I guess, at the very least, interacting with the transphobes can provide a bit of amusement every now and then. Most of the arguments and positions are just the plain old exasperating kind of ridiculous, but every once in a while, you come across ones that are haha ridiculous.
Like “Grr! Stop calling me cis! That’s a slur! Grr!”
I wish it were physiologically possible to roll my eyes as hard as this demands, but sadly I’ll have to settle for less. Right now, I am a profoundly nonplussed emoticon trapped in a human face.
First of all, let’s just clarify the etymology here, because most of these people seem to have never taken an organic chemistry class (and brace yourselves for yet another hilariously bad argument that yes, people really do make):
“Cis” is NOT etymologically derived from the same supposedly violent root as “homocide”/”suicide” and “incision”/ “excision”/ “precise”. So cut out that idiotic urban myth right the fuck now. It is from the latin prefix “cis”, meaning “on the same side”, which has an EXTREMELY well-lived convention as a value-neutral antonym to the prefix “trans”, meaning (in this context), “across”. Like cis-acting molecules and trans-acting molecules.
So it pretty much just means “not trans”. Unless you want to argue that being called “not trans” is some kind of awful, demeaning thing (and please do, because there’s a chance I’d be extremely sympathetic to anyone arguing that trans people are so bloody fabulous that anyone reminding you you aren’t one of us is some horribly triggering insult), you don’t really have much of a leg to stand on here. They’re on the exact same semantic level.
(and that’s kind of the point… you know, specifically having a term that isn’t value-loaded. That’s what “cis” is there for)
Now, sometimes this is where the cis (OH NOES! Sorry!!!) people may start whining about external labeling, that they didn’t choose the term, that groups have the right to self-define the terms that describe them, that we’re forcing it on them, etc. Okay… take a deep breath, because this might come as a bit of a shock: we didn’t choose “transsexual” for ourselves either.
Kind of sucks, having terms you’re not necessarily comfortable with being imposed externally, does it? Feels a bit uncomfortable to have to articulate your gender within some kind of larger framework, where you’re not being accepted as unqualified, or treated as simply “normal”, simply who you are?
This is the world’s tiniest person doing the “world’s tiniest violin playing just for you” thing just for you:
Deal with it.
After all, you keep expecting us to deal with it. That and much, much, much more.
And you know? This isn’t about self-definition. When you try to “self-define” the terms for cis, which is also conceptually categorized as simply “not trans”, you’re not defining some particular location in some particular generally recognized set of genders. You’re definitively positioning yourself in relation to us. There is never a circumstance in which a cis person needs to call hirself cis (or zyspolak, or combritariolo, or whatever the hell you want to “self-define”) except when it’s semantically necessary to position oneself in relationship or contrast to trans people. This is not about a particular identity wanting the right to choose their own labels. It’s about a privileged, oppressive majority wanting to be able to control the conceptual frameworks around the disadvantaged other, and not wanting to cede even the tiniest square centimeter of linguistic ground. “How DARE you uppity trannies try to take any part in the language we’ve built around you! How DARE you challenge our right to semantically Other you and position ourselves as so thoroughly privileged that it’s impossible to even mention our existence without conceding that we’re the normal, superior, biological, real ones and you’re not!”
No sympathy for whatever silly, arrogant, privileged distaste you’ve got for the term, born of your ridiculously overinflated sense of entitlement around gender and your “right” to take it for granted. NONE. Like remember House of Leaves? And the big, impossibly immense empty spaces in the House? That were, like, deeper than the Earth itself? And kept expanding? That’s how empty whatever part of me you expect to sympathize with this argument is.
And I mean, come on, for fuck’s sake, do you have any recognition of how hard we’ve gone out of our way to not be bitches about all this stuff? How hard we have worked to be respectful in this discourse, despite the COMPLETELY MONSTROUS AND UNFORGIVABLE ATROCITIES you all repeatedly and continuously enact against us? I mean, by all rights, we should be self-immolating like Tibetan monks in front of your Womyn-Born-Womyn festivals and Bathroom Bill debates. The way you’ve treated us would make almost any level of anger, vehemence and disgust contextually understandable. But still we work to maintain civility and compassion and reason. We still limit our “extremist” acts of self-empowerment and radicalism to symbolic threats, there’s still been no incident of any trans person ever unleashing her anger in the form of unprovoked violence towards a cis person, we still bite our tongues and try to hint and politely suggest that we’d, you know, if it’s not too much trouble, rather you didn’t misgender us, or ask us about our genitals within five minutes of meeting us, or “kindly” tell us how you’d totally be “willing” to fuck us. Pretty please. With estrace on top.
And we still, when trying to reclaim the vocabulary for ourselves, deliberately avoid using a disparaging or hostile term for you. We pick the most basic, respectful, neutral, non-loaded term we can possible find.
And how do you react to our utterly unbelievably saint-like patience with you? To the fact that you, unlike all other privileged majorities, do not have a hostile, derogatory term used by those you’ve oppressed to describe you?
You complain about it anyway.
So fuck you. Here’s how this is going to work: I’ve figured out a solution, with a little help from my friend DJ Capelis. We’ve settled on a derogatory slur for you. “Grues”. Short (read: infantilizing) for “Gender Congruent”.
(and also because you have a habit of killing us after it gets dark)
So from now, whenever I’m having one of those days where I hate people like you, and want nothing to do with you whatsoever, and would rather just run off to some kind of magical Trans Island and never have to put up with your bigotry, ignorance, dehumanization, ridicule or omnipresent threat ever again, I’m going to just call you ‘grues’. Fucking stupid grues. Called me “dude”? Grue asshole. Getting defensive when I express annoyance with an act of supposedly ‘accidental’ misgendering? Whiny, entitled grue. Casually joking about male anatomy in front of a trans guest at my party, immediately after she arrives? Naive, oblivious, insensitive grues. Etc.
That way, although if you’re white and male and straight and such you’ll still NEVER know what it feels like to be the subject of an actual hate-loaded slur, one associated with violence, murder and systemic oppression, at least you’ll have some sense of the difference between “slur” and “value-neutral latin prefix”. And if we’re lucky, you’ll come to have at least a little appreciation for us having had the patience, kindness and sense of respect (even for a group whose boot has been on our necks our whole lives) to refer to you by the latter of the two.