For the record: this essay is intended to clarify misconceptions about, and to encourage more thoughtful usage of, cis terminology. Anyone who references this piece in their attempts to deny or eliminate use of the term "cis" (and its variants) is clearly misinterpreting or misrepresenting my views.
- The not-the-true-target trope: When cis people are subjected to acts of cissexism (e.g., if they are called a “sissy” or ridiculed for “looking like a tranny”), some trans people will discount that person’s experience by claiming that they were not the true target of cissexism. After all, since such comments insinuate that there is something wrong with, or funny about, being transgender, trans people are the primary intended target of such remarks, whereas the cis person is only indirectly affected.
- The lack-of-history trope: Trans people have long personal histories grappling with societal cissexism. And over time this can have an accumulative effect, whereby we become highly sensitive to and possibly even triggered by cissexist acts, since they exacerbate the oppression we have already faced. In contrast, a cis person who is subjected to a cissexist act will not nearly be as negatively impacted by the incident, as it represents more of an aberration for them rather than part of a continual systemic experience.
- The dabbling trope: unlike trans people (whose gender variance/gender non-conformity is real and authentic), other individuals who behave in a gender-non-conforming manner are merely pretending or “playing” with gender. Because their acts of gender-non-conformity are occasional and frivolous in nature, the oppression they face as a result should not be taken too seriously.
- The tourist trope: people who are not authentically trans may experience instances of cissexism, for instance, related to being partnered to a trans person, or for occasionally dabbling in acts of gender-non-conformity. However, because they are merely “tourists,” they can always stop engaging in such acts (e.g., by leaving their partners, ceasing their “gender play”), thereby escaping cissexism—something that authentic trans people are unable to do.
- The slumming trope: because trans people are sometimes viewed as fascinating, exciting, or radical in certain circles, some people who are not authentically trans themselves may associate with trans people or engage in acts of gender non-conformity in order to appear “edgy” or to obtain “hipster cred.” Because such individuals are merely “appropriators” (rather than authentic trans people) the cissexism they face should not be taken seriously.
- The parodying trope: trans individuals may presume that people who they view as outsiders, or “not trans” in the way that they are, must be purposefully mocking or parodying authentic trans people when they engage in acts of gender non-conformity. Because they are merely parodying trans people, such individuals are pretty much asking for any cissexism they face.
- The infiltrator trope: trans individuals may presume that people who they view as outsiders, or “not trans” in the way that they are, must be purposefully infiltrating their community, most likely for nefarious reasons. Because they are up to no good, such individuals are pretty much asking for any cissexism they may face.