Over at HuffPo, Dana Dufosse writes, “I Coined The Term ‘Cisgender’ 29 Years Ago. Here’s What This Controversial Word Really Means.”
I coined the term “cisgender” in 1994. Nearly three decades later, the word has had ramifications I never dreamed of.
It began innocently enough. I was in graduate school and writing a paper on the health of trans adolescents. I put a post on alt.transgender to ask for views on transphobia and inclusion on the campus of the University of Minnesota. I was struggling because there did not seem to be a way to describe people who were not transgender without inescapably couching them in normalcy and making transgender identity automatically the “other.”
I knew that in chemistry, molecules with atoms grouped on the same side are labeled with the Latin prefix “cis–,” while molecules with atoms grouped on opposite sides are referred to as “trans–.” So, cisgender. It seemed like a no-brainer. I had no idea that hitting “enter” on that post would start an etymological time bomb ticking.
It took years for the term to take off….
Before now, I have not spoken publicly, or even disclosed my role in the origin of the word cisgender to anyone beyond a few close friends and colleagues. Although I’ve not yet experienced personal attacks for being associated with its creation, it is painful when people imply it was intended to hurt others. I never believed that adding the word to the lexicon caused problems ― it only revealed them. Whatever the fate of the word, I feel compelled to speak out against the idea that it is hateful.
Read the full piece here.