What the heck is ‘cisgender’?

Apparently, it’s me. I’m cisgender. 

Oh ok, um, here I was living many decades as a woman and lo and behold it turns out I’m not just a woman. I’m a cisgender woman. 

Well thanks for letting me know. 

Where does this phrase come from? The transgender community. That’s right, folks, the advent of transgender sexuality being accepted in our society means I must prescribe to a new label, chosen and thrust upon me by other people. Other people.

Y’know, I can think of quite a few imposed labels that are nothing short of horribly offensive, because people just love other people giving them labels, don’t they? Goes down a treat. 

It comes from the Latin ‘cis’ meaning the same side of, presumably in response to the Latin ‘trans’ meaning the other side of. If we have transgender then we must have cisgender… Logical right? Well, no, not in my opinion. 

I was doing just peachy with ‘woman’ from the Old English ‘wimman’ which means (literally) woman-man. Not a contraction of wombed man, as I had been led to believe many years ago. 

I have watched so many discussions about gender and it’s many permutations recently and it still leaves me baffled. 

To be clear, I have zero problem with transgender people. What anyone chooses to do with their body is up to them, I hold no judgement and I vehemently disagree with violence or abuse levelled at any human being, regardless of skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, clothing choices, or anything. Abuse is always wrong. 

However I do feel that in my acceptance and embracing of another’s differences it seems that I also need to bow down to a new label that I didn’t ask for (and had no say in choosing) and some behaviors that I find utterly incomprehensible to adhere to in all circumstances. 

Why does anyone need to know what sex I was born? They don’t. I am a woman. I was born a woman and I identify as a woman. Woman. I have a womb, I have ovaries and I have grown an entire human being inside my female body. Woman. Easy. 

If you are a man who has decided to change your genitalia, through surgery, you are a transgender woman. Not a woman. This is why we do not need the label cisgender woman. There are women and transgender women. 

Yes, you believe that you identify as a woman. That’s fine by me. But, if I am honest (and I always am), I don’t know how you know that. You have not lived as a woman from birth, you do not own a womb, or ovaries, and you do not have the same experiences that I did as a female child, as a young woman through puberty, as a pregnant woman, as a wife, or a mother. You have an idea of womanhood, as I have a idea of manhood. The harsh truth of this is that neither you or I can actually experience the the reality of being the opposite sex, not the good, the bad or the downright horrendous. 

We just can’t. No matter how much we may want to. It is actually scientifically impossible. 

I cannot accept that you are a woman. Because you are not a woman. You are a man who (in varying degrees) dresses like a woman or takes female hormones, even has had surgery to construct a vagina, but, and here is the rub, owning a vagina does not make you a woman. To assume so insults and dimishes the struggle of women all over the world and reduces us to merely the owners of a specific set of genitalia. Who the profanity are you to do that to us?  

Apart from that I am watching more and more people get utterly berated for ‘misgendering’ (whatever that is), “Ask for the correct pronouns!” You shout, “it’s only polite.”, but it isn’t. If you are walking past someone at the park on a sunny Sunday morning and you look like a man to the person who, with all the best intentions for kindness, says “morning, mate.” You have not been misgendered. That’s how you appear to the person who has clapped eyes on you for all of 3 minutes, perhaps less. I can be fairly confident that they didn’t, in that 3 minutes, see you, wonder what gender you are, discover you are transgender and the deliberately decide to use the word ‘mate’ instead of ‘madam’, they were probably just wondering what they were going to have for Sunday dinner:

…Beef or lamb. Hmm, I have some rosemary in the fridge, ooh jogger, “morning mate”, lamb I reckon, crikey that bloke in the pink joggers just gave me a right funny look, no, beef, I have a jar of wholegrain mustard in the cupboard.”

You are not that important to the rest of the world. Let’s put it like this, our son has long hair and gets called ‘she’ and ‘her’ all the time. It’s actually quite normal for us. Because he knows he’s male, he identifies with male, he was born male – which is more in formation than you need to know – he doesn’t care. He understands that having long hair means that occasionally people will mistake him for a girl. He knows they aren’t trying to be cruel. It’s a mistake. It happens.

I get that what a transgender person is doing is physical and therefore visual but you cannot expect total strangers to gender you correctly if your name is Janet but you look like Bob. Yes, if you get a chance to meet people and explain, politely that actually your name is Janet now and you’d rather be called ‘she’, then all is good. But what happens when people don’t have the time or, let’s face it, enough interest in your plight? They may call you ‘sir’. Oh well, you will live. It isn’t outrageous. It’s a mistake.

There are two sexes. Male and female. Whether you choose to believe that gender is fluid, non binary or even non existent you still cannot jump into the role of woman by the arbitrary markers of dress, choice of hairstyle or genitals.

Be who you want to be but please do not label me to legitimise your own label, do not expect the world and her mother to seek out your approval in all areas of life because we have things in our lives too that are more important to us than your pronouns and often we aren’t even thinking about your genitals. I am not cisgender, I am a woman. Do not call yourself woman if you are a transgender woman, your experience of woman is not and never will be a woman’s experience so please stop belittling us by insisting that you are the same.

You are not.

Lol Jude.

Feel free to use the comments to discuss, we are genuinely interested in hearing your opinions.