Cisgender is not a Slur

Stop being offended by a simple descriptor

Grayson Bell
3 min readOct 4, 2019

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Photo by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash

I have used, and will continue to use, the term cisgender in my writing. It does surprise me how some people will berate me for using it, as if it is a slur against people who aren’t transgender. Let’s start by defining the term.

Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The use of the word cisgender is just a means to differentiate between people who are transgender and those who are not. It’s never been meant as a slur or to be offensive. It’s used for clarity of language.

Why Cis-?

If we look at the Latin root of the prefixes being added to the word gender, trans- and cis-, it makes the usage of cisgender clear.

Trans- means on the other side of, while cis- means on the same side of. This is why we use the term transgender for people whose gender identity is on the other side of, or different, from their biological sex. It then stands to reason we would use the prefix cis- and form the word cisgender for people whose gender identity is on the same side of, or merely the same, as their biological sex.

Why the Term Cisgender is Considered Offensive

I’ve seen a number of arguments regarding the term cisgender, which people have used to explain why they find the term offensive.

Belief that the Concept of Gender Identity does not Exist

Across various social media platforms, I have seen people state outright that they simply do not believe that the concept of gender identity, or even gender in general, exists at all. They insist that people should only be defined by their biology. This often ignores people who are born intersex and don’t fall neatly into the sex binary of people only being male or female, but that’s a topic for another day.

Not Wanting an Imposed Identity

J Nelson Aviance argues that we shouldn’t be imposing identities on people, and refuses to accept the label cisgender. People like him are…

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Grayson Bell

An autistic, gay, transgender man writing queer fiction and about LGBTQ issues, focused on the transgender community. (He/Him) http://graysonbell.net/