In a recent bubble-gum article for Pride.com, I joked that “apparently you have to look like Justin Beiber to like labia” when listing 8 Real Struggles All Femme Girls Know Well, and all hell broke loose.
As one reader commented, my article was “Implying that all women have vaginas. This is false…” – a comment that left me thoroughly confused. It seems that my insinuation that all lesbians must have vaginas is outrageous. Absolutely shocking. Jaw droppingly offensive. I mean how dare I? Apparently, I was being Cissexist.
“You need to be careful” warned my Brighton-dwelling hipster lesbian sister as I scoffed unapologetically over my keyboard. “People are allowed to identify as whatever they want. You don’t get to tell people who they are.”
Really? That’s how far we’ve gone down the rabbit hole now? I am now no longer allowed to assume that all lesbians will have vaginas… this is ignorance. Who knew, eh? Well, I was about to get a graphic education.
Cissexism (which I don’t actually know how to pronounce) is a relatively new term that has stormed on to the LGBT scene recently, and it’s confusing us all. Now I love watching people argue online – it’s a treasured hobby – but this new word threw me, and so I went exploring. Turns out, Cissexism refers to discrimination against a lesbian just because they don’t have a vagina. Are you lost yet?
The dictionary vaguely translates Cissexism in to “Transphobia”. Cis (from “On the same side”) with Sexism seems to imply that the term accuses one of friendly fire – A discrimination against those who identify as your kin. For example, a man with a penis identifying as a lesbian woman will become enraged when I am seen to push her (and her penis) out of my “club” by implying that a lesbian requires a vagina. This is different from transgender, which relates to whether someone is a man or a woman. This is about sexuality intertwined with inner gender identity. And I can barely keep up.
Now, as an LGBT(QPIA-ETC) writer, I am proud to represent advocacy for freedom of sexual and gender identity for each and every one of us. The thought of a person being born in to a culture, family or even a body that does not match their deep set identity makes me want to cry… Be your True Self… But this new term Cissexism is quite honestly grating on me.
I personally am a bisexual female who agrees that our inner identity should be accepted unconditionally. But what happens when a genetically assigned man who identifies a lesbian (but has no plans to reassign her gender by removing her penis) then becomes enraged and begins bandying around the term “Cissexism”? With the LGBT movement growing so rapidly, the addition of all of these extra letters to LGBT(QIA-WTF?) is starting to dilute our message. Add this (come on, let’s admit it) quite confusing theory of a lesbian-identified-male protesting Cissexism and we are going to start seeing eye rolling again. Something which the LGBT community has been beginning to overcome.
As our generation changes the attitudes towards sexual and gender identified freedoms, it can be argued that there’s a certain point where this goes too far. And Cissexism could be that line crossed.
When I began to speak to friends about this, there were mixed reactions. Some were outraged that I could even take a second look at this word… Of course men can be lesbians! Whilst others told their own stories of Cissexism gone too far – For example a friend in PR promoting a Period Tracker App was told that choosing to market only women was outrageous. And Cissexist. Don’t men deserve the opportunity to document their menstrual cycles too?
In a great article following Caitlyn Jenner’s fabulous Vanity Fair introduction to the world, the powers that be confirm that “a person’s sex is actually a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics” and according to one of the commenters on my article, “in fact trans lesbians who don’t have a vagina for all kinds of reasons exist. The assumption that every person is cis is called cissexism”
So there, now we’ve been told. I’ll climb back in to my box. The fear of being attacked by non-vagina-conforming lesbians around the globe is enough to make me quit writing about LGBT culture and perhaps breed cats or blog about cooking instead.
But until then, I will be shrugging off the assumptions that I started with and say; if someone wants to call himself a lesbian, so what? Let’s all assume this Emperor’s New Clothes approach to identity… identification… and embrace this hippy free-for-all when it comes to expressing ourselves. Why close the Pandora’s Box now it’s open, eh?
So from this day forth, I am identifying as a unicorn. I’d like to be referred to in the non-human-specific pronoun of “Sire” and if anyone disagrees with this then they are inter-species-phobic.