April 22nd, 2004


userinfo senji
2004/04/22 16:11:00 - Why...
...is there no word cissexual?

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userinfo fluffymormegil
2004/04/22 08:18:25
Words for the default are often absent.
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userinfo simont
[userpic]
2004/04/22 08:35:02
Because "transsexual" is as much a statement that someone made a change as a simple declaration that they are not the same sex they started out as. As such, the word describes a particular act that they performed at some point.

For "cissexual", there is no comparable act; there was no (necessary) particular point at which you decided to be the same sex you started out as, there just wasn't any point at which you decided not to be.

In the same way, we have no simple word for - for example - "stayer-at-home", to be an opposite of "traveller". And rightly so: the point of being a stayer-at-home is that you don't travel. It's an absence of a particular act, and as such it's much better described in terms of precisely what act you aren't performing - so "non-traveller" is an entirely adequate term, if not actually better. Similarly, "non-transsexual" is a perfectly adequate term to describe somebody who has never changed sex.

(I don't know whether it's possible to change sex twice and end up back where you started. If it is, then there's a much more direct semantic question: should such a person be described as a transsexual by virtue of having changed sex, or not because they're the same sex they were born as? If the former, then my argument holds and "cissexual" shouldn't be a word; if the latter, then it probably falls down.)
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userinfo megamole
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:10:20
obBadTaste:

In, out, in, out, shake it all about...
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userinfo sion_a
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:17:52
"Transsexual" is also used by/for people who haven't (yet) made a change -- it's a state, not an action. As fluffymormegil says, there's no formal coinage for an opposite because the term was created in opposition to "normal", and it's not an issue that's in sufficient public view for a counter-opposition coinage to have become accepted. See also what wikipedia has to say on "cisgender".
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userinfo simont
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:45:51
"Transsexual" is also used by/for people who haven't (yet) made a change -- it's a state, not an action.

Good point; consider my wafflings amended as appropriate.

That Wikipedia article seems to think very much in terms of minorities and oppression and the struggle for acceptance. Call me hopelessly naive, but I don't want to think that absolutely everything in this general area is best explained in these minority-politics terms. In spite of your correction above, it still seems to me that transsexuality is in some sense active whereas its absence is merely passive, and in other parts of the language this is considered an adequate reason in itself to have a word for the active thing without bothering with a specific word for its absence. It doesn't seem to me that there needs to be anything sinister, or even culpably thoughtless, about the fact that it therefore initially seemed perfectly natural to someone to invent the word "transsexual" without bothering to invent it a counterpart.
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userinfo ewx
[userpic]
2004/04/22 13:07:41 - Call me hopelessly naive
Why do you see everything as class warfare?
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(Anonymous)
2004/04/23 07:49:21
It says 'considered unpolite', whihc is probably a spelling error but amusing, in that context, in its allusion to Orwell.
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userinfo beckyc
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:27:42
For "cissexual", there is no comparable act; there was no (necessary) particular point at which you decided to be the same sex you started out as, there just wasn't any point at which you decided not to be.

But is this really true? What about people who are between realizing and realizing*? What if those people (or indeed anyone else who is thinking about it but hasn't decided) then decide that they are mistaken/confused and they really are the first sex after all.

*I'm sorry, I couldn't resist ;-)
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userinfo simont
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:35:47
That's precisely why I said "necessarily". Certainly someone could make a clear decision, after some uncertainty, that they wanted to stay with their birth sex. It just isn't necessary to have done so in order to be a not-transsexual.

(Or are you suggesting that "cissexual" ought to be a word reserved for precisely this hypothetical I'm-the-right-sex-but-I-had-to-think-about-it group?)
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userinfo skloak
[userpic]
2004/04/22 12:16:04
*We* have a word for non-traveler. Home-body. "He's such a home-body, never wants to go anywhere." I suppose technically it'd count as two words, since it's hyphenated, but so would non-traveler.
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userinfo requiem_17_23
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:07:12
For the same reason that there is no word 'itinerate'.
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userinfo megamole
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:09:53
What about to fute? If you do it again, you refute...
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userinfo senji
2004/04/22 09:26:57
1. intr. To journey or travel from place to place.
b. To travel from place to place preaching; spec. of a Methodist minister, To preach to the various congregations within the circuit to which he is appointed, and to go periodically from circuit to circuit as appointed, (usually) every three years: cf. ITINERANCY 2.
2. trans. To journey through, traverse. rare.
Hence itinerating vbl. n., travelling, itineration. itinerating ppl. a., that journeys from place to place; itinerant.
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userinfo requiem_17_23
[userpic]
2004/04/22 09:36:06
... murfle ...
:folds:
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