Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Short Chat about Trans & Cis, Sex & Gender

So I wrote that post about transphobia and one of my tweeps was confused about the meaning of cis/trans, as well as sex and gender.
Before we continue I’m establishing the following:
·         I am a cis woman
·         I am not trans and I have never been trans
·         I am explaining trans issues as an outsider, and must not be treated as an expert. To understand the trans experience, it is absolutely positively necessary to talk with trans individuals about what happens to them and how they are living their lives. I don’t know this! I know the cis experience! If you identify an error I have made in this post, please point it out for me and I will fix it. I do not want to make a deliberate error or misinform people (or be misinformed myself).
We need to break off from the gender/sex lock-in and the binaries that were established for us.
Gender: Socially constructed. Your gender is the clothes you wear, the way you act, the pronoun you identify with.
Sex: Your chromosomes (XX, XY, XXY, etc). Your genitals and secondary sexual characteristics.  
If you are a cisgender individual, your sex and gender are the same – male/male, female/female. If you are a transgender individual, they are not the same – male/female, female/male. If you are a queer or genderqueer individual, you may not want your gender to be identified at all, or use non-gendered terms like ze and hir.
Your gender identity is the way you identify yourself as. So my gender identity would be as a cis female. Might be queer man, trans man, or ze, sie, etc.  
Your gender identity has no impact on your sexual orientation. Your gender has nothing to do with who you want to have sex with. Who you have sex with is your sexual orientation.
How a transgendered person goes from here is up to them. Same as what someone does as cisgendered, as a feminist, as a liberal, as a student. Having a transgender identity does not mean that anyone is entitled to information about this identity. As a cisgendered person, if I suspect someone is transgendered, what should I do? Nothing, because it’s not any of my goddamned business. Seriously! The physical makeup of someone’s genitals will be important to me in approximately zero situations. Unless I plan on having sex with somebody, and I have a genital preference there, but I plan on having sex with 1 person. And I already have that information about that person.

Why Have Cis?
Cis and Trans are opposites, and Queer is for individuals who want off the scale completely or feel they’re in the middle, or just don’t want to pick cis/trans. 
Trans has been around for awhile, but what is cis for?  If there wasn’t a cis, there would only be trans. And this would make the alternative to trans, “normal”. It is not fair, it is not equitable, and it is frankly oppressive to point out that trans people are somehow abnormal. How you gender identify should not place you as less than how anyone else identifies. It would alienate transgendered and genderqueer individuals, it tells them that they are somehow less. And they are not! So we have cis!