthful)). “Born male” is almost as bad, to be honest.

I think Pyria Lynn is missing something here. Yes, we should refer to groups by the names they choose, but, being in the overwhelming majority, cis people left to ourselves are not going to bother choosing a term, because we are not the ones having this discussion (much). Also, no one could sensibly call the term cis offensive, so what’s the problem?

Maybe it’s my training in organic chemistry, which means I’m used to cis/trans isomerism, which makes me comfortable with this terminology. And, for the record, I would refer to myself as cis, precisely because I think breaking down the assumption that this is the default which can be left unstated is a Good Thing.

TRiG.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, for heaven’s sake.
Maybe I don’t find the prefix “cis” offensive because I had Latin at school.
Long enough ago, in fact, that, yes our teacher was a native Latin speaker.

It’s a perfectly good prefix. BUT:

Just as I, personally, can very well understand why “transgendered” is offensive, so must people using “cis” as a prefix accept that a person who has had their physical reality brought into line with their actual real selves is now fully entitled to use the term “cis”, should they so wish.

You don’t get to have it both ways.

As for christianist, Andrew Sullivan coined this neologism many many years ago to describe those who use the Christian faith to impose their hatred upon others, especially homosexuals and the transgender.

I am well aware that it upsets many American Christians, tough. Their refusal to stand up to the monsters in their midst who beat, rape, bully, torture, kill and make life on earth literally a living hell for so many of our queer family is inexcusable. Those Christians who have helped us without being one of us, I thank. They are, however, a vanishingly small minority.

So, I shall continue to use christianist, “trans-” and “cis-” gender when appropriate.

Désirée, I recently had one hell of a fight with a student who was furious I should ask the class to apply a certain theorem to resolve a class of problem which theoretically was capable of infinite solutions. Every single other student – all 367 of them – got the right answer. Not unsurprisingly, as I had chosen that theorem and that particular problem knowing that everybody had encountered it in at least two other courses. This particular student just wouldn’t let up on his fury and anger at me for not accepting that such an extra-credit question was unacceptable.
You remind me of this student. You are applying psychological and semantic theory to a discussion among people who do not share your viewpoint. Either you explain to the rest of us the enormous points of divergence between your perspective and that of those with whom you disagree or you have to accept that you are not furthering the conversation, rather causing anger and fury for the sake of seeing people get upset.

To close: If a person who has undergone various processes to restore their not-in-alignment biology to their true reality wants to call themselves cis, then, de facto, that is correct – they are in a state of homeostasis. Which even your version of semantics recognizes as a pre-condition for “cis”.

Sheesh.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Ryan, I hope the lesson you’ve learned is that we should respond to problematic terminology with kindness and education rather than defensiveness and anger instead of a lesson that everyone is being oversensitive over “unimportant” words.

It is important that we challenge and even confront inaccurate and offensive language. We just need to be more understanding that sometimes people say things innocently and ignorantly. It doesn’t make it right but it makes a difference in how much offense we should take from a word or statement. Even those who use “sexual preference” innocently (because, believe it or not, once upon a time “sexual preference was the preferred term among gays) should be thoughtfully and civilly challenged and educated as to why the phrase is inaccurate and problematic.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I never heard the word “Christianists” until after anti-Muslim Christians started to use the term to refer to Muslims who treated their religion as a Political Action Committee and a weapon against those who had differing religious points of view.

This lead to people applying the same scrutiny to Christians who did the VERY SAME thing from a “Christian” perspective. So, naturally, if “Islamists” is an accurate description of radical Muslims whose actions and words are often at odds with the Islamic teachings of peace, love and compassion, then “Christianists” is an appropriate term for radical Christians whose actions and words are often at odds with Christ’s teachings on peace, love and compassion.

Ironically, it was “Christianists”, by and large, who invented the term “Islamists”. Why should they take offense to a word, or at least a concept, that THEY themselves coined a term for?

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

First paragraph should read,

“…until anti-Muslim Christians started to use the term “Islamists” to refer to Muslims…”

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Desiree, I don’t really care if “born male or female” cuts it or not, in your estimation, to be honest. I’m not going to ever refer to myself in such a silly way. If that offends you, so be it. And boy for nothing, most straight people don’t really think of themselves as “straight” first and foremost, either. They think of “gay” as an “other”. And as long as they don’t think of me as “less than”, that’s fine to. It’s a burden all minorities bear.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Ryan – I am not asking you to identify yourself as cisgendered just as gay people don’t ask that non-gay people call themselves straight. I am telling you that I and other trans folk do and will refer to you and all other non-transgender folk that way. It’s a word – it has a specific meaning and it’s getting used whether it’s silly or not.

Mihangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I seem to have stirred up a hornets’ nest!!

As I said, people are people until the definition is significant.

Thus when I’m dealing with with mgt I point out impact on LGBT(xyz) people since as the non-standard group our point of view is different from that of the majority. I admit I find it difficult to properly represent non-male gays excpet by remembering the exclusions gay men have experienced through my lifetime and extrapolating.

I think I objected to “cis” since I’ve lived my life with other people labelling me

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

This has been a fascinating discussion. And, as is the case with others here, the term cisgender has become much more familiar and understandable to me.

It seems that the existence of this word comes out of a need for a “not this” term. If there were no deviation from the norm, then there would be no need either for the term or the concept.

In the same way that heterosexual was developed to provide a term for “not homosexual” and right-handed was coined to respond to the existence of left-handed people, cisgender responds to the existence of transgender people.

Will it catch on as a common term? Who knows. (And if you angrily insist that it MUST be used or CAN’T be used, you’re wasting your time.)

But perhaps the more important aspect of the proposal of the term cisgender is the recognition of the idea behind it. To illustrate, let me step back to heterosexual and homosexual.

The rather clinical (and sometime offensively intended) word “homosexual” introduced a concept: that some people not only do sex differently than the majority, but actually are different (in attractions, etc.) It established a category of people; it allowed for an idea.

But even more important was the concept of “heterosexual.”

Although it started as “he’s not homosexual” it allowed people to think of themselves in terms of their own attraction, not simply as “like everyone else.” It allowed for guys to think, “I find women attractive because I’m heterosexual” (in fact, some in describing their somewhat excessive obsession on women will say things like “I’m very heterosexual.”, which – while inaccurate usage – illustrates that heterosexuality has taken on more meaning than just “not homosexual.”)

Ironically, in creating a “I’m not this” word, it allowed for an “I am this” thinking, a better understanding of their own desires, thinking, and motivations.

It’s much to early to know, but perhaps cisgender may allow for the same transition in thinking for those of us who are not transgender. Perhaps this word (or another one) will allow people to evolve beyond “I’m not transgender” and into thinking about sex and gender as separate things. Perhaps cisgender will come to mean (and not just within the trans community) “my body is and always has been in alignment with my experienced gender” and allow non-trans people to ponder what that means and to what extent that it is or is not completely accurate in their lives.

Just as adopting and taking on the label “heterosexual” has helped straight folk better understand and empathize with gay folk, perhaps taking on the label “cisgender” will allow non-trans folk better understand trans folk.

Just as “heterosexual” takes away the normal/exception paradigm and replaces it with a Type A/Type B paradigm, so to may “cisgender”.

That being said, it is both irrational and unreasonable to either assume or demand that this word be adopted today, right now. Let folks get used to the idea before you get angry with them for not taking up the label you’ve assigned.

What will be required is a change in culture, which requires time and patience. If medical and mental health professionals adopt the word then gradually it will filter its way through the media and into culture.

I will try to do my part by keeping the term in mind when I blog in the future, but I don’t promise perfection (and there will be times when it would be cumbersome to add the necessary explanation for an uncommon word).

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“LGBT(xyz)”
That’s it!
Thank you, Mihangel apYrs!

That term embodies the PC bullshit of the moment while, at the same time, making clear it’s bullshit.

I shall use it.

See, Désirée, your insistence on telling Ryan you will call him “cis” whether he likes it or not is precisely in the same category as those Catholics who insist on saying I am disordered.

They know that the terminology is restricted to their hateful religion and of no value outside of their twisted brains, but that’s the joy of using it: The anger it promotes.

You just won’t let go of your anger towards what you perceive as male privilege, you won’t let go of you need to throw words at people, knowing that outside of a very small branch of our community, they are unkown…and you insist on a definition of those words which is not only out of line with the meaning of the words but clearly meant to be nasty.

To close on an upbeat note, I am taking notes of your style. You could teach the nastiest queen a thing or two on Bette Davis bitchiness.

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

One thing that I think has not been well answered here is what Glee should have done. Here is the setting:

Mike Chang volunteers to play Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry’s character in the movie).

The character identifies as “just a sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania” and the traditional costume is fishnet stockings, garters, panties, lace-front corset, and fingerless gloves, all in black, with a string of white beads. There is a costume change into a shapeless green dress, and perhaps others as well.

Mike comes back and tells the Glee director that he can’t play Frank-N-Furter, “because my folks don’t want me to dress up like a tranny.”

Without arguing the merits of the plotline or contriving responses, is there another word which could have been used in the place of “tranny”?

Or, instead, is there another sentence that the character Mike could have used?

Emily K
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I like the term “cisgender.” It has roots in the scientific community.

http://www.thoughtcounts.net/2009/09/cis-and-trans/

Ray
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“and Jim, that’s the problem – cisgender people see no need for the word. It’s a word that is only relevant to transgender people as a way to refer to not-transgender people particularly in a way that doesn’t “other” ourselves.”

In DEAF culture (the signing deaf) there is a parallel view of the word. The deaf use the term “hearing people” or simply “hearing” to distinguish between people who embrace deaf culture and those who do not, regardless of whether the person actually can hear or not. Thus seen, the term “hard-of-hearing” is often used to refer to people who are marginally part of the deaf community, even if they may be profoundly deaf in both ears.

There are terms of a “culture” that has it’s own values, history, mores, political and social agenda – and LANGUAGE, just like deaf people do. So it seems pretty normal that transgender people would develop their own preference for terms that draw lines between themselves (people like us, people who embrace and support us) and “them” (people unlike use, people outside of our circle).

Martin
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I like the term “human.”

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“My parents don’t want me to do genderf*ck”.

or

“My dad said no more fishnets for me, I ripped too many this month, already.”

Yes, I find the term “tranny” offensive, no I don’t think it was a bad idea within the context to use this as a teaching moment…just as has frequently been done on American TV.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode on “driving while black” handled a related topic with humor and very effectively.

The reaction was overdrawn. The lack of a sense of perspective goes hand in hand with a failing sense of humor among the PC-Police.

Tiff
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Alternate Glee lines:
“My folks don’t want me…
…running around on stage in lingerie.”
…doing a show where I’m half naked most of the time.”
…dressing like a haunted house burlesque act.”
…performing in a play with this kind of content.”
…dressing like a girl.”
…dressing like a transvestite.”

The point of that moment is that he can’t do the show because his parents won’t allow him to. This is easily written without the use of a slur.

Mihangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid
“homosexual” and its converse were coined as adjectives (a homosexual man) not nouns, and was invented for medical use. “Invert”, “uranian” were some of the earlier terms for male homosexuality.

“Gay” we adopted ourselves (though it too had ancestry), and it was about that time that we developed identity not just behaviour.

Carolyn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

What I found interesting about the Glee episode is that they used transvestite, but changed transsexual. Transvestite has been a poor choice for a long time, it having clinical overtones to fetishistic transvestism. Crossdresser is now preferred. Transsexual is a perfectly good word, which I use if I am giving an educational presentation (I’m post-op MTF). Otherwise, I’m a woman.

As for tranny, I don’t much care for it but it doesn’t get my knickers in a bunch if someone uses it. I see it more as one of those words best used by someone who is one, but it isn’t a big deal – at least not to me. If someone else expresses displeasure at its use then I’ll not use it around them or in reference to them. That is nothing more than simple courtesy.

Ryan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Tim, Mike Chang could’ve said, “my parents don’t want me dressing up like a girl”, I think. I ironic part is, John Stamos said he was supposed to play the part, but Fox didn’t want him to do it. That to me is far more offensive than a high school student saying “tranny”.

Mihangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

PS
to all

I dislike the use of medical or scientific terms in common speech: it pathologises variations in gender/gender id/sexuality continua. As I have said there are times when it is necessary to identify a group, and there are times when the individual is the focus.

For example, a trans person has certain expectations in work, but BILLIE-JEAN needs to know where to buy size 9 slingbacks; a gay person needs to know that his company gives equal partner benefits, but Andy needs to buy “Another Gay Movie” for his boyfriend.

Never lose sight of the person behind the label

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Tim Kincaid

By way of comparison, as you know, I use the term “nongay” allatime, rather than “straight”.

So, if someone is going to call me “cisgender”, all I ask is
1. Please, “Big Cis” would be nice, or appropriate variant (left to the imagination)
2. Not “Cissy” please.

In other news, Amaretto does go with cranberry juice for the holidays – who knew?

Mihangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus

ameretto in hot chocolate surrounded by Xmas Prague: magic

Mihangel apYrs
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

and to answer the original question:

“trannie” ought to have stood,

followed by an assertive slapping down pointing out how offensive it was e.g. “you would use n*, t* is just as nasty and offensive”

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jim Burroway,

For that, we have the christianists and their hateful agenda.

I know of no Christian of any stripe who does not look at the term “Christianist” in any other way other than deroggatory.

Not all Christians are Christianist. A Christianist is a person who wishes to impose (his/her understanding of) Christian law on everyone, through legislation. Such people clearly exist, and we need a word to describe them. Christianist is that word (by analogy with Islamist). It is commonly used and understood.

There is no reason why non-Christianist Christians should find the word offensive. It doesn’t apply to them.

If Christianists themselves are offended by the word, well (a) it’s the only word we’ve got for the concept, so it’ll have to do till we come up with another, and (b) I don’t really care much about offending Christianists.

TRiG.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“trannie” ought to have stood,

followed by an assertive slapping down pointing out how offensive it was e.g. “you would use n*, t* is just as nasty and offensive”

That’s not always realistic. I’ve never seen “Glee”, but it has to tell a story first. It’s not merely didactic: if it was, no one would watch it.

Supplementary question raised by your post: tranny or trannie?

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Carolyn,

Wait, help me out here.

I though that those (usually heterosexual male) persons who dress in the clothing of the opposite sex for pleasure were properly called transvestites and that crossdressers was the offensive term.

Here’s how I thought the “trans” words – and the other unrelated but lumped in words – broke out:

Transgender – experiencing gender that is not in sync with the external body

Transexual – having brought the external body into sync with the experienced gender (perhaps through surgery)

Transvestite – a person with a fetish involving the wearing of clothes of the opposite sex

Intersexed – persons whose bodies do not fit into the assumed sexual dichotomy whether due to invisible (chromosomal) variation or visible genital variations.

Drag – wearing a costume of the clothing of the opposite sex – and often adopting a persona – for purposes of amusement or entertainment.

Female (or male) illusionist – similar to drag but with the additional purpose of fooling the senses – perhaps a sort of high-brow drag.

Androgyny – adopting an in-between look, persona, or perspective which is removed from either male or female association.

Genderf*ck – rejection of either male or female identity or the presentation of a deliberately non-dichotomous image.

Where did I go wrong?

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

TRiG

There is no reason why non-Christianist Christians should find the word offensive. It doesn’t apply to them.

I think that Christians in general are as uncomfortable with the term “christianist” as Muslims are with the term “islamist” or as we are with the term “radical militant homosexual activist”

Along with these terms comes the implication that Muslims are by default islamist or that they are somehow responsible for them. Similarly those who use “radical militant homosexual activists” apply that term to all gay people with no or few exceptions.

When a Christian hears the term christianist, they generally know that the person using it will be hostile to them – and all Christians – by default and that they will have to prove themselves not to be objectionable.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Enough already: the difference between referring to Ryan (and everyone else non-trans) as cisgender and Catholics who refer to us as disordered is that I am using the word as it is defined, not in hatred or to annoy, but simply as a term – as Timothy so expertly put it “a Type A/Type B paradigm” term whereas those Catholics you mention are using the word specifically to demean us.

You have yet to make a case as to how or why “cisgender” is demeaning or offensive. Without such a case, I am left believing you dislike it because it removes your ability to keep trans people apart – to view us as something “other” and not as normal as you. Read Timothy’s post above and really try to understand it. He pretty much nails the entire point we have been trying to make.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Shorter Desiree and Jane:

“I don’t care if people find the cis term offensive, it makes me feel smart and I like insulting biological males and females so I’m going to keep using it but no non-trans person better refer to me as a tranny because I find that offensive and people shouldn’t use offensive terms.”.

You can make long justifications as to why “cisgender” shouldn’t be offensive and how its “meaningful” but people have done the same with the term “homosexual”. We respect that some find the term “homosexual” offensive and don’t refer to them that way regardless of the fact that it wasn’t defined in hatred or to annoy, that it offends is reason enough not to use it and its exactly the same way with “cis”. People here have made it clear the term is offensive to them and they don’t need to justify why they find it offensive, that is reason enough not to use it. It is incredibly hypocritical for a trans person to say “Don’t call me tranny, its offensive” and then to turn around and refer to people as “cis” even though they find the term offensive. If you insist on using the “cis” word you’ve got no right to complain when someone calls you a tranny.

Désirée
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, please show one (1) instance of the term cisgender being used derogatorily, as an insult, to demean someone. You can’t. I can show you plenty of times where “tranny” has been used to demean and dehumanize. There simply is no comparison, and only people who want to make an argument where none exists will continue to rail against its use. Again I ask, give me another word that means “not trans” that we can use if you find cisgender to be offensive.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Desiree, when someone tells you they find the “cis” word offensive and you say “I don’t care, I’m going to refer to you in that way anyway.” you are using the term in hatred and to annoy. I can’t think of anything more selfish and hypocritical to complain of people offending you by using the word “tranny” and then to turn around and use the “cis” word to refer to people who find it offensive.

You and Jane whine about “privilege” and then act like its your privilege to refer to people in ways they’d rather not be refered to as. What a profound sense of privilige you both have, just like a couple of spoiled brats.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

And Desiree, if you want a word that means non-trans for god’s sake say “non-trans”! You could easily do that, but you refuse to because you feel like biological men and women have insulted you and now you want to demean them.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Désirée,
I never, not ONCE, said that I found any of the above mentioned used of the prefix “cis” offensive.

Why you persist in making me – one of the few here who regards cis/tran as useful – your enemy is beyond me.

Can somebody explain this to me in simple terms?

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid,

When a Christian hears the term christianist, they generally know that the person using it will be hostile to them.

(a) I would usually use the word Christianist to describe a Christian who was being hostile to me (and not just generally hostile, but hostile in the specific manner described by the word). (b) The word was coined by a Christian. (c) We need a word for this concept. I know no other.

Priya Lynn,

People here have made it clear the term is offensive to them.

Really? I missed that. I saw one or two people saying that they found it silly. Who said it was offensive?

And Desiree, if you want a word that means non-trans for god’s sake say “non-trans”!

And let’s ignore the intergender and genderqueer people, who are also non-trans but probably aren’t cis. You’re rendering them invisible.

TRiG.

Anna
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@TRiG
Trans is often considered an umbrella term that includes both binary and non-binary (genderqueer, neutrois, etc) not-the-same-gender-as-the-sex-they-were-assigned-at-birth people.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Uhhuh Trig. You of course couldn’t refer to them as intergender or genderqueer, gotcha. Non-trans works perfectly fine with them as well.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Actually I take that back, Anna makes a lot of sense. Trans includes genderqueer and intergender as well.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

The more I read about this matter, the more aware I become of two interesting aspects of the discussion.

First, our vocabulary is very much inadequate to describe our biological reality. English needs a warmer term for sentient beings which encompases al of us than “person’ or individual (which was on the PC-Police shoot-on-sight list for awhile, never did figure out why).

Second, our emotional baggage is really high.

Over time here, I have been called a cis-white-male-gay-exclusivist, a trans-, m2f radical ball-crushing lesbian and, at least twice, (grasps pearls): a heterosexual man.

Some of my oldest friendships are with people whose current biology is not the one they began life with, some are with genuinely heterosexual men. Two of my greatest enemies are bi-sexual men. I’ve been treated horribly by fundamentalist Christians….

That’s my baggage. It shows. But I’m trying to be reasonable. Not succeeding too well, but trying. Maybe we all could assume a bit of good faith towards each other?

kat
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the “cisgender” thing:

Timothy is absolutely right about this in that “cisgender” or an equivalent term is a needed complement to “transgender” when talking about gender issues. Since there is a category of persons whose gender identity does not align with their physical sex or gender assigned at birth, we now recognize that gender != sex and so it is important to have words to describe each variation or the continuum of variations that we would encounter. This is important not only for identity politics but also for scientific purposes when we want to count individuals in each category. Persons whose gender identity is in line with their birth sex are designated “cissexual” because “cis” is in latin the opposite of “trans” and is the least loaded and derogatory term to use for this population.

The problem with “biological male” or “biological female” to refer to this population of gender/sex matched individuals is that it is misleading for two reasons. One, being a transperson has biological origins, i.e. whether you experience a gender mismatch or have gender dysphoria is predicated on your particular neurological makeup. Two, “bio male” and “bio female” have been traditionally used in the trans community and scientific communities studying transpeople to refer to a person’s sex status at birth. So “bio male” would refer to both cisgendered males and to transgender/transsexual females as they were both assigned male at birth. A transman might say he is “bio female” in a internet forum for example to explain why he has to go to the gynecologist for an ovary problem.

The point of all this is that the reason why a transperson would object to being categorized as a “tranny” or god-forbid any of the porn-derived words is that it is not the WORD or collections of sounds as such that is dehumanizing, but being referred to under a category which serves to other them is. What is offensive is that the English-speaking community has developed a word to specifically designate them as disgusting, play-acting at gender roles, associated with pornography, etc. “Cisgender” or “cissexual” has none of these connotations; it might sound dumb but I think the word “delish” sounds dumb and that is no reason to eliminate it.

Those who object to the “cis” words have a burden to prove why the categorization of themselves as “cis” is offensive, dehumanizing, prejudiced or whatever. I am uncomfortable putting this burden on gender/sex matched people because historically demanding that a group explain why their categorization is bad is a method of further de-legitimatizing them. But the “cis” categories (if not the words) are absolutely essential for work in gender studies and for the trans community as a whole such that ALL PERSONS regardless of their sex/gender status can be counted on a level playing field. Unfortunately, those who are objecting to the use of “cis” sound like they are objecting to putting all gender/sex combinations of persons on a level playing field (i.e. in the same way that “gay”, “straight”, “bi” are all viewed as value-neutral variations of sexuality) and are thus exercising their privilege rather than objecting to a derogatory word.

Like Desiree I am curious for those who object to “cisgender” to explain why it is offensive to them & what terminology we ought to use in place of it. Because those who are gender/sex matched are in a position of privilege in comparison to transpersons I don’t think this is an undue thing to ask, as privilege is often implicit and unexamined. If you refuse to articulate why the “cis” words are derogatory we (and you!) cannot know whether or not you are objecting out of privilege or out of actual harm caused to the gender/sex matched community.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Trig said “Who said it was offensive?”.

Ryan said he did not want to be referred to in that way. Both Desiree and Jane said they would ignore his desires and continue to refer to him that way. That’s offensive, hypocritical, incredibly self-centred, and just wrong.

When people don’t want to be referred to as nigger, kike, or chink I respect that, I most certainly don’t ask them to defend their feelings like Desiree does.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Kat said “Those who object to the “cis” words have a burden to prove why the categorization of themselves as “cis” is offensive, dehumanizing, prejudiced or whatever.”.

BS. No one has to defend there feelings. That someone finds a term offensive is reason enought not to use it. For you to say otherwise is to reek of undeserved privilege.

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

And yes, Ryan said he didn’t find “cis” offensive but said he found it “incredibly dumb” and “rude” (not sure what the difference is, but there you have it).

