Elon Musk sparks outrage with threat to ban ‘cisgender’ as a ‘slur’ on Twitter

‘Cis’ is the opposite of ‘trans’ in Latin

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 21 June 2023 18:04 BST
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Twitter CEO Elon Musk has apparently decided that "cis" and "cisgender" will now be considered a slur on the social media platform.

"Cisgender" typically refers to individuals whose gender identity matches their birth sex. If an individual is born male and has a male gender identity then they would be considered "cisgender."

The proclamation was made in the replies of James Esses, an Irish right-wing media figure, who was complaining that commenters on social media were calling him a "cissy."

"Yesterday, after posting a Tweet saying that I reject the word ‘cis’ and don’t wish to be called it, I receive a slew of messages from trans activists calling me ‘cissy’ and telling me that I am ‘cis’ 'whether or not I like it,'" he wrote. "Just imagine if the roles were reversed."

Mr Musk responded with an announcement that "repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions."

Mr Musk then took it a step further.

"The words 'cis' or 'cisgender' are considered slurs on this platform," he wrote, prompting backlash on the platform.

NYT bestselling author Seth Abramson doubted that Mr Musk knows what the word means.

“I’m 102.3% sure Elon has no idea what ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ mean, either connotatively or denotatively or etymologically,” he wrote. “Threatening to suspend users on your ‘free speech’ platform because they uttered a word you don’t understand but fear emasculates you is quite the fascist flex.”

Joe Walsh, a conservative commentator, criticised Mr Musk from the right.

“‘Cis’ & ‘cisgender’ will be considered slurs on this platform? Look, it’s his company, he can do whatever he wants, but the truth is that @elonmusk is fundamentally a dishonest person and a coward,” Mr Walsh wrote. “He says he believes in free speech, but he doesn’t really believe in free speech. He’s pushing an agenda, a right wing agenda, but he doesn’t have the balls to admit that. Elon is too afraid to be honest with his intentions. So he lies and says he’s for free speech. But you can’t say ‘cisgender.’ No, Elon is just like most everyone else. He’s pushing an agenda. He just lacks the honesty & the courage to admit it.”

It’s not the first time Mr Musk has expressed his disdain for language relating to gender identity.

Last July he tweeted that “pronouns suck” — suggesting he either dislikes gender identity or just the English language in general — and later that year insisted that he was not transpohobic.

“I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare,” Mr Musk, creator of the Cybertruck, argued.

However, in defending his dislike of “cis” and “cisgender,” Mr Musk leaned on a decades old bigoted ideas that LGBT communities and ideas are deeply infected with pedophilia.

“The contemptible creep that manufactured the term ‘cis’ has serious problems. Ignore him,” Mr Musk wrote, referencing a right-wing conspiracy theory that the term “cisgender” was coined by a paedophile doctor in the 1990s.

However, cis— with “cis” being the Latin opposite to “trans” — has been used as a dichotomic descriptor since at least the early 20th century.

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