Elon Musk has sparked controversy by declaring that the terms “cis” and “cisgender” will be regarded as slurs on Twitter.
The social media platform owner’s announcement came in response to a complaint from “gender critical” commentator James Esses who expressed frustration over being referred to as a “cissy” on social media.
Esses took to Twitter to voice his concerns, stating, “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. Just imagine if the roles were reversed.”
Cisgender refers to individuals whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
And for those who don't know, here is some background on the origin of "cisgender," as coined by German sexologist Volkmar Sigusch.https://t.co/09oyTRcFz6
Elon Musk intervened in the discussion, vowing that “repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions.”
However, he didn’t stop there and asserted that “cis” and “cisgender” would be considered slurs on the platform.
The Twitter community quickly reacted to Musk’s statement, with many expressing doubt about his understanding of the terms.
Best-selling author Seth Abramson questioned Musk’s comprehension, stating, “I’m 102.3% sure Elon has no idea what ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ mean, either connotatively or denotatively or etymologically. 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.”
Criticism also emerged from the political right, as conservative commentator Joe Walsh said, “‘cis’ and ‘cisgender’ will be considered slurs on this platform? Look, it’s his company, he can do whatever he wants.”
“He says he believes in free speech, but he doesn’t really believe in free speech,” Walsh continued.
“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.”
Musk later clarified that simply using the terms “cis” and “cisgender” would not lead to immediate suspensions but would result in penalties if weaponised.
He later emphasised that he was not transphobic but found the use of pronouns to be aesthetically unappealing.
In defending his aversion to the terms “cis” and “cisgender,” Musk resorted to a decades-old bigoted idea that associates LGBT communities and ideas with paedophilia.
He wrote, “The contemptible creep that manufactured the term ‘cis’ has serious problems. Ignore him,” referencing a right-wing conspiracy theory claiming that the term “cisgender” was coined by a paedophile doctor in the 1990s.
However, the term “cis,” derived from Latin and meaning “on the same side as,” has been used as a dichotomic descriptor since at least the early 20th century.
Musk’s recent stance on the matter has ignited a heated debate, with supporters and critics clashing over the boundaries of free speech, the understanding of gender identity, and the responsibility of social media platforms in shaping public discourse.