Updated 16:36 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
It wasn’t long ago that the world was baffled at the notion that a man could love another man or woman love another woman. People didn’t understand a man’s desire to become a woman or a woman’s desire to become a man. Then, of course, there was the idea that those who loved both men and women were nothing more than confused. We’ve come a long way, and although it’s an ongoing journey, all of these characteristics of sexuality and identity are making progress as they become more accepted across the world.
However, there is still a lot of confusion about the LGBT community among those not associated with it. That’s true even at the most basic level of the movement—the terminology. And just as was written before on Mentalwriting.com while discussing issues of racism, just because you haven’t had to personally deal with something before “does not mean it’s some made up bullshit.”
Sure, it’s somewhat understandable that if something isn’t impacting you directly, it’s likely that your lack of exposure to it would lead to you being less informed. But there are some basics that even those not associated with the developments of the LGBT movement need to be made aware of.
As acknowledged by AdamEve.com in their LGBT Guide—the initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender—the acronym also occasionally includes “Q” when discussing members that identify as anyone who is non-heterosexual or non-cisgender. Given the rarity that it’s included in the initialism however, some are still confused as to what the “Q” stands for—don’t worry, I’ll explain the term cisgender later on as well.
The “Q” stands for “questioning” or “queer,” with “queer” only occasionally being used as an umbrella term to encompass all those that identify on some level with the community.
Then there’s the term cisgender. Cisgender refers to those who identify with the gender that matches the sex that they were born with. Oddly enough, the first time that a lot of people had ever even heard of the term was recently, thanks to the always-classy animated show Southpark.
As MusicTimes.com recapped in their article, the episode titled “The Cissy” involved the character Cartman dressing like a girl, wearing a pink bow and exploring his gender options through actions such as hanging out in the women’s restroom. Cartman isn’t really having gender identity issues, though; he’s just trying to scam the school system so they will build him his own bathroom. However, the show is at least partially responsible for bringing the term, as well as gender identity issues, into the spotlight as of late.
Even though the term has been around since the 1990s, “Cisgender” on Google trends has seen a dramatic spike within the last month. So much so in fact that it inspired an article from TheAtlantic.com posing the question “Will ‘Cisgender’ Survive?” While transgender has become a common term among the public, the article questions whether the current steam behind the term cisgender is enough to solidify it for identification purposes in the future.
And yet, the recent popularity of the term has been met with scrutiny within the LGBT community. On HuffingtonPost.com they described a divide between homosexuals who also identify as cis. Some transgender members apparently see it as a as an overt advertisement of privilege because they haven’t had to deal with the same oppression. Now, this isn’t true across all individuals, but again, just because some haven’t experienced it, “does not mean it’s some made up bullshit.”
Today, there’s a lot of information about sexuality that could take a person years to understand in its entirety. But just to make sure you don’t sound like a fucking idiot, it’s helpful to at least have a handle on the terminology.