Some people who are not transgender seem to have a lot of ideas about what it means to be transgender. Some of these people are cisplainers. These are the people who claim to have more knowledge about someone’s gender identity than the actual person who has a gender identity outside of the cisplainer’s personal experience.
“Cisplaining” is taken from the term, “mansplaining”, which has been interpreted to mean many things. My chosen utilization of mansplaining is when a male person assumes to have more knowledge about what it’s like to be female than a female person does.
In the same way, cisplaining is when a cisgender person (someone who is not transgender) assumes to have more knowledge about what it’s like to be transgender than a transgender person does. Thus, the connection to mind-reading and other mystic powers. It stands to reason that a cisplainer must have the ability to read minds. Otherwise, how in the world would they know another person’s gender identity?
Not all cisgender people are cisplainers. Most of the cisgender people I know have taken the time to learn about transgender identities and the obstacles that are faced by people who are transgender. In fact, most of the people I know understand that people experience their various identities in different ways (i.e. everyone is not the same).
The ones who cisplain often say that a person’s gender is defined by their biological birth sex. They sometimes say that transgender identities are not natural. They sometimes select certain verses from the bible in an attempt to support their ideology. Regardless of their sources, cisplainers must still rely on the idea that they are able to determine another person’s gender identity.
These people have been known to do some research on the topic. They search the internet until they find something that supports there espoused ability to read other people’s minds and ignore the bothersome opinions of organizations like the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Medical Association.
Of course, when a person has determined that they are able to assign a gender identity to everyone in the world, it is necessary to push reality to the side. You can’t let little things like science get in the way when you are telling other people who they are and who they have to be.
Also of course, the real problem with cisplainers is not so much that they think they know who you are, but that they often try to tell you who you are and who you have to be.
It is perfectly okay with me if someone wants to believe that they know more about my gender than I do. However, I kind of have trouble when they try to tell me that I have to take their delusional daydream and create my own personal nightmare.
As I have shared many times, when I tried living as a man, my life was filled with horrible turmoil. I wasn’t able to function. I couldn’t participate in society. I wasn’t able to pursue higher education. I couldn’t make it work no matter how hard I tried. And I did try. For almost half a century, I tried.
In the last several years as I have stopped pretending to be male, and I have embraced my authentic female self. Not surprisingly, my life has been filled with amazing joy. I am able to function. I can participate in society. I have achieved two college degrees and I am working on my third. It works. I don’t even have to try. It just works.
There is more. I have been told not only that I am not truly a woman, but that as a transgender person I can not be faithful to my authentic self and also be faithful to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, I know that part of being faithful to God is being faithful to my authentic self.
So, you might imagine that I get concerned when I become aware of cisplaining people. Cisplainers be like trying to tell you who you have to be. I be like trying to keep transgender teenagers from committing suicide.
There are a couple things I would like to say to the cisplainers. If you would like to know more about what it’s like to be transgender, I will be glad to sit down with you and share. I am not that hard to find.
If you think you know more about who I am than I do and you want to try to do some cisplaining, there isn’t much I can do to help you. But I do know some really good doctors who might be able help you with that.
Finally, I think it would be cool if we had some mystic ability to tell whether or not people were kind. I guess we will just have to settle for being able to listen to them.
Stephanie Mott is a transsexual woman from Topeka, Kansas and a nationally known speaker on transgender issues. In addition, Stephanie is the executive director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. She can be reached at email@example.com