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The case against 'cis'

(114 Posts)
Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 08:28:59

As I'm having conversations on fb recently I'm noticing that using 'Cis' is becoming the norm (obv, only in some circles).

I'd like to be in a position to query its use but realise that I don't have a logical response, and "I really don't like it' won't cut it!

What do you see are arguments against it?

Thank you!

TheCatsPaws Fri 09-Feb-18 08:34:26

Someone explained to me that cis implies I agree with the gender roles assigned to me at birth. Which I don’t.

I’m sure some much more educated posters will be along to explain though!

Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 08:41:13

Thanks catspaws, that's a good starting point.

I was wondering earlier... is it seen as transphobic to even say that you don't believe in/accept gender?

Trills Fri 09-Feb-18 08:42:20

I suspect that in 30 years people younger than us will look at this discussion the same way we look at people in the 80s and 90s saying "I'm not straight I'm just normal".

Being cis means being not trans.

It does not mean that you have to be a "girly girl" or go along with any gender stereotypes. It just means that you think the gender you were described as at birth is the right description of you. When you were born a midwife said "it's a girl" and you think they were right.

"But I don't feel like a woman, I just feel like me".
Me neither really.
If something fits, it doesn't feel like anything. It's only uncomfortable things that you can feel strongly enough to notice.

It's useful to have a word that mean not-trans.

If people are using it as an insult they are being twats, that doesn't mean it's not a useful word. If you go to the right bits of Twitter you can find people using "straight" as an insult too.

RubyLennoxExists Fri 09-Feb-18 08:42:52

I would expect those who insist on the use of certain pronouns to describe them, and are offended when others get it wrong, will equally understand my wish not to be called "cis woman" but simply woman, as that describes my sex.

UpABitLate Fri 09-Feb-18 08:47:41

If cis means aligned with masculinity / femininity then very few people are cis

It used to mean that but it changed as the above ^ was too easy to argue against given that it's hopelessly sexist.

So then it mean "your external body is aligned with your internal sense of your gender".

This is interesting as it's used in stonewall surveys etc but no-one has asked lots of non trans people if they have an internal sense of gender ID. Trans people clearly do, as it troubles them as it doesn't match <whatever - not necessarily body any more>. There was a thread on here some years ago saying "how do you know you're a woman" and out of maybe a couple hundred women who replied, only 1 said she had an internal sense of being a woman. the rest essentially said they feel like people, and only like a woman when something woman-specific happens (street harassment, periods, etc).

So there is an issue that the language has been created by people who have a certain feeling and they have assumed that everyone has this feeling. But, they don't.

The other possibility is that men have this feeling more often than women. I don't have any way of testing that but what I do know is most women don't have this feeling.

So how they get out of this one is by saying that women (and it is always women, men don't seem to have to engage with this stuff) are so comfortable with their cis that they don't even notice it ie women are a bit stupid and unaware and others (men) can reasonably explain to them how they really feel as men know better than women.

The second explanation also overlooks the very high numbers of girls and women who are deeply uncomfortable in their gender role, all the eating disorders, body dysphoria, self harm, mental health problems and on a lesser scale just discomfort with how we are supposed to be - the role we are supposed to fit is very restrictive for a lot of girls / women and the treatment we get from men especially sexual / street harassment stuff at the lower end starting when we are so young is very difficult for a lot of girls.

So all in all whatever you argue against they will move the goalposts.

Currently it means "a strongly held internal sense of gender" and if women say they don't have one and they feel like people and actually would rather not be treated "like a woman" thanks, then it just means they're a bit stupid.

RubyLennoxExists Fri 09-Feb-18 08:47:48

Trills when I was born the midwife sawI had female genitalia and not male genitalia and, I assume, said It's a girl!". She did not assign a gender to me, she told my mother my sex. I am therefore a woman and I do not need that identification to be qualified with "Cis" or "natal" or "biological".

UpABitLate Fri 09-Feb-18 08:48:44

Oh I see my long post xposted with someone who does indeed believe that women don't know their own minds. A woman no less.


TheCatsPaws Fri 09-Feb-18 08:48:53

But gender is a social thing assigned to us based on our sex Trills. I am not a cis woman because I am not what people assign a woman to be.

I’m a woman because my sex is female. That’s it.

Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 08:49:11

trills maybe you're right, maybe there's no good reason against its use but given the world (or certainly my liberal corner of it on fb) seems to be unquestioningly adopting the trans ideology, I can't help but wonder if this is something worth questioning.

Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 08:51:15

And trills doesn't that mean that we're also accepting that gender is something real/concrete that we have to identify with?

Hardwickwhite Fri 09-Feb-18 08:51:20

I was assigned a sex at birth, not a gender.

RubyLennoxExists Fri 09-Feb-18 08:51:48

It's use certainly is worth questioning Seer - it seems its use by certain males who claim to identify as women want to put down the women they claim to want to be.

Datun Fri 09-Feb-18 08:53:28

Cis means on the same side of (some kind of scientific language).

You will be told that if your inner identity correlates with your sex, you are cis.

And here is where the difference lies.

Trans people push the idea that gender is an internal soul/lady brain/essence.

Whereas feminists, gender critical people, and actually even medical websites, trans websites etc, will tell you it's a set of stereotypes, dictated by society.

There really is nowhere, including official trans websites, that supports the idea that gender is an internal soul. It's the way you feel, sure, but based on what you see as stereotypes.

