Log in

Paradox Puree [userpic]
[Controversial] There is no cisphobia
by Paradox Puree (paradox_puree)
at September 11th, 2008 (05:18 pm)

I've been seeing this idea being spread around a lot lately. The idea that there is no such thing as "cisphobia" or "heterophobia" or "reverse racism" or "reverse sexism" or any of that, and frankly, I find the idea really disturbing and distressing.

I'm not disagreeing with the idea that these words are ill conceived. As I understand it, words like "homophobia," "transphobia," "racism," "sexism," etc. are referring to cultural patterns of oppression and privilege from an oppressor class towards an oppressed class that are not necessarily overt displays of prejudice and bias. These phobias and -isms cannot be used to refer to bias and hate against the oppressor class. When a trans person makes sweeping generalized statements or acts with bias against cis people, they are not displaying "cisphobia," because they are not acting out a general pattern of oppression and privilege towards cisgender people. In this sense, then, there is no such thing as "cisphobia."

I think that this distinction is important when discussing certain elements of society and behavior. When talking about the way that we need to change our society to remove oppression. When calling someone on the way that their behavior is unconsciously contributing to a culture of oppression and privilege. When pointing out differences in privilege.

However, I think this distinction becomes less important when we're talking about interpersonal relationships. More specifically, it is less important when we are talking about individuals that are using this fact as a shield to defend their own prejudice and hatred towards the oppressive class.

This is what I can't stand. I have always believed in the attitudes that I saw exemplified in the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. As members of an oppressed class, we are indeed called upon to fight for our very lives at times. But when the dust clears and the battle is won, we should be able to look to our oppressors as friends and allies. It is not about destroying an enemy, but rather about showing these people their misunderstandings. Teaching them about the errors in their thoughts. What I got from these leaders was that we should strive to see our opponents not as enemies, but as friends that lack understanding.

To that end, I despise it when a member of an oppressed class uses the fact of their oppression to defend their ability to stereotype, demean, belittle, and attack members of their oppressor class. In my mind, it makes us no better than them when we do that. That is, again, not to say that we shouldn't speak vehemently and passionately about the evils that the oppressor class heaps upon us. That doesn't mean that we can't call people on their inherent bias. But it does mean that we don't have a right to be an asshole back at them because they oppress us.

I've been seeing this in a lot of trans communities lately. A movement of sorts beginning to exclude, stereotype, and demean cis people. These are people that are specifically beginning to exclude cis people from discussion on trans matters. I have seen some people actually suggest that all cis people should be killed. It seems to me that this is the same attitude that has created "womyn-born-womyn" only spaces. It is the same attitude, from the perspective of the underdog. It is hatred, once again.

I would like to see us transcend hatred. You know. Be passionately able to fight against oppression without having to resort to speech fueled by hate. Express our anger without resorting to violence of word or action.

Yeah, they're not being cisphobic and they're not being oppressive by doing what they're doing. They're not acting out patterns of oppression. But they are acting out patterns of hatred towards others.

I'm very privileged, so maybe I just don't get it. I'm white, employed, and make good money. I grew up as male in a family that, while not being well-off financially, wasn't usually struggling to get by. Maybe I'm acting out the patterns of oppression I learned growing up when I criticize those of my own oppressed class when they are being hateful like this.

But honestly, I still feel that there is something disjoint between this behavior that I'm seeing and the ideals of non-violent resistance.


(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Lisa Harney (lisaquestions)
Posted at: September 12th, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
Toph Rawr

Thank you. I agree with all of this.

Posted by: mantic_angel (mantic_angel)
Posted at: September 13th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)

"I very much fear police officers."

I actually have a pretty hefty distrust of them myself. Back when I was white male, I got the talk about how if I was ever seen again, they would make up charges to arrest me on. I had another cop toy around with cuffing me and a friend because he didn't like the way we were acting.

Saying "I'm scared of police" strikes me as pretty reasonable. Saying "police officers are all untrustworthy" strikes me as stereotyping. Spray painting "PIGS!" on their cars and heckling them every time you see them strikes me as abusive. Refusing to hire one for a job strikes me as discrimination.

That's the big thing. Drawing that line between "I feel" and "they are." "I feel scared" vs "they are scary." "I don't trust police" vs "police are untrustworthy."

Equally, I think there's a difference between "being angry" and "inappropriate expressions of anger." I also think there's a difference between lashing out at your abusers, and lashing out at people who simply look like your abuser. Honestly, if someone is being kicked while they're down, I think it's damned reasonable for them to fight like hell to get up. I don't think you owe a dishonorable person any respect. But claiming that cis-people writ large are dishonorable? That's a notion that absolutely horrifies me.

Maybe the problem in some areas really is that bad. That the only way to survive is to lash out like this. I haven't really seen any evidence of that, though; that there are people who survive solely by lashing out at the majority-class. (I am drawing a distinction between lashing out vs. anger. I think the emotional response is probably quite the survival benefit)

The children we're passing it down to aren't the cis-people. It's the trans-people. The cis-people were raised that abusing others is okay, that bigotry and violence and lashing out is an acceptable solution to the "outsiders." Now we're teaching a generation of trans-people that abusing others is okay, that bigotry and violence and lashing out is an acceptable solution to the cis-people.

This has actually been studied a fair amount: abusers tend to pass on that abuse. Someone who is beaten as a child is more likely to continue the cycle and abuse their kids. What I'm seeing here is that on a social scale: The minority is being abused, and they're trying to handle this by abusing some other group.

I'm quite glad you posted. You're one of the first people here that I've actually seemed to be in agreement with to some degree. One of the first people that seemed calm and respectful about this issue. and not trying to justify abuse of cis-people helps a lot! :)

(I appreciate your respect as well. It makes me smile to know you respect me, and were willing to write something like this. I hope I have not stressed you or come across as argumentative to you)

187 Read Comments