Thanks for your comments. I think we share sentiments about contrived neologism. Below I’ll share one of my favourite posts for when I see it run rampant.
The term trans as been appropriated to essentially mean anyone who is not straight, which totally ignores that Latin root meaning of the word. It also erases people who have indeed transitioned from one gender or sex to another. One must TRANSITION from the sex or gender they are born with to be trans. A lesbian is born a lesbian and stays a lesbian.
Cis is just the Latin prefix for the opposite of trans. Cis means to stay. Trans means to change. Everyone and everything has to logically be one or the other. Not both and not neither. This is not lexicographical. It is logic.
This is the reason I asked our lesbian friend to clarify how she is trans and not cis. Because according to the Latin root, she is cis. I have not heard this claim before from a lesbian, so I am curious to know if it is a neologism or if Conway is just ignorant of Latin and/or logic.
If cis is indeed another neologism, it is because of the oppression Olympics. It’s not cool to be cis. Cishet oppresses. Trans is oppressed. The word lesbian is thus also going out of style because lesbians (many of the younger ones) see it as a boomer word. That’s my theory, anyway. For more on this, I recommend The Unspeakable podcast #17.
The word women is a different example. I’m cis, but deeply imbedded in the trans-community for reason I won't take the space to explain here. Among this community many pre-op and post-op trans people refer to themselves as woman and sisters, etc. They want to live their lives that way. But not one of them is delusional enough to say she is a “real woman” or “natural born women” when asked “who she is”, which is code for biological, sexual reality.
My trans-community is in Asia. We are seeing this neologism and trans-activism mainly in the US, UK and Canada. We are fearful it is coming here, where acceptance of being different is culturally harder to achieve. Transpeople are accepted if they fit in.
Even in the West, it is a radical fringe activist group of transpeople who are actually making things worse for the mainstream trans-community who would love nothing more than to live their life as unnoticed as possible gender-wise. Booting trans-people from the US military was an example of backlash. Many people had to leave that others did not know where even trans day-to-day.
This is bad for the majority of trans-people because it brings out the radical feminist, anti-trans backlash. (I hope I said that as PC as possible, given you may count yourself among those ranks).
Demanding equal rights is fine. Distorting reality with a straight face results in a loss of sympathy. Though I don’t see trans people as disabled, I think an approach to change like the movement that resulted in the Americans with Disabilities Act would be better. Instead they are adopting the Malcom-X approach which won’t work when your group is less than 1% of the population and your level of oppression does not rise to that of slavery or even those of pre-ADA disabled people. Sympathy is essential. I've never seen denying biological reality be convincing. But asking for fairness works.
In English there is nothing similar to Academie Francaise. People can use words however they want and no one has the authority to say they are wrong. So, people can call themselves whatever they want. Separately, we can discuss which “women” are entitled to legal protections that are not offered to men. If we really achieve sexual equality, such protections should be rather rare anyway.
I’ve also heard the argument about being women “reduced to describing themselves as ‘cis’ women”, if transwomen are women too. But, trans-people do exist and no matter what, if you want to distinguish yourself from being one of them you are going to have to say at some point “woman who is not trans” in one way or another. For example, let’s say we reversed things. A transwoman is someone who was born biologically female and transitioned to be a man. In your book she must still be a women, but if you want to distinguish yourself from the bearded person with a vagina, you’d still have to say “I am not a transwoman”. Or the logical inverse, “I am a ciswoman”.
How do you get around this linguistical conundrum without also be delusional enough to say that transpeople don’t exist. How would you refer to them as a group?
In essence, I am fine with anyone saying “I am a woman” or any other label they want as long as I have the right to say, “you aren’t to me” and you might want to add “and you aren’t legally”. (setting aside the need for trans people to have legal protections also),
I would not go around saying mean things like “no, you aren’t that”, of course, but my right to do so is sacrosanct around any topic.