I Am NOT Cisgendered

Originally published at The Huffington Post

I am NOT “cisgendered.” I reject that label. Why? From what I’ve read, “cisgendered” is a label that began in academic discourse as a way of describing people who weren’t trans. But the meaning of it was akin to what we might call “normatively gendered.” That means your gender identity is within a limited range of what society considers to be acceptably “normal.” Normative is a word of negation and resistance. It rejects the boundaries delineated as “normal” by illustrating their discursive construction, i.e. not essential. However, while “cisgendered” operates within a broader language of gender as a means of description, it is also prescriptive and limiting. The reason I place it in quotations is because it sets up a binary that is antithetical to the purpose for which it is employed in popular discourse. If gender isn’t binary, if it is fluid and can transgress boundaries, than a binary between cisgender and transgender cannot exist. If it does, then we must delineate what “real” transgender or “true” transgender means, and who is allowed to inhabit it.

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