Anna
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn
No one has to defend their feelings regarding those slurs you mentioned because everyone in our culture *knows* that and why they are offensive.

kat
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, did you read what I said? The reason why I am asking you to defend what you are saying is that we can’t know whether or not your feelings result from a defense of your privilege or because of harm.

I am not sure if you are familiar with this, but a large percentage of people in the United States identify as “middle-class”. Polls suggest that over 90% of Americans claim they are middle-class.* Many of these people would be offended if you categorized them as lower-class or upper-class. However, in order to examine class privilege and to study class issues we have to designate these people lower or upper-class no matter what they say. Those who say “don’t call me upper-class” are merely defending their own privilege. It is more complicated for those in the lower classes but part of the motivation for lower/working-class people to claim a higher class is attempting to capitalize on class privilege.

No one suggests that we ought to abandon the fairly value-neutral terminology of class because the privileged groups (upper classes) do not like being called “upper-class”.

“Cis” words have no history as slurs and are not used as mechanisms of othering. Again, because they are so useful as descriptors and have a big place in discourse about gender and amongst transpeople, that is why I am asking you to defend your position and suggest alternate terminology (not “biological male” or “biological female” because those are problematic) or discourse for discussing gender.

*Source: http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/is_there_a_standard_accepted_definition_of.html

Priya Lynn
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Anna, I’m sure the people who use those words would disagree with you. Just because you think a word isn’t offensive doens’t mean it isn’t.

Kat, I am a trans-woman so don’t give me this BS about sense of privilege.

Its irrelevant whether or not you think a term has no history as a slur (and you obviously ARE using the term as a mechanism of othering), all that matters is that some find it “rude” and if you insist on refering to people with a term they find rude then you are a rather selfish, arrogant, and heartless person.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Kat,
If you will permit me a word or two.

First, though, I do not have a problem with “cis”. Just wanted to make that clear because the opposite is being said of me. Again. As so often here.

“Cis” doesn’t bother me because I had centuries of Latin (at least it seemed that way at the time) in school and I teach discipline within a field of the natural sciences in Europe. I firmly believe, however, that unless someone is from an Italian or natural sciences background, “cis” is going to have a positive or negative resonance with nearly all American members of our queer community dependent upon the context in which it was first heard or read.

The context, here, was very highly charged emotionally and the first use of the term was along the lines of “fcuk you, I”ll call you cis whether you like it or not, that’s what you are, you cis-individual, you!

We need to completely rethink our language to reflect the very non-binary reality of our real and bilogically currently expressed gender(s), sexual orientations and other aspects of our very human selves.

Anna
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya
Racial slurs like that have two contexts:
1)Used in order to offend people.
2)Reclaimed by people it was used against.

Both uses acknowledge the offensiveness.

Do you think that white people offended by the word should be catered to?

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

In case this thread isn’t long or contentious enough, I still don’t get the ha-ha-hee-hee objections to “LGBTQ”.

I grew up believing that Pluto was a planet. I was inconsolable when “scientists” – those bastards – changed their mind, with no fair notice! (It was mostly because all my Pluto jokes were no good anymore…).

If physical science and learning can change what we know, why can’t social learning and science *cough* change what we know?

How is it “pc” to recognize this simple truth or change dynamic? (And, no, that question doesn’t make me “questioning”, it’s just a question.)

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Anna,
Forgive me, but I shall jump in here and say that, yes, even within our community, I don’t permit some terms to be used when I am in charge of a meeting.

An example. I had a student several years ago who was effeminate, droll and campy – the absolute stereotype of what gay men are supposed to be like – cheap imitations of overblown Hollywood drama queens of a by-gone era.

Several of the kids in our campus Queer group asked me to stop him from being a spokesman for our group to straight students. Thought about it for a few nano-seconds and answered:
Why are you projecting your fears of how others might see you upon him? He is openly, honestly expressing himself as he truly is – nope, we’ll keep him.

I did, however, make sure he never ever went to groups by himself, there were always a few seriously well-muscled guys and gals close by. I am not stupid – violence, if far less here than where I grew up in the US, still exists.

He wrote me a note a few years later – the most pain ever inflicted upon him was by other queer students, not the non-queer world in which we live. The cutting words of his “fellows” hurt.

So, no, I don’t think we should go too far overboard. Some terms (queer) are now OK, but twenty years ago I wouldn’t have used the term.

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

First of all: AN HONEST CONFESSION!

I am extremely busy, in the middle of thirty (an exaggeration of sorts) things, so I don’t have time to read through the thread after the following quote by Jane Laplain, which reads, in part:

“A perfect example of what I just posted about. Biological male as if trans man are some how non-biological or made up of girl atoms arranged in a convincingly boy looking way. NOT.”

For a discussion so h*llbent on accuracy of words, I would like to point out neither the concept of “girl atoms” nor “boy atoms” exist. Regardless of one’s desire to put gender into EVERYTHING, it cannot be done. An atom is the “defining structure of an element, which cannot be broken by any chemical means. A typical atom consists of a nucleus of protons and neutrons with electrons circling this nucleus.” For information on what atoms are currently understood to exist, please consult a periodic table.

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Mihangel, Prague is on the bucket list, but should have done it years ago, given how hotel prices have jumped in the past decade, no?

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus,
My objection is simply to the fact that at some point, an acronym becomes too unwieldy to serve its purpose.

There is also a very real problem within our queer community of people isolating themselves far too much into little sub-groups which don’t play well with others.

I like “queer’ because the term is gradually coming to embrace all of us. Just, really, this endless string…how does it advance our cause? Shouldn’t we focus the consciousness raising upon the level appropriate to the occasion? In academia under the dictatorship of political correctness in the US, you MUST pretend t observe all these things. In the real world outside the US, we still note that an acronym has outlived its usefulness when you have to start using Roman numerals in the middle of the term because may the heavens forefend that the questioning and the queer share the same “q”.

It just has gotten out of hand. It’s that simple.

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

neither the concept of “girl atoms” nor “boy atoms” exist

I thought the “strange” quark was the queer one of the bunch. No?

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

To enoughalready, who JUST POSTED (a few minutes ago) (in part):

“Anna,
Forgive me, but I shall jump in here and say that, yes, even within our community, I don’t permit some terms to be used when I am in charge of a meeting.

An example. I had a student several years ago who was effeminate, droll and campy – the absolute stereotype of what gay men are supposed to be like – cheap imitations of overblown Hollywood drama queens of a by-gone era.

Several of the kids in our campus Queer group asked me to stop him from being a spokesman for our group to straight students. Thought about it for a few nano-seconds and answered:
Why are you projecting your fears of how others might see you upon him? He is openly, honestly expressing himself as he truly is – nope, we’ll keep him. … ”

* * *

Thank you. I still feel more contempt towards my Campus Pride group, as well as my Graduate Gay and Lesbian Studies course students because I was not considered to be a “representative of a true gay man” because I refused to identify myself as “queer.” (I was giving in to the greater straight community — how, I still don’t know — by NOT having the courage to “throw away the gay” and embrace my “dear inner queer.”) Why in the h*ll couldn’t I just be accepted for ME?

Now, in 2010, why am I being forced by the “outside greater forces” to identify myself as “cis-” when I still see myself as a gay male? Yes, so perhaps I had a “coming out recognition” as a GAY MALE. But, how does that hurt YOU?

Sometimes, I wish I had the courage to tell my College Pride group, “If you are personally pained by my PERSONAL experience, I have a telephone directory of therapists, just for you.” Maybe I ha

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

To enoughalready, who JUST POSTED (a few minutes ago) (in part):

“Anna,
Forgive me, but I shall jump in here and say that, yes, even within our community, I don’t permit some terms to be used when I am in charge of a meeting.

An example. I had a student several years ago who was effeminate, droll and campy – the absolute stereotype of what gay men are supposed to be like – cheap imitations of overblown Hollywood drama queens of a by-gone era.

Several of the kids in our campus Queer group asked me to stop him from being a spokesman for our group to straight students. Thought about it for a few nano-seconds and answered:
Why are you projecting your fears of how others might see you upon him? He is openly, honestly expressing himself as he truly is – nope, we’ll keep him. … ”

* * *

Thank you. I still feel more contempt towards my Campus Pride group, as well as my Graduate Gay and Lesbian Studies course students because I was not considered to be a “representative of a true gay man” because I refused to identify myself as “queer.” (I was giving in to the greater straight community — how, I still don’t know — by NOT having the courage to “throw away the gay” and embrace my “dear inner queer.”) Why in the h*ll couldn’t I just be accepted for ME?

Now, in 2010, why am I being forced by the “outside greater forces” to identify myself as “cis-” when I still see myself as a gay male? Yes, so perhaps I had a “coming out recognition” as a GAY MALE. But, how does that hurt YOU?

Sometimes, I wish I had the courage to tell my College Pride group, “If you are personally pained by my PERSONAL experience, I have a telephone directory of therapists, just for you.” Maybe I have the courage to do so now, for this new person who forces me to be “-cis.”

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

an acronym becomes too unwieldy to serve its purpose

I’m guessing no US military experience, right?

LOL.

Point taken. Still, five letters is not that long.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus,
I live in Germany half the year with my husband and we go to Prague when we can. It is worth the visit, even if you have to eat Ramen noodles for two months to do it.

Go – you’ll love it. Unbelievable. Indescribable.

Hotels can be reasonable (well, not too horrid) if you plan ahead a bit and book a tour from another EC country instead of all within the Czech Republic.

johnathan
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

P.S., the “YOU” was not directed at Anna, but to the collective “YOU”

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Queers (by numbers) who are not queer identified (by social experience)?

QUANQUIDs, you mean?

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus, German has no problem putting together some pretty horrid combinations. That might color my feelings on the matter.
Example:
Die stufenlose Helligkeitseinstellungsregler

or

The dimmer switch.

Kinda gives you a sense of perspective.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Why am I being forced by the “outside greater forces” to identify myself as “cis-” when I still see myself as a gay male?

Members of majority groups who claim to feel bullied by powerless minority groups elicit little sympathy from me. No one is forcing you to identify yourself as anything. Get down off yourself, as we say in Ireland. This is not about you.

TRiG.

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Purely as a rhetorical device, transfolk can create a derogatory term for the cisgendered.

See, I can call a nongay a “breeder”, when I want to show contempt (or a “straight” if there is an obvious reciprocal respect, that is too often missing).

If/when there is a derogatory term, then “cisgendered” can have greater currency as a neutral term.

Please forget that I wrote that, because I don’t want to be responsible, even rhetorically, for hateful words.

enough already
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I often wonder why there is such pressure in our queer world to conform? It reminds me of the first and second generation Italian and Greek immigrants to the US I knew as a kid. Everything had to be perfect because the opinions of others mattered so much.

Overcompensation?

In any case, things are so much better today in Western Europe while the US just seems to get more and more discouraging. I have two young guys in my freshman course Fridays – they sit there holding hands, giggling and just being in love. Sole commentary from the other kids in two months: Boy, if two people were ever made for each other, it’s them. That’s real progress.

That must be our goal in the US, not tearing each other apart over cis, trans, LGBT (xyz). Nor making our queer world the arena for all the other unresolved problems in our society. At least in this much, we have to hang together. The Iranians have already shown us their version of gays hanging together. Does anyone really think the christianists won’t do it to us if they can?

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I often wonder why there is such pressure in our queer world to conform?
====

I don’t have a comprehensive theory or anything, but I’d hazard that some of it stems from the community’s lack of political power. The same factor could affect immigrant communities.

One other factor is that people do not like to “conform” within the LGBT community. Some of it is positive, g.e. the need to finally feel welcomed, not “overwritten”, therefore a strong desire to ‘speak up’ among the similarly situated, at least, to have a voice. Some of it is not. A LOT of people have had very negative experiences with any kind of “authority”, so, quite understandably, they cede nothing.

