Since Alex Blaze took it on, & since we’ve been discussing this whole “is it okay to call someone who isn’t trans cisgender?” question on the boards, I may as well put it down here.
First, I’m going to claim a difference between cisgender & cissexual. Cisgender, the problem seems to me, is not the easy opposite of transgender. Cisgender implies, or means, or could mean (depending on who you talk to), that someone’s sex and gender are concordant. So your average butch woman, who is not trans, or is, depending on how she feels about it (see Bear Bergman), is now somehow cisgender. So is someone like me. So is a femme-y gay man who maybe performs a more gender normative masculinity for his job. That is, those of us who have variable genders, who maybe are gender fluid or gender neutral but who don’t identify as trans, are now somehow cisgender.
& Honestly, that’s bullshit. There’s a reason I use GVETGI to describe myself = Gender Variant Enough To Get It, is what it stands for.
So there’s the first issue, that “cis” may stand for “cisgender” and it may stand for “cissexual” but no one knows for sure which it is when it’s abbreviated. Crossdressers, for instance, are cissexual but they’re not cisgender. For instance.
Then there’s that little usage/connotation/denotation problem.
Telling me, & other partners whose lives are profoundly impacted by the legal rights / cultural perceptions of trans people, that we are “not trans” implies that we are also not part of the trans community. I’ve been saying for years now that we are. When trans people are killed, harassed, not hired, fired due to discrimination, denied health care, etc. etc. etc., their loved ones suffer along with them. Their families, their lovers, their kids especially. We are not just “allies.” We are vested, dammit, & a part of the trans community, so when “cisgender” comes to mean, or is used to mean, “not part of the trans community,” we are once again left out in the dark.
(Somehow, I can’t help thinking of the muggles & mudbloods of Harry Potter, here. Partners are the equivalent of the kids born to magical families who are not themselves magical. In the books & movies, they are part of the magical community, & without question. Ahem.) More