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"Cisgender" (IPA: [sɪs dʒɛn dɝ]) is a neologism in queer studies meaning "not transgender," that is, a gender identity or performance in a gender role that society considers to match or be appropriate for one's sex. The Latin prefix cis- means "on this side of" or "not across" (cf. cisalpine, cisatlantic, cislunar, cismontane, etc.).


The term was probably created by Carl Buijs, a transsexual man from the Netherlands, in 1995. Along with the less commonly used cissexual, it originated as a way to shift the focus off of a marginalized group, by defining not only the minority group but also the majority. This is based upon the hypothesis that categorizing everyone will illustrate a difference between equal alternatives, whereas singling out the minority group implies some deviance, immorality, or defect on the part of the labeled group. Some transgender people hope that the use of the word cisgender will increase mainstream acceptance and eventually remove the taboos. Others point out that the term heterosexual is very widely used but seems to have done little for the gay rights movement. However, prior to 1995, there was no standard word used to describe non-transgender people without the use of negative prefixes while still avoiding terms like "normal", "born" or "genetic" (women or men).

Current usage

Many (particularly transsexual-inclusive) communities use the term "non-transsexual" or "non-trans", perhaps because the more scientific-sounding term "cisgendered" has not yet gained popularity or widespread usage in everyday English. Other groups, however, consider it inappropriate to define any group by what they are not.

Many transgender people prefer "cisgender" to "biological", "genetic", or "real" male or female because of the implications of those words. Using the term "biological female" or "genetic female" to describe cisgendered individuals excludes transgendered men, who also fit that description. To call a cisgendered woman a "real woman" is exclusive of transwomen, who are considered within their communities to be "real" women, also.

The word is rarely used by people outside communities concerned with transgender issues, and thus, it is not often used to self-identify, although its meaning does accurately describe a (probably little-considered) aspect of their identities. On the other hand, because so few people who are described by this term use it to self-identify, it can sometimes be thought of as an epithet.

Other usage

Transgendered individuals are sometimes called trannies as a term of disparagement, and clipping cisgender in the same way creates the ironic pun cissies, a play off the derogative term sissy.


See also

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