Getting to trans 101

Hi, I’m a cis woman.

Now I’ve told you that, you know that I was classified as female at birth, and that I identify as a woman now.

That’s it.

You don’t know anything about my sexuality, my mental health, my feelings about my appearance or how I dress and present myself.

If you’re trans I expect you know all too well an agonising experience of misgendering I haven’t been through.

That experience is qualitatively different from the body dissonance I’ve almost certainly struggled with under patriarchal expectations.

As I understand it, transsexual people can end or greatly relieve their dissonance by transitioning. For most, nothing else works.

Not even becoming a feminist!

I’d love to talk about how important for feminism the body dissonance and self-destructive behaviours induced by patriarchy are, and how we can understand and tackle that in intersectional praxis, bringing the voices of the marginalised to the centre of the struggle.

But it seems many of us are still not even getting to what seems to me to be the 101 understanding that being trans is not the same as wanting to reject patriarchal gender roles and isn’t the same as the patriarchy-induced bodily self-hatred experienced by cis women. When cis feminists claim that being trans is similar to their own issues with gender roles and body image, to be battled by awareness raising, feminist solidarity, and working to dismantle patriarchal power, they risk undermining hard won trans acceptance and still precarious rights to access transition, which we should be fighting for and upholding.

People can identify as they wish, but suggesting that ‘cis’ means ‘comfortable with my body’ is a basic distortion of the term.

4 thoughts on “Getting to trans 101

  1. Thank you so much for that…it’s an excellent piece. I’ve reblogged it with friends who also got upset (at least in some points) with the unending ‘rejecting-cis’ thing which denies the struggles, and potencies, and intellectual criticity — of course cis-trans is not an essentialist attempt to categorize humans, for instance — of the activisms who sought to denaturalize what was before referred to as ‘biological man/woman’, ‘natural woman/man’.

    cis is simply a term to replace others which, basically, take trans identities as non-natural, non-veritable, non-human.

    1. You’re too kind! Thank you for continuing to point out the error of mistaking the word cis for sexism itself over at Glosswatch. My efforts failed completely to convince anyone = (

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