Columns Jan 8, 2014 at 4:00 am

Gayed, Blacked, Transgendered


just curious, do we know if Cis' first language is English?

for example, if we knew that she's not a native-speaker, would that make a difference in how we feel about her choice of diction / syntax and method of addressing others?
Thanks. I'm a native English speaker, but I was having that thought myself. When you learn your third language as an adult, you get used to glancing past small errors and being wrong a lot. What's an "-ed" here and there, really?

In my second language, the pattern indefinite article + adjective can be standard and non-offensive (i.e., "a transgender"). My third language has no articles at all, but rather classifiers that are used rarely and in ways English speakers would not expect. Petosky's idea that indefinite article + adjective = oppression makes literally no sense in that language and its close linguistic cousins... which are spoken by over a billion people. My second language is spoken by another 400 million.

From 8000 miles away, First World Complaints sure can sound pretty provincial.
HOPE, I would not go announcing that you're not very romantically experienced straight up. Not because it's anything to be ashamed of or worried about, but because it's not the most interesting or important thing about you, and saying it suggests you think it IS, which potentially IS a problem.

I saw a guy on a dating site lately whose first line was "I'm schizophrenic." Schizophrenia does not mean he's undateable! But it should have been at the end of his profile, after he'd told you why he was awesome, or something he told dates after he'd built some kind of connection with them. Not TOO late, of course, but not immediately.

If asked about exes, I would say something like "I've dated a lot, but it's never really got to the point of anything longterm." It's true, and sounds totally unremarkable. That'll probably do for the first date or two. On date three, you can open up a bit more. But don't treat it like some big horrible defect they have to get over. Because it isn't. If someone is pressing you for WHY you haven't had an LTR (yet not making you uncomfortable, I had one guy who was practically making interview questions out of it, not romantic), you can say "Ehh, I wasn't really looking for anything serious when I was younger, or if I was I had some dumb ideas about where to look, and unfortunately I was off the market with depression for a while in my 30s, but I'm much happier now." Again, put like that, it sounds pretty unremarkable.

I'll offer you the benefit of some self-therapy I gave myself recently. I've had relationships but not that many, and not that much sex, (so hey you're ahead there!) and the relationships tended to be short or weird or I didn't feel they really counted. At any rate, I had this unacknowledged fear, the same fear you have, that there was something wrong with me. I didn't want to think about it for a long time, I wanted to be positive and pretend it was just about bad luck and so on (and I had HAD plenty of that). But one day (while going through a depressive patch too) I thought, okay, I give up pretending I don't feel like this, let's poke it with a stick and see what happens. What COULD be so wrong with me that I can't ever have a happy relationship? Am I ugly or unsanitary? No, I can point to a lot of people who have been or still are attracted to me. Is it that I'm unlikeable? No, I have a lot of friends. Is it that I'm incapable of attraction and caring? No, I have a history of that too. Can I not live with people? Nope, done that, just not with a partner. Am I actually evil? Invaded any countries? Tortured anyone? Pretty sure I'd remember. Okay, so what is left that's so wrong with me?

And all I could find at the bottom of the heap was... what's wrong with me is the fear that something is wrong with me. And that's it. Total Fear Itself situation. It makes me second-guess my feelings, panic about people finding me out, and rush out of situations early because I'm scared of not being able to handle them later. So all that sucks. But there is nothing ACTUALLY wrong with me and I don't NEED to feel like this. I could go on dates and feel curious and relaxed, not on edge yet determined to perform.

I can't give you the happy ending to this story yet, but I felt so much better once I thought that. I'm going on a second date tomorrow. Good luck! Try to stop being scared.
Honestly, I think that Hi_It's_CIS is straight up trolling us.

She's a woman, in a position to write an article about transgender people, in a third-world Muslim country. Process that for a second. A woman. Quite probably a *European* woman. In a third-world Muslim country. Who is getting *published*. With articles about gender issues. Pull the other one.

Then, of course, realize it's an article that she writes without first talking to the people she writes about, but nonetheless sends drafts to them (or maybe *just* sends a draft to the one acquaintance she has who will go totally nuclear about it?) after the bulk of the writing is done. And then cuts off all contact with her friend that doesn't like what she wrote, because the friend is acting totally crazy and unreasonable. But in spite of the objections being crazy and unreasonable, she also kills the article, because the friend--with whom she cut off all contact, because that friend is so crazy and unreasonable--is upset. Kills the article, even though that friend is in another country and in no position to read the final product. Kills the article even though she didn't care enough about her friend's opinion to ask about it before writing.

And even though she initially claimed her letter has been edited, and the "ed" thing had *nothing* to do with the friend's objections, she's now glommed on to the "Yeah, it's a language thing! If you knew more languages, you wouldn't care about grammar anymore! First world problems, LOL!" solution that was offered her here.

I had to pull the batteries out of my bullshit detector because I was afraid of going deaf.
Also, if she's really in a developing Muslim country 8000 miles away, she's doing her posting between 4am and 9am. Kind of a funny time for a somebody with a day job to be internet surfing, eh?

