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On cis/trans* dichotomies

A succinct rumination on trans subjects, & the tensions in terminology.

feminist academic collective

Nicki Smith

cisgenderAnne Enke‘s ‘The Education of Little Cis’ is a piece on trans* theory that I keep on turning to. I use the terms cisgender, cisprivilege, cisnormative etc. because I believe that naming stuff is an important part of resisting it, but I also worry about the risk of reproducing neat binaries between ‘cis’ and ‘trans’. Two of my favourite-ever feminist scholars, Laura Shepherd and Laura Sjoberg, have written: ‘Cisprivilege means never being asked if you’re sure you’re in the right rest-room, never fearing that you’ll spend a night in a jail-cell after a routine traffic stop because your gender performance doesn’t match your ID’. This brings to life very powerfully the violences and oppressions that trans* people face across the world every single day, and it brings to light the everyday privileges that cis people experience too.  But I think it’s also important to consider how being or feeling ‘trans*’ doesn’t always mean…

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