Mattel's Barbie doll, whose body proportions have never been achieved by any known human female, has become the predominant childhood icon of the female body. Subsequently, even cissexual women often grow up feeling like they do not meet gender norms.
Photo: Chris Jackson / Getty Images.
A ciswoman, shorthand for "cissexual woman" or "cisgender woman," is non-transsexual woman--a woman whose assigned gender is female, and whose assigned female gender is more or less consistent with her personal sense of self. This distinguishes her from transwomen, shorthand for "transsexual women"--women who were initially assigned a male gender, but have a female identity. If you identify as a woman but are not a transsexual woman, you're a ciswoman.
Cissexual and transsexual identity are grounded in gender roles. But because gender roles are socially constructed, and gender is not a very clearly-defined concept
, the argument could be made that nobody is completely
cissexual or transsexual--that these are relative terms representing individual experiences of what gender is. As my friend Ashley Fortenberry, a local transwoman, explains:
"Gender cannot be defined by anyone other than the individual ... Gender is personal and is based on ideas and characteristics that usually pertain to a specific sex. The simple fact is that everyone has characteristics of the opposite gender."
Also Known As: cissexual woman, cisgender woman, cisgirl, "natural-born woman" (offensive)