Cisgender, Agender, Bigender, Genderqueer

  • Recently Hollywood actor William Shatner took offence to being called ‘CIS’, short for ‘cisgendered’.


  • The term cisgendered is used to define people whose gender identity matches the identity assigned to them at birth.
  • When a child is born, it is assigned a gender identity based on its physical characteristics. Many believe that gender is a social construct, and growing up, the child may or may not confirm to the birth identity.
  • Children assigned male at birth can feel they identify more authentically as a woman, to give one example.
  • For transgender people, their sense of gender identity does not match the one assigned to them at birth.
  • The latin prefix ‘cis’ literally means ‘on the same side of’, while ‘trans’ means on the other side.

       Some identity labels in use

  • As language evolves, a lot of new terms come in and out of use. Also, a lot of words overlap. Here’s a list of some common gender identifiers, though there are more in use.

       Agender: Someone who identifies as not belonging to any gender

       Androgynous: Someone who identifies as neither man nor woman

       Bigender: Someone who identifies as both man and woman

       Non-binary: Someone who rejects the binaries of male and female

       Genderfluid: Someone whose gender identity changes

       Genderquestioning: Someone who is exploring which gender they identify as

       Genderqueer: An umbrella term for people not subscribing to traditional genders

       AFAB, AMAB: Assigned Female At Birth, Assigned Male At Birth

       Intersex: Those who do not possess the physical characteristics of either males or females

       Third Gender: Those who have a gender identity beyond man or woman

Also, one can be cisgendered but their gender expression can be different from their gender. For example, a cisgendered man can dress up in a lehenga or a ball gown simply because he likes to.