1. qj201 says

    Cisgender should only be used for heterosexual people.

    Lesbians and Gays have our own issues with gender and to assume that we have no issues because we don’t want to transition to the other gender is willfully naive and insulting.

    Just read the threads on here. Femme bashing is a sport on Towleroad. Oh yeah, but the targets are cisgender, so they have “privilege” that protects them. RIIIIIGHT.

  2. dddddd says

    i don’t understand the whole “i’m allowed to talk about it but you aren’t allowed to ask about it” thing… on one hand, i understand the questions are probing and invasive, when most people can’t wrap their heads around the idea of being trans, how do you explain it? what are the questions we are supposed to be asking? how can you foster understanding without having the conversation? there’s no doubt that trans folks face a series of issues that go well beyond being asked invasive questions… but i kind of feel like we have to get through those questions in order to the “real” issues.

  3. feo says

    This is a tough one all around.
    I think historically Janet Mock will be the one who pushed the conversation along so that we will become more comfortable talking about the trans situation. As an older gay man with trans friends for many years, it’s still hard to understand aspects of it and we sometimes have to get to the answers by risking asking uncomfortable questions. I think this was a great interview for all sides.

  4. dddddd says

    i think janet mock is trying to CONTROL the conversation, not push it along… until someone says “listen, i know you have questions, so i’m going to give you honest answers… no matter how uncomfortable they may be” i don’t see this moving beyond an argument.

  5. Mikey says

    It’s a tricky subject, but people unfamiliar with trans issues often immediately focus on the genitalia, which is just one of many, many factors in the conversation. It’s also incredibly personal and invasive to say, “So what’s the deal with you junk?”

  6. Frank says

    But the difference is that Janet is being interviewed BECAUSE she changed her body to become who she is now. To me it’s like talking to a person with a tattoo on their face and pretending it’s not there.

  7. dddddd says

    asking anyone about their junk is not cool… obviously… but to ignore the fact that sometimes a surgery is required to have your body match your “self” doesn’t advance the conversation… if anything… knowing the steps people take and the pain and cost involved helps me understand how serious they are about the transition. removing that from the conversation sort of lowers the stakes… but i understand not wanting to get too specific or invasive. a friend of mine who is a transman hand a “goodbye to my boobs” party to raise money for his surgery… but i’m not allowed to ask about the surgery? he was very open about it so there wasn’t a lot left for me to wonder about, but thankfully i gained understanding about the lengths he was willing to go to be his authentic self. it helped me really understand and embrace his transition.

  8. Thedrdonna says

    The thing is: information about the physical and surgical aspects of transition is freely available online. There are plenty of people who will tell you all about what you may want to know in that regard. But when you have a trans person in for an interview about something that is tangentially related, if at all (growing up trans, a new book they’ve written, their experiences with prejudice), then bringing all that up is really somewhat distracting. That’s pretty much never what they are there to talk about (esp. Janet Mock and Laverne Cox), and that sort of question comes up more often than not. At some point it’s necessary for the interviewee to say, that’s not what I’m here for and if you want to know about it you need to find another source.

  9. says

    Transwomen have always been women mentally. The only thing that has changed is their bodies align more with their identity and mind. That is all. That doesn’t mean you have to ask all these invasive questions. It’s that simple. Seriously it’s the same argument we have with anti-gay peeps who keep wanting to get all up in our bedroom. All you have to understand is that we are gay and are attracted to the same sex. Case closed.

  10. Houndentenor says

    Shouldn’t people be allowed to decide for themselves which questions they will answer or not? I realize that sometimes if you don’t want to talk enough then a reporter isn’t going to want to interview you. At the same time we all know that you don’t get interviewed on tv without a “pre-interview” so it’s hard to imagine that people like Katie Couric weren’t told in advance which questions would be considered inappropriate by the guest. That can only lead to the conclusion that either the interviewer or the producer knew it would be controversial and had the interviewer ask intentionally for the publicity.

  11. dddddd says

    my point isn’t about the anti- folks asking questions… its about well-meaning people… using katie couric as an example… who have a genuine desire to understand and advance the conversation, but get demonized for asking things, in a very delicate way… the anti- people will always be anti… they aren’t the ones asking questions. they are making assumptions and simply don’t care.

  12. Thedrdonna says

    Again, though, DDD, how many times do trans interviewees need to answer that question when they are ostensibly being interviewed about something else? There is a point where it becomes tiresome, and gets in the way of actual discussions about the much greater issues that trans folks face. Given the level of knowledge about trans issues, there ought to be a point where it’s no longer really acceptable for even a friendly interviewer to ask about when you turned your schwing into a ding, or vice versa.

  13. Thedrdonna says

    @TheDrDonna: unless, I should have made clear, the interview is specifically about that. If everyone knows that going in then it’s not a problem, obviously.

  14. MaryM says

    So Janet Mock works as a trans activist right?

    So she is being interviewed BECAUSE she is trans.

    And many people don’t know enough about trans issues beyond the surgery.

    How does she expect an audience to understand her concerns if she is the one who controls the questions getting asked.

    And what are her thoughts on ‘cis’ sounding like ‘sissy’?

    Is Janet Mock a homophobe?

  15. Thedrdonna says

    Dawn, couldn’t you use that same argument to describe the term “white”? I’m white, but so are the members of the WBC, as is Vladimir Putin. That doesn’t mean I’m not white or that the concept of being white is inherently offensive.

  16. Thedrdonna says

    The first known use of the word “cissexual” was by a german sexologist in 1991. 3 years before trans people started using it on Internet web boards, in 1994.

  17. Cam says

    It’s interesting that Transgender activists have been screaming that only they get to decide which words should be used to describe themselves, because I don’t remember any group of non-transgender folks choosing the term Cisgender.

