[W]e’re all socialized to be cissexist

—Sian Ferguson[1]

Gendered bathrooms and other forms of gender policing are components of cissexist systems.

Cissexism (or cis-sexism) is the set of acts and norms that privilege cis people and/or oppress trans people.[2] More broadly, cissexism is the appeal to norms that enforce the gender binary, and gender essentialism, resulting in the oppression of gender variant, non-binary and trans identities. Anybody who does not pass and/or identify as cis faces some cissexism.

In a multi-level analysis of society, "cissexism" can be used to describe the erasure, oppression, and marginalisation of non-binary and trans identities that happens at the institutional and cultural levels (the two topmost ways of looking at the system). This is in contrast to "transphobia", which can be used to describe the violence, oppression, and abuse of non-binary and trans identities at the two lower levels, i.e., individual, group.

Cissexism can also be used as an umbrella term for all forms of transphobia and cis supremacy. It is related to, but not identical to gender binarism and dyadism.


There are many examples of the cultural-level oppression of gender variant, non-binary and trans identities, the most pertinent being the gender binary itself, which coerces people into pre-set genders, and gender essentialism, which claims that people born with a vagina are unchangeably inherently (by their essence) different to people born with a penis. Other cultural-level norms that stem from and support cissesism are: languages that only have male and female pronouns; bathrooms that don't allow women with penises into the women's bathroom; the assumption that the only people who can get pregnant are women,[3] and that all women can get pregnant; the normalisation of abusive language, slurs, and physical violence against trans people.

Complementing definitions

Cissexism is the positioning of cis identities as better or more real than trans identites. Cis does not refer strictly to gender performance, but gender identity. There are a wide range of cis identities, some traditional and some not traditional, and while cis people often experience sexism or heterosexism based on their performance, their identity still privileges them over trans people.[4]
Cissexism is prejudice and discrimination against people who are not cis. It is closely related to transhatred, but focusses more on the ‘rightness’ of the cis experience rather than the ‘wrongness’ of the trans experience and is generally used to refer to more subtle prejudice and discrimination against non-cis people than transhatred, which tends to be used to refer to acts of extreme bigotry.[5]
Cis-sexism is the belief that transsexuals identified gender is somehow inferior to people who are cisgendered.[6]

See also

External links


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