And, as soon as I’ve written that, I’m sure it is inadequate to all the factors, even some important ones, but …

thanks for the info on Prague and I’m sure there is latin-word phobia for long words: “Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia”

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

The point of all this is that the reason why a transperson would object to being categorized as a “tranny” or god-forbid any of the porn-derived words is that it is not the WORD or collections of sounds as such that is dehumanizing, but being referred to under a category which serves to other them is.

Very true. However…

A friend of mine who simply appears to be a very pretty girl said, upon explaining to another heterosexual friend of mine, “oh yeah, I’m a chick with a d*ck”

It was partly for shock factor. But I noticed that by throwing out the most degrading term, she gave them space in which to find comfort. Since she was willing to use a term so offensive that they would never use it, it left them feeling like they didn’t have to walk on pins and needles around her or feel awkward or scared.

I very much doubt that’s a strategy that should be adopted by everyone, but it worked that day in those circumstances.

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

In case this thread isn’t long or contentious enough, I still don’t get the ha-ha-hee-hee objections to “LGBTQ”.

For me, I see a difference between LGBT and Q (which generally is “questioning”). Or A for ally. Or C for curious.

LG & B refer to orientations. T, while not an orientation, references an identity. These are all fairly immutable characteristics (even if identity sometimes lags reality), and represent attributes.

“Questioning” however, along with “Curious” or “Ally” are all attitudes. They don’t really define an aspect of one’s being but rather a perspective which could be adopted or dropped.

When I speak of rights, I’ll use the term LGBT or even “LGBT Community.” But when I speak of community in the greater sense – those who are aligned in fellowship and comradery and who socialize together and support each other, I generally use “gay community.”

Oddly, I think that this is a more inclusive term. It includes gay men and gay women, transgender folk, those straight girls and guys who seem only to socialize in gay settings, the nice old lady up the street who has her morning coffee at the gay bar, politicians who support equality, and anyone else who wants to be a part.

If you get too many initials, you invariably leave out someone who then feels like everyone else is a part except for them.

But, of course, not all agree on that.

The Lauderdale
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

I think TampaZeke pretty much nailed it with his

1
2
3
4
5a
5b

schemata, so I’ll go with that.

For anyone wondering what the dealy-bob on cis-, the Wikipedia article seems like a fair reference on the subject (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisgender) I’m not sure why it’s such a problematic term – as far as I’m concerned the animosity seems to be directed toward its academic origins rather than any inherent offensiveness or historical baggage (it hasn’t been around long enough to accumulate any.) I’m comfortable using it and seeing it used, but I’ll take care not to use it in one-on-one conversation with someone who falls within the definition but objects to the term.

And on a side note, I am evidently neither cis- nor trans-.

Frijondi
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane Laplain said:

“If you don’t like the word [cis] feel free to invent another, but the fact remains that you too were assigned a gender identity based on anatomical details that society claims is the end all be all to who you are, how you should walk, talk, dress, identify, what rights you should have and which ones you shouldn’t. If you’ve never thought deeply about the ways in which your own gender is policed and enforced and legally restricts your movement and self expression, its probably because the gender assigned to you was a good enough fit and youve never HAD to think long and hard about it.”

Many of us who are not trans have to think about these issues all the time. Part of the objection to “cis” may be that it seems to minimize the extent to which gender-policing affects people who feel no internal conflict with their birth sex. Certain difficulties, like having someone threaten to sic the cops on you when you’re actually in the right bathroom, are sometimes depicted as purely trans concerns. They’re not.

As for the word “tranny,” I also put it in the “derogatory, don’t use” because of the porn associations.

On a side note, I’d love to reclaim “homosexual.” I made a point of using it for a long time, until it became clear that the religious right had hijacked it and loaded it with an extra meaning, i.e., “and I’m using this word instead of ‘gay’ because saying ‘gay’ means I approve of their lifestyle.” But the appeal of “homosexual” for me was that it conveyed the necessary information, without bringing along a whole raft of other, mostly inaccurate, associations about my politics, taste in music, level of interest in team sports, views on eating meat, etc., etc. Unfortunately, that’s what the terms “lesbian” and “gay” often did, not so very long ago, and at times still do. Don’t get me started on “queer.” Okay, enough thread drift.

The Lauderdale
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“as far as I’m concerned”

^GAH. That was meant to be, “as far as I can tell.” I wasn’t trying to come off like an @$$hole there, sorry…

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Desiree:

“without the word Cisgender, trans folk are left referring those outside the trans community as “non-transgendered” which is like refearing to people as “non-deaf”…

They can refer to them as men and women. The need to invent a label and attach it to those different from transgender people is insane.

To answer your question, yes, I find it hard to understand because it is illogical and you’re imposing a condition on people who have no condition.

TampaZeke
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

If Christians don’t like the term Christianist then they shouldn’t have opened Pandora’s Box by inventing the term Islamist. And let’s face it, the “Christians” who take offense to the term “Christianist” are often the very same people who came up with, and use, the term “Islamists”.

By the way, most people that I know who use the term “Christianist” are themselves Christians.

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

truthteller,

I don’t think that “transgender” is a condition so much as a description.

This may be a bit simplistic, but here’s how I think of it: We all have bodies. We all have a gender.

The word for those whose bodies and gender are the same is cisgender. The word for those whose bodies and gender do not start out the same is transgender.

tinagrrl
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“Tranny” is O.K.? Non-trans folks are “men or “women” — what are post transition MtF’s or FtM’s — are we not also “men and “women”?

I have an idea — why not call non trans, non intersexed, folks “normies” — with the possibility of “damned normies” or “f#@&ing normie” as an alternative.

Since some “normies” might be offended by being included with gay or lesbian “normies”, perhaps we could also differentiate between them.

Then, among the gay “normies”, they can further differentiate between “fats or femmes” and the “manly man” gay “normies” — gee-whiz, I guess it isn’t just all the different “trannies” who differentiate between their different communities.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Johnathan

I thought I made it pretty clear in that sentence alone that the “boy atom” metaphor isn’t valid. I was attacking people’s basic essentialist assumptions about being a “biological male” or “biological female.” As if those descriptors were useful for distinguishing between cis men and trans men. They are NOT. Biology, is not destiny. Biology is not the arbiter of manhood or womanhood. That is all.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Timothy Kincaid

“I don’t think that “transgender” is a condition so much as a description.”

I was not speaking of transgendered people. I was speaking of non-transgendered people. I find “cis” incredibly offensive because it does attach a condition to people who don’t have one.

I have heard pre-operative trans people describe their situation as a condition, as a matter of fact; I’ve heard them say they were born in the wrong body and are correcting it. I respect them and address them as they want to be address and it has always been by their first name.

Trans people have a journey that non-trans people do not have, just like gay people and anyone who is different from the majority do.

To insist people who don’t go through your journey accept an adjective, you impose on them, so you can feel whole, is the wrong strategy. You don’t label someone so you feel better about yourself. You work on your issues and embrace your differences; only then, can you remove the stigma you have internalized as your own.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Tinagrrl

Tranny” is O.K.? Non-trans folks are “men or “women” — what are post transition MtF’s or FtM’s — are we not also “men and “women”?

Yes we all are men or women, so why the adjective before? why call yourself trans-woman or trans-man?

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid

“This may be a bit simplistic, but here’s how I think of it: We all have bodies. We all have a gender.

The word for those whose bodies and gender are the same is cisgender. The word for those whose bodies and gender do not start out the same is transgender.”

Simplistic to the point of dangerous and just plain wrong.

Bodies do NOT equal gender. To say boies and genders are the same is to reduce gender to the body. This is a biological essentialist argument.

We are all ASSIGNED a gender. This is a fact. You may have different opinions about where gender comes from or what defines it, but you can’t disagree that each person is assigned a gender identity at birth. Whether or not we come to agree with that assignment is a whole different issue separate from the fact that we are all assigned gender to begin with. This is NOT an insignficant detail. It is what unites all of us, Cis and Trans or what have you.

Melissa
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Q is often used at the end of LGBT for “queer” also, for people who don’t nicely fit into the other orientation/gender categories. If you want to get technical, academic circles are using LGBTQQIAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, ally, asexual). I don’t ever think “questioning” when I see the q.

Stop identity erasure.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

truthteller

“To answer your question, yes, I find it hard to understand because it is illogical and you’re imposing a condition on people who have no condition.”

This is a willful misunderstanding fof the term cis. Cis means you did NOT change sex you did NOT move away from your assigned sex and/or gender. There is no condition. It is merely descriptive of an objective reality.

And why do I as a black person refer to myself as a black woman? Why not just a woman? What could possibly be so important about being black that I have to attach it to my identity as a woman?

Beause it MATTERS a great deal that i’m black is why. And it matters a great deal that i’m trans. It tells you something about how I exist in this world. Pretty poor imagination you must haveif you can’t fathom why people wioould choose to refer to themselves by the actual descriptors that impact the reality their lives.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

argh *of their lives…. this wireless keyboard is giving me hell.

(Why did it have to be a “wireless keyboard” anyway? Why can’t it just be a Keyboard? What’s it trying to prove?? /sarcasm)

kat
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ truthteller
“They can refer to them as men and women. The need to invent a label and attach it to those different from transgender people is insane.”

The point is that transwomen and transmen have equal claim on being men and women as anyone else does; “trans” refers to a medical history that may need to be disclosed or a variety of queer identity that some people may additionally identify with. Many transpeople identify first and foremost as a member of one of the binary genders, as I believe some people in this thread have indicated. You don’t want to make the choices for discussion of gender “man” and “transman” because that implies transmen aren’t a real kind of man or are somehow different from men as a whole.

@ Frijondi
“Many of us who are not trans have to think about these issues all the time. Part of the objection to “cis” may be that it seems to minimize the extent to which gender-policing affects people who feel no internal conflict with their birth sex. Certain difficulties, like having someone threaten to sic the cops on you when you’re actually in the right bathroom, are sometimes depicted as purely trans concerns. They’re not.”

This is an interesting point and it reminds me of equivalent cases in feminist discussion. Certainly men can be hurt by the system of gender norms that are in place and certain individual men can be hurt by “the patriarchy” more so than certain individual women. This doesn’t mean though that the system doesn’t benefit men more as a whole than it does women. The same with gender/sex-matched individuals and gender/sex-mismatched individuals. Making the world safe and respecting for trans individuals makes the world safe and respecting for gender non-conforming individuals of all gender/sex combinations.

@ enough already
“The context, here, was very highly charged emotionally and the first use of the term was along the lines of “fcuk you, I”ll call you cis whether you like it or not, that’s what you are, you cis-individual, you!”

This is true and I can see why gender/sex-matched persons might find this kind of use to be off-putting. If I was all like “those HETEROSEXUAL people” at a LGBT-etc meeting I would understand why allies present would be offended. However, “cis” isn’t intended as a slur in the same way that “heterosexual” isn’t; it’s a name for those who are non-trans which is intended to be complementary (as you recognize) to “trans”. It is merely meant to recognize persons of matching gender & sex without setting them as the ideal or “normal” gender/sex combo or somehow in opposition to transpersons.

P.S. You don’t need my permission to make a point or disagree with me! :)

@ johnathan
Nobody here who is gender/sex-matched, or, who is “cisgender” HAS to identify as such or disclose that information to anyone, just as no one who is a transperson or who has completed a transition HAS to include that as part of their identity. The point is is that your sex and gender match and that in certain contexts this may be important to talk about, so there exists a word to refer to you and others with the same status. I don’t personally identify strongly as an “American” but since I live in the United States people are include me in the aggregate of all US citizens by calling me an “American”. It’s merely a marker for my status as a US citizen.

@ Priya Lynn
“Its irrelevant whether or not you think a term has no history as a slur (and you obviously ARE using the term as a mechanism of othering), all that matters is that some find it “rude” and if you insist on refering to people with a term they find rude then you are a rather selfish, arrogant, and heartless person.”

There are some kinds of rudeness we ignore or even find acceptable in the service of the greater good. For example, it is commonly considered rude to call someone out on being or acting racist. Those who are concerned about combating racism think that the calling-out outweighs the speaker’s feelings or the listener’s awkwardness in doing it.

