• cisgender •
Pronunciation: sis-jen-dêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: Designating a person whose gender identity corresponds with his or her actual physical gender.
Notes: What is the antonym of transgender? Transgender refers to a person whose identity does not correspond with his or her actual physical gender. Cisgender refers to all others. Not enough time has transpired to see what clever writers will do with this new word; we have only one adjective, cisgendered, to work with.
In Play: A number of books and films is emerging today about the problems caused by transgender: "The Danish Girl is a film about a transgender man and his cisgender friends." We still face problems of cisgender people understanding transgenders.
Word History: This very new word from the late 1990s is based on two components: cis "this side of" and gender. The prefix trans- in Latin meant "across"; the opposite was cis "this side of". Cis ultimately comes from the PIE pronominal root ko- "this", which underlies English he, his, and here. It is also behind the cetera in etcetera. This word came from ke-etero "again, a second time". Gender comes ultimately from PIE gen- "give birth to", which is why we see it in genre, generate, and gene. In English we would expect the [g] to become [k] and it did in the words kin, king, and kind—all words referring to families. (Gratitude is due to Sue Gold of the Westtown School for her discovery of this new Good Word, which is only about 20 years old.)