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Cissexual is a term used to denote persons who are not transsexual. It is related to the term, cisgender but not equal to it. They are not synonyms.

A transsexual person is a person who wishes to modify their physical sex by hormonal and/or surgical means. The term, "transsexual" falls under the umbrella term, "transgender." This same hierarchy of meaning is equal to the cisgender/cissexual terms. One can be cisgender and not cissexual but all cissexual people are by definition cisgender.

Since these terms are used in theoretical constructs and do not accurately reflect every person they, while useful as a taxonomy for the study of gender differences, are not so for social stereotyping.

Julia Serano, the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity writes the following justification for her use of the terms,

I suppose different people might give different answers to this question, so it is probably best for me to explain why *I* started using this terminology, and why I chose to include it in the book.

I began writing Whipping Girl in 2005, before I had heard of the “cis” terminology. A major focus of the book was to debunk many of the myths and misconceptions people have about transsexuals. Initially, I was kind of scattershot in my approach: In one chapter, I would critique the way the term “passing” is used in reference to transsexuals. In another chapter I would critique the use of the terms “bio boy” and “genetic girl” to describe non-trans men and women. In yet another chapter, I would critique the way that transsexuals are always depicted as imitating or impersonating “real” (read: non-trans) women and men. And so on. After a while, it became obvious to me that all of these phenomena were stemming from the same presumption: that transsexual gender identities and sex embodiments are inherently less natural and less legitimate than those of nontranssexual people.

I realized that it would make a lot more sense to write a chapter for the book that thoroughly exposes this double standard and describes the many ways it is employed in order to marginalize transsexuals. As I was contemplating this, I stumbled onto the aforementioned Emi Koyama post, where she discusses the usefulness of the terms cissexual, cisgender and cissexism. She said:

“...they de-centralize the dominant group, exposing it as merely one possible alternative rather than the "norm" against which trans people are defined. I don't expect the word to come into common usage anytime soon, but I felt it was an interesting concept - a feminist one, in fact - which is why I am using it.”

It was then that I realized that the double standard that I was writing about already had a name: cissexism. And the chapter of WG dedicated to debunking cissexism eventually took on the title: “Dismantling Cissexual Privilege.”

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