I’m seriously afraid that those (even you, a transperson) who are objecting to the use of “cis” are effectively silencing discussion of sex and gender issues. Imagine if heterosexual individuals demanded that “heterosexual” couldn’t be in use and that we ought to use “normal”, “biologically attracted”, etc. This would shut down LGBT advocates, sex researchers, etc. from having a value-neutral discussion of sexuality. Basically, this would mean that value judgments would be embedded in the sexual continuum such that the sexual continuum wouldn’t really be a true continuum where each side represented a different variation of the same thing (sexuality). It would be a continuum where one side represented something very different (i.e. disordered) from the other.

If we can’t use a separate word for people who experience a gender/sex match then these people become merely the “default” and are thus rendered immune to study or examination. If we use terms like “normal”, “biological”, or just “men and women” then we set transpeople up as a deviant-in-the-bad-way group. “Non-trans” implies that transpeople are the special interest group sharing a set of unique characteristics and that gender/sex-matched people do not share anything amongst themselves in virtue of their gender/sex-matching status (they do– statistically less chance of assault for one). So I honestly don’t know a better word or better way to discuss things.

Until I get some answers about this I couldn’t care less about being rude because a lot is at stake here. I really hate to sound so (or even be so!) insensitive, but there it is.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@Jane Laplain

“Pretty poor imagination you must haveif you can’t fathom why people wioould choose to refer to themselves by the actual descriptors that impact the reality their lives.”

First of all, insulting my intelligence and belittling my opinion doesn’t make you smarter than me, it makes you angry and mean-spirited and it won’t get me any closer to empathizing with you.

You may have come up with a new term for us non-trans people and you may have a perfect understanding as to what it means to you, but words have a tendency to take on their own meaning. They’re little frankensteins and “cis” is just one of those little monsters. I hate it, and to my point of view, it does, further label people and impose made up conditions on people.

So now I have to be defined by how you see yourself? Give me a break!

Happy
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Hello! I am a trans person who hopes that others hear/see that as (trans)PERSON.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Kat
“The point is that transwomen and transmen have equal claim on being men and women as anyone else does; “trans” refers to a medical history that may need to be disclosed or a variety of queer identity that some people may additionally identify with. Many transpeople identify first and foremost as a member of one of the binary genders, as I believe some people in this thread have indicated. You don’t want to make the choices for discussion of gender “man” and “transman” because that implies transmen aren’t a real kind of man or are somehow different from men as a whole.”

Boloney, you’re reading too much into what is a real man or a real woman. Of course they are real men and women. If you read my first post you will read that that is exactly my point. If you were born male and your gender identity was female and had surgery to have your body reflect your identity, that makes you a woman and vice a versa.

There was no exclusion on my statement. I use the term trans in this forum because most posters who are trans want to be addressed by it.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

truthteller

Nobody is defining you as anything. Nobody is imposing definition on you. You are NOT being oppressed in any way by being called cis!!!

I don’t know how else to explain that ‘cis’ is a value neutral term to describe the reality of people who go thru life content with their assigned genders and NOT identifying as something else other than what they were deemed at birth.

Why are you so offended by “cis” and yet “non-trans” is just peachy by you? They mean the same thing… but for my purpose non-trans makes it impossible to refer to people who have experienced the life the way YOU have without othering and negating MY reality. Having only non-trans as my best and only neutral option to describe you creates a word-world where the only options I have to describe ANYONE in temrs of gender assignment is ME and NOT ME. Non-trans, tho useful in many contexts, simply doesn’t allow me to delve as deeply into the realities of lived differences among our groups as I would like to go.

Why would you begrudge me such a simple conceit when its a neutral word at best, when you don’t HAVE to use it if you don’t want to, and whether or not I use itto describe you doesn’t affect your life in any measurable way? WHY??

andrew
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

WOW… WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME WE HAD A THREAD THIS LONG HERE?

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

trutheller

And oh… I did not insult your intelligence, I was questioning whether or not you’ve ever bothered to put yourself in a trans person’s shoes or had ever done any deep thinking on this topic beyond trying to defend your own position.

As for belittling your opinion, I’d say I was challenging it. Tomato, tomahto. I do think you hold a badly unexamined and privileged opinion, but I’ve hopefully backed up my criticism of your opinion with a few reasons as to why I think that.

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

“Nobody is defining you as anything. Nobody is imposing definition on you.”

Of course you are. You are telling the world, from your own post: “…to describe the reality of people who go thru life content with their assigned genders and NOT identifying as something else other than what they were deemed at birth.”

Who cares if I am happy with my gender or not? That is no one’s business and it doesn’t belong in a generic description for people.

“Why are you so offended by “cis” and yet “non-trans” is just peachy by you?”

“cis’ sounds like a disease; It is an extraneous attachment that I find dehumanizing. I have enough labels in my life already. It reminds me of a puss filled cyst that was just punctured.

I am not offended by non-trans because you yourself embrace and refer to yourself as trans. Since this discussion has been about our differences and not our common humanity, that would make me non-trans. If I describe myself as gay and you want to say you’re non-gay, that is just fine with me. Where is the offense?

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Jane Laplain

“And oh… I did not insult your intelligence, I was questioning whether or not you’ve ever bothered to put yourself in a trans person’s shoes or had ever done any deep thinking on this topic beyond trying to defend your own position.”

Of course you were questioning my intelligence and belittling me. Talking down at me with all the caps, to drive the point home, as if I were stupid, and then questioning my ability to imagine problems and solutions is belittling. Next time you are wondering something just ask, instead of attacking and then spinning it to say you were asking.

“As for belittling your opinion, I’d say I was challenging it. Tomato, tomahto.”

Great way to not belittle my opinion!

“I do think you hold a badly unexamined and privileged opinion,…”

I, a gay Latino man, from a catholic upbringing hold a privileged opinion? bhwa ha ha ha. Ignorance knows no bounds.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

truthteller

“Who cares if I am happy with my gender or not? That is no one’s business and it doesn’t belong in a generic description for people.”

Society cares, trust me. And you don’t really find out how MUCH society cares until you change your gender presentation, or even express it in ways that society doesn’t approve of. That’s something worth talking about.

Your experience is worth examining because it just happens to be the majority experience and it goes unquestioned (privileged). Refusing to question or even name the majority experience has dire consequences for those of us who experience our genders differently than the norm.

Our society revolves around people NOT questioning or changing the gender we were assigned at birth, and policing/ punishing those who do, as well as tho who merely seem like they MIGHT at some point. That is a convention worth critiquing. But you can’t examine an oppression without defining the in-groups and out-groups.

With regard to gender assignment, you are a member of the IN group. Deal with it!! But if you don’t like the name “cis” then offer up something prettier. PLEASE i’m all ears, seriously. But so far the only alternatives people offer are words which are NOT at all value neutral and actually reinforce the “othered” status of trans people (ie. biological men and women, born men and women, natural man or woman, real man or woman, genetic, NOT-trans, etc…)

Again, if you can come up with a neutral word that describes your gender assignment experience (which we all have, this is not a deatable point) WITHOUT making ME subordinate to YOU, then i’m all for it.

Timothy Kincaid
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

I think perhaps you misunderstood me. I was not saying that body equals gender. I was saying that there are two distinct things, body and gender.

Melissa,

academic circles are using LGBTQQIAA

And…. that’s when some of us think it’s reached the silliness point. ;)

truthteller
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

@ Jane Laplain

After reading all your post, I have come to the conclusion that you have a victim mentality and that you think you are the only person in the world who has gone through trials and tribulations.

You demand others put themselves in your shoes and yet, you refuse to even allow for the possibility that others have gone through very similar and maybe even worse circumstances than yours–to find their place in the world and to accept themselves as they are.

I have no need to give you a word to describe me. Male will do (it is value neutral),or if who I sleep with is important to you, then, gay male.

I have nothing further to add to this discussion with you.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Truthteller I didn’t catch this last one

“I, a gay Latino man, from a catholic upbringing hold a privileged opinion? bhwa ha ha ha. Ignorance knows no bounds”

Um yes you can say that again. Ignorance knows no bounds. Because Yes even YOU have privilege. you have male privilege and you have cis privilege (or insert whatever word of your choice for cis). All you may care about are the ways in which you are disadvantaged in society, but that doesn’t erase the ways in which you are advantaged.

I am a black transwoman with severe PTSD and even I can recognize that I have privilege in many areas of my life. If I can examine my passing privilege, my light skin privilege, my middle class privilege and my relatively able bodied privilege on a regular basis in spite of my daily struggles against racism, sexism, and cissexism, then surely you can find a few areas in your own life where you DIDN’T get the short end of the stick.
But owning up to that is up to you.

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Well, it’s “silly” perhaps because it doesn’t look like it forms an obvious *political* cohort or coherence, other than, say, the catchall “sexual minorities”?

On the other hand, it’s still shorter and more precise than “homosexual agenda”.

Amicus
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jane, I wouldn’t disagree that gender is “assigned”. God knows, if you know kids, it sure doesn’t look like it is constructed.

But, at the same time, it does seem like gender expression is more mutable than sexual orientation.

Do you think it is?

I say that because of the observed comfort level even nongays have with gender bending and gender fuck and so on, but would never desire or accord themselves similar leeway in matters of orientation.

Jane Laplain
November 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus

I’m not sure that I agree at all with that premise but I have no idea either. Gay people in general do seem to be more comfortable with more fluid ranges of gender expression than straight people are. But gay people are very much punished for that very same fluidity by society at large. “Look at that bulldyke! She wants to be a man! Look at that nelly queen, he acts like a girl!” etc….

However when it comes to actually BEING trans I find that gay people can be every bit as inflexible and narrow-minded as straight people. The comments in this forum thread alone show several outstanding examples.

As for whether or not gender itself is more changeable than orientation, I wouldn’t know. I pesonally don’t think so because I’ve been adamant since the age of 3 that I was female and nobody ever managed to convince me otherwise.

I could be classified as a straight woman these days, but over the years I’ve developed a certain fluidity and openmindedness in my sexuality that didn’t used to be there in my younger years. How much of that was suppressed sexuality and how much of that just changed over time I’ll never know.

johnathan
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

After reading your comment, where you wrote, in part:

” …Truthteller I didn’t catch this last one

[begin Truthteller's writing]‘I, a gay Latino man, from a catholic upbringing hold a privileged opinion? bhwa ha ha ha. Ignorance knows no bounds’ [end Truthteller]

Um yes you can say that again. Ignorance knows no bounds. Because Yes even YOU have privilege. you have male privilege and you have cis privilege (or insert whatever word of your choice for cis). All you may care about are the ways in which you are disadvantaged in society, but that doesn’t erase the ways in which you are advantaged.

I am a black transwoman with severe PTSD and even I can recognize that I have privilege in many areas of my life. If I can examine my passing privilege, my light skin privilege, my middle class privilege and my relatively able bodied privilege on a regular basis in spite of my daily struggles against racism, sexism, and cissexism, then surely you can find a few areas in your own life where you DIDN’T get the short end of the stick.
But owning up to that is up to you.”

* * * * *

Three things:

(1) We are all humans, and we all experience struggles.

(2) Just because one person is male, that gender identity is neither their only experience in life, nor does that identity indicate they are automatically advantaged or. But, honestly, does this give another person the automatic “judgment credit card” over him or her to “read their beads”? That is, I, as a gay Caucasian man certainly am “advantaged,” by that alone. However, you don’t know me. You don’t know, just by that fact alone, all aspects of my life, and I will not give you any more information from which to assess whether I am more or less advantaged. Because you *chose* to list, admit, and share your privileges and barriers, does that mean one must assume those readers who do not choose to share *do not* have any barriers in their own lives?:

- passing
- skin color
- ethnicity
- class
- racism
- sexism (Think about the ways in which, for men who do not “fit into” traditional sex roles are also discriminated against. Further, a 2007 (2008?) Supreme Court case addressed the Constitutional right for a male to sue based on sexism based on female-based sexist comments in the workplace)
- cissexism
- heterosexism
- various other “-isms” (of which I am sure people can think of and add to this list)

Which leads me to point #3;

(3) Perhaps rather than judging Truthteller, and others on this board because they might be a “majority-minority” rather than a “minority-minority,” perhaps we should remember one of the most important lessons of bias and prejudice. We should not make assumptions about people you do not know, even those with whom you are making connections via the Internet. (As making assumptions makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.) For example, I might be marginalized via physical disability or abnormality, speech impediment, psychological disorder, obesity, classism, religious discrimination, et cetera. Then again, perhaps not. (Remember, bias and prejudice also exist in the eyes of those who are disenfranchised — sometimes, even more so, due to the constant and virulent prejudice experienced by these very individuals at the hand of their oppressors.)

