- Politics and Social Issues
Cisgender, Transgender, and the Hijacking of the English Language
Race, Sex, & Identification
As a child, I was taught that people came in all colors, shapes, and sizes, no of which made any difference in the grand scheme of things. White, Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian are some of the dominant constructs and they were differentiated identified by distinct physical characteristics with skin tone being the most predominant. Sociologists also try to attach mannerisms, developmental measurements, IQ levels, and other non-physical traits to each of these major groups in order to further segregate them into study groups, but the fact remains that physical characteristics are the only true biological way to define a particular race. Height, weight, muscle definition, and a host of other physical traits are looked at for commonality in conjunction with skin color. As an example, we know that the average height of a person who is classified as Asian man is 5’6” while the average height of a Caucasian or White man is 5”10””. For this study, size difference has no bearing on anything other than it defines the race.
The other major differentiating factor is the sex of the person. There are two common sexes found in nature, male and female and through biology, we use chromosomes and anatomical observation to make an accurate identification. There have been cases reported over time where the sexual organs and chromosomes do not match up in rare instances and in those times, the chromosomal identity takes precedent. Forty six Chromosomes in twenty three pairs designated X and Y, with women being 46XX and men being 46XY, and with but a few exceptions, the X or Y determines the pathway the body will develop.
I haven’t had a genetic work-up done, but I’m pretty sure that I am male and Caucasian. My wife is female and Caucasian. My next door neighbor is female and Polynesian, not a dominant race, both nonetheless a distinct and unique one. What I am describing is a fairly straight forward system used for centuries worldwide to identify people, with their race and their sex being the two key factors. Different ethnicities are also used today with a larger global population as well as religious affiliations with the former being fairly clear and the latter nothing more than a personal choice. The blurring between social measurements and physical measurements should be obvious to most readers using just this one example. Ethnic groups do seem like a clear identifier, but when we analyze them it becomes clear that an ethnic group is a social group made of up people who voluntarily form groups because of similar culture, ancestry, heritage, language, dialect, or other dominating social measurement. So, we are left with the physical and DNA measurements as our only clear identifiers as to classifying people on a macro scale, or are we?
The Norm and Outliers
With any classification comes a list of outliers or data points (in this case people) which do not fit into the tables perfectly for a host of reasons. There are chromosomal abnormalities which can result in a dramatic change in the human body, ranging from sever deformities, Autism, psychosis, and variable sexual assignment. We must remember that it is very rare for a natural occurrence of physical difference due to chromosomes. A rare condition with true gonadal intersex (or true hermaphroditism), exists in individuals with both ovarian and testicular tissue and both male and female reproductive organs.
Physical male and female sex organs do not always translate into heterosexualism. The figures for the percentage of people who are homosexual vary from study to study depending on the outcome intended and the participants and in which country the work was done. I’ve heard figures as low as 3 percent and as high as twenty percent, but as I stated, they vary by the intent of the writer. Generally the figure of about 5% of less is accepted by most people. The slow acceptance by the world to legalize same sex marriage is certainly part of the variability in the numbers, and the stigma of “coming out” is dangerous in some countries who have very a strong religious culture such as Muslim dominated countries where homosexuals are routinely put to death by hanging or stoning. Most people in the world are heterosexual and it’s the baseline or norm.
Science or Sociology ?
The science is fairly clear yet sociologically it is becoming increasing muddier and gender identity, gender roles, and nomenclature are getting a lot of attention. Historically, across the world, sex and gender were not always neatly divided as male and female or homosexual and heterosexual. The Berdache (gay boys who cross-dressed and acted like females) in pre-colonial North America, the fa’afafine (Samoan for “the way of a woman”) in the Pacific, and the Kathoey (effeminate gay male or transgendered female) in Thailand, and certain North American native communities all show us examples of people who encompass both masculine and feminine qualities and characteristics. Yet, despite the outward nature of all of these people, they still had their original chromosomes and sex organs that would identify them as biological male or biological female.
