Gender assigned at birth: When using this term, I am referring to the gender that was assigned to a baby when it was born based on its genitals. In some cases, doctors look at other factors (such as gonadal tissue or chromosomes) to “determine” an infant’s gender, but the infant is assigned male or female based on biological features. The baby is usually raised with specific gender roles and presentation based on this assignment.
Cisgender: A cisgender person is a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, a cis woman is a woman who was assigned female at birth. A cis man is a man who was assigned male at birth. Before the term cisgender was created (in the early 1990s), non-trans people were simply considered “normal” in opposition to trans people. Using the term cisgender highlights that being cisgender is not more normal or better than being trans, but simply another way of experiencing gender.
Transgender: A transgender person is a person who identifies with a gender different than the one they were assigned at birth. A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. A trans man is a man who was assigned female at birth. Additionally, there are many trans people who have genders that are outside of the male/female binary. For example, I was assigned female at birth but I am non-binary. Transgender can be used as an umbrella term to encompass many different identities including trans women, trans men, and non-binary identities. It can also be used as a term an individual uses to describe their gender (for example, I often say “I am trans” when describing my gender).
The gender binary: The two gender system in western society of male and female. The gender binary often assumes that male and female are the only gender options.
Non-binary: Any genders outside of the gender binary of male and female. Non-binary can be an umbrella term or a term an individual uses to describe their gender. As an umbrella term, it can include identities such as genderqueer, bigender, pangender, androgyne, neutrois, agender, and genderless, as well as many others.
Misgendering: When a trans person is referred to in a way that does not align with their gender. For example, using the wrong pronouns for a trans person or referring to them with incorrect gendered terms are both forms of misgendering. For me, when someone uses “he” or “she” for me instead of “they,” that is misgendering. Further, when someone calls me a lady, girl, or ma’am, that is also misgendering me as I am not a woman.
Passing: To be perceived as the gender one identifies as.
Cissexism: The conscious or unconscious belief that transgender people are inferior to cisgender people. For example, viewing transness as a phase or mental illness. Juniper Rosso continues that “[c]issexism is closely related to, but distinct from, transphobia and transmisogny. It differs from transphobia in that it is part of a system of oppression (comparable to racism, ageism, and sexism) whereas transphobia more specifically refers to a feeling of disgust or hatred (comparable to xenophobia and homophobia). The terms are, however, sometimes used interchangeably and tend to overlap significantly” (The Queer Dictionary).
Cisnormativity: The many pervasive ways in which cisness is assumed to be the norm and trans lives and experiences are erased. For example, when referring to people who menstruate, it is cisnormative to say “Ladies! Never fear running out of tampons again – check out this cool new product for women!” This is cisnormative because not all women menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are women. Cisnormativity is often based on the assumption that everyone is cis. It ignores the existence of people outside of the cisgender experience, denying them representation or resources.
[Feature Image: A crowd of fair skinned and darker skinned individuals are gathered in a public space outdoors during the daytime. Few in the crowd are holding signs and appear to be listening in. One sign reads”Queer Care.”]