Keep trying. You’re doing great. We all have a lot to learn, every day.
That would make you cis-gendered, yes. Definitely not a bad thing, definitely not used as an insult! Just means that you are comfortable with your birth gender.
Also, gender and how you want to express it can be quite a spectrum, and quite fluid. I was very much a tomboy as a child - in fact, I was often mistaken for a boy because I had short hair and wasn’t interested in stereotypically ‘girl’ things. I did think I was a boy at times, too. Nowadays, I’m pretty happy being a woman, albeit one who is somewhat on the butch side…but that’s okay!
Regarding privilege and gender - I think the discussion isn’t meant to induce any guilt, nor is it meant to downplay individual challenges and achievements. For me, it’s about just acknowledging the experiences and challenges of not being the dominant gender of an area.
I just wanna say thanks to everyone pitching in to this discussion still.
I don’t come here (lines/forums) so much anymore, but this thread is a valuable read. With relaxed, insightful, respectful additions and comments. Not so everywhere where I brought up this discussion.
Hi-fives and hugs!
I think it might be worth clarifying, too, that ‘cis’ as a cultural term is mostly meant to mean ‘not-trans.’ So being partly ‘cis’ isn’t really a thing that’s available. It came from people trying to break away from assuming that being not-trans was “normal,” as was the language before it came into use. ‘Cis’ in no way on its own assumes gender essentialism, rather the society itself already does and the term denotes a distinction for those who are struggling against the definition that was put upon them.
Gender identity certainly stretches and weaves in many ways, and it seems most people probably cluster around man or woman, hopefully understanding that being a man doesn’t mean someone has to be masculine in everything and being a woman as feminine in everything. Traits themselves and presentation inform identity, as does the context the identity is being formed in, but they do not create it.
I think one of the reactionary things to being labeled ‘cis’ is a sense of exclusion, but that’s part of the point. While there is no The Trans Community, there are many parts of life for trans people that they have worked and struggled for. They have had to carve something out to define themselves. That doesn’t work the same way for people who are cis-gender, society is already built around them.
I understand that there’s a defensive response to say not-all-cis-people, but being cis is still a place of privilege regardless of how one is expressing their gender identity or gender politics. If a person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth, that doesn’t make them a bad person, but we should be aware that in terms of recorded history, being not-cis-gender was and continues to be incredibly difficult and risky.
‘Cis’ is certainly not an insult, and I think it’s important to say that if someone has a gender identity they can grab ahold of for themselves, that is a major positive. Being a man doesn’t equate to indulging in toxic masculinity, and in fact doesn’t have to be about masculinity at all. Queering gender identity is great, and if someone feels like they aren’t the gender that was assigned to them at birth that’s worth exploring. There are many great resources out there. Similarly, if someone doesn’t feel comfortable being out then passing can be an important armor for those who are in more dangerous situations.
I just want to make sure that to this point, someone saying “partly-cis” reads very much like wanting to have the cultural cache or whatever of being gender non-conforming without any of the inherent risk. This is a great space, and I’m personally grateful for the support I’ve received and seen spread among us, but after all this is just the internet.
I would never dispute this, but it comes off as dismissive to bring this up in what is a pretty specific discussion about specific struggles.
I find the notion of characterizing this discussion in terms of defense and attack unfortunate and a misunderstanding of intentions.
I think intersectionality is an important part of this discussion, and certainly disability, ageism, race, sexuality, social class, and many other issues and identities create risk and difficulty. If you’re interested in exploring your gender identity, please do, I want to be incredibly encouraging about this for everyone. I am very sorry for making you uncomfortable, and by no means was I saying your life is easy if you are cis-gender, but that specific aspect does have privilege, and that shouldn’t be ignored. But, as you said, there are many aspects of life that can make someone’s life difficult, that shouldn’t be ignored either. That’s just not what this discussion is about.
I like this thread. I like that it gets messy sometimes…
Because there is no correct/incorrect way to discuss/engage with this stuff, in my opinion. Everyone’s just speaking honestly from the space they occupy, and that’s the best thing that can continue to happen! Reading both your thoughts on this IS THE conversation (@geh2oman and @Kel and all the other contributors).