So, I guess the wheel of [dis]agreement will spin around and around. Honestly, while this discourse is valid and important, I am signing off. I have to go and argue the issue — a more important one, in my opinion — of LGBT marriage rights to my straight friends who just “aren’t quite there yet.”

johnathan
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Oh wait…I meant to add that, for point #3, that rather than judging, we should just view each other as humans. Just humans and people. Equals striving and struggling to continue in existence in this strange world called Earth.

Good night all.

Désirée
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

so basically, Truthteller what you are saying is that you will reject any word that means “not trans” because you don’t want to be identified by your gender status, but you are perfectly ok with trans people being identified as such, because that keeps us a something separate and other and with a “condition” that you don’t have. Gee thanks.

Get over yourself. This isn’t about you. The word exists, and it will be used, because a word that means “not trans” is needed. “What’s wrong with ‘not trans’ or ‘not gay’ (or not black’ or ‘not Jew’ et al)” you ask? The phrase “not [insert minority here]” as a descriptor implies there is some reason not to be that, that the minority and the not-minority are not inherently equal, are not 2 types of equal possibilities. X and not-x marginalizes x. “Good lord, no, I’m not gay!” implies there is something wrong with being gay.

Do you know of any straight people who say there are “not gay” as part of a description of who they are? “Hi, I’m Bob, 27 years old. I’m from Cleveland, I’m a pharmacist and I’m not gay” You only identify what you are not when you want to distance yourself from it. If Bob were to say that, we’d all assume he has an issue with gay people. But if Bob says “Hi, I’m Bob, 27 years old. I’m from Cleveland, I’m a pharmacist and I’m straight” then we don’t question his feelings toward gays, we just accept that he is not.

As for the utopia some people here have offered of just calling everyone “humans” good luck with that. We categorize people, places, things – it’s the way our brains function. Without categories, rational thought is not possible. There exists trans people and as long as we exist, ther will also exist not-trans people, and a word is needed that means not-trans so that when I and other trans people need to refer to not-trans people, we can do so in a way that doesn’t marginalize us.

This flower-in-the-sky idea of “why do we need to label some people trans and other people cis, can’t we all just be people?” denies reality. Do you make the same arguments re: gay & straight? “why must we identify people based on sexual orientation?” “Why must we identify people by male and female?” What if there was just female and not-female. Are you OK going around saying you a a gay not-female?

You are OK marginalizing trans folk and because of that your objection to the use of the term cisgender is rejected because it is precisely *because of* attitudes like yours that the word exists. You offer no alternative and in fact reject having one. You want trans people to be some other group in no way analogous or related to not-trans people.

With “allies” like these…

MIhangel apYrs
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Désirée

LGBTTQIIAA(xyz) people are outliers, i.e. differing from the numerical norm. It make sense, then, when discussing “our2 particular concerns to the “norm” that we identify our loci. So when discussing LGB issues identify as such, when discussing coffee, I don’t. In the same way, when discussing “trans” issues THAT is the signifier, but not always.

They are labels to be applied when necessary, to aid comprehension. Incidentally I use the term “norm” purely in the sense that statistically heterosexual, cisgender people are the majority. The minority (or less powerful) usually define themselves in terms of such majorities when such identifiaction is necessary.

(See I used “cisgender” in this case since it defines the sample)

Désirée
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

and that is how cisgender should be used – as merely a way not say “not-trans” without saying “not-trans”

I understand your use of “normal” in a statistical sense and don’t disagree with it. The problem comes with other people who assume normal=good, abnormal=bad, and as such, “normal” becomes a loaded term.

“gay” is an outlier, but that doesn’t prevent “straight” from being an acceptable term. Straight is a meaningless term except in relation to gay. Without gays, there would be no need to refer to some people as straight. But some people here would prefer only gays and not gays or whites and not-whites or male and not-male or Christians and not-Christians. “not-x” is simply inadequate, regardless of the rarity of x in terms of people’s identities.

Désirée
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I’m gonna have to dig up a column I wrote for my college newspaper back in the early 90s. My premise was “labels should be springboards not straightjackets.” That a label should tell you something useful about something/some one but not prevent that thing or person from being a variety of other things as well. It’s always been a personal philosophy of mine which is why I don’t resist labels as much as others because I don’t let them define or restrict me. They are useful descriptors of certain realities, no less, no more.

truthteller
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

@ Desiree
You are projecting your insecurities and issues onto me. That anger you carry would be best discharged in therapy.

“You are OK marginalizing trans folk and because of that your objection to the use of the term cisgender is rejected because it is precisely *because of* attitudes like yours that the word exists.”

People like me? You know nothing about me.

It is not within your power or your right to reject how I self-identify, nor is it within your power or your right to slap a label on me, so that you can feel better about yourself. I have already explained to you, time and again, that I find your made-up label offensive, but you don’t care about that; you do however cry foul when people use derogatory terms to describe you.

The problem with you is that you want to define others by how you see yourself and you invent words to label those people who are different from you. You also become offensive and militant when others reject your made up word.

If I had an inferiority complex because of my ethnicity, would it be okay to label you, whether you liked it or not, from my particular ethnocentric POV, so that I would feel equal? That would be ridiculous. Your point is just as ridiculous.

I have also stated time and again that there already exist two words that describe people that are not trans, those neutral words are: Male and female. They take nothing from you or me and add nothing to you or me.

Value yourself and stop trying to bully others into accepting your label; I am not the enemy and contrary to what you say, I did not make the world the way it is.

Read my very first post before you start accusing me of being the cause of all your problems.

Désirée
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I have no inferiority complex and I value myself quite highly thank you. You wish to label me from your ethnic point of view? as what? Not-Latina? As in “well, i may be a transsexual but thank god I’m not a latina?” No, you see, I am Caucasian – a non-judgmental, value-free term of ethnicity.

You have yet to say why “cisgender” is “offensive” – that is how it demeans or dehumanizes you. When has anyone refered to you as a “cisgender” in way meant as an insult? You can’t name one time that has happened. You may *object* to a new label, but knock it off with the faux “offensive” rubbish. You sound like someone running around claiming the word “banana” is offensive and no one better talk about them ever again.

For the umpteenth time, no one is asking you to assume cisgender as an identity. You are under no obligation to say “Hi, I’m truthteller, a cisgender latino gay male” The word doesn’t exist for you. The word exists for me and for other trans folk to be able to have a conversation of trans issues and refer to those people who are not trans.

Male and female describe people who are both trans and not trans so they are not useful to this discussion – unless you are now claiming that trans people are neither male nor female. So either you are ignorantly missing the point (trans and cis refer to the state of congruence/non-congruence between assigned birth gender and current gender presentation whereas male and female refer to biological sex) or you are being deliberately insulting.

Again, this sounds like you are not ready to not marginalize trans people. You like that there is some group with a label that is “over there” and is not you “I may be latino but thank the gods I’m not transsexual.” You reject my “made up” label? Here’s a note for you: all words are “made up.” Someone decided on a collection of letters that represent a mental concept. The word “transgender” represents a concept, a thought, a thing, a state of people. The word “cisgender” represent a concept – all the people who are not covered by the term “transgender,” and you’re objection not withstanding, the word exists and it will continue to be used by trans folk to refer to not-trans folk in a value-free non-judgmental way.

Priya Lynn
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Desiree said “You are OK marginalizing trans folk and because of that your objection to the use of the term cisgender is rejected because it is precisely *because of* attitudes like yours that the word exists.”

Thanks for confirming what I was saying all along. You feel biological men and women have wronged you so you use the “cis” word to diminish them and exact your revenge. That’s why you use the word to describe people who’ve asked you not to label them that way, you are intentionally trying to offend and diminish them.

enough already
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Goodness – who needs enemies with us all in the queer community, indeed.

I’m done with this discussion. A few thoughts:

- I understand the academic political correctness need to be “inclusive”. Because I am at home in several languages, I’m the staff member who gets stuck with the ultra-PC Americans when they come to visit.
That said, at some point, an acronym ceases to be useful as a descriptor and LGBT is already at the limit. All these other terms do nothing but make us laughable, they don’t really “include”. In fact, at this point the very serious question needs to be asked as to why lesbians rank higher than gays who are higher than bi-s who come before the transgender who are shoved in at the end next to the merely questioning yet before all of us queers….
It’s a stupid fight and one which is causes us more harm than good. If I, with all my baggage, can live with the bi- component, the rest of us can surely live with a useful term.

‘Cis’ and ‘trans’ are wonderful Latin prefixes. Despite my disagreement with some here on whether a transgender person who now has the biological body to match their reality is entitled to use “cis” or not (of course the are, honestly, you don’t get to use Latin without accepting the limitations of the terminology, double sheesh) I think it is a useful step forward. For a change. Political correctness would normally require a choice of term which is insulting, vague and stupid. I don’t know how this bit of common sense got through the PC dragnet, but am glad about it.

I am mightely tired of the nastiness and spitefulness with which some here attack those of us who are pigment challenged or who are perceived as being male. It is not advancing our cause, only serving to drive wedges amongst us.

Désirée,
I am not your enemy, despite your very best attempts to make me out as such. If this were FAUX news or one of the really insane gay sites from the rethuglican “gays”, I still would find your assumption that everyone is a mini-me version of Hitler until proved otherwise offensive.
Please, for everyone’s good – including your own, take a leaf from ronnie rayguns: If they agree with you 70% of the time, work with them. If you get 80%, thank your lucky stars and go with them.

There’s more than 80% here, even among those of us who don’t agree on the alphabet soup, political correctness bullshit and other matters.

Enough. If we can’t do better than this, we are fcuked.

Désirée
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

@Enough: I don’t consider you the enemy, and I know we have a number of points of agreement (for example, I agree the alphabet soup has gotten out of hand). We may disagree on a point of usage and I’m sure we could each write essays on why we think we are correct but ultimately, it’s not that important*, and I can easily walk away from this with a handshake and an “agree to disagree” if that’s OK with you.

*yes it’s important to the person to whom that discussion was about, but in terms of this topic overall, it’s relatively minor.

@pryia: I have to laugh about how in your attack on me, you use the very terms that you have been told contribute to the problem. I am as “biological” as anyone else. Biological people (as a group) have done nothing to me so I have no need to “get revenge” on biological people. (what an absurd idea – as if I’m a non-biological girl-shaped robot or something)

The idea that I use the term “cis” to diminish not-trans people is your own invention and exists nowhere but in your own imagination. I use the term cis to refer to people who are not-trans, no more, no less. You want me to respect people asking not to be labeled that way to which I reply: it’s not a label, it’s a word with a definition. An important word for discussions of gender issues and a means of not “othering” trans people. I could yell and scream that the word “American” offends me – why do I need a label? I just am, I’m a citizen of the Earth. All you other people can be German or Dutch or Polish or Antarctican for all I care, but don’t call me American. In fact, don’t use the word at all. You don’t need it. You only need words to distinguish people who are not-American, because American is the default standard. I am thankfully not-Dutch, Not-Polish, Not-Russian, Not-African, Not-Spanish et al” I could say that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was born in America to American parents and I hold an American passport. So it would be quite correct for other people, when using the word “American” to assume that I am in that group, whether I like it or not. See, reality trumps my wish not to be known as an American even though I am. Not that I expect you to get it this time any more than you did the first 20 times this concept was explained to you in this thread.

