[personal profile] recursiveparadox
I'm sure you've all read up on the silliness from some well known trans folk on cis as a term. I'm certainly sure you're aware of the whiny privileged cis folk who bitched about it (like white people crying about being called white. What the fuck, people?). I'm sure you've seen the folk who have spoken against this cis oppression enabling idiocy (including my very angry, snarky self).

Cisgender, as detailed in the posts addressing this garbage about it being a bad or useless term, is simply a means to create discourse regarding transgendered people that doesn't other the fuck out of us. Yanno, because beforehand it was trans vs. normal. Because we know how well that goes for people, right? Right.

The whole reason why we have this word is to give us a way to describe the privilege attached to folk who aren't trans without going "normal people privilege! Not-freak privilege!"

So when people attack its existence, or insist it's weaponized, I tend to find them... well... stupid. Either that or they are fighting their darnedest to escape from any responsibility of owning their privilege (for the cis folks) or fighting their darnedest for those delicious oppressor cookies, which are apparently enough to even make Kate Bornstein, Monica Helms and Autumn Sandeen sell the fuck out to the cis folk. Also I'm fairly certain that there's head patting and free coffee for selling out. I can't be sure though because I've never sold out to the oppressors before. And I plan to never do so. (If I ever do, please firmly kick me in the ass, I will need it at such a point of awfulness)

But sometimes, well, sometimes we have a Speshul Snowflake. Someone so sparkly, so darn important, someone who (thinks they) get it so absolutely and wonderfully well, that they just can't understand why their Speshulness is not included! Enter the Speshul Snowflake land of Helen Boyd.

Apparently, if you're a partner of a trans person, you know exactly what we're going through, 100%, no take backs, nu uh totally take backs, no I called it first no take backs, fine you're a jerk. Did that sentence seem silly, to you? Well it might be because the sentiment itself is unbelievably silly.

But hey, if you don't want to go to the link, just read in this here quote box:

Telling me, & other partners whose lives are profoundly impacted by the legal rights / cultural perceptions of trans people, that we are “not trans” implies that we are also not part of the trans community. I’ve been saying for years now that we are. When trans people are killed, harassed, not hired, fired due to discrimination, denied health care, etc. etc. etc., their loved ones suffer along with them. Their families, their lovers, their kids especially. We are not just “allies.” We are vested, dammit, & a part of the trans community, so when “cisgender” comes to mean, or is used to mean, “not part of the trans community,” we are once again left out in the dark.


I'll tell you all what, I'm going to be an idiot and give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she doesn't understand how marginalization and privilege work. Lots of folks don't. In fact this kind of stuff tends to be mid level sociology course work, so chances are you won't have exposure to it unless you do some AP sociology classes in high school or take at the very least a basic sociology course in a community college (and actually that isn't sarcastic at all, sociology isn't required for many degrees and a lot of folk can't go to college. So really, I won't hold it against someone for not knowing, I will merely inform them) or have a background in the activist community and have dealt with the language before.

Marginalization applied to a given group is not applied to another group. Group 1 is marginalized. Group 2 is privileged. The marginalization of group 1 can have secondary effects on group 2. This is not the same as the marginalization. This is simply a ripple effect. You, as a partner, are not experiencing your partner's pain. Unless you're some kind of emotion psychic. In which case, good Aspects, hide yourself, the government is searching for people like you to create super soldiers out of!

At worst, you are experiencing the pain of seeing your partner hurt. And that sucks. Undoubtedly. You may also experience some personal backlash, say if your partner loses a job for being trans and you both have to tighten your belts. And that sucks too. But you didn't lose your job. You haven't been denied medical care for having a mixture of structures on your body. You aren't objectified by hundreds of fetish following chaser guys who care more about touching your genitals then they do about your feelings (on top of the set of het guys who fetishize all women). You won't get murdered for having a penis. You won't get beaten to within an inch of your life because you accidentally dropped your voice a little in the wrong place. You won't get exploited by manipulative people who know trans folk are vulnerable and scared and then raped and not be able to go to a single woman's shelter because you'll be turned away.

Basically, you being a partner? Doesn't fucking make you trans. It doesn't let you understand how that feels. You experience it, at best, through a proxy and a lens. And that ain't experiencing it.

Oh it gets worse. Because you see, she actually teaches about cis privilege and trans marginalization. So that benefit of the doubt I gave her? Yeah that was stupid on my part. She's trying to make an assessment and a claim built on nothing more than "I WANT A PIECE OF THE PIE TOO!" Because for some reason, apparently, a pie filled with nails, broken glass and thumbtacks that we are force fed by society looks so appealing to her.