If she's *not* somebody with a day job--if she's writing unsolicited articles about trans issues freelance--what's her visa say she's in the country for? And where does she sell her articles about things the locals don't care about?
There's a hilarious Vice article on trans life in which the author also objects, as a side note, to the word 'transgendered'. It's under the honourable mentions in the entry for T.…
There's a hilarious Vice article on trans life in which the author also objects, as a side note, to the word 'transgendered'. It's under the honourable mentions in the entry for T.…
Hi. In light of comments, I recognized that killing the whole article was a bit of an overreaction.

Recognizing the good the article could do, I re-edited the piece to remove former friend, contacted a few of the other people for their response, heard some pretty big enthusiasm, and sent the revised piece to my editor here in Bangladesh.

The response has been hearty and positive. You can read the article here:…

Stay well, everyone.
Okay, seriously, in the nicest way, HOPE, get thee to a therapist. If you are attractive enough that women will have sex with you, but not go out with you again afterwards, you've probably got some personality issues that are getting in your way.
There's still hope for you, but only if you become aware of what your issues are. Don't be a 47-year-old guy who's never had a serious relationship.
For CIS (or, more accurately, his nutso friend, whatever gender-noun is applicable), from Dan's review of Sarah Palin's book:

"And if I may: Gay people have been persecuted for years, for centuries, for motherfucking millennia. Really persecuted, primarily by people of faith. And our persecution didn't take the form of straight people wishing us well but failing to use precisely the right phrase. No, we were burned at the stake, arrested, imprisoned, committed, lobotomized, thrown out of our homes, and fired from our jobs; our children were taken from us, our partners were barred from our hospital rooms during medical emergencies, and on and on and on. And yet... somehow... the joy of giving and receiving blowjobs wasn't drained from our minds and hearts.

If centuries of persecution didn't ruin blowjobs for gay people, Sarah, "happy holidays" isn't going to destroy anyone's Christmas."

If someone uses the wrong word, with the right intentions...big fucking deal! Ignore him, teach him, whatever. Happy Holidays!
To Ricardo, #73, #80 & #91
regarding the term "cis" - it is my understanding that the terms "cis" and "trans" come from chemistry. From the dictionary -

"trans-" is "a prefix used in the names of chemical compounds that are geometric isomers having two identical atoms or groups attached on opposite sides of a molecule divided by a given plane of symmetry" while

"cis-" is "a prefix used in the names of chemical compounds that are geometric isomers having two identical atoms or groups attached on the same side of a molecule divided by a given plane of symmetry"

in other words; trans is where the two pieces are on opposite sides (body and mental gender) and cis is where the two pieces are on the same side (body and mental gender)

So it is not an invented term, just less well known.
As was pointed out, the -ed suffix can sometimes make adjectival forms out of nouns.

As in "brown-haired" and "left-handed" or even "horse-faced" or any number of things.

I think the problem is that the derivation did not go in the order people are thinking it goes now. And it's ok if people want to prefer "transgender" to "transgendered" but I don't think it's ok to impute all sorts of negative motivations to people using a normal grammatical process.

Gender is a noun. It can be made into an adjective, "gendered". Hence you can say something is "male gendered". But if they're gendered in a way that crosses (i.e. the meaning of "trans-") from the assigned/birth gender to the opposite gender, then they were "transgendered".

Likewise, someone could complain that they do not have a "transgender", and that "a transgender" is not a thing. They have a male or female gender. Since they transitioned from the opposite sex, they are transgendered.

Really, it's a pretty minor point and it's not a case of the -ed suffix being used to dehumanize or imply that their transgenderism is something that happened to them. The -ed suffix is used simply because "gender" is (grammatically) a noun, and hence it took an -ed suffix to become an adjective. It doesn't NEED that suffix, and it certainly seems that "transgender" is the more common term (when coming before "person", "man" or "woman", "transgender" was several times more common on Google results, while it was about a 55-45 split before "people"). It seems that "transgender" is now firmly an adjective without any additional ending, even though "gender" is not.

The reason that you wouldn't say "gayed" or "blacked"? Because those are and were already adjectives. Simple as that.

Honestly, as a linguist it can be quite annoying to read activists (my experience being with feminism/gender studies) talk about language...
I can't stand when wishy washy people write 'cough, cough' in their sentences. Own your words. Say what you mean. No one can hear you and you aren't writing a movie script where a person would say the line out loud after coughing. It's just lazy. If you're going to write a strong statement, then own it or don't write it at all.
While I'm on it, the other one is to write a really solid post and make some valid points in it, only to tack on at the end, 'just saying'. There is no need for the 'just saying' because again, if your words come from a place of understanding and support for others then those who agree are going to be just as clued up and those who 'debate' and 'argue' are going to do so whether you do the written descriptive equivalent of covering your head with your hands or not.
So, those who do those lazy communication techniques, knock it off. Just say what you mean and if you can't handle that others disagree then maybe you ought not be saying it at all.

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