Cisgender and Straight Don’t Mean the Same Thing — Here’s Why
The word “cis” means “on the same side.” It refers to someone who identifies with their biological gender (i.e., they were born with male or female reproductive organs). Some people use it as a way to refer to themselves without using pronouns such as he/him/his, she/her/hers, etc.
Others use it to refer to others when referring to them by name.
In other words, if I say “I’m going out,” you might hear me referred to as a cisgendered individual. If I say “Heather’s coming over tonight,” you might hear me referred to as a cisgendered individual. But if Heather says she’s coming over at 8:00 p.m., then we’re talking about different individuals, not the same one!
Some people prefer to avoid the term because they feel it implies that all cis people are heterosexual. However, there are many gay men and lesbians who identify as cisgendered. And some straight women do too!
So why not just call them straight? Isn’t that what they want?
Well, no…and here’s why.
Are You Straight?
Many straight people don’t like the term “straight.” They feel as if it implies that their sexual orientation is the “standard” and that everyone else’s is a deviation from that standard. However, y’all might be surprised to learn that this isn’t true. Until just a couple hundred years ago, gay people were everywhere! And I don’t just mean in ancient Greece or Victorian England either. There were a number of American Indian tribes in which it was tradition for men to marry and even have children with other men! (
I know, right???
While we don’t have time to get into a “nature versus nurture” debate here, most people in the scientific community agree that sexual orientation is something you’re born with. It’s wired into your brain before you’re even conscious! So it isn’t a choice. And this is exactly why there are so many gay people in the world. In fact, it’s been suggested that as many as one in ten humans is gay to some degree.
So even if only half of those are self-aware and willing to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, that means that there are more of them than there are straight people.
So Why Are There Even Homophobic People?
This is a good question. Fortunately, there is a good answer. You see, a lot of people have this idea that sexual orientation is a choice. They think that if it really doesn’t matter to you, then you’ll be straight…and if it really doesn’t matter to you, then you’ll be gay. This is obviously stupid (as I’ve explained earlier), but it’s held by a lot of people.
These are typically the same people who are also opposed to interracial marriage and relationships (which I’ll admit is still a bit of a problem, even if it’s getting better).
And then there are other people who oppose these types of things for religious reasons.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why would a religion be against something that isn’t a choice and that some people are born with?”
Well, you’d have to ask them! I can’t speak for all religions, only the Christian faith. Some Christians believe that the Bible forbids homosexuality. However, they are taking certain passages of the Bible out of context. They ignore things like polygamy (which the Bible not only mentions, but also endorses), divorce (even though it’s allowed in the Bible), and other issues related to gender roles. In reality, there is nothing in the Bible that says being gay is a sin.
Even many Christian churches have accepted the idea that being gay is not a choice and people shouldn’t be judged for it. In addition, many major denominations now perform gay marriages. So if you’re a Christian who believes that the Bible forbids being gay, you’re not only wrong, but you’re also not following the teachings of Christ.
So How Should I Talk About This Stuff?
Sources & references used in this article:
For lack of a better word: Neo-identitites in non-cisgender, non-straight communities on Tumblr by C Feraday – Master’s, 2016 – digital.library.ryerson.ca
‘On this Side’: The Production, Progression, and Potential of Cisgender by JH Wu – 2015 – scholarship.tricolib.brynmawr.edu
Gay-straight alliances as settings for youth inclusion and development: Future conceptual and methodological directions for research on these and other student … by VP Poteat, H Yoshikawa, JP Calzo… – Educational …, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com
Queering families: The postmodern partnerships of cisgender women and transgender men by CA Pfeffer – 2017 – books.google.com