I have witnessed or read of a number of cissexist micro- (and macro-) aggressions lately that have bothered me to the point that I’m just going to spill them all out.
- Since Caitlyn Jenner – a rich white conservative Republican woman – has made statements that she likes Ted Cruz and that Donald Trump would be “very good for women’s issues,” cissexist people who (understandably) hate her views have misgendered and deadnamed her in response. Many of these people likely consider themselves to be liberal or even progressive, yet think it’s OK to strip someone they don’t like of their authentic identity.
- Since filmmaker Lilly Wachowski was harassed into outing by The Daily Mail, Chelsea Manning has come forward to say that she too was outed without her permission. This hit me especially hard as I announced my own transition the day after I learned about Manning’s, and didn’t realize at the time that she was not consulted about the timing of her own revelation.
- In a recent conversation with a US-American woman who had lived in India for several years, I mentioned that the country was the first to grant legal recognition to non-binary people: The hijra. (Though I noted the sad irony of a country being progressive on trans issues while still criminalizing homosexuality.) The woman spoke of hijras positively, but referred to them as “men dressed as women.” I explained that they are not men, they are hijras; that was, in fact, the point of the law recognizing them as a “third gender.” She said that she meant “genitally.” I knew she didn’t mean any harm, but I was very upset by this all-too-common statement of biological essentialism.
During the question period of the talk with Julia Serano this week, I asked her how we could best counter transphobic bathroom bills. I mentioned that I used the word “transphobic” rather than “cissexist” here consciously, because these legislators are creating a climate of hatred and fear, specifically to paint trans women as sexual predators. She seemed optimistic, especially in the wake of the South Dakota veto, that cis people are starting to “get” trans people, and push back against this discrimination. I am not so sure.
Since the year 2013, not a day has gone by that the gender binary has not been foremost on my mind. If you’re cis, I hope you appreciate what a privilege it is to be able to ignore it.