Friday, July 11, 2014

Transgender Blog Challenge Day 21: Cisgender People

Today's question is "What are your views on the cisgender community?"

I think this is a really weird question.  I don't consider what cis people have to be a "community" in the sense that oppressed peoples have "community."  When I say "trans community" I am specifically referring to a "community" that has a shared sense of belonging in that community.  And yes, I am aware that that's arguable, with people bickering and excluding and doing all sorts of shit to compromise whether or not it can really be called a "community," but discourse-wise I'm comfortable with it at least as a symbol of a shared oppression.

The issue with cis people as "a community" is that cis people by and large do not have recognition that trans people exist in any great quantity and as such would not consider "I am not transgender" to be a fundamental part of their identities.  Those that do are typically raging anti-trans bigots who spend a lot of their short time on this earth concerning themselves with disenfranchising people who aren't doing anything to harm them (Ragingly bigoted members of practically any oppressor group will also do this, too.  White people don't typically think of themselves as a "white community" unless they're raging racists, men don't think of themselves as a "male community" unless they're MRAs, etc.).  Cis people do not have a common bond of cis-ness.  They are not "a community."

But anyway, that's an aside based on language.  How I feel about cis people is more properly answerable.

And the answer is this:  Cis people annoy me and stress me out the vast majority of the time with their utter density.  Even unusually well-read and dear-to-me cis people are prone to saying and doing things that really bother me.  Often in such cases I have a difficult time saying something, especially with cis people who are significantly better than other cis people at trans issues.

It's really difficult for me to hang with a lot of cis people, especially straight cis people, for long periods of time.  Even people very close to me, like close friends and relatives, I've learned are probably going to repeatedly and intensely disappoint me.  I already pointed out in my essay on Ray Jessel that when that deplorable scene popped up I basically had to sit there and try to tune out my relatives who thought it was the funniest fucking thing in the world, knowing that if I say anything they're just going to get angry and defensive and accuse me of being "too easily offended" despite regularly just sitting and ignoring repeated transphobic comments to avoid hearing cis people whine.

And that's one of the things that really gourds me:  The cis-person whine.  Trying to talk to cis people about trans issues is one of the most infuriating things just because cis people have the tendency to whine about it rather than take it to heart.  Either they're whining about transphobia they think is concentrated in those other cis people or--more likely--they're whining about being called out or whining about being told some shitty thing they like is transphobic and whine whine whine whine.  That's the only way I can describe it.  Cis people whine a lot.  They whine about being called cis.  They whine about having to accommodate trans people like they accommodate cis people.

It's not that trans people don't also make mistakes, but it certainly feels a lot different when it's coming from somebody who is going through at least some semblance of what you are.  So for instance, there are some trans people out there who have a history of saying seriously dip-shitty things, or who pander to cis concerns and cis-oriented organizations that continually burn me, but it bothers me less than a cis person who does the same.  Why?  Because a trans person who uses language that might be problematic to refer to theirself, or who enjoys media I consider seriously transphobic*, or who otherwise picks a way of advocating that I would not is at least in a position to really weigh those risks and benefits for themselves.  A trans person who says "I'm going to support a trans-exclusive piece of legislation helping queer people because it's a stepping stone" is just plain not the same as a cis person who does the same.

* -- This does not count, for instance, trans men who defend transmisogynistic media and other levels of oppression and privilege.