Myths/Cis is a slur

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Myth: 'Cis[gender]' is a slur, deprecatory, deragatory, etc.



  • "I'm sick of being called a transphobe for refusing to accept the word Cis or to share intimate spaces with male-bodied people."[1]
  • "Don’t call me a Cis-Woman because you are a man pretending to be one."[2]
    • This also makes the inaccurate and derogatory Trans women are men claim, probably in a further effort to enrage or upset anyone who disagrees.

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While the majority of these claims are naked assertions without any argument behind them, the "subset of womanhood" argument which comes up from time to time goes beyond arguing that "cis" is problematic and, at least if you follow the logic, rules any term off-limits that distinguishes between cis and trans people of any given gender – thereby basically preventing trans people from being referred to by their correct gender.


"Cis-" is a Latin suffix meaning, basically, "the space on the same side of". It is the opposite of "trans-", which means "the space beyond" or "on the other side of". It came into usage as a way of referring to not-trans people without using other terms that might imply a value judgement, such as "normal".

In socio-political contexts, it is most often short for cisgender, which simply means someone whose gender identity matches their apparent sex – their sex and gender are "on the same side".

A "slur" is an insulting, disparaging, or derogatory term which is both inextricable from its target (it refers to something they cannot change) and unnecessary (it casts the target in a bad light without good reason).

"Cisgender" is a purely descriptive term with origins in academia, and thus fails the "unnecessary" test. There are no known articles in either academia or human-rights spheres suggesting that it might be derogatory, much less explaining how or why, nor does there seem to be any hesitation to use the term within those spheres.

This does not prove, of course, that it can't possibly be derogatory – the science community has been known to embrace harmful terms and ideas before – but it does show that the consensus is that it is acceptable and appropriate, and the burden of proof for showing otherwise currently rests on those who oppose it.

In other words: it's not fair to berate someone for using it until it is compellingly shown to be a problem.

Also, while it's entirely possible that some people do use it in a derogatory way (e.g. "die cis scum"), this no more makes "cis" a derogatory word than "die Jewish scum" would make "Jewish" into a derogatory word; it's the usage that is hostile, not the terminology.


Complaints about use of such a neutral and inoffensive word appear to be nothing more than a diversionary tactic, a way of throwing the discussion off track in order to maintain an atmosphere of hostility and contentiousness around the subject of transgendrity – and therefore to maintain a power base around anti-trans sentiment.

As "cisgender" was coined specifically to remove the stigma from transness, eliminating it from the conversation is also somewhat transparently an attempt to restore that stigma.

(To be fair, it should be noted that many individuals who make such complaints may not realize that they are having this effect, having been emotionally activated around the idea by the rhetoric of others; they are simply spreading a highly infectious meme.)



additional material


  1. private communication with Woozle via Twitter
  2. 2019-09-13 shatta_ute@Twitter