If you read around a bit, you'll see that Helen has a very inaccurate view of how cis is used. Apparently we use it like a curse and we equate cis to being transphobic. This is categorically bullshit. You know what I use cis for? Not trans. That's it. That's what cis is. Cis is aligned together. Trans is aligned apart. So if your gender identity and sex are aligned apart then you are trans. If not than you are cis. It is not a weapon, it is a classifier, used for discourse only.

Like I said in my other post, I do not introduce hypothetical cis woman Candace as, "This is my Candace, she's a cis-woman" and no one should introduce me as, "This is RP, she's a trans woman." The word is not for common day to day use. In common day to day conversations I am a woman with no fucking qualifiers attached.. Just like any other woman, cis or trans.

To me, when a cis person criticizes the word cis it means one of two things. They either don't get the concept of privilege, othering and safe discourse (and that is normal and I work to help them figure it out in such a case) or they want to not have a word that means not trans. And that comes down to them being privileged selfish assholes who want to be seen as normal and default and have us be "those other people".

Helen comes across as a brand spanking new one though. Someone who doesn't like being told she isn't trans because omg she has a trans partner. And is maybe slightly variant in her expression. OMFG. That is some serious unique snowflake traits right there.

Now I can understand some confusion regarding cisgender vs. cissexual. Cisgender is purely gender vs. sex and cissexual is gender identity vs. sex. So Helen could very well be transgendered, if she's got some gender expression going on that isn't very mundane and is notable to get a response from cis society. Yes, if this is the case, she'll face at least some minor trans oppression. I can bet you though, that she is cissexual. That her GI and body match. That she possesses no bodily or role dysphoria related to her sexual structure or gender.

Of course if none of that applies to her, then she's cis, no matter how unique and sparkly her snowflake ice crystal edges are. And this goes for the rest of cis folk. Don't appropriate the trans realm. You only hurt us when you do that. And that makes you a shit ally.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 06:10 am (UTC)
maevele: (Default)
From: [personal profile] maevele
Its like when a certain radfem claimed she completely understood the black experience and didn't have white privilege because she was married to a black man!
Wait, my husband is married to me, a woman, so he must not have male privilege then?

OMG *eyeroll*

Date: 2009-09-18 06:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"You know what I use cis for? Not trans. That's it. That's what cis is."

Yup. I'm cis, and that's the only way I've seen "cis" used.

Along with everything you've said, Boyd's "Harry Potter" analogy fails because non-magical people born in magical families have their *own* special name. They're not Muggles, but they're not witches or wizards, either--they're called Squibs.

Helen's post reminded me of non-disabled parents of kids with disabilities calling themselves "autistic parents" or "ADD parents," etc.

Captcha phrase is "Triumph suffices" :)

Re: OMG *eyeroll*

Date: 2009-09-18 06:36 am (UTC)
ext_360386: A cartoon woman with short brown hair and glasses. (Default)
From: [identity profile] sweetperdition.wordpress.com
Forgot to sign in. My name is Tera, BTW.

Re: OMG *eyeroll*

Date: 2009-09-18 06:48 am (UTC)
paper_hand: Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh holding Maaya (Default)
From: [personal profile] paper_hand
Helen's post reminded me of non-disabled parents of kids with disabilities calling themselves "autistic parents" or "ADD parents," etc. As an autistic person, that really annoys me. It's "parents of autistics", not "autistic parents". The only "autistic parents" are autistic people who have children!

That's some serious appropriation

Date: 2009-09-18 08:37 am (UTC)
ext_389464: (Default)
From: [identity profile] jemimaaslana.wordpress.com
It's cool to have empathy for marginalised people, that's usually a prerequisite for being a good ally. But Ms. Boyd is so way out in left field with this I can't figure out how she got there.

These days my folks are going through a divorce. It's very hard on my mum and sometimes I cry for her, because I can see she's in so much pain. According to Ms. Boyd's outlook this means I, too, am going through a divorce.

Uhhhh... yeah

Should I get part of their belongings too?

My boyfriend tries his best to understand how my head works in order to make our life together work. But that does not make him part of of the non-neurotypical group. It merely makes him a relative, and no one's denying that it's hard to see the people you love go through shit, but it's not the same thing as actually going through it yourself.

