Happy Pride: 'Cisgender' Is Apparently A Slur On Twitter Now, And It's Cementing The App As Unsafe

You've probably heard the news that the term "cisgender" is now officially considered a slur on Twitter, which is both disheartening and unsurprising. Pride this year has been rocked by countless attempts across the country to take away and block LGBTQ+ rights, and Twitter is no exception. Since Elon Musk's takeover of the social media site, things have been heading steadily downhill, and this latest attack on the LGBTQ+ community is just one in a long line of anti-LGBTQ+ policies that have plagued Twitter since Musk's takeover.

In response to a tweet from a cis male claiming he was being targeted by trans activists, Musk tweeted that "Repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions. The words "cis" or "cisgender" are considered slurs on this platform." This, naturally, confused many Twitter users who struggle to keep up with the app's ever-changing content policies. It's already an incredibly difficult time out there for the LGBTQ+ community, and now Twitter has been added to the long list of things they have to worry about. This decision is not only rooted in extreme privilege and transphobia, but it's also ultimately helping right-wing extremists further marginalize the LGBTQ+ community.

The term cisgender

For those that might not know, the term cisgender refers to a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. Their gender identity overlaps with their physical anatomy, and since doctors only assign male or female at birth, a cisgender person belongs to one of those two categories. The term cis comes from Latin and means "on this side of" which, in the context of gender, simply differentiates some people from those who are transgender (the Latin for trans being "on the opposite side as"). It's a word meant to categorize, not to judge. Allies know that one of the ways they can help support the LGBTQ+ community beyond voting is to use equitable language.

Cis has long been used in chemistry and genetics as a way to describe atoms and genes being grouped on similar sides. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the word cis was in 1888, and it was in the context of chemistry. To suddenly proclaim that the term is somehow derogatory in nature is to ignore not only the root of the word's, meaning but to ignore its history. Let's not forget that cisgender people are ultimately privileged. Rider University research explains this privilege as, "the unearned benefits you receive when your gender identity matches your sex assigned at birth." 

Twitter is targeting the LGBTQ+ community

Once upon a time, Twitter was a rallying point and safe space for marginalized communities, and then Musk entered the chat. Now, GLAAD's annual Social Media Safety Index ranks Twitter as dead last for LGBTQ+ safety, privacy, and expression within the app. From removing policies that combated targeted misgendering and deadnaming to disbanding Twitter's Trust and Safety Council, Musk's Twitter has continually targeted the LGBTQ+ community. This is especially clear when you realize that LGBTQ+ slurs have seen massive spikes across the platform since last July when Musk took over. It's also important to emphasize the explicitly anti-trans statements that Musk has made, in addition to his actively following the Twitter accounts of anti-trans, far-right extremists.

From not having to worry about what bathroom to use to not being questioned about your necessary medical care, many cisgender people will never experience the same threat of violence that transgender people face in the U.S. every day. To label a term that favors the privileged as a slur shows an utter lack of respect and understanding for what queer and trans community experience on a regular basis. Worst of all, by proclaiming cis a slur, Twitter has rebranded those that are in positions of power as somehow the victims of the oppressive society that they themselves continue to push on LGBTQ+ people. Twitter is increasingly shifting into an unsafe space for marginalized communities, and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better.