Cis People Say The Darndest Things

20 Jan

Over the weekend a “journalist” for Grantland wrote an essay that read more like a clueless confession. The subject of the essay was Dr V, a trans woman who killed herself at the story’s end, seemingly due to the threat of being outed.

There are several articles published on the trans perspectives of this story. Here’s one from Feministing and one from Paris Lees for Vice Magazine.

Here’s a Journalistic Take.

So what else is there to say? Well there are a few things, and there are mainly for the people who would look at those links and go “who would give a rat’s butt about reading all that?”

I want to devote a little bit of space to cisplain cis people. If I can cisplain anything, it’s cis people, right?

First: I rarely get to be the majority of anything so I get a little excited talking about cis people (myself). You mean I’m the majority somehow? In some configuration? Oh boy!

Cisgender means not trans. Wikipedia says it is a person whose “self-perception of their gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.”

“You mean, normal?”

Ah, okay, this is what I want to talk about.

A very popular topic of cisgender–or ‘normal’–writing involves the raising of children, and how bad of a job everyone is doing. All children, folks say, are being given gold stars in class, even when they do nothing to earn gold stars.

Personally, this sounds amazing. I would have loved to have gotten gold stars for doing nothing in class, but unfortunately this seems to be a load of bull. I don’t remember everyone getting gold stars or trophies for doing nothing, in fact, I remember hyper masculine competitiveness being the name of the game when I went to school.

I doubt the everyone-gets-a-gold-star theory is true, not literally, but I think it does touch on something that is of concern with how we raise our kids.  If you’re cisgender / hetero / any sort of majority, then you’re taught about fairness, equality, all that good stuff, but somewhere along the line you start to believe that your position is fair just because that is where you and your majority stand.

That is, that a well meaning cisgender person, no matter what their stance is, will undoubtedly think that their position is fair, and just. We think we’re in the golden middle ground at all times. Even when we defend trans people, many of us will feel that we, as middle-grounders, should also tell trans people that things aren’t as bad as they think they are, that–of course–Mr. Caleb Hannan had NOTHING to do with Dr V’s death, that Grantland is not responsible for sending a shockwave of fear to the trans community…

Look, do you know where I’m getting at here? I’m trying to politely tell you that just because you’re the majority does not mean you are being fair, that just because you believe you are middle-grounder doesn’t mean you are being just, and it also means you can’t possibly understand what trans people go through when they read Dr. V’s story.

This is just a really long way of politely asking you to shut the front door. Sit down, on all the chairs, until the legs buckle, and listen to what trans people are saying.

Just because you’re the majority, doesn’t mean you’re right. There are things beyond your axises of comprehension, and I’m not talking about space travel, I’m talking about what your neighbors experience. This is just a helpful, even healthy, reminder that your knowledge extends only to what you can see and hear, so be sure to see and hear beyond people who are like you.



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