The sheer number of different sexual orientations and gender identities being discussed today is mind boggling, but science cannot be used to validate most of them. There will be immediate dissent by certain people just by the previous statement, but just using pure logic to review them, we can look at some facts. Sexual relations are a choice, not only with whom they are practiced, but for how long, in what manner, and many more variables, none of which are related to genetics. You see, there is no proven gene identified that makes a person homosexual, only studies which “think” that is the case, but there are genes which make people male and female. A study done with twins where one was homosexual and the other heterosexual was very powerful in strengthening the case for a non-genetic identifier. Many people who identify as homosexual feel otherwise and their opinions are to be given respect, but without hard scientific results that can be replicated, then the consensus will remain as it is currently, that no “gay” gene exists. The number of people who identify as homosexual and other genders does lend some weight to possible future discovery of such a gene, but as of today we can only use the facts we can prove.
The LGBT community has been growing over the past decade as an encompassing movement which includes all non-heterosexual ‘gender identities.’ Gay pride parades, the rainbow flag, and other iconic symbols have given them their own set of cultural norms and also their own stereotypes. Aggressive lobbying and legal clout have brought their demands front and center for the world to examine. Same sex marriage is becoming legal in more places worldwide in a push by the LGBT community to make homosexuality become part of the norm. Religious groups and others are unsettled and push back not wishing the agenda of the LGBT to be forced upon them and their families. Social media, liberal universities, and sympathetic new sources are helping to solidify changes to the language by inventing new words and terms to categorize all of the new classifications of the self-named “queer” community.
The List...For Now
This list is fairly comprehensive and will probably surprise you and confuse you. But it gives rise to how a small percentage of the larger population with support of other sympathetic groups is clandestinely hijacking the accepted language to normalize their sexual behaviors.
Androsexual: An androsexual is anyone who has sexual feelings towards males. Androsexual is usually used by genderqueer individuals, as heterosexual or homosexual don't necessarily apply to them, since their genders may not necessarily have opposites. It is also commonly used to specify the attraction to anyone who is male gendered as well. The word is derived from the Greek word andros which means "man" and the Latin word sexualis meaning "relating to sex".
Asexual: A person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people.
Autosexual: Individuals that are sexually attracted to themselves
Bi-gender: A person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes even a third gender)
Binary Sex: Traditional sex, men and women partners with no other gender existing – for centuries this was called normal heterosexuality
Biological sex: The physical anatomy and gendered hormones one is born with
Bisexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as another gender, often switching back and forth
Cisgender: A newly coined word to describe a normal person whose gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex all align (e.g., man, masculine, and male.) This was made up to specifically identify an opposite to transgender but is totally an unnecessary word.
Cis-man: A person, who identifies as a man, presents himself as masculine, has male sex organs and is referred to the normal terms man or male. Another made up word to reclassify normal people.
Cis-woman: A person, who identifies as a woman, presents herself feminine, and has female sexual organs and is referred to as female or woman. Again, a made up word
Cross-dresser: Not a true gender identity but a characteristic of others and worth mention. Wearing clothing that conflicts with the traditional gender expression of your sex and gender identity (e.g., a man wearing a dress)
Drag Queen: A person, who consciously performs “femininity,” usually in a show or theatre setting, presenting an exaggerated form of feminine expression, often times done by a man; often confused with “transsexual” or “transvestite”
Female: A person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (46XX phenotype, vagina, ovaries, uterus, breasts, higher levels of estrogen, fine body hair) pursuant to this label
Fluid(ity): A term generally used with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight) – unnecessary as previous terminology such as bisexual covered this.
FTM/MTF: A person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (Female To Male, or Male To Female), often times to align it with their gender identity; often confused with “trans-man”/”trans-woman”
Gay: A term used to describe a man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex relationships as well.
Gender Binary: The traditional view of gender, limiting possibilities to “man” and “woman” – there can be no other genders in this view and this is the most commonly held definition of normal people.
Genderless: A person who does not identify with any gender.
Gender Nonconforming: Someone who looks and/or behaves in ways that don’t conform to, or are atypical of, society’s expectations of how a person of that gender should look or behave
Genderqueer: A blanket term used to describe people whose self-proclaimed gender falls outside of the normal male and female classifications.
Grey A or Gray A: An individual that very rarely experiences sexual attraction or has only a slight sex drive, but may in particular situations or with particular individuals – can be a legitimate hormonal imbalance.
