Definition of "Cisnormativity"

Pronounced "sis-NOR-muh-TIV-ih-TEE."

Related terms include cisgender, heteronormativity, gender essentialism, and cissexism.

"The speaker said, 'All women need annual pap smears,' and while I appreciated the message, I could have done without the cisnormativity."

Cisnormativity is the assumption that all, or almost all, individuals are cisgender. Although transgender-identified people comprise a fairly small percentage of the human population, many trans* people and allies consider it to be offensive to presume that everyone is cisgender unless otherwise specified.

Examples of cisnormativity are closely linked to gender essentialism and may include statements like, "Men can not get pregnant." Although cisnormativity is rarely deliberate, it is almost always perceived as hurtful and offensive to the trans* community. At best, cisnormativity contributes to the erasure of trans* and nonbinary experiences. At worst, it is part of a deliberate and calculated system of oppression that includes institutionalized cissexism and transphobia.

The word cisnormativity was first used in the 2000s, but its first recorded academic use was in The Journal of the International AIDS Society in 2012. It is a combination of the prefix cis-, as in cisgender, and the suffix -normativity, as a complement to heteronormativity.