I am a cis woman. That is, my gender identity and my genes/hormones/plumbing/etc match up, as female. That matchup is a privilege.
The adjective "cis" was coined because there are occasions when it's necessary to distinguish those who have such a match-up from those who don't (trans people/women/men). It is not inherently a pejorative term (though it can be used pejoratively, as can most words); it's simply the Latin antonym of "trans".
There are, however, people who have the privilege of identity/biology matchup who find it horribly offensive (GG the Undead takes note here
of a particularly massive and trainwrecky instance [see also Questioning Transphobia's post
, while I'm not posting specifically about that debacle, was what inspired me to quit waiting for that long-delayed shipment of Round Tuits and damned well post
these thoughts). Most of the objections I've seen are about like the first one quoted at QT, which can be summarized as, "But I don't like it!", or are even less coherent.
As far as I can tell, the "offense" here is that the offended folks feel like they've lost the privilege of being Unmarked Case
. That's pure "puff" privilege, all style and no substance; the most substantial thing lost is their sense of being "normal", "not one of the freaks". Their sense
of it, mind you; the world is not suddenly looking at them askance. Most of the time, there's no need at all to subdivide the category "woman" (or "man") into cis women and trans women (or cis men and trans men); those folks objecting to "cis" aren't being asked to constantly and consistently identify themselves as a subclass of the category. If that were the case, they might have a point - the exact same point
as those trans women and men who object to being asked to specify their transness whether it's relevant or not.
When trans folk and their allies use the adjective "cis", the intent is to construct a frame in which, when subdivision of categories is relevant to the discourse, each
subcategory is adjectivally distinguished, and when subdivision is not relevant, no distinguishing adjectives are required. I've never heard an objection to "cis" that argued that all
distinguishing adjectives are offensive, or offensive-when-irrelevant; if they touch on that at all, it's to champion the "right" of trans folk to identify by their chosen term "trans" - completely eliding that it's an identifier chosen for those instances of relevance
. "Trans woman/man" is not an identity in place of woman/man, it's an identity in place of terms habitually and traditionally used derogatorily.
No, the objection is that "cis" in particular
is offensive. Taking again the first objector quoted in the QT post linked above, it's because cis people didn't make it up themselves. Granted, it's not put like that, it's expressed as not being able to choose the identity-term - well, no more did trans people; they selected the least-baggage-laden of a selection of terms imposed by the (cis-defaultive) cultural mainstream. Note that the objector doesn't offer an alternative of any kind, nor any examples of "cis" being used derogatorily; basically, he's just offended because other people are marking his
case, dammit, it's his
to mark, but he's not gonna.
And that's one of the most
coherent, cogent, and tightly-reasoned arguments I've read about the offensiveness of "cis": it's insulting because it explicitly points out privilege
If that's the most "offensively" that your privilege is ever called out, you have no
 In a binary model. Get beyond the binary, and it gets complicated.
 Adjective, rather than prefix, because either "cis" or "trans" used as a prefix has stronger connotations of being outside the unmarked-case category. This may seem trivial, but the first time I went to type "ciswoman" to identify myself, it smacked me upside the head - yep, it does matter.
 In a post-transphobic world, we wouldn't need the distinguishing adjectives. This is not that world, so anyone advocating eliminating both "trans" and "cis" is either criminally naive, or disingenuously trying to sweep transphobia under the rug.
 Some individual trans folk have a strong identity with the "trans" adjective, and prefer "trans woman/man" to unmodified "woman/man".Note on commenting:
Transphobia in comments will
be called out, if not by me then by others, but will only be deleted if there's no content of substance or if it's especially nasty - as a general principle, I prefer public disagreement, unto mocking if it seems apropos, to cleaning up and thus concealing misdeeds. If you're a cis person with privilege baggage, you'd best hope I get to it before my trans* readers do; I'm merely snarkastic and scalpel-tongued, they are used to fighting for their lives.
ETA: That includes calling me out on anything I've screwed up here.