Category Archives: Queerness

So uh, in case you weren’t aware, I’m a queer writer and while I may keep it somewhat less than blatant and may just seem like a nice ally or whatever, I do still write a BUNCH of stuff that relates to queerness in media and how it’s expressed.

Cis, Explained

I’m seeing this one needing some explanation, and I’m also seeing some goofy people talking nonsense about it so let’s give you a nice, easy place to check on this one without TERFs getting all up and angry about it.

The complaints about cis are that it’s a slur, that it’s a made-up word, and that it’s unnecessary.

First things first, slur. Cis is not and cannot be a slur. Slurs are words designed to direct structural power against individuals and other people with the same group characteristics. It’s a threat. Non-cis people do not have systemic power, and the closest they can get is being mean. You’re not going to lose a job or be refused housing because you’re cis. You’re not going to have crimes against you ignored because you’re cis – crimes, not ‘people were mean to me’.

Cis is not a new word. Cis a term from chemistry, where it’s the opposite term to Trans. It’s been used for a century like this, because back in the day, chemists all used Latin terms to refer to technical objects, because that way everyone could use the same language and grammar to talk about them. And since we use the word trans in discussions of gender, cis is a handy opposite.

And cis is totally a necessary word. When you’re talking about relationship to gender, transgender or cisgender if you say ‘transgender’ and ‘normal’ then you’re explicitly calling ‘transgender’ ‘not normal.’ Notice the people who are mad about being called ‘cisgender’ are often people who feel like it’s calling them ‘not normal,’ so imagine how it feels to the trans folk being told they’re not normal.

Cis is not a hard concept to explain. It’s like on and off. Something is cis or it’s not. Open or not-open.

If, at birth, you were assigned a gender, and you decided that gender works for you, you’re cis. If you’re not cis, you’re – linguistically – trans.

Now that’s not to say everyone who isn’t cis wants to be called trans. There are plenty of nonbinary or agender people who don’t call themselves trans, and in that case, saying THE TECHNICAL MEANING IS- isn’t helpful.

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How To Talk To Your Trans Dude Friends About Boobs

One thing that exhausts trans people and wastes a lot of their time is explaining Some Of The Most Basic Stuff. I try to make sure I offer some basic explanations of things, not because I have special insight, but just as a basic footing. And this time, we’re going to real quick talk about how you, a cis boy, should approach talking to your trans boy friends, about their boobs – not boobs in general, but their boobs, this is important.

Don’t,

Okay, no, that’s not helpful. It is – you really don’t need to ask your friend about his boobs because, let’s face it, there’s lots of things you don’t ask your friends about and really, how interested are you in how your friends’ bits get sweaty? But anyway, let’s take it as a given that you’re going to open your mouth and try and Have A Conversation.

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The Singular They

There are more than a few of you who I consider friends, who I consider to be dear friends, wh ohave never heard me speak aloud. Aside from one video up on Youtube where Iw as off-the-cuffing all the answers to the questions I was being asked and trying to avoid filler-words and ‘um,’ I didn’t necessarily dedicate a ton of thought to what I said as much as how I said it. Really, that one video was the single thing I was the most proud of in the Hackagong experience.

Nonetheless: I’m something of a stickler for my manner of interpersonal communication. That’s a sentence I would say aloud, just to prove the point. I go through these articles and read them aloud to test if they convey the pace and rhyhtm of what it is I want to say, to make it easier to absorb my point. I was schooled in formal grammar – one of the only things that the ACE system did decently well, if not for the fact those ironclad grammatical rules are themselves, much more fluid and meaningless than the rules wanted me to think as if this clause isn’t enormously overstating my point – and this has informed my manner of speech.

The word ‘they’ is a word that my father, for example, will resist ever being used as a singular personal pronounce; this is because people like my father feel incomplete if their lives have to deal with ambiguity or nuance. I’ve been thinking about this in light of Holland, in the story I’ve been writing this year, and trying to avoid using the word ‘he’ or ‘she’ – or any other gendered pronouns. In the stories, I don’t use any pronouns to describe Holland, because Holland is meant to be one gender, transitioning from an assigned one, and I don’t know which of the two Holland is.

How’s that work when I talk about Holland to you know, people? I say ‘they.’ I say ‘they,’ and I have been saying it for about a year and not even realised I’ve been doing it.

Today, shit’s going down because someone said he, was told to say they, told someone else to fuck off, and decided then was the time to get picky about it. This was brought to my attention four times, with the fifth time coming up because someone, angry about the implications of He Vs They, decided the best way to improve technical word usage was to call someone a Nazi. I’m not going to tell programmers their way around language in code – they know how to make Pythons dance with the Rubies and Web Up The Code Cowboys or whatever. I can, however, as a seasoned asshole, offer these two pieces of advice about how not to be an asshole:

  • The word ‘they’ is easier to use; you already use it; and it’s more inclusive. So just, you know, use it.
  • Calling someone a Nazi only ever helps if the person is actually a self-identified Nazi.

Addendum: Let me add this. Just have some damn sense of perspective, for the love of fuck.