I recently had an exchange with a few reddit MRA’s about gender terminology. One reddior in response to a post about accepting gay men into the MRA, something I support 100%, mentioned that we also needed to invite trans people as-well as cis-gendered people. My comment is and it’s responses here.
Before I dive in to why I think terms like cis-gendered need to be rejected I will talk about feminism. One of feminism’s core ideas is that gender is a social construct in other words, in a feminist conception of reality gender and gender roles are independent from the biological sex of an individual. This is such a part of feminism that you can’t have one without the other. It is the idea that allows feminists to say that they are not opposing men, just “traditional masculinity.” Naturally if gender is just a social construct then male bodied men could reject masculinity, or reshape it to become more acceptable to feminist sensibilities. It should be noted that feminists have also contradicted themselves on this point multiple times.
So what’s the problem with this view of gender? Simply, most people don’t experience their gender as disembodied. In other words the majority of men and women alike experience their gender as inextricably linked to their physiological gender. Feminists say this is just because they were raised a certain way, but that is false, the suicide of David Reimer and other other boys like him shows that even when someone is raised as the other gender they feel wrong, and often end up with psychological problems.
Back to the point of this post, why is cis-gendered such a horrible term? Cis-gendered is a word that means someones physiological gender is matches their psychological gender. Basically I am a cis man, meaning that I am a male bodied man. As cis women would be a female bodied woman. The problem is that as I have pointed out above, gender and physiology are linked, even in people who are trans-gendered they are trans-gendered because they are physiologically different they did not choose to be trans-gendered, they just are. When someone says that someone is cis-gendered their saying more than their just a male bodied male or a female bodied female, their saying that gender is separate from physiology, that for instance I as a man have chosen to be masculine and that if I wanted to I could choose to be different. That’s as insulting to me as it would be to tell a gay person that being gay is a choice. Or telling a trans-gendered person that they could choose not to be trans-gendered. Because, quite simply, I don’t experience gender as separate from my body, and I am not alone in that experience. Does that mean trans people are wrong? No! It means that they are physiologically different, and those differences are what make them trans.
Finally it was stated in the comments above that “I don’t need to label myself cis-gendered” it’s a term that is only there to help trans people identify people like us (presumably non-trans-gendered). But that is just as bad. I don’t want anyone to define me aside from myself, and I doubt that if you were to ask a bunch of trans people “do you like being defined by others?” that any of them would say yes.
The problem with words like cis-gendered is deeper than just not liking the term. Cis-gendered is part of a system of gender categorization based upon the false assumption that gender is independent from physiological sex and is used to promote the idea that a man could be better if he just choose a different gender role. This is misandry like any other, it’s a way of subjugating men by sex and claiming that because they don’t choose a different gender they are even more evil than the would be had they not known better. Because a man who doesn’t know he can choose his gender can’t be fully accountable for his supposed patriarchal nature, but a self identified cis-gendered man not only knows that he is evil but chooses to stay evil. That I find offensive.