I am an administrator of a Facebook group which discuss how women are treated in the church, and how to understand the Bible on the topic. Our main issues in the group are misusing the Bible to say women should one-sidedly submit to men, messages that women should not preach or men should not learn from them, and limiting both sexes to gender roles.
In short, since gender means i “the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men” (defined by the World Health Organisation), the group is all about discussing gender. And since gender is usually a hierarchy, with men on top and women below, our main readership is church women who need to know they can respect the Bible without yielding to male oppression.
A new member recently told us that “cisgender” people did not have the right to discuss gender, it is firstly a transgender issue. I told her that gender is everyone’s issue since everyone has gendered expectations on them. I could also have said is that women are affected more negatively than men by gendered expectations. I could even have said that I am not cisgender, and by her own standards, this means that my opinion should matter.
(Since then, this woman chose to remove herself from the group. Which is fine – if she wants to hear mainly trans individuals discuss gender, and our group discusses gender in another way, she would fit in better somewhere else.)
Why, then, do I believe most women are not “cisgender”? Simple.
Cis means “this side of”. Trans means “on the other side of”. To be cis, you need two things on the same side. For example, there used to be two Southern African nominally independent states called “Ciskei” and “Transkei”. These states were on either side of the Kei river. When naming Ciskei, the 1) name-giver and 2) the country of Ciskei were on one side of the Kei river. When naming Transkei, the 1) name-giver and 2) the country of Transkei were on different sides of the Kei river.
Transgender people say their biological sex and their gender are on different sides. They may be, for example, biologically male and yet have a female gender identity. Measuring by whatever other things, besides their body, according to which they call people male or female, they are (or regard themselves as) female. (There are also intersex people and non-binary genders.)
Cisgender people have Continue reading