  18. Thedrdonna says

    @Cam: the term “transsexual” was coined by a german sexologist name Magnus Hirschfeld in the early 1920s. The term cissexual was first used by a german sexologist named Volkmar Sigusch in 1991. Both were, to all appearances, cisgender men. If you’ve got a better term that’s complementary to “transgender” and doesn’t unduly undermine your masculinity, please let me know. I’ll be glad to use it and recommend it’s use.

  19. dddddd says

    i think its important to remember that we are all on the same team here… sure we may disagree with what is appropriate in terms of the discussion… but i think its safe to say that we all deserve full equality and protection under the wall.

  20. dddddd says

    i think its important to remember that we are all on the same team here… sure we may disagree with what is appropriate in terms of the discussion… but i think its safe to say that we all deserve full equality and protection under the wall.

  21. Thedrdonna says

    @DDDDDD I agree wholeheartedly. I know I can sometimes get a bit standoffish, when dealing with trolls or folks who think we shouldn’t all be on the same team, but it’s a good reminder that we’re all in it together.

  22. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “….that we all deserve full equality and protection under the wall.”

    I agree. Take this wall down Mister Gorbechev…right now!!!

    Now, don’t get angry. I’ve made much worse typos.

  23. Derrick from Philly says

    “…protection under the wall.”

    Well, maybe it wasn’t a typo. Maybe you’re more subtle and brilliant than I gave you credit for.

    Go on with your bad self. (I hope you’re not Rick)

  24. Homo Genius says


    the thing is that WE dont need a word to describe us. Its like people with one leg making everyone else use the term bipedal to describe themselves.

    What if redheads one day made up a word to describe non ginger people and wanted us all to start using it if we didnt have red hair.

    Its bad enough I have to be referred as LGBT or some other acronym but save cisgender for your trans studies class

  25. Thedrdonna says

    @ Homo Genius: so you don’t use straight? I’m sure plenty of straight people don’t feel a need to use the word straight to describe themselves…just like the Mormons with their “experiencing same-sex attractions” language.

  26. MaryM says

    The descriptor ‘cis’ sounds like ‘sissy’ which is a homophobic slur.

    Trannies need to shut their whore mouths about people calling them trannies, if they are going to use homophobic slurs to describe everyone else.

  27. Thedrdonna says

    @MaryM: yeah, I’m sure Volkmar Sigusch was really thinking about homophobic slurs in another language and another country when he coined the word.

  28. raul415 says

    DDDDDD I don’t know how old you are but I am 53 and we have been asking trans people these questions since right before I was born. Certainly Phil Donahue asked these questions ALOT.

    I say do a google then come back and sit with the grown ups.

  29. tk96 says

    Janet Mock lost all credibility with me when she attacked Piers Morgan for quoting an article she wrote. She wrote in the article, “I was born a boy.” He used the same phrase, and she flipped. When he invited her back she wouldn’t even answer his direct questions.

    She is well spoken, and certainly does some good, but I find her duplicitous and passive aggressive. If you are going to lambaste people who support you for breaking your personal language rules, when they do not know such rules exist, you will lose support.

    And no, I am not buying the cis BS. It sounds goofy and it isn’t necessary.

  30. dddddd says

    i forgot how unpleasant commenting on the internet can be… part of what i was trying to do was say that the tone of the conversation is needs to be softened on all sides… and i get attacked by @RAUL415.

    for the record, i’m 40… not that that matters. you can google all you want about the science of the surgeries involved in transition, but until you can ask how some FEELS about them, you can’t really know or understand what someone goes through.

    my questions always come from a place of caring and wanting to understand… and i feel like sometimes, that gets lumped in with the folks who ask out of morbid curiousity. keep the T in LGBT… we are all people with different struggles… but struggles nonetheless…

  31. Grace Annam says

    “Janet Mock lost all credibility with me when she attacked Piers Morgan for quoting an article she wrote.”

    If you’re referring to the Marie Claire article, Mock didn’t write it. It was written in first person by a reporter who had interviewed her. She’s a writer, and she would have written that article differently, as she makes clear in her book, which she did write.

    Morgan was supposed to be interviewing her about her book, but he plainly had not read it, and regarded the Marie Claire article as a Cliff Notes version. If you want to see how well that interview COULD have gone, if he HAD done his homework properly, watch the interview Melissa Harris-Perry’s interview of her.


  32. Randy says

    Janet Mock is so irritating. It’s good she’s not the only voice of trans people. Every movement has one.

    It’s just a fact that if you’re the minority, that makes you interesting, and people are (rightly) going to ask questions. And if your minority status is related to a condition that often requires medical treatment, then yeah, we’re going to talk about that too (especially in places where we are all paying the bill).

    Futher, if you’re going to put yourself out there as a celebrity (author, apparently) then that opens you up to even further questions.

    Instead of trying to shut down discussion, so we can talk about what Mock wants to talk about, we should keep everyone engaged and simply talk in a respectful manner as equals.

    The flip-the-script thing doesn’t work in this case because these things are not similar. Of course cis people doesn’t have to annouce they are cis. That’s part of being in the majority. It’s one thing to point this out, because it illustrates a disadvantage that trans people have, but to ask a question is just silly. And while cis people may experience some timidity talking about their genitals because it’s rarely a topic of conversation, they didn’t get much chance to choose their body, so they automatically have less to talk about than someone who did (or will) like a transsexual person.

    Of COURSE viewers want to know. We really do. Interviewers aren’t unique in wanting to know things.

    Janet hasn’t yet jumped the shark into Suey Park territory, but it looks like it’s coming…

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