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July 28, 2019


by Lisa Koenecke

Welcome to the letter “C” in Lisa’s LGBT FAQ A-Z resources blog. Enough letters for you? The word Cisgender was a new term to me, maybe it is a new term for you as well. Let’s explore together!

Cis(gender): Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” (Gale Stone, that’s for you!) A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end.

So, I, Lisa Koenecke identify as cisgender. That is my gender identity. I also identify as a lesbian, that is my sexual orientation because I am attracted to women. Confused? It’s ok if you are, I appreciate your willingness to learn with me. The use of the term cisgender took off around 2010– See, you haven’t missed a lot!

In fact, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary this word, cisgender was added in April 2017.

As the term transgender has become increasingly prominent in the lexicon, a contrasting term has also settled into the language. Cisgender (often shortened to cis) describes someone whose internal sense of gender corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. According to a 2016 New York Times article, it’s estimated that approximately .6 % of people are transgender, so it follows that most people can be described as cisgender. If the pronouncement your mom heard at your birth—It’s a girl! or It’s a boy!—still feels like it was accurate, then you’re cisgender.

Cisgender/Cis is the opposite of transgender. Dang, look at your brain growing! Impressive!

Thanks for taking time to learn about the term Cisgender. Here’s your call to action (CTA): When you are invited to a baby shower, or you have a baby present to give, please think about using neutral colors like green and yellow (Go Packers) rather than pink and blue. Gender reveal parties are all the rage, however, they might box the new human into a binary box. (You’ll learn more about “binary” when we get to the letter G. Stay tuned!) I have pictures of me in dresses and wearing pink…back in the early 1970’s that’s what was done. So, why did I like playing with my GI Joe and my Allis Chalmers tractor? Stay tuned to find out more. #spreadpride


Read more from LGBT Resources A to Z

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