Recently, Huffington Post Gay Voices decided to run an editorial by J. Nelson Aviance about how hard it is being a white, cisgender man. Life is tough!
Given that HuffPo Gay Voices will publish anything that falls in line with editor Noah Michelson’s personal worldview, Aviance’s piece was thrown up and promoted — with gusto! It’s a glorious piece in which Aviance claims that society is out to get him because of his skin color (yes, just wait, he actually says that). He goes on to talk a lot about his penis, uses the word “weaponized” a lot, consults his best friend Thesaurus.com, and moans about how he shouldn’t have to “check his privilege.”
In all, it’s important to remember that Aviance is a victim. Y’all don’t know what it’s like being male, middle-class, and white.
Life is tough for our protagonist. I mean, look at the pain in those eyes. Look! And that hair! And that beard! It’s about time we started up a collection in his honor.
Without further ado, I present, “I am NOT cisgendered” by J. Nelson Aviance (and commentary by me).
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I am NOT ‘cisgendered.’ I reject that label. Why? From what I’ve read, ‘cisgendered’ is a label that began in academic discourse as a way of describing people who weren’t trans.
Gosh! Not academia! No! Lurning iz bahd! But regardless of where the word came from, yes, it means that you are not trans.
But the meaning of it was akin to what we might call ‘normatively gendered.’ That means your gender identity is within a limited range of what society considers to be acceptably ‘normal.’
No, dude. It doesn’t mean “normal,” it just means that the gender you identify with is in line with the sex you were assigned at birth.
Normative is a word of negation and resistance. It rejects the boundaries delineated as ‘normal’ by illustrating their discursive construction, i.e. not essential.
Why are you still harping on about things being “normal?”
However, while ‘cisgendered’ operates within a broader language of gender as a means of description, it is also prescriptive and limiting.
It’s not, but go on…
The reason I place it in quotations is because it sets up a binary that is antithetical to the purpose for which it is employed in popular discourse.
I see that you’re doing that thing where you’ve got a thesaurus open in the next window. *pours some dressing on this word salad*
If gender isn’t binary, if it is fluid and can transgress boundaries, than a binary between cisgender and transgender cannot exist. If it does, then we must delineate what ‘real’ transgender or ‘true’ transgender means, and who is allowed to inhabit it.
1.) No, gender is not binary. 2.) Yes, a binary between cis and trans can exist. It’s easy. Here: Do you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth? If yes, then you are cisgender. If the answer is: no, sometimes, most of the time, rarely, or anything other than yes, the you are trans (see? non-binary people fall into the “umbrella” of trans). But I have a feeling you’re conflating gender identity and gender expression…
If ‘cisgendered’ means your gender identity matches the social construct attached to the sex you were assigned at birth, than there cannot be a male gender identity that acts outside those normative social boundaries.
Yep. I was right. You’re conflating identity and expression. Consider this point moot, duder. You can be a cisgender man and wear a dress and makeup and play with Barbie dolls and and and and…. you get it, right? I hope you do. Expression doesn’t equal identity, broseph.
And if you say there is variation on gender identity, but ‘cis-‘ just means you were born with a penis and identify and live as a man, than you negate the many variations on what it means to ‘be a man’ or even to ‘live as a man.’
Nope. Again, you can “live as a man” in any way you want. Break those gender norms! Fight back against gender norms! Rah rah! Still a man, still cisgender. Why? BECAUSE YOU’RE DESCRIBING GENDER EXPRESSION.
You are imposing your concept of those things onto me, enforcing a binary that is paradoxical.
You sound like a straight person going, “DON’T CALL ME STRAIGHT! I’M JUST NORMAL!”
Moreover, you are denying the gender fluidity of those who have a penis and identify as male, but prefer women’s underwear or wear makeup or transgress norms in innumerable other ways. Adding more labels — like ‘cisgendered male transvestite’ — in order to justify your act of aggression defeats the purpose of simplifying things with words like ‘cisgendered.’
It’s at this point that I want to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Psssst. The word you’re looking for is ‘cisgender,’ not ‘cisgendered.’” Then I remember that your editors are the dudes over at Huffington Post and remember, “Ah, right, HuffPost Gay Voices….” Also, who the fuck is referring to you as a “cisgendered male transvestite?” Can you please show me where a trans person has called you that?
What is perhaps most disturbing in being called ‘cisgendered,’ is that it imposes an identity on me.
Yeah! Like, DON’T CALL ME WHITE! Amirite?
Doing so invalidates my complicated experience of gender. Don’t tell me that I am somehow normatively gendered for my body when my life experience has led me through periods of deep confusion about my gender identity and living as gender queer.
If you identify as genderqueer, you’re totally right. You’re not cis, you’re trans. But again, I have this sinking feeling that you’re not actually identifying as genderqueer, but simply appropriating the name of their identity and applying it to how much of a little gender expression rebel you seem to be. Gender rebel without a clue.
How is living gender queer normative? How does that reconcile with the sex and gender roles society associates with having a penis?
You certainly talk a lot about dick.
Moreover, you don’t get to make a reductive statement about my gender identity or how I embody my gender while trying to argue for recognition of the diversity of other peoples’ embodied genders.
There’s your thesaurus again.
If you are going to argue for a less simplistic reading of others’ embodied genders, than you have to do so with mine too. That includes recognizing that as a queer person, I’m automatically not inhabiting the normative roles society has constructed for those with a penis.
Still talking about dick… again. Odd that you keep substituting “penis” for “men,” which would imply that you believe men = penis. Way to go, buddy, you just said something super fucking transphobic. Take a bow.
My behavior, and sexual and romantic attachments aren’t normative for ‘men.’ My intuitiveness isn’t normative. My choices of profession haven’t been normative. My mode of speech isn’t normative.