Ms. Boyd has more or less appropriated her partner's experiences, using them as if they were her own. And that's not cool considering the power dynamic between cis and trans people. It's like the Borg: you (trans people) will be assimilated, resistance is futile. You will be absorbed and will not matter as inidividuals - Ms. Boyd is working on it.

She apparently hasn't realised that she can just stop being in a relationship with a trans person, that she has the privilege to walk away the day it becomes too much for her, while that trans person can't just stop being trans.

Sort of like Dr. Attwood & co invented Cassandra Syndrome to diagnose those poor sods who are so terribly beleagured by being in a relationship with an autist. A relationship they can at any time leave if they so choose.

Cisgender article upcoming on Bilerico

Date: 2009-09-18 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Just an FYI: I wrote an article on the word cisgender for Bilerico today. It should be up by 5 this afternoon.

Austen Crowder

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] keeva
One of the worst parts of that was where she basically, "jokingly," said that if she gets called "cis", she has the right to call trans people "trannies."

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow, she's got some nerve, doesn't she?

I don't know if this is the right place, but I'm not sure where else I could ask this question. Does anyone know the origin of "cis"? I agree there needs to be a word for people who aren't trans ('cause that gets really annoying to type repeatedly :) ) but why "cis"? It doesn't even sound like a real word. Is it an acronym or did someone just invent it & it caught on?

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Heh. She said that in reference to something I wrote on her boards--one of my many long defenses of why we need the word cis or a word at least for it (believe it or not, most people there wanted to go with "non-trans," FFS.)

I don't want to bash helen too hard here--because she's been a good ally in the past, and if anyone can be said to have propelled me down the path of feminism/activism, it's her. I think we can acknowledge that allies can and do fuck up, just like trans people, and yet still have the capacity to continue to do good. And that one fuckup shouldn't cast you forever into the pit of Bigoted Asshole. Likewise, I'm always careful to watch for falling into the traps of doctrine--it's part of my antikyriarchial radicalism.

All that said, I'm completely blindsided, baffled, and appalled by this post. I mean, what? Butches aren't cis? Let me check: do they identify as women? When they stop doing that, do we call them something else (like, trans men?) And seriously, butch is especially problematic to use as an example because if ever there was a sunken community of trans people, it was in the butch community.

I know she understands power differentials and privilege, so I just don't get it here, except that sometimes people have used the word cis in a mean way and that means we can't have nice things anymore, except in approved settings. I'd be willing to have a discussion about some of the issues she raises about cisgender/cissexual, but we'd actually have to be able to use the fucking word for that to happen.

I mean, is it really that it comes down to a tone argument? a TONE argument?

So, yeah. I feel like I want to write about this too, but the thread on the boards there left me so furious and exhausted that I just don't know if I have the energy. Which is part of the whole silencing tactics to begin with.

--CL Minou

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 09:33 pm (UTC)
paper_hand: Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh holding Maaya (Default)
From: [personal profile] paper_hand
Cis- is the opposite of trans-. Cis- = "on the same side", trans- = "On the opposite side". Those prefixes are common in chemistry and molecular biology, and, historically, sometimes in place names as in Cisleithania and Transleithania in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.


(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thanks for the reply! Really appreciate it.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-18 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yeah. I mean, she has done a large body of good work, especially for crossdressers, who tend to get the very grimy end of the stick even when it comes to trans folk standing up for trans rights. Her boards tend to be remarkably BS free and at least allow the discussion of theory, not like either the "OMG! Shoes!" of something like crossdressers.com or the deep deep angst of Trueselves. And I don't want it to sound like one (infuriating, dismissive) post is license to say that some one is a false ally, or not a "real" ally, or invalidates everything else they've done. (That said, this isn't the first time something helen has put on her blog has sent me around the bend, and I still think of her as a friend of mine.)

I'm not even sure that this particular issue is where I want to draw my doctrinal line in the sand, and say "no cis, no ally" ever and forever.

But this particular post? It's just wrong on a ton of levels.

CL Minou

Genderbitch: In ur gender, revealing ur privilege


This is a blog. About transsexuality, feminism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, GLBT stuff and etcetera (check my tags for more on that). This is also an angry blog.

You might see me as slightly antagonistic. Oh well. I incite because I am trying to push people into thinking, discussing and breaking out of the stagnant bullshit of privilege. Which needs a nice firm kick quite a bit. Sometimes to the head. If I need a nice firm kick too, make sure to distribute it because well, I'm not immune to privilege either. XD

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