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What Is Cis-Gender?

Context:

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to distinguish between married and unmarried women while allowing abortion when the foetus is between 20-24 weeks. Going a step further, the court said the term ‘woman’ in the judgment included persons other than cisgender women.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is cisgender?
  2. Cisgender: Origins of the term
  3. Criticism of the word

What is cisgender?

  • The term cisgender is used to define people whose gender identity and expression match the identity assigned to them at birth.
  • When a child is born, it is assigned a gender identity based on its physical characteristics.
  • Many believe that gender is a social construct, and growing up, the child may or may not confirm to the birth identity.
  • For transgender people, their sense of gender identity does not match the one assigned to them at birth.
  • Thus, a cisgender woman is a person who was assigned female at birth and continues to identify as a woman. On the other hand, a child assigned female at birth can feel it identifies more authentically as a man as it grows up.

Cisgender: Origins of the term

  • The latin prefix ‘cis’ literally means ‘on the same side of’, while ‘trans’ means on the other side.
  • Trans as a prefix is used commonly (transatlantic, trans-tasman), though cis is rarer in popular usage.
  • ‘Cisgender’ entered Britain’s Oxford English Dictionary in 2015, and the USA’s Merriam Webster Dictionary in 2016.
  • Both dictionaries document its first usage around 1994.
Criticism of the word
  • Some people, including those working on trans rights, feel terms like ‘cisgender’ belong in the realm of gender theory alone, and their usage can be counterproductive – people are less likely to grasp a message if they have to look up the individual words that make up the message.
  • Others feel ‘cisgender’ as a counter to ‘transgender’ is restrictive – reinforcing a binary of genders that many choose to reject – and does not have space for intersex people (people born with a combination of male and female biological features).

-Source: Indian Express


 

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