Transgenderism has stolen the headlines throughout 2015, but many people do not realise it has a shy twin. If you do not identify as Transgender you are Cisgender. Did you know? The concept of Cisgender lives mainly within the shadows of academia but is perhaps the single most powerful way to illustrate how and why the ideology named Gender affects everybody’s legal status.
To get to know Cisgender we first need to know the difference between sex and gender. There are many opinions as to what the phrase ‘gender identity’ means: is it an inner sense of one’s sexual identity? Is it connected to the socialisation of sexual difference? The only opinion that matters is the State’s, for an idea which has the weight of law behind it is destined to affect the lives of all of us. Each person is one of two physical, non-interchangeable sexes (Male and Female), whereas the State says genders are non-physical, are legally superior to sex, and can be changed (‘re-assigned’). This information is sufficient for our purpose despite not telling us what a gender is.
By virtue of being non-physical, genders are infinite in number, yet among their number are one named Man and one named Woman. Cue mass confusion. Gender uses body words to denote states of mind (learning to ‘read’ gender is like learning to read mirror-writing), so when the State says a Man can be a Woman, it is not even lying. Hidden behind the curtain named Language, sex has been ushered off the legal stage.
For as long as our legal identity was the recognition of our sex, we could only legally be one identity. But our legal identity has now been liberated from our sex - and that changes everything. John (male-sexed) legally identifies through the name Female, as does Joan (female-sexed). It seems as though John is ‘legally female despite physically male’ and that Joan is ‘legally female because physically female’, but how can this be so, given that there is only one legal definition of Female? John legally has to be female in the same way that Joan is, meaning Joan legally has to be female in the same way that John is. In Joan’s case Female signifies her sex, but changing John’s sex is beyond the power of the State. His femaleness exists only as a state of mind - a gender. So, given that John cannot legally be female-sexed, there is only one way to make his legal status equal to Joan’s: Joan is ‘de-naturalized’ in law; downgraded so that her femaleness too is understood to be a state of mind.
As an analogy, consider twin sisters Sara and Tara. Each of them has two ‘age identities’ - an Is age and a Looks age. Sara is 30 and looks 30, whereas Tara is 30 but looks 25. If the State were to register Tara’s Looks age only, she would be legally 25 despite physically 30. Because of a difference between her identities we could describe Tara as trans-aged. But if the State ignores Tara’s Is age it must ignore everybody’s Is age and replace it with their Looks age - Sara ceases to be ‘legally 30 because physically 30’ and becomes ‘legally 30 despite physically 30’. Because of the sameness of her identities we could describe her as cis-aged.
John is Transgender - legally Female (gender) despite physically Male (sex). His identities contain two different names, Female and Male, but also two meanings, and therefore no contradictions. Despite her identities sharing the same name, Female, Joan’s identities also contain two meanings. Joan is legally Female (gender) despite physically Female (sex). Joan is Cisgender. From this we can see that neither Transgender nor Cisgender represent something a person can be. They represent relationships, between a person’s physical and legal identity. The State has abandoned the sex binary (Male and Female), but has succeeded only in replacing it with a brand new binary - the sex-gender binary of Transgender (Difference) and Cisgender (Sameness).
The notion of Joan somehow being ‘female despite female’ is so alien that it is worth approaching in a variety of ways, firstly through the idea of Choice. In order for a choice to exist there must be at least two things to choose between - if John’s two cars are blue he has no choice as to which colour car to drive, whereas he would have that choice if he owned a blue car and a red car. It is not possible to change sex, so it is not possible for John to choose to do so. But it is possible to re-assign gender, so it is possible for John to choose to do so - and therefore possible for Joan to choose not to do so. Cisgender is not a by-product of Transgender. Rather, Cisgender and Transgender are the binary possibilities arising from the legal shift from fixed sex to fluid gender. John might believe himself to be Transgender but the State says he has merely chosen to take advantage of the legal absence of his sex and that Joan has chosen not to: if everybody takes advantage everybody is Transgender; if nobody takes advantage everybody is Cisgender. Transgenderism, then, is not the problem. The problem is the ideology named Gender, with nobody having a legal sex and everybody having a legal gender.
Another way to grasp Cisgender is to think of the relationship between actors and roles. Suppose John stars in a film, playing the role of Jane. Joan appears in the same film, as herself, Joan. Although Joan is being herself, she is being herself in a film. Gender says each of us is staring in a film named Law, and we get to choose our role. John has chosen to play Female. Joan might well think she is still legally being herself (Female sex) but the State says she is playing herself. It is just that her character is named Female (gender). Cisgender can also be viewed in terms of License. Because a car exists as a physical object, it would be possible to own a car even if man-made law did not exist. But by their nature, licences acquire their validity by virtue of having been issued by an authority. We cannot own a car licence independent of the State. The ideology named Gender can be seen as a kind of identity licensing scheme through which we can access any identity bar our sexual identity.
We do not need legal permission to have a sexual identity, whereas John cannot be Transgender independent of the State. And if John’s status as Female exists in the form of a legally-permitted state of mind, so too does Joan’s. Transgender signifies that which we can now have (a legal identity which does not represent our sex) whereas Cisgender signifies that which we cannot now have - a legal identity which does represent our sex. This isn’t about the 1%. A movement which cloaks itself in the flags of freedom and choice has legally projected an un-chosen label onto the 99%. Did you know?