Workshop > Cis... or Not?
Sep 28

Cis... or Not?

What does Cis mean?

To be cis (cisgender) means that your gender identity matches the gender you were assigned at birth. That means that when you were born, the doctors said "this child is female based on physical features," and you identify as female. Most people are cisgender, but that does not mean that all people are cisgender.

Being cisgender can sometimes make it hard to understand non-cis folks. You do not struggle to understand your gender, and neither do other people. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being cis, or having a hard time understand not being cis. What is important is that if you are cis, you try your absolute hardest to understand non-cis people. Always use people's preferred pronouns, no matter how strange they seem to you, and always use people's preferred names. We'll get to the importance of that later.

If you want some more clarification and to understand the etymology of the word "cisgender" check out this video:


What Does Being Transgender Mean?

Transgender is a word you have probably encountered in your internet escapades, but it is a word you might not have a good definition for. Being trans means that your gender assigned at birth does not match your gender identity. Being trans does not mean that you have undergone surgery, which we will discuss a little bit later.

Some more terminology:
  • FTM means female to male trans person
  • MTF means male to female trans person
  • AFAB means assigned female at birth
  • AMAB means assigned male at birth
  • Transwoman/transfemale means a person who identifies as female but whose gender assigned at birth was male.
  • Transman/transmale means someone who identifies as male but whose gender assigned at birth was female.
  • Transsexual is an older (outdated) term to refer to someone who is transgender.
  • Some more helpful terms

It might not seem like an important distinction, but it is. There are trans folks who are also genderqueer/non-binary. By only having FTM/MTF, they are not included. They will have been assigned female or male at birth, and they will be trans, but they will not be transitioning to a male or a female identity. By having the terms AFAB/AMAB, they are able to say that what their gender at birth was without forcing themselves into the binary of male/female.

Is Cis Considered Queer?

Being cisgendered is not considered to be a queer identity, because cisgender folks have not needed to fight to have their gender recognized as a valid identity. This does not mean that cis folks cannot be queer, because there is a whole host of sexual/romantic identities that cis folks can have. The only identity that cannot be considered queer is being heterosexual, heteroromantic, and cisgender (these folks CAN be allies, which means someone who supports and fights for LGBTQ+ rights despite not being LGBTQ+ themselves).

Closing Activity

Do a seven (or more) minute write on your thoughts at this moment. Is this information new to you? Is it old hat? Are you more confused than when you arrived? Are there (respectful) questions you would like answered?

Have you ever tried writing a trans character without really knowing what you were getting into? Revisit that piece of writing if possible, and describe what you would now do differently.