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Notes from a non-cis woman

Sarah Ditum

If cis means not-trans, then I am cis. I have been told repeatedly that cis is a label that belongs on me, and assured by those applying it that it’s not an insult – even while in many cases its use has clearly implied that, as a cis woman, I have certain privileges that preclude me from being listened to on certain issues. What are those privileges? Julia Serano defines the state of being cis as the condition of enjoying agreement between one’s physical sex and “subconscious sex”:

I suppose that when a person feels right in the sex they were born into, they are never forced to locate or question their subconscious sex, to differentiate it from their physical sex. In other words, their subconscious sex exists, but is hidden from view. They have a blind spot.

Julia Serano, Whipping Girl, p. 87

There is no substantial definition of…

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

One response »

  1. Survivorthriver

    I do not welcome the tag “cis” to my biological sex. This trans cult is part of magic thoughts and postulating a trait of personality when needed.

    I remember the writings of Claude Levi-Strauss in undergraduate – a social anthropologist. One of his commentariese was how “marked” and “unmarked” existed and most things female are “marked” such as the addition of wo- to man. Men are “unmarked”, no extraneous tags. It’s been so many years since college now, that I can only leave this small comment. I reject “cis” as a male-manufactured tag on my identity, and I reject that “mark”. Marked are of inferior status to unmarked statuses, but I do not find the reference this morning for that, but, that fits with my felt sense of being called “cis” as a tag to my biological sex.

    Here’s something from the wikipedia on C. L-S. that I thought is still germane to the convo of gender and personal identity:

    “The critical distinction, then, remained: does a social fact exist because it is functional for the social order, or because it is functional for the person? Do uniformities across cultures occur because of organizational needs that must be met everywhere, or because of the uniform needs of human personality?

    For Lévi-Strauss, the choice was for the demands of the social order. He had no difficulty bringing out the inconsistencies and triviality of individualistic accounts. Malinowski said, for example, that magic beliefs come into being when people need to feel a sense of control over events when the outcome was uncertain. In the Trobriand Islands, he found the proof of this claim in the rites surrounding abortions and weaving skirts. But in the same tribes, there is no magic attached to making clay pots even though it is no more certain a business than weaving. So, the explanation is not consistent. Furthermore, these explanations tend to be used in an ad hoc, superficial way–one postulates a trait of personality when needed.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_L%C3%A9vi-Strauss

    Reply

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