So yeah…just some encouragement while I lurk.
Ok, let me not lurk because I can contribute something here.
First, @geh2oman let me say that your responses were really informative and very positive. I dig the way you talk about this stuff.
Next, @Kel I think it’s not completely ridiculous to feel as if “cis” has an insulting vibe to it. It can. Sometime people use it as if it’s just neutral, but it can have the feeling that it assumes something (words do this in general…“What water?”).
@sixnon made some good points:
Here’s a recent video of Rose McGowan in an argument with a trans woman where she (Rose) says “Do not put your label on me, I do not come from your planet.” Expressing the sentiment you’re expressing…and it’s something I kinda agree with too. The assumptions it makes just aren’t quite right from where I’m standing.
Also, that it’s a new word. So to feel as if we all need to catch up–that we’re all at a deficit and need to catch up on something we missed–isn’t exactly right. You said you’re 50. I’m 36 and it’s a new word to me too. It’s only been in my world, being used in the mouths of my friends for…about 6-7 years (?). I’m not quite sure how words make it into everyday speech, but this one still has training wheels on. Everyone’s figuring it out: mainstreaming it, reacting against it, dismissing it, etc…
So when you said you’re only partly CIS, I got what you were saying…and I think it’s good that you where trying to figure out where you stack up in relation to this new framing. There’s a willingness to play ball there and that’s helpful/pretty cool in general (Just outright aggression/rejection/reactionary stance wouldn’t have been as good…as civil…though still valid to the conversation.).
*edits to clarify, edits again: damn! I got your names mixed up! Corrected now. (sorry)
Throwing some fuel on the fire:
And here’s a video (about Millenialsplaining) from Gavin McInness who rejects the mainstreaming of the word cis. I know, I know…he’s definitely a flavorful conservative character, but he’s where he’s at and it’s good to hear his points to to know how to address them or to agree/disagree. And he says:
- I know the word, still don’t want to use it
- it’s actually an upper class vs lower class thing to want me to use it
Exhausting even contemplating any kind of response to this at all. Completely lacking in any form of empathy. How do you communicate with someone who is actively rejecting the notion of communication itself?
@Angela, thank you, I do understand that it’s a word that can be thrown at people as a way of other-ing and distancing, which feels bad, it feels uncomfortable, especially if that happens to one’s self. I understand the sentiment of wanting to distance one’s self from this assumed position of negativity, but if “cis” is being used as an insult, it’s being done in the same way that “white” can be used, to account for the fact that there are people in that group who have more power do things that are shitty. We can dismantle #notallmen all day, but I think it’s on the part of everyone to acknowledge their part. It’s important to engage with a label, not just reject it.
I really have to say though, Rose McGowan’s position is incredibly problematic. Rose is trying to say that there’s no distinction between cis-women and trans-women (and then goes on to say no distinction between race too?) and tries to assume a monolithic woman experience, when that is definitely not the case. It’s very transphobic and creates this essentialist viewpoint centering on physical points of vulnerability. It’s one thing to agree, yes, trans-women are women, but you can’t do that and then say “You’re not a woman because you didn’t grow up as a woman.” There’s nobody in any broad defining category whose experience entirely maps that narrative. That doesn’t mean they don’t belong in those categories, because humans categorize things. Trying to erase the terminology around ‘cis’ and ‘trans’ is undermining the experience of people who don’t follow the normative narrative.
@Kel Likewise, I send many good vibes in your direction and I appreciate your candor.
I’m not directing this at anyone or trying to say a viewpoint is invalid, but we all have to work together on understanding each other, and part of that is understanding when our positions are privileged and what that means when we take a position. I was raised and socialized as a man, and I’m not going to reject that experience just because that’s no longer who I am; I try to use that experience to inform my actions and opinions in a more positive way for everyone.
This is kind of just rephrasing some stuff I read here with how I understand things.
As I’ve read and learned more about gender identity, it’s been eye-opening for me to understand that it is such a malleable thing (for example, it can change over time as one learns about themselves and what “works” for them), yet generally society expects trans people to be very sure about and fight for it (in terms of pronouns, which bathroom they use, etc. etc.). There’s a lot of energy (emotionally, learning-wise…physically and economically if they are interested in physically transitioning too) that a trans person has to expend to just live their life.
