“Trans” Explained For People Who Aren’t Trans

Where do the words “trans” (short for “transgender”) and “cis” (meaning “not transgender”) even come from? Why, chemistry!

In chemistry, “cis” means that the CH3’s are on the same side of the carbon bond and “trans” means that they are on opposite sides of the carbon bond, or across from one another. The first drawing of a chemical is cis and the second one is trans.

That was chemistry. Now, in women’s studies type classes, sex is short for “biological sex” and gender is not the same as biological sex. A trans woman wants to be called a woman to avoid gender dysphoria (I’ll explain what that is in a sec), but her sex is not on the same side as her gender, so she is referred to as a trans woman. She is a woman whose gender is on opposite sides of or across from her biological sex. Look at it like this:

So a biologically female woman is a cis gender woman (see the line that goes straight from “Female” to “Woman” in the above image) and a biologically female man is a trans gender (“transgender”) man (see the line that goes diagonally from “Female” to “Man” in the above image). A trans man is a man who was female at birth but (typically) does things like take testosterone and work out to get a male physique. Example before and after photos:

In contrast, a biologically male man is cis and a biologically male woman is trans, as in the below diagram.

Taking what I just said and flipping it, a biologically male man is a cis gender man (see the line that goes straight from “Male” to “Man” in the above image) and a biologically male woman is a trans gender (“transgender”) woman (see the line that goes diagonally from “Male” to “Woman” in the above image). A trans woman is a woman who was male at birth but (typically) does things like take female hormones and wear women’s clothing. Example before and after photos:

Sex refers to things like chromosomes and gender refers to your state of being a man or a woman (like “he” or “she” pronouns, being referred to as “sir” or “ma’am”, etc). In woman’s studies class, sex is biological (like your genitals) and gender is a social construct (like whether people refer to you as “sir” or “ma’am”) and they are two different things.

Anywho, a transgender woman wants to be a woman and a transgender man wants to be a man. It makes them experience positive feelings and the opposite makes them experience negative feelings in the same way that you being called the wrong pronoun makes you feel negative feelings. My name is John, so imagine someone said “John, she went to the park”. I felt irked – I am not a “she”. That is exactly how a trans person responded when I used the wrong pronoun for them. They said “I am not a she regardless of what other people think”.

Okay. That feeling of a negative emotion when someone calls you by the wrong pronoun is a form of gender dysphoria, or a negative emotion associated with one’s gender (what they consider to be the wrong gender with respect to their internal sense of gender). The opposite of “dysphoria” is “euphoria”, where gender euphoria is a positive emotion (like if you feel good because people are getting your gender right). So imagine that now people are saying about me “John, he went to the park”. I don’t feel euphoric or dysphoric (because being referred to as “he” is just normal for me), but maybe I feel gender euphoria if I get the nice arm muscles that I have always wanted from going to the gym. It’s self-confirmation. According to a trans YouTuber who I watched, the main types of “-phorias” that trans people experience are from their physical appearance (like the muscles) and their pronouns (like when I got irked at the thought of being referred to as a “she”). The former would be good, self-confirming gender euphoria and the latter would be bad, annoying gender dysphoria.

I am not trans, but that’s my best understanding as a cis man.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s