Gynesexual/Gynephilic: Someone who is sexually attracted to breasts, vaginas and femininity. Not necessarily has to identify as a female.
Hermaphrodite: A person that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes – extremely rare to find a human with this medical condition.
Heterosexual: A medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone of the opposite sex. This is the accepted normal behavior for human beings.
Homosexual: A medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the same sex.
Intersex: A person with a set of sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male (odd X,Y chromosomes, deformed genitalia, etc.) – 1-5% of the population but usually unnoticeable.
Male: A person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (46XY phenotype, penis, testis, higher levels of testosterone, coarse body hair, facial hair)
Neutrois- An umbrella term within the bigger umbrella terms of transgender or genderqueer includes people who do not identify within the normal gender classification of male and female.
Omnisexual: A person that is attracted to all gender expressions, while still maintaining preferences.
Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions – a word created to cover everything else that was invented in the new gender identity nomenclature expansion.
Polysexual: An individual is attracted to some, but not all gender expressions
Pomosexual: An individual that does not feel their sexual preference can and/or should be identified by pre-existing labels, leaving room for a potential new name in the future depending on their preferences.
Queer: A derogatory slang term used to identify LGBT people now embraced by those same individuals as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the normal sexual and gender norms.
Same Gender Loving (SGL): A phrase coined by the African American/Black queer communities used as an alternative for “gay” and “lesbian” by people who may see those as terms of the White queer community.
Skoliosexual: A person with sexual attraction to non-binary identified individuals. This does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments but rather is an inclusive term.
Straight: A normal person attracted to the opposite sex.
Third Gender: A person who does not identify with the traditional genders of “man” or “woman,” but identifies with another gender.
Transgender: A blanket term used to describe all people who are not heterosexual.
Transitioning: A term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another physically, by hormones and surgical treatments
Transsexual: a person whose gender identity is the binary opposite of their biological sex, who may undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex, often times to align it with their gender identity, or they may live their lives as the opposite sex.
Transvestite: A person who dresses as the opposite gender (“cross-dresses”)
Trans-man: A female that identifies as a man
Trans-woman: A man that identifies as a woman.
Explaining the Hijacking
Now, if you are as confused as most people by this point, I understand. The list of terminology can be summed up in several ways with no real hierarchy. Without a word to specifically define something, it’s difficult for people to understand and identify with a particular group. Cultural norms are engineered by people with an agenda and cementing words in the language and in print, give a sense of legitimacy to them, where the word by some strange interpretation makes the activity not only acceptable, but normal. Think about future generations studying our era and seeing these terms used in multiple texts and by different groups. There would be an almost automatic acceptance by them as being normal and part of our greater culture despite the current controversy. So the LGBT community will work tirelessly to insure that their version gets more print, text, and verbalization than some of the existing words. To validate this, just read many of the current news stories where major colleges are instructing professors and students alike to use certain gender neutral terms instead of men and women, or him and her. This practice will spread until words like boy and girl, are put out to pasture, overtaken by the “new normal.”
Some might find the term “hijacking” to be offensive, but I stand behind its utilization. When someone forcible takes charge of something for their own benefit, it qualifies as a hijacking, especially since it won’t be returned to its present state. The irony of this leads to a similar event on the same topic that happened in the past. Homosexuality has always been a part of society yet there were no words to identify people who were attracted to the same sex until the nineteenth century, when religious groups influenced the language in the same way but for demonizing homosexuality. These words were coined to hurtful and meant to segregate those who didn’t follow the church doctrine and morals. So the original hijacking for the negative has now gone full circle as a hijacking for what the LGBT community feels will be a positive. It’s socially confusing, but looks to be the norm, whether we agree to it or not, both the words and the practices. So science loses to sociology in this round, and so the world turns.
Well, I'm fairly certain that this will drive some readers to a new level of anger and I'll be called a variety of colorful terms but none of them too exciting. Keep your comments civil as I approve all of them, no matter what stance the person has. This article is meant as an understanding of multiple topics, but the last two paragraphs are where the real learning is at - society changes because people leverage the language to normalize or demonize things....love to hear your thoughts on the topic.