Twitter has been accused of being an echo chamber of hate, and indeed some posts border on the weird, cruel or damn right hateful.
As a platform, at least before the new owner Elon Musk took over, there was a feeble attempt to protect trans people from threats, abuse and misgendering… sadly those ambitions are now gone.
This week we saw Helen Joyce (left of picture) writing a cruel Twitter thread about how (in her opinion) trans women didn’t “pass” – what Helen doesn’t realise is the public doesn’t care one iota. I certainly have friends who don’t pass, but gone are the days when goths got a second look, women with bright pink, blue or green hair got stared at, or people whispered “freak” seeing a 6-foot-six-inch trans woman in a mini dress.
Helen Joyce’s compatriot in transphobia (definition “the prejudice of trans people”) at “Sex Matters” is Maya Forstater, who, true to form to her protected belief, has started to get careless, openly calling some high-profile trans women “men” – to the best of my knowledge Twitter did nothing.
Of course, the “trans side” also insults gender-critical people via Twitter – bigots, nazis and fascists currently being the most common.
But the ramp-up to create more outrage and clicks generating more advertising and dough for Mr Musk (estimated worth $192 billion) came with the announcement that the word “cis” is a slur – well, anyway, to those rich, white, normal, people often called cishet.
From now on, anyone daring to use the “c” word in a Twitter post would risk suspension – the three-letter and nine-letter versions, that is – I’m guessing the four-letter version is absolutely fine!
Becoming a lazy writer, I asked Bing AI the origin of the word cisgender and got this:
“The word cisgender comes from the Latin prefix cis-, which means “on this side of”, as opposed to trans-, which means “across from” or “on the other side of” The term was first used in English in 1994 by Dana Defosse, a graduate student who wanted to refer to non-transgender people without implying that they were the norm or default. The term was also used by German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch in 1991 to describe people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. The term became more widely known in the 2010s due to increased social awareness and acceptance of transgender people”.
I am unsure where a slur is in all that – it seems mega tame in comparison to bigot, fascist and nazi and certainly every primary English-speaking dictionary seems to agree with Oxford Languages saying:
“Cisgender is an adjective that means “denoting or relating to a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex registered for them at birth”. For example, a person who was assigned male at birth and identified as a man is cisgender. The opposite of cisgender is transgender, which means “denoting or relating to a person whose gender identity or gender expression does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.”
Personally, I have never viewed the word “cis” as a slur, but I certainly have GC friends who think differently and out of respect for them, I have invariably tried to avoid using “cis”, often using “natal female” in my Twitter posts.
However, being called a “predator”, “groomer”, and “misogynist”, are words trans people get thrown at them very regularly via Twitter; clearly, Mr Musk thinks that is perfectly fine too.
What Elon Musk needs to remember is that Twitter users have choices….and it is much easier to get to the top than stay there.
Meanwhile, when posting on Twitter, I may write “c/women”, “t/women”, “natal female”, or “all women” as appropriate.