Casual cissexism says certain transfolk look “good” based on how cisgendered they look. Example: “Wow, she looks really good now.”
i understand that cisgender people often have trouble communicating with trans* individuals. it’s okay that you don’t understand how to go about this, as you’ve grown up in a society which treats you as the default, and trans* individuals as a sort of exotic creature.
the good news is you can overcome this! you can learn to have meaningful relationships with trans* people, and to be an ally or advocate to them if they ask for your help! the bad news is it’s kind of difficult to figure out how to do this because the social norms concerning trans* people are very rigid within our society.
1) don’t ask them about their birth name. especially if you don’t know them. you aren’t going to be calling them by this anyway, so you really don’t need to know, right?
2) don’t treat them like they have a contagious disease. you cannot catch “the trans.” most generally do not bite unless you ask them to. they’re a person just like you, and you don’t want them to avoid shaking your hand for fear of catching “the cis.”
3) genitals are never a good conversation topic. seriously. it’s probably not your business. you wouldn’t go up to someone you thought was cisgender and ask about their trouserbits, don’t do it to someone you think is trans*.
4) don’t ask about surgery or hormones. there used to be stuff here about how they can be hard to obtain, but it wasn’t worded well. some trans* people don’t want them. some trans* people can’t get them. some can/do both or either of those things. it’s still not your business. at all. the state of their body and medical history aren’t your concern.
5) always refer to trans* people by their preferred gender. a trans* woman who has not yet had surgery is already a woman. getting surgery does not magically make her a woman. she already was one, she’s just helping her body match her gender. same with trans* men and nonbinary/agender people. the state of someone’s body doesn’t matter, how they identify does.
6) when in doubt, ask politely. politely is very freakin important there. if you aren’t sure what pronouns someone uses, ask them. if you aren’t sure whether a nickname is okay, ask.
7) if they ask you not to bring something up, don’t bring it up. if someone asks you not to point it out when they’re misgendered, don’t do it. there are certain spaces where they may be safer being misgendered or misnamed. you also should not talk about anything that may remotely qualify as personal to people if your trans* pal has not told you that it’s alright to tell them.
8) if they’re upset about cis people being jerks and say something kinda mean, don’t get mad. it’s not about you. really, i promise. getting bent out of shape over a comment about cis people being giant dicks only proves the trans* person right. you are probably a very supportive friend, and don’t appreciate them making a blanket statement about a group that you belong to, but you need to recognize that a whole lot of cisgender people ARE jerks. a lot of cisgender people are going to be gigantic dicks to your trans* pal and every other trans* person.
9) not all trans* people are the same. we all have different hobbies, interests, opinions, and backgrounds. we’re just as different from one another as cis people are.
10) don’t use slurs. don’t do it. even if your trans* friends say them it is inappropriate for you to do so. slurs include: tr*nny, sh*male, tr*nsvestite (when used in the wrong context), he-she, and sometimes it. your trans* friend may be okay with you using slurs, but i’d advise against doing it altogether, as it is not your business to reclaim these words.
11) don’t out them to people. even if you’re trying to do good and correct people about their pronouns, ask first. they might not want to be outed in certain contexts. i, for example, am alright with my friends outing me when i meet their friends, because i trust their judgment in who they tell and they always do it when i’m there. if i was meeting a complete stranger, i would not want them to out me.
12) if they don’t feel like educating you, don’t push it. your friend may have had a ton of people asking them to explain things that day. when i out myself in classes, i always get a ton of the same questions. it gets really tiring fielding the same questions over and over again. even the most avid educators get tired of answering the same questions again and again.
13) don’t tell them about someone you know who’s trans*. we don’t want to hear about your trans* cousin, or your trans* coworker. plus, when you tell us about them, you usually do it in a very problematic way.
14) under no circumstance should you, a cisgender person, say you understand exactly what a trans* person is going through in their transition because you defy the gender binary in some way. you may be a cis dude who knits, you may be a cis lady who’s a tomboy, but you do not know how it is to be transgender because you aren’t, plain and simple. you can empathize with them based on your experiences of defying the gender binary, but it’s not the same as being transgender.
15) treat them the way you treat your cis friends. this definitely doesn’t mean that you treat them as though they’re cisgender. it means that you respect their privacy, that you stick to their set boundaries, that you don’t make offensive jokes around them unless they said it’s okay, that you don’t assume things about their sexual orientation based on their gender.
i think this is about it, if there’s anything i should add, let me know!
“the problems of being male” post boils down to “not being able to be or do anything that isn’t hyper masculine because you begin to tread into the realms of homosexuality and the feminine and that’s horrible because homosexuality and femininity are horrible”
and yet some people still somehow consider this a wide spread method of oppression against straight cis men
Vocabulary You Should Know (and understand)
Graphic and following text from BASIC RIGHTS OREGON:
You may have heard the word cisgender before, but you may not know what it means. Cisgender is a term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, if a doctor said “it’s a boy!” when you were born, and you identify as a man, then you could be described as cisgender. In other words, ‘cisgender’ is used to describe people who are not transgender.
So why do we say ‘cisgender’ instead of ‘non-transgender’? Because, referring to cisgender people as ‘non trans’ implies that cisgender people are the default and that being trans is abnormal. Many people have said ‘transgender people’ and ‘normal people’, but when we say ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ neither is implied as more normal than the other.
Using the word ‘cisgender’ is also an educational tool. To simply define people as ‘non-trans’ implies that only transgender people have a gender identity. But that’s not true. Like sexual orientation, race, class, and many other identities, all of us have a gender identity.
Language is important; it defines human relationships. That is why it’s important use language of equality and inclusion.
- Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest
- Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.
- Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.
- Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.
- You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.
- You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.
- Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.
- You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.
- You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.
- If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.
- Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.
- You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.
- You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.
- You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
- You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).
- If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.
- You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.
- Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.
- Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.
- Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.
- Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.
- No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.
- You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.
- Having your gender as an option on a form.
- Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie. Yes, this happens.
- Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.
- Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.
- You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.
- You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).
- You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.
- Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans- person).
- Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.
If you are using a gendered restroom, and there is someone in there that you think looks they belong in the other gendered restroom, but they are just peeing/washing their hands/fixing their makeup in the mirror/etc and not harassing you, please DO NOT:
- call the police
- ask or tell them that they’re in the wrong bathroom
- yell at them
- beat them up
- threaten to hurt them in any way
- whisper about them to your cis friends while they are still in the room
- otherwise act hostile, threatening, or violent
This has been a public service announcement.
If a cis person mispronouns me and tries to explain why it’s not their fault, I want to cry, and then I laugh in their face. As gently as I can, I tell them it is their fault and that it is not okay. I am upset with them, and I have the right to be. I am sometimes triggered by these encounters because of how unapologetically cissexist they are.
If a cis person mispronouns me, apologizes, knows it’s a big deal, and owns the fact that they fucked up and have cissexism to work through, I smile. I tell them that yeah, it’s a big deal, but it is not the end of the world, and we can still be friends. I mean it. I am rarely triggered by these encounters."