A New Use For The Prefix Cis-
Writing about gendered pronouns recently, I mentioned that “cis female” is a gender choice on Facebook.
The prefix cis- derives from a Latin preposition meaning “on this side of.” Cisalpine Gaul, for example, was the part of Gaul located on the Italian side of the Alps. The part on the far side of the Alps was Transalpine Gaul.
More familiar prefixes derived from Latin prepositions are trans, “across, on the other side” and circum, “around.” One of their uses is to indicate location, as in this example:
Armitage boldly observes, “We are all Atlanticists now.” Then, he defines three approaches to Atlantic history, which he calls Cis-Atlantic, Trans-Atlantic, and Circum-Atlantic. Circum-Atlantic history is “the history of the people who crossed the Atlantic, who lived on its shores and who participated in the communities it made possible.”—Review of The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800.
Chemists use cis- as a prefix and as a free-standing adjective to designate “a compound in which two atoms or groups are situated on the same side of some plane of symmetry passing through the compound.”
Here are some gender-related terms that are beginning to appear in the media:
Here are examples of their usage:
“Cissexual assumption” is a phrase coined by Julia Serano for her claim that cissexual people assume that all people experience gender identity in the same way.
It seems that some of this trans woman hatred from cisgender women is based on a fear that perhaps they are taking something from us.
I’m a Cis Girl in Love with a Trans Guy.
Cis writers in every media form are jumping on the trans story train.
Cis- is the logical choice of prefix to denote “assigned at birth” in contrast with transgender, “not conforming to birth gender.”
Unfortunately, with all such labels, the danger exists that cis may become an abusive epithet. The other evening, I heard the term “cis male” used in an episode of Blue Bloods. The character, a college girl, referred to another character as “a cis male.” Her facial expression and tone of voice made it clear that she was not using the term as a neutral designation.
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