When You Give A Cis A Cookie: Being a Better Ally for Trans People
I was just in the midst of a wonderful (read: awful) correspondence with a self-proclaimed ally on Twitter. The whole thing started with my calling this person out for having a text image using binary-only language. To those uninitiated (you would have to be new to my profile and articles by now), I am non-binary, a gender outside male or female, and there are plenty of us. You’ve just never heard of us partially because of Western colonialism (which violently wiped out cultures such as the Hopi Natives which recognized more than two genders) and because every moment we speak out is enabling the PC/sjw mind-control takeover of society, or something.
The point I am trying to make is, this person was passing around something that implied that I don’t exist, and when called out on it, became very nasty. “I support trans, but you’re being an asshole,” were her exact words. Cringe. First of all, we’re not robots, we’re people. Despite some people’s insistence that it’s okay to refer to me and my community as “trans” or “transgenders” (or worse, the T-slur), it’s not. It makes one sound like the subject in question is a box, or a lamp, not a person. Second of all, you can’t revoke your promise to advocate for and protect my community if one of us is being “rude” to you.
Just to give you an idea what I'm talking about
FYI, I’m not rude to anyone unless they are rude to me first; it’s just that, most cis “allies” don’t have the slightest understanding of what is and isn’t rude. For example, I’ve gotten tweets and Tumblr asks like these, unsolicited, from strangers before:
“Can you please tell me what kye/kyrs means?” (These are my pronouns.)
“What were you born as?” (I’m AFAB, which means assigned female at birth.)
“Why don’t you wear a bra?” (I usually do when I go out, but at home, I prefer not to, and I’m looking into chest binders.)
And these are the tame ones.
You get the certain “allies” who say things such as, “I support REAL trans people, not transtrenders like you,” or “being trans means you’re going to transition, not just be a special snowflake forever.”
And of course, there’s the classic, “Not all cis people.”
None of these things are supportive of me. Asking me embarrassing questions or expecting me to teach you about my gender identity and/or pronouns will get you blocked, even if you’re “nice” about it. And when you chime in with “I’m a good cis person” when trans people are venting about their pain, frustration, and exhaustion with our larger cisnormative society, all you’re doing is showing us that you’re in it for you, not for us. You need to understand that when we (or any oppressed group) say things like that, they’re not personal attacks. Rather, we’re beyond fed up with how the world is treating us for being different. You, as our ally, need to be angry at the world, not at us.
The “Down with Cis” meme has caused a lot of rancor for this reason. Similar to the reactions of the critique of cops by BlackLivesMatter supporters (“not all cops are like that!”), cisgender people feel personally insulted by this meme. Reacting badly to a meme in which oppressed persons attempt to “punch up” with humor, all you’re accomplishing is showing that you don’t want to listen and that you can’t empathize. You don’t know how we feel, and you don’t want to know how we feel.
Fighting transphobia involves more than just correct names and pronouns: it means being willing and able to set aside your cis privilege and be able to see a world where people’s identities are threatened, policed, and even denied to exist. It means understanding our anger, why we’re angry, and not telling us that it’s counterproductive.
And please, heading into the new year, let’s kill this myth of “cisphobia” with fire. Cis people are a protected class in society. As with heterosexuality, every person is assumed to be cisgender unless proven otherwise. Non-binary people are even branded as cis by our own trans fellows, simply for not making enough effort to transition or pass. A disadvantaged group is not able to exert any kind of power over the majority. Hence, “down with cis” isn’t cisphobia. No one is attempting to silence or commit any overt or covert acts of violence against cisgender people.
This is more like it
It’s hard to trust any cis ally as long as this crap continues, and we need to be able to trust you. You’re the ones most of society will listen to. No one’s going to write you off, call you delusional, say you have an “agenda,” or call you freaks. (Except maybe TERFs, but those dinosaurs are headed for extinction as we speak.)
The bottom line is, we’re counting on you to survive. This isn’t about politics, this is about our lives. The only time you care shouldn’t be after we’re dead. And please, don’t listen to Caitlyn Jenner. Listen to the trans woman of color, a sex worker who doesn’t have the money to achieve cis beauty standards, who just needs someone to understand her. As a white enby, I’m asking you to be her advocate. She means you no harm. She’s human. She needs rights. Will you put aside your pride and help her?