So, I hear trans people recently invented this whole cis/trans thing…

in Cristan Williams/History
By Cristan Williams
@cristanwilliams

 

Using the cis- and trans- taxonomy to reference gender behavior was used as early as 1914. The transgender community didn’t invent its use, nor is its current use inconsistent with its use in 1914.  When discussing gender, cis simply means same and trans simply means to cross. Whether it was 1914 or 2014, when someone uses cis regarding gender, it is simply a recognition that one is not trans. Likewise, whether it was 1914 or 2014, when someone uses trans regarding gender, it is simply a recognition that one is not cis.

From the Transgender Archive, Houston, TX

Some context: The above comes in the context of a sexology book from the beginning of the last century when it was popular to scrutinize (and sometimes overly-so) a great deal of human behavior through a psychosexual lens. Thus, whether one was dressing in a manner consistent with their sex assigned at birth or in a manner inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth, the vestments were viewed as sexual symbols that were distinguished through the cis/trans binary.



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Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.

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