Cisgender: Types of gender identity where an individual’s experience of their own gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender (often abbreviated to simply cis) describes related types of gender identity perceptions, where individuals’ experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth. Sociologists Kristen Schilt and Laurel Westbrook define cisgender as a label for “individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity”. They see cisgender as a complement to transgender.
There are a number of derivatives of the terms in use, including cis male for “male assigned male at birth”, cis female for “female assigned female at birth”, analogously “cis man” and “cis woman”, as well as cissexism (or “cissexual assumption” or “cisnormativity”).
If Trans People Said The Stuff Cisgender People Say
Let’s get one thing straight: The Oxford English Dictionary describes the word “cisgender” as an adjective and defines it as “Denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender.”
Beginning a feature with the “dictionary definition” of a subject goes against every lesson drilled into a prospective journalist’s head in J-school, but in this instance, it’s necessary. Because alongside the stratospheric rise in media visibility for transgender people comes the all-too-predictable pushback from those who are uncomfortable with change or those who claim the term is yet another unnecessary label that only serves to divide us, spotlighting our differences.