What Is Cis-Gender?

Photo credit: Elephant Gun Studios

Photo credit: Elephant Gun Studios

Gender identity is one of those overlooked concepts in sex education and yet is a basic part of our sexual lives. It influences how we dress, what roles we play in relationships and, to a large extent, what we’re attracted to sexually.

So why not incorporate discussions of gender identity within the framework of safer sex? Here, Robin Mandell reviews a gender category that is at the early stages of officialdom: “cisgender”.

The term “cisgender” can be thought of as the linguistic complement to “transgender”.  Since it was first coined in the 1990s, “cisgender” has slowly seeped out of the confines of academia jargon into mainstream language. On Facebook, for example, you can now tick off “cismale” or “cisfemale” (or variations of) as your gender.   In Germany, birth certificates now have four categories to choose from: “cismale”, “cisfemale”, “intersex”, and “indeterminate”.

Simply put, the term refers to people who feel their assigned sex at birth matches their gender identity. However, as Robin Mandell explains in this article, the “cis” category is more complicated than simply being aligned with one’s genitals.

This article was originally published at robinstoynest.com

BY ROBIN MANDELL | ReadySexyAble.com

…A cisgender person, or a cisman or ciswoman, is someone who feels themselves to be, and lives as, the same gender they were identified as having at birth. So, a ciswoman would have been identified as a girl at birth, raised as a girl, thought of herself as a girl, and thinks of herself as a woman, or lady, or whatever is her preference, in adulthood.

We’ve been using the Latin prefix trans, meaning through, across, other, and so on, for a while, to talk about people who are transgender, or a person who is a transman, or a transwoman, et cetera, et cetera.

A transgender person is someone whose experience of their own gender, their gender identity, doesn’t line up with the gender they were assigned when they were born.

Complex? In many ways, yes, in many ways no. . This business of there being two clearly defined genders, and that whichever gender you are, that gender remains static your whole life, feels more unnatural to me the more I learn.

Kate Bornstein, in her pivotal book Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us, points out that babies are given a gender identity via a quick glance at their genitals to determine their sex. I don’t know about you, but that seems awfully simple for an identity that’s with us our whole lives. Other identities we’re given come and go as we grow, change, and establish (then sometimes reinvent) our place in the world. People don’t insist that our occupation remain the same, that our fashion sense never change, that our bodies and how we deal with them remain static our whole lives. There’s even—most of the time—minimal resistance to people changing their names (the most common examples of this are people ditching a diminutive like Sammy or Becky, or taking their partner’s name after marriage). Why shouldn’t gender identity be more flexible.

I’m getting ahead of myself though….

Continue reading the full article at robinstoynest.com

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ROBIN MANDELL is a healthy sexuality and disability rights advocate based in the Washington D.C. area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Queen’s University in Canada and a Professional Writing Certificate from Washington State University. Over the years, Robin has amassed extensive experience working with people at vulnerable times of their lives, both as a crisis hotline worker and a sexuality and relationships education advocate with Scarleteen. She’s discovered that disability issues receive significantly less attention in academia and social justice movements than they’re due. She has developed a passion for starting dialogues on sex, disability and accessibility, and has come to the realization that, as much as she just wants to be like everybody else, she can use her visible reality as a blind woman to start these dialogues.Robin blogs on disabilities, sexualities, and the connections between them at ReadySexyAble.com and has published articles on various sexuality and sexual health topics at Scarleteen and Fearless press