But I’m done here. I have been reading this blog long enough to know you are an angry person who often likes to argue for the sake of arguing and nothing I say is going to change your mind on this topic. I gain nothing by debating with you. The point has been made. Those who wanted to, got it. Those who don’t, well, I can only bang my head against a wall for so long.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

johnathan

You really ought to consult this very useful site and compare everything you just posted to me against this:

http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

You hit quite a few Derail Bingo points there.

If your response to a simple factual statement like “Women experience sexism” would be “Men get crap for being men TOO! So stop discussing sexism and focus on our common humanity!” That would tell me you have no interest in thinking about the specific ways in which sexism manifests in WOMEN’S lives. It’s a derailing argument, it switches the focus from women to men and attempts to shut down the conversation altogether.

Same goes for discussing racism or cissexism or classism or ableism or any ism. If your first response is “I don[t care what this so called minority group is going thru, everybody has their own problems, what about me me me???” you simply aren’[t ready to have a meaningful conversation about the topic. So I’m not going to try and talk to you because I don’t wish to talk further with anyone who isn’t seriously trying to exchange ideas or ask questions that seek to continue the conversation instead of shut it down. Peace out.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

OOps let me clarify that my last two paragraphs weren’t directed to only Johnathan.

I’m pretty much exhuasted by now both following and reading this thread. I think I’m going to second what desiree said. If I may paraphrase… Those of you who want to, get it. Those of you who don’t… ah well.

For those of you who genuinely WANT to, I recommend again the following blogs:

http://quinnae.wordpress.com/
http://skipthemakeup.blogspot.com/
http://transgriot.blogspot.com/
http://www.questioningtransphobia.com/

And for lively intersectional discussions on ALL isms I recommend the excellent

http://www.womanist-musings.com/

Timothy (TRiG)
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I just want to say that I’m finding this discussion fascinating.

And Désirée, this

so basically, Truthteller what you are saying is that you will reject any word that means “not trans” because you don’t want to be identified by your gender status, but you are perfectly ok with trans people being identified as such, because that keeps us a something separate and other and with a “condition” that you don’t have. Gee thanks.

is excellent. In fact, I felt like quoting the whole of that post. It’s the heart of the matter, I think. And truthteller’s claims that trans people have a “condition” and cis people have no “condition” is exactly what we were saying earlier about the importance of denormitiving normality.

TRiG.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I usually agree with Pirya, but I really don’t understand where she’s coming from here. I’m not aware that anyone has ever used the word cis as an insult. Certainly no one has here.

The trans community probably needs to find some equivalent to breeder. Then that can be the insult, and cis will be seen as the value-neutral term it is. (This thought is not original. Someone upthread said it first.)

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I see merit in both sides of the cisgender label debate.

On the one hand, “not-trans” may sound fine as a description to those who are not transgender, but to a trans person the “not” comes through as a rejection or a dismissal.

With attributes that are binary, we tend to have names for both sides. And when we don’t, it’s usually because one side is not just outside the norm but also an affliction or detriment.

On the other hand, it can be a bit offputting to discover that some community has a special term for “people not like us”. For transgender people to announce that they call others “cisgender” can send a signal to some of those outside the community that they are the ones who are being excluded and perhaps mocked.

And defining cisgender as “all the people who are not covered by the term ‘transgender’” feels like the same sort of rejection that trans people can often feel from others. A description that is affirmative is less likely to meet resistance.

No one really wants to be defined by what they are not, either transgender persons or cisgender persons. So perhaps we can be both a bit lenient and a bit patient with each other.

Amicus
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane, Thanks for your reply. I’m always trying to think a step ahead, and I know I’ll get that question, if someone presses me on trans.

As for LGBTQQIAA, it’s not over. My mind works in the shower. We’re short a “Q”. If there is going to be an “A” for ally, then there out to be another “Q” for “quisling”, which is all the rage these days, I guess. … I jest, of course.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid

I appreciate your willingness to have an honest discussion so I don’t mind continuing exchange with you.

I can respect that you see value in seeing “both sides” but the fact is there is no symmetry of experience or impact when comparing the way cis people can exclude and label trans people and the way trans peopel can exclude and label cis people.

Trans people are systematically excluded and punished for existing within a framework that rewards and demands the gender congruence cis people take for granted. The fact is, even IF trans people were using Cis as some sort of insult (which we keep saying again and again it is value neutral term) but even IF we WERE trying to be insulting… what effect does that have institutionally or even personally on cis people? Other than being “annoyed” by being called such a silly sounding word, nothing. (Feel free to debate me on this point).

Being excluded and labeled as a trans person by people who are not trans (cis, if you will) has well-documented real life harmful consequences for trans people. And not even allowing trans people to name the actors in a system that specifically oppresses them, or trying to control the language of that naming, even MORE harmful. Dig?

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

No, I’m sorry but I don’t agree.
No one doubts that trans people have been excluded – many of us here have trans friends and have seen it first hand. Nor am I suggesting that one experience is equal or equivalent to another.

But having experienced mistreatment does not entitle us to disregard the feelings of others. Being marginalized does not entitle us to marginalize others. Being excluded does not give us the right to exclude. And having been assigned labels that we don’t like does not then free us to assign unappreciated labels to others.

If we want our feelings to be given credibility, we must do the same to others. “Being right” is a luxury that only non-thinkers and non-carers have.

The point here is not whether cis is the right or wrong term. The issue isn’t whether it does or does not carry baggage or insult.

The issue is how we treat others when they say to us “you are making me feel excluded and diminished.”

We can insist on our patented right to do what we want with a big screw-you or we can listen to their concerns and consider whether they have merit. Ultimately we may come to the same decision, but we will do so in a quite different way.

You are claiming the right to the nomenclature; I’m not challenging you on that. But I am suggesting that if you invoke the right to ‘name the actors’ that you do so gently.

Mihangel apYrs
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I really wish I hadn’t thrown that pebble into the pond!!

But just one important point: putting together all us non-standard sexualities, genders et al, we’re still outnumbered by the “norm”.

What has happened is a debate that got a little heated, but remember more unites us than divides us

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy

I certainly hope I wasn’t arguing in favor of a patented right to say screw you or to be a hypocrite. I am not, if that wasn’t clear.

Naming the actors in any oppressive system, whether that is institutional racism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism or ableism or what have you, in my opinion must be done accurately, objectively and truthfully. To be honest with you “gently” is waaaay down on my list of priorities when I am analyzing the mechanics of oppression and how it functions. Particularly when that oppression is being directed at me.

I agree that nobody has a right to disrespect or belittle or insult another and expect to go unchallenged. I agree tha empathy and and tact are more useful tools for dialogue than their opposites. But to ask any marginalized person to please be “gentle” when naming the privileged parties who actively engage in disenfranchisment of that same marginalized person is in fact asking for special treatment for the privileged.

(Truth be told all marginalized persons regularly prioritize the feelings and comfort levels of the privileged in order to survive. Make them comfortably and maybe they won’t use their power against you. Make them uncomfortable and watch out!)

To refuse to engage the mechanics of the ideas proposed because the words or labels used weren’t “gentle” enough is basically a Tone Argument. Ie. “I refuse to listen to what you have to say about oppression until you say it more gently, no matter how valid your arguments may be.”

Sorry we can’t agree here.

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

In my thinking, I do not separate the world into marginalized v. privileged people and allow such assignment to dictate my analysis of their views or my respect for their feelings. So, while they may be effective with some here who share this dichotomous worldview, appeals to entitlement due to marginalization are not effective with me.

If my call for gentleness must be filtered through the marginalized v. privileged paradigm, then I fear you are right when you say that we cannot agree.

Brian
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ironic isn’t it that GLAAD doesn’t include ‘B’, ‘T’, ‘I’, ‘Q’, etc. in its name. :-)

GLEE is one the most queer-friendly show on TV these days.

Mountain out of molehill I think, and there are better ways to do education about trans people’s needs than fighting over a word clearly not intended to cause distress.

truthteller
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

@ Timothy Kinkade

Well said:

“But having experienced mistreatment does not entitle us to disregard the feelings of others. Being marginalized does not entitle us to marginalize others. Being excluded does not give us the right to exclude. And having been assigned labels that we don’t like does not then free us to assign unappreciated labels to others.”

If the people who want to use that label had come in here with the objective to win us over into using their word for us, instead of, like George Bush invading Iraq, the conversation would have taken a different tone.This is a GLBT -and-anything-else-you-want-to-include-in-there-site. Remember?

I have now been called the oppressor a few times, simply because I take offense at a label given to people like me by those who are different. I heard their circular logic and I still don’t buy it.

@ Desiree
You have yet to say why “cisgender” is “offensive” – that is how it demeans or dehumanizes you… You may *object* to a new label, but knock it off with the faux “offensive” rubbish. You sound like someone running around claiming the word “banana” is offensive and no one better talk about them ever again.”

You are not interested in finding solutions. You are interested in winning, by any means necessary.

FAUX offensive?
You will never gain my cooperation by ridiculing and dismissing how I feel. I do not have to justify my feeling to anyone, and least of all, you. You seem to think only what you think and feel is valid and everyone who disagrees with you is your enemy and oppressor.

I am done “talking” to you. It is more important for you to be right, in order to maintain your place in that oppressor/oppressed-world, than to find ways of working together to heal the divisions within our communities.

Good luck in that little world.

enough already
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

I said I was done, but one question more:

Has anybody taken into consideration how other cultures (many of which are advanced beyond the US in recognizing our humanity as queer people) deal with this matter?

For heaven’s sake, they’re now kicking straight kids off of football teams for supporting (cover the children’s eyes) breast cancer!

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

enough already,

Good point. Cultures outside the West have rather different perspectives on sex and gender and what they mean. For example, in some gender roles can be as defining as appearance, self-expression, or internal sense of identity. And some cultures experience shifting gender identity based on circumstance.

This is a rather difficult concept to fully understand and just when I think I have a grasp on it, some other aspect raises its head to knock over all of my carefully stacked assumptions.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid

I do not propose a “dichotomous worldview” Timothy, and I feel its dishonest of you to say that I am.

I am proposing that in context specific situations, ie. discussions of trans issues and the trans community… that actual trans people’s voices and feelings be centered.

If you are going to take the time to discuss the reality of oppression in trans people’s lives and how it works, and discuss the language we use to analyze this oppression we face, it is NOT unreasonable to propose that actual trans people’s opinions should weigh more than your own **in this specific context. **

Now if I were proposing, re: your worldview dichotomy critique, that everybody should stop watching GLEE and anybody who disagreed with me was a privileged arsehole for not deferring to me as trans person because I’ve suffered.. now THAT would be unreasonable.

But I’m not saying anything like that and you know it.

So why you would resist the idea that its important to defer, in specific contexts, to trans people who are documentably much more severely affected by certain gender-assignment based oppressions than you are. I am unsure. And frankly, I’m disappointed.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Supporting breast cancer? Do you mean supporting breast cancer awareness?

;)

In all seriousness, none of the objectors to the term cissexual have come up with a replacement that isn’t disrespectful to a marginalised community. All the variants on “born male” or “biological male” are problematic. “Not-trans” is problematic. No other term has been suggested.

One objector has said that the word cis “sounds silly”. Well, that’s a personal aesthetic argument, and I’m afraid you don’t get to redefine language out of your personal sense of the euphonious.

Most objectors do not object to the word cis specifically, but to any word at all which fills that space in the lexicon. They don’t want to be “labelled”. Well, sorry. A form of oppression needs to be labelled before it can be discussed. A label is needed. You are not required to “identify” with it or to use it to describe yourself, but people need to talk about the trans population in contrast with the majority population, and they need a word to do that.

TRiG.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

And just to had off accusations of “but you’re not talking about your own trans issues when you use cis, you’re talking about US and labeling US!”

The only time the term cis is ever used is in trans-specific contexts. It is NOT an identity. It is not an oppressive label or insult. It is merely a value-neutral descriptor for specific actors in a specific system of oppression.

No one is about to be forced to fill out “cis” on their driver’s licenses or tax forms. Nobody is going to be forced to wear “Nobody knows I’m Cisgender” t-shirts to work. Nobody is going to to be required to mark “cis” on the next Government Census.