By imposing the label ‘cisgendered’ onto me, you do me psychological and intellectual violence.
Weren’t you the guy just whining about how trans women should have to just deal with being called “trannies” and “shemales?” Why is it that this is “violence,” but when you call me a name that happens when violence is actually inflicted, is it something I just need to get over?
You are saying that I am the same as all the people who do accept and inhabit the normative roles attached to the social construct of ‘men,’ ‘male,’ or ‘masculine.’
Roles have to do with gender expression… So…. again, this has nothing to do with whether or not you’re cis or trans, broham.
You are silencing my voice and rejecting my right to determine my own identity.
Yeah, your voice is SO silenced that you’ve been given a platform to reach tens of thousands of people on Huffington Post! How silenced! How can you bear it!?
You have put me into a binary that alienates me from gender discourse. You are telling me, ‘check your privilege,’ a phrase that has been weaponized and become popular to use in ways that are adolescent and regressive to the discourse.
Hahahahaha. Yeah, sucks to be asked to acknowledge how you, as a white man, have benefitted from institutionalized forces like racism and sexism. Sorry about asking you to have to ponder that for a sec. “Weaponized.”
You are saying — especially with the implication of that last phrase — that I need to reexamine my privileged position.
Yeah, you should. We all should. Jesus fucking Christ, dude.
That assumes I am unaware of my privilege and how my privilege affects.
This isn’t a sentence. You’re missing some commas. Also, “how your privilege affects” what, exactly?
It is a phrase that in this context has one purpose — to invalidate the opinions and silence the voices of those who you disagree with. It is aggressive and hurtful language — weaponized.
pew pew! Back to saying “weaponized” I see.
The fact that some people may not see those connections, may want to disavow them and the weaponized nature of how these terms are currently used shows a lack of understanding of the nature of discourse and how it shapes our world.
Yeah, like when I was saying, “Hey, don’t call me ‘tranny,’ and you and all your buddies totally had my back, right? Oh, wait…
By imposing your label on me and then questioning why I’m offended by it, you are questioning and invalidating my right to feel. That further silences my voice.
HE JUST WANTS TO FEEL, PEOPLE. CAN’T WE JUST LET HIM FEEL!?
This has happened to me several times in the past few months since I began blogging on The Huffington Post.
Because, again, nothing says, “I’ve been silenced,” like having a platform at HuffPost.
It follows a trend of invalidating men’s opinions and voices in gender discourse, as though we don’t have gender or don’t have worthwhile experiences of it.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ!?
Meanwhile we have to sit and listen as society demands us to be strong and silent, but sensitive and intuitive to the needs of our partners; as news stories and the media identify all men as predators who enjoy and participate in rape culture; as our experiences of sexual abuse and sexual assault are made into jokes and not challenged by anyone — as opposed to the uproar over rape humor with female victims. Men who cherish their children suffer exponentially and disproportionately in custody cases. Men who don’t fit easily within a handful of archetypes are still forced to seek out alternative communities and cohorts, sometimes being alienated from fathers and family members.
I completely forgot that he went into a Men’s Rights Activist/”Not ALL men” rant here. Ha!
The term ‘cis-‘ has also participated in an increasing hostility toward gay men, and in particular white gay men. Race is, of course, a complicated issue within the LGBTQIA community. But when did gay men become the enemy?
Gay men aren’t the enemy. Privilege-denying assholes who oppress others are. Glad I could clear that up for you.
I hold no rosy belief that our community’s political power is spread out equally among all our groups. But the attacks within the community only erode our unified political force when that unity is required. Infighting begets enmity and isolation.
Yeah, how dare anyone speak up?! We should be happy with whatever crumbs you throw our way, amirite?
Throwing angry and hateful rhetoric — essentially demanding everyone acknowledge your pain by lashing out — erases those voices who might otherwise make important contributions to our cause.
Yeah, again, totally! Just like when you said, “Hey, gay dudes, can you please not say ‘tranny?’” Oh, right, you were one of the tools promoting use of the word. My bad. Fucking hypocrite.
Yet, as a ‘cisgendered’ man I’m not allowed an opinion, not allowed a voice, not allowed to disagree, not allowed to have a lived experience of embodying a gender identity that is diverse and varied and absolutely out of step with the norm I’m ascribed to by the word ‘cis-.’
You need to stop saying that you “don’t have a voice” when you’re writing at HuffPost, dipshit.
Instead, I’m supposed to reflect on my privilege before I am allowed to interrupt the people whose opinions matter. I’msupposed to ‘check my privilege.’ I am a binary male within a binary ‘cisgendered’ vs. transgendered paradigm.
Again, cis is someone who 100 percent identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. Trans is anyone else. Anyone. If you were assigned male at birth and only identify as a man 90 percent of the time, congrats, you’re non-binary, and trans. No one’s being excluded, dudebro.
I’m the enemy because I’m afforded privilege by my family background, my skin color, my penis, and my ‘cis-‘-ness.
Ah, again with the “penis = man,” transphobic shit. Go fuck yourself. Also, are you seriously trying to say that people are mean to you because you’re white? Sit down. Right now. Just sit down. Stop it.
Somehow that fails to take into account the fact that I haven’t been able to hold down a full-time job because of a mental illness that sometimes leaves me incapacitated.
You are privileged in some ways. You are oppressed in others. Just because you are oppressed in some ways does not negate the privilege you have in other aspects. How do you not get this?
It ignores the fact that my experience of everything has been shaped by a lifetime of being large and marginalized within gay male and Western European cultures. If someone doesn’t understand why I find the term ‘cisgendered’ offensive, why I refuse to allow someone else to define me or inscribe their ideas onto my body, then perhaps I’m not the ignorant one. I’m just the evil white gay guy with too much privilege.
Poor baby! Wahhhhhhhh!