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What Does It Mean to be a Woman? - Julia Serano
'Being a woman is always defined in opposition to a man ... and so being a woman becomes living up to other people's expectations.'
Whipping Girl FAQ on cissexual, cisgender, and cis privilege
This article discusses:
the origins of cis terminology
the reasoning behind why many trans activists use these terms
my responses to common critiques of cis terminology
a discussion of how the concept of "cis privilege" is sometimes misused
Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 1: Who Exactly Does “Cis” Refer To?
This article discusses:
the specific way in which I used the terms cis, cisgender, cissexual, cissexism, and cisgenderism in Whipping Girl
a discussion of how these same terms are often used in a rather different manner today
how ambiguity regarding the terms "cis" and "cisgender" often erases the experiences of non-transsexual transgender-spectrum people
my proposal of an alternative (albeit not mutually-exclusive) "three-tiered" model for considering gender-non-conformity and social legitimacy - one that may better account for the gender-based marginalization experienced by those who fall under the cisgender umbrella and/or who do not fit neatly into the cis/trans distinction.
Cissexism and Cis Privilege Revisited - Part 2: Reconciling Disparate Uses of the Cis/Trans Distinction
Marginalized populations often have different perspectives on, and take different approaches toward, articulating the obstacles they face. Two especially common activist approaches are “decentering the binary” and “reverse discourse” strategies. In this essay, I discuss the logic behind these differing approaches to activism, and explain why they tend to result in very different understandings of cissexism and the cis/trans distinction. In fact, some of the most common complaints about cis terminology are actually critiques of "reverse discourse" approaches to activism. Rather than outright championing one approach over the other, I encourage activists to familiarize themselves with the pros and cons of each strategy in order to use them in the most judicious and effective way possible.
Bruce Jenner and the 'trans narrative': it's time for a little bit of Transgender 201
As a trans woman, I understand how cathartic sharing coming-out stories can be. Reaching beyond ourselves to tackle systemic oppressions is the next step.
It's Incredibly Scary to Be a Transgender Woman of Color Right Now
They are disproportionately targeted in hate crimes, and it may be fueling their staggering rate of attempted suicide.
Publication Date: 2013-10-01
While many feminist and queer movements are designed to challenge sexism, they often simultaneously police gender and sexuality--sometimes just as fiercely as the straight, male-centric mainstream does. Among LGBTQ activists, there is a long history of lesbians and gay men dismissing bisexuals, transgender people, and other gender and sexual minorities. In each case, exclusion is based on the premise that certain ways of being gendered or sexual are more legitimate, natural, or righteous than others. As a trans woman, bisexual, and femme activist, Julia Serano has spent much of the last ten years challenging various forms of exclusion within feminist and queer/LGBTQ movements. In Excluded, she chronicles many of these instances of exclusion and argues that marginalizing others often stems from a handful of assumptions that are routinely made about gender and sexuality. These false assumptions infect theories, activism, organizations, and communities--and worse, they enable people tovigorously protest certain forms of sexism while simultaneously ignoring and even perpetuating others. Serano advocates for a new approach to fighting sexism that avoids these pitfalls and offers new ways of thinking about gender, sexuality, and sexism that foster inclusivity rather than exclusivity.
Whipping Girl by
Publication Date: 2007-05-14
A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations--both pre- and post-transition--to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole. Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this "feminine” weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire. In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity--in all of its wondrous forms.