Cis, as a term, doesn’t affect you in any way shape or form other than describing the reality of your congruence with your birth sex assignment. That’s it.

So objecting to that as offensive is is is.. …. oh nevermind. Desiree said it much better than I ever could and people are still arguing this point into the ground.

truthteller
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

@ TRIG

“And truthteller’s claims that trans people have a “condition” and cis people have no “condition” is exactly what we were saying earlier about the importance of denormitiving normality.”

Trig, do not misrepresent my post!
You are either intellectually deficient and unable to read things in context or just a plain A.H.

I do not take kindly to people assigning prejudices to me that I do not have.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

So what on earth were you saying?

TRiG.

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

If you are going to take the time to discuss the reality of oppression in trans people’s lives and how it works, and discuss the language we use to analyze this oppression we face, it is NOT unreasonable to propose that actual trans people’s opinions should weigh more than your own **in this specific context. **

If you re-read my comments above along with the original post, you will see me say that the voices most important in defining terms for trans people are trans people.

I believe this to be true and right.

But – and please note my words carefully – when we are discussing treating others with gentleness or courtesy, it simply isn’t relevant that you might be documentably much more severely affected by certain gender-assignment based oppressions than am I.

It was your rejection of civility – justified by an appeal to marginalization – that I found objectionable, not either your right to self-identity or nomenclature.

In other words, if I can channel some adult from your childhood, “I know you’ve been hurt but you still can be nice.”

(And that goes to you too, truthteller)

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

TRiG

A form of oppression needs to be labelled before it can be discussed.

Do you really want to imply that cisgender people are, by definition, oppressors?

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

truthteller

“And truthteller’s claims that trans people have a “condition” and cis people have no “condition” is exactly what we were saying earlier about the importance of denormitiving normality.”

Trig, do not misrepresent my post!
You are either intellectually deficient and unable to read things in context or just a plain A.H.

When you say that someone who is not a transgender person does not need a label because they don’t have a “condition”, it does imply that transgender people – who do have a label – do have a condition. That is not an intellectually deficient flow of logic.

celticdragon
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Whoa! I know a lot of trans people who think “tranny” is as bad as “faggot”.
*****************

Indeed. I have always associated “tranny” with porn and Jerry Springer shows.

I use “t-girl” somtimes, but I often just say I am a transgendered woman if I have to say anything at all. “Tranny” is not something that you associate with professionalism and competence, and as a geology sudent and potential educator or field researcher, professionalism is something I believe in.

Jane Laplain
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid

I understand what you’re saying. I appreciate it and in most types of conversations I even agree. But when it comes to this specific context, ie. discussing, naming and analyzing oppression, saying “be gentle and be more courteous when calling out people’s privilege or they won’t listen” … that’s called The Tone Argument.

Believe it or not I really do value civility and tact. But not at the expense of honesty and accuracy. It isn’t realistic, let alone fair, to expect people who are naming their oppression to always be kind and sweet and gentle about it (lest they, gawd forbid, alienate the unlearned masses, being so gosh darn blunt and angry!)

You are always free to opt out of any conversation where you feel uncomfortable. I am equally free to call toxic stuff out as I see it and not be worried about phrasing myself in the nicest possible way.

Now if I’m lying, if I’m flat out wrong about something then call me on that and we’ll have a conversation.

But, to my ear, saying “be more gentle when describing this awful thing to me” means privileging civility over honesty, over gaining deeper insight into the oppression at hand and my part in it… so I must again agree to disagree.

Timothy Kincaid
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

I do believe that you value tact and civility – it is present when you speak to me. And I don’t want to read something extra into what you are saying here.

But it seems to me (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you see cisgender as a description of something that is awful to you. Am I misunderstanding this?

It seems – and again this is but my impression – that because truthteller is not trans, that his concerns about being labeled have absolutely no value because he is, by default, the enemy. Again, correct me if I’ve got way off base here.

Because, if this perception is correct, then it does seem that truthteller may have some merit to his complaint. And I would have to say that if you find “cisgender” to define something oppressive and toxic, then, indeed, please don’t apply that term to me. No one wants to be defined as an oppressor based on an immutable attribute.

I hope I’m misunderstanding and that you are actually speaking more generally about oppression.

But if we are discussing oppression and attitudes that dismiss others and see them only in terms of just an attribute (as the world so often sees trans folk one dimensionally), is there no place in that discussion for listening to someone else’s discomfort and finding empathy?

I’m not trans. I don’t have your experiences and I am not in a position to measure or judge them. I only know that I’ve seen enough and heard enough to know that there is more than adequate justification for a certain level of cautiousness and even cynicism.

But I do hope that there is a space for us who are not trans to find bonds, and bonds that work both ways. A way to be supportive, but also heard. Perhaps even a way for those who aren’t fully there yet to find commonality which can grow to stronger support.

I am not by any means suggesting that anyone else have any veto over the nomenclature used in discussing trans issues. That belongs to the trans community (which kinda was the whole point of this post).

I just don’t want those who could be allies turned into enemies. We are a small community – all of us – and we really do have to have each others’ back. And I do think that truthteller can be an ally.

The Lauderdale
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. I’ve been reading this thread for the most part without commenting, but figured I’d throw in by saying: I agree with Jane Laplain. So far I haven’t seen J. L. say anything that I disagree with, and generally where I see people disagreeing it’s been based on misinterpretation or distortions. Maybe that’s because this has become the Lengthy Thread O’ Doom™ and people are posting quick responses without always going back to reread what has been said. I’m hoping that’s the case, because otherwise, when I see this much derail I start to grow a little suspicious.

johnathan
November 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jane,

I echo Timothy Kinkade’s words entirely, and I suppose that is what I was trying to state, albeit without the passion in my earlier text. I was up WAY past my bedtime, transitioning from one medication to the next, and well…

I was, in my own convoluted manner, wanting to also echo the sentiments that I did not want to be “defined as an oppressor based on an immutable attribute.” My intentions — and yes, they were sincere, noble, and well-meaning — were not received in such a fashion. For this I apologize.

However, based on your later writings and conversations with Timothy Kinkade and others, I have a deeper understanding of the applications of “cis-” and “cisgender” than I did earlier. For this, I wish to sincerely thank you for the information and the educational opportunity.

Thank you. Sincerely.

Désirée
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

@Timothy et al

Cisgender people are not the oppressors. Cisgenderism is. That is, the fact that we live in a world that has largely been created as is defined by the assumption that people are cisgender. Just as we as gay people rally against heteronormativism in culture, trans people fight against cisgender normativism. This doesn’t make cis people oppressors but it does indicate an imbalance.

I was discussing this with my wife (who is cisgender) and it’s funny sometimes the direction a conversation can go. We wound up discussing the proper terminology for those who used to be known as midgets. I think the proper term now is little people (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, and if I am I apologize). The slightly odd thought popped into my head: “A little person will never get to ride a roller coaster except at the kiddie park, solely because of their height,” and I had to catch myself of this next part “because roller coasters are designed for normal sized people” Ah! see? I’m not a little person, so I think of my height as in the range of “normal.” Am I a “little person oppressor”? Not that I know of. However, the world around, that I contribute to, is designed for people around my height. I have height privilege – imagine that! I get to ride roller coasters.

Now, you could argue that it’s not my fault specifically that roller coasters are made for people my size so therefor I have no responsibility for little people lacking access to them, but to a little person, I am part of the majority that is catered to that makes their lives that much more difficult *in this regard.*

When we say “gays are oppressed” we don’t mean “every straight person oppresses gays” and when we say “women face sexism” we don’t mean that all men are sexist. But but we are doing is acknowledging an imbalance in power in the culture we live in.

Sorry “power” is not the right word there – just as the majority of things in the world are designed for not little people (I’m sorry, I don’t know how not little people are referred to, sounds like I’ll be making a stop at Wikipedia after this), the majority of things in the world are designed for cisgender people, or at least the assumption is “everyone is cisgender unless otherwise stated.”

Personally, as I’m not a fan of identity politics or discussions of privilege (as I have said before privilege can almost never be brought up without it becoming an accusation that one most atone for) I find the word “oppressor” too harsh and oft-putting. I completely understand your reluctance to be called “cisgender” if it is for the sole purpose of being the “cisgener oppressor” Who the hell wants to be that?

But non-trans folk have so far gotten to set the rules for trans folk, just as in the past straight people set the rules for gay people. Having a name for the group that most people assume everyone is is not a bad thing.

P.R.
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid:

I though that those (usually heterosexual male) persons who dress in the clothing of the opposite sex for pleasure were properly called transvestites and that crossdressers was the offensive term.

I’ve never known such people to be offended by any particular label. The most common ways they self-identify are crossdresser (or just CD), TV (you almost never see transvestite spelled out), and t-girl.

Crossdresser seems to be used by people more casually involved who don’t see the practice as part of their gender or sexual identity (and most don’t).

T-girl seems to be used by those more deeply involved and who identify to some degree as cross gendered, though not necessarily being same-gender attracted or wanting to transition.

TV is an all-purpose label.

I have also seen the term tranny used as short for transvestite. It seems to be a Britishism. Or else I’m just confused.

There is definitely a murky area where transvestism bleeds into transgenderism. For example, some male TVs will go as far as becoming post-op “lesbians”. Others will engage is same-gender relations, but only with other TVs. There’s a lot of variation.

NoxiousNan
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

Wow, go BTB. Lots of comments – too many to read unfortunately.

For me, it all comes down to size. Things I don’t say: caucasion, african american, homosexual, heterosexual, transsexual, republican, democrat. Things I say instead: white, black, gay, straight, tranny, repub, dem.

If it offends, well I probably don’t have time for that eitehr.

truthteller
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

@ Timothy Kinkade

I disagree with your following statement:

“When you say that someone who is not a transgender person does not need a label because they don’t have a “condition”, it does imply that transgender people – who do have a label – do have a condition. That is not an intellectually deficient flow of logic.”

I have different labels: male/gay/Latino. None of them are conditions, they are states of being, just like trans is a state of being.

I find the need to measure ones wholeness against another (person or group) fallacious and I took offense at someone saying I believe trans people have a condition because I find that idea dehumanizing and idiotic. Perhaps we (society, not you specifically) have different ideas of what a human being is, but I don’t find people’s value measured against others’.

As to your civility comment: I will treat others as they treat me.

truthteller
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,

“I just don’t want those who could be allies turned into enemies. We are a small community – all of us – and we really do have to have each others’ back. And I do think that truthteller can be an ally.”

I already am an ally; families sometimes have heated arguments, but your point is well taken. We must not injure and turn allies into enemies.

Mihangel apYrs
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

I will regret this but, …
but

I honestly consider people as individuals, not a unit in a group. I really don’t care what you do, just don’t frighten the horses! By which I mean anything with consenting adults.

As I’ve said before, “trans” is a label that suggests to me at least a journey, “cis” is useful in an acedemic discussion but otherwise…

So step away from the issue and accept that others have valid points. Here we ARE family: we disagree, but that’s within the family

Tiff
November 12th, 2010 | LINK

I have a feeling I’m going to regret posting this and thereby becoming further involved in this thread, but…

I think one of the issues in the objection to the cis term is that it has been defined here as “not trans.”
Straight doesn’t mean “not gay.” It refers to an individual who is primarily attracted to people of the opposite sex and/or gender.
Similarly, cis doesn’t mean “not trans.” This term refers to an individual whose sex, gender identity, and gender presentation are basically in agreement with one another. It’s not describing the absence of something, but rather one variation of the many potential variations of this aspect of a person.

Donny D.
November 13th, 2010 | LINK

“Straight doesn’t mean ‘not gay.’ It refers to an individual who is primarily attracted to people of the opposite sex and/or gender.”

“Straight” is slang, therefore doesn’t have an exact meaning or necessarily even a single meaning, but “not gay” is exactly what it means to most people, as well as “only heterosexual”. Like “white” (which in its American version excludes any non-European ancestry at all), straight is an intrinsically excluding label.

Cisgendered just sounds funny/odd.

Timothy (TRiG)
November 17th, 2010 | LINK

http://privilegedenyingdude.tumblr.com/post/1576530697

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