Redefining Transsexual/Cissexual & Transgender/Cisgender
October 2, 2008
So, there are two standard definitions of transgender:
1)A person who violates gender norms
2)A person who identifies as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
#2 is also one definition of transsexual, which has another standard definition:
3)A person who transitions, particularly a person who modifies hir body in ways related to transition (both medical body mod & other).
All three of these have their ups and downs. I’m no longer interested (as I used to be), in having one, monolithic definition of these terms. There are different things we mean by them, different things to illuminate.
But, I need to add another pair of definitions:
4)transgender: a person whose self-determination of hir gender is regularly invalidated/undermined by hir society.
(cisgender: a person whose self-determination of hir gender is generally validated and upheld by hir society.)
5)transsexual: a person whose self-determination of hir sex is invalidated/undermined by legal, political, scientific, medical, & religious institutions (et al). (and through which society & individuals at large)
(Cissexual: a person whose self-determination of hir sex is validated and upheld by legal, political, scientific, medical, and religious institutions.)
In a world where my self-determined gender and sex were totally validated by my society I can no longer imagine transgender and transsexual being meaningful terms anymore; I’d still be a transitioner, I’d still use this technology, but almost all of my current experiences as a trans person would be gone. If I’d never been coercively gendered/sexed at all, my use of estrogen & spiro might not even be about transition, because there’d’ve been no “male” to transition from–and ‘transition’ itself would become vastly different.
So, yes, in one sense trans people wouldn’t exist in my utopia. But in another sense, it’s the distinction between trans and cis, the rigid wall that would be torn down and no longer exist. Gender coercion would no longer exist, and with it would go subversive gender, gender deviance, ‘gender variance’ (to be replaced by genders 3-400+), transphobia, misogyny, etc etc.