People trying to utilize the more performative and cultural parts of “trans identity” (that’s not really the right phrase, but I can’t think of a better one) to look cool and “queer” without having to expend the energy to deal with understanding their actual identity or the negative impact’s of society’s treatment of trans people is something that’s happened in the past and continues to happen today.
EDIT: A lot of the statement above came from thoughts after listening to the Vivek Shraya episode of the QUEERY podcast by Cameron Esposito
maybe yall cis people should read harder
more specifically, if you want to learn about us trans folk then read and reasearch the things we have to say about ourselves.
This thread is fascinating. To me, you are all just different colored circles.
This might be a little contrarian but I’ll put it out there anyway.
In all seriousness, what is interesting to me is all the comments about using a privilege (learning from it, informing actions) to effect change more positively. I find this to be a nice thing to say, in general, but something very hard to define and even harder to act upon constructively, consistently, and habitually. Especially for a white, cis male like myself. This isn’t because I disagree, its just in general I see very little opportunity for it and I know I’m probably not alone. I don’t interact with very many folks outside of my previously stated demographic (if that’s even what it is, now) because my work and my family which take up about 95% of my time. I believe in treating everyone equally but this somehow doesn’t seem to be enough. This doesn’t mean I’ve never interacted with, or even befriended, anyone outside of my apparent cisgendered bubble - quite the contrary. But these interactions are usually by happenstance as I have little time to truly devote elsewhere. For the most part, I’m plain-vanilla and this cis label certainly perpetuates that viewpoint although I see the utility of using such a word in this conversation.
I don’t view an artist as a female artist or male artist or trans artist, in general. To me, as it relates to this topic, everyone is simply an artist and your work either resonates with me or it doesn’t. The nice thing about a blind platform like a forum is that I can truly experience this for what it is from each of you (thinking of the Juntos, latest tracks thread, BC pages, etc.). If something speaks to me and has a very positive or negative effect, I may try to unpack that and my own life experience will factor into that process although its hard to say just what about it will come out - maybe gender identity, maybe a relationship with a parent, maybe a road trip. Realistically, one aspect is not on an island from all my other life experiences, no matter how powerful it is.
But in general, it feels like treating people with respect and admiration isn’t enough anymore and this can be a source of frustration (not just for me, but I see it in people I interact with daily). I would love for there to be more inclusion of artists from all backgrounds in music - I specifically reject certain genres that lack that diversity. As it relates to the topic, that goes for non-cis folks and women in general. However, if I were a non-cis male or female, I wouldn’t want my art to be recognized for my gender identity alone - I would think I would want it to stand on its own. Practically speaking, I think its wonderful that more events are taking an active role in diversifying their artists - see Moogfest.
Again, I’m appreciative of all my circular friends here. This is the longest relationship I’ve had with a group of people. You are all amazing and continue to broaden my knowledge and awareness of almost all things.
See, this is an example of using the word cis with negative connotation.
This is very much “us vs them”
…which maybe you feel, and maybe you want to reinforce.
I think that comment was designed to make your non-trans audience feel dumb.
Maybe that’s useful…
just like… engage with us in good faith and empathy please
I think it’s a bit unfortunate that discussions about gender tend to devolve into whataboutisms.
If the central point of discussion is about the experiences of other genders…it doesn’t automatically negate other challenges, or your own personal challenges. It’s not about putting various challenges that people face on some sort of ranking system. Also, it shouldn’t necessarily be the other-gendered ones to be responsible for soothing feelings.
Also, just going back to cis vs trans terminology…I think it’s important to acknowledge these terms, in the sense that being cis vs being trans are inherently different experiences for the individual.
I think this is a common tactic in dealing with polarizing topics for folks that simply don’t understand the other point of view. I just had this conversation at lunch about a political topic - you can’t make a single point without a “whataboutism” counter point. That being said, I like to think that someone is just trying to understand a particular viewpoint by comparing to the closest thing they deem as similar. Its the lowest form of empathy but I try to be constructive with it. They cared enough to engage in the conversation so I give the benefit of the doubt.
Also, I don’t mean this as an insult to anyone. Just an observation.