I tend to worry that people will assume I am using the term ‘cisgenderism’ as a synonym for cisphobia, or something (mostly because of the -ism). It is, in fact, something entirely different. The briefest definition is probably “the cis version of heteronormativity”, though seeing as cisnormativity is also used, I tend to avoid that – I find it encompasses more.
I use it in the way Natacha Kennedy does in this address on Cultural Cisgenderism – which is well worth reading, by the way. She references research done by Ansara and Hegarty, who characterise a specific type of cultural cisgenderism as:
‘…a prejudicial ideology, rather than an individual attitude, that is systemic, multilevel and reflected in authoritative cultural discourses. […] Cisgenderism problematises the categorical distinction itself between classes of people as either ‘trans-‐gender’ or ‘cisgender’ (or as ‘gender variant’ or unmarked) […] We consider cisgenderism to be a form of ‘othering’ that takes people categorised as ‘transgender’ as ‘the effect to be explained.’
Features included in this sort of cisgenderism:
- the systematic erasure and problematising of trans people
- the essentialising of gender
- the gender binary
- the immutability of gender
- the external imposition of gender
Kennedy makes a distinction between transphobia as a relatively individual attitude and cisgenderism as something that is strongly institutionalised.
I won’t go on to summarise the rest of the address, because i don’t think I have the ability.
In any case, this is what I mean when I tag things with cisgenderism. They are examples of cisgenderism, of cis as the default and the norm and everything else being “othered”. The institutionalised actions towards and against trans people.