So you can only be cis if you feel as though society's expectation of your sex is correct.

I do not agree that I should do all the housework, write the Christmas cards, be paid less, be objectified, available for sex on demand, etc.

That's the technical answer.

"No sorry, my inner perception of myself does not agree with the gender 'woman', because gender is socially constructed by society, and disadvantages me".

The other answer is I'm dammed if I'm going to be defined in relation to less than 1% of the male population.

I'm a woman. A adult human female. It's simply a biological description.

I am not going to be defined in relation to a man who thinks he's a woman.

Also, you could ask them to define gender. It's always quite interesting. Because they will say it's your inner feeling of whether you are a man or a woman. But ask them to describe that.

Ask them, without referring to biology, to tell you the top three things that makes them think they're woman/man. It's impossible to do without resorting to stereotypes.

Saying something like I feel nurturing, doesn't cut the mustard. Because many men feel nurturing, and plenty of women don't.

If fact it's quite an interesting thought experiment to do on oneself.

RubyLennoxExists Fri 09-Feb-18 08:54:10

Hardwick my understanding is we're not even assigned sex at birth, let alone gender. We are born with a sex, and that sex is noted upon our arrival.

Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 08:56:07

That's so helpful, ruby and up. Thank you!

The goal posts certainly do move. I guess if I were to say that I don't identify as a woman/a gender and therefore I'm not 'cis', the response back would be that makes me non-binary, agender or whatever (I'm not up to date with the terms), so still not just 'woman'!

Frequency Fri 09-Feb-18 08:57:07

I don't understand why women need a new label to identify them as not trans. Transwomen have their own label that separate them from women - it's transgender woman.

I get that they don't want to be othered but by giving women another label that differentiates us, surely they are still othered?

It feels a bit like they are claiming woman for themselves and shoving us to the side with a label they have made derogatory.

And also I'm cisgendered. My experiences of my own gender and gender identity are not what society deems feminine. I don't want to be labelled as a maternal, pretty, quiet etc. I am women, I am not overly feminine and I am happy with the label I have.

UpABitLate Fri 09-Feb-18 08:57:31

Stonewall definition:

"Gender identity - a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see non-binary below), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth."

= soul / ladybrain

TallulahWaitingInTheRain Fri 09-Feb-18 08:57:48

Cis means 'gender identity aligned with biological sex'

If you use it, you are automatically accepting the following premises:

-there is such a thing as gender identity. This is inconsistent with the feminist position that gender is a set of stereotyped roles and expectations used to facilitate the oppression of women by men

- that the person you are talking identifies with one of these stereotyped roles. Hardly anyone does this (except gi joe and barbie)

- that people have 'souls': I.e., that there is some kind of essential 'you' that is dissociable from your body. This is a religious position

There's nothing wrong with accepting all the above premises, but there's also nothing wrong with rejecting them. We have religious and political freedom in this country to believe or not believe in social constructs and immaterial souls as we choose. That freedom is important to maintain.

UpABitLate Fri 09-Feb-18 08:59:53

gender expression is someting different

"Gender expression – how a person chooses to outwardly express their gender, within the context of societal expectations of gender. A person who does not confirm to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans."

This was done as the original definition was outrageously sexist.

No-one can argue with "inner feelings" as there's no way of validating them. Of course we do know that the inner feelings of men are fact and must be believed. While inner feelings of women may well be wrong and can be disregarded. Women being a bit flakey and whathaveyou. If a man says he "feels like a woman" then obviously that feeling is a fact as men are inherently reliable and excellent witnesses to their own lives. Women, not so much.

Same old same old.

Datun Fri 09-Feb-18 09:00:17


Whether you feel up for a, 'down the rabbit hole', discussion.

If you refuse to believe in gender, they will have a label for that!

You could try asking why they feel the need to label everything. Why it's important for everyone to have a box.

Because when you want to break out of that box, you have to redfine your label.

Woman is just biological description. Like mare or ewe.

I believe gender is a set of socially constructed stereotypes, which is the generally accepted definition, it's just not always deconstructed during an argument.

There is a very lazy acceptance of the word gender, at the moment, without actually dismantling it to see what it means.

Seer Fri 09-Feb-18 09:00:53

This is so helpful, thank you datun, tallulah and all!

Can you answer my question above re non-binary please?

It feels like all roads currently lead to something other than simply 'woman'!

NotTerfNorCis Fri 09-Feb-18 09:01:20

I'm physically female and entirely comfortable with that. I never signed up to stereotypical female gender roles but it never crossed my mind I might be male. So am I cis? If it purely means discomfort with gender roles, I wouldn't be!

PetraDelphiki Fri 09-Feb-18 09:02:08

My sex wasn’t assigned at birth it was observed. I really really object to “assigned” as it implies an element of choice by the midwife/doctor...when you see a vulva and no penis you observe girl.

In the few cases of intersex you are still observing not assigning. Yes the observation is not in this case leading to the correct genetic conclusions but this is rare. But even with intersex any assigning of sex at birth would be based on a choice between external appearance and measurable genetics...

Datun Fri 09-Feb-18 09:03:01

It's useful to have a word that mean not-trans.

That would be woman.

If a transperson want's to differentiate themself, that's up to them.

I don't except that they can further differentiate me. I have no need of it.

Furthermore, according to Stonewall, I am transgender. My internal sense of gender does not align with my sex.

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