I’m an atheist. People who are theists (especially Chistians, in this country) are the privileged majority.
I’m a women. Men have more privilage than me in society.
I’m non-cis. My gender identity does not always match the behavior role considered appropriate for my sex. I’m not trans, either, so I live in some sort of grayish murky gender-water. I’m unsure of my status as trans or cis, and could perhaps be described as bi-gender. I’m still working that out.
I have a mental illness. People without mental illnesses have more privilege in society.
I live in a low-income part of the city, ripe with crime and poverty. I work largely in an even lower-income part of St. Louis with even worse crime and poverty. St. Louis routinely graces the #1 spot on the “most dangerous cities” list, and I work in the area where 60% of the crime comes from. I grew up poor. Yet, I’m white, young, not living in poverty, and educated.
I understand issues of privilege. Really. But I shouldn’t have to give you a list of occupational reasons why. My personal reasons should not matter: Even the richest white guy living in the fanciest neighborhood with the greatest number of “privilege” markers should be able to understand: to pretend our “privilaged” status makes us unable to understand is a giant ad hominen. That’s like saying a poor guy can’t understand the difficulties of being a rich dude. We get it if we get it. And we don’t if we don’t. Our arguments for or against should stand on their own, and the person making those arguments should matter not.
So having said that, I want to write about this “Die Cis Scum” thing.
The popularity of “die cis scum” seems to have originated somewhere around this post. Here is the text of said post:
DIE CIS SCUM
It’s not ironic. It’s not cute. It is a threat.
How many people are murdered because they are cis? How many people are denied employment, housing, health services, turned away from shelters, refused aid, and are subjected to constant ridicule and abuse because they are cis?
If you are cis, do my tattoo and jacket make you feel uncomfortable? I can only hope so.
Right now, when I see a cis person in public, I worry. I tense and hold my breath and get ready to sprint away. You frighten me. This fear is entirely justified. I’ve already been sent to the hospital for the crime of walking down the sidewalk towards my home while visibly gender variant. I fully expect to be attacked again, severely. (The less severe attacks, the screams and threats and disapproval and hatred and thrust elbows and shoves, these are the givens. These are part of the cost I know I will be forced to pay if I wish to leave my house.)
Die cis scum. It is hostile. It’s aggression, on my part. It is a whisper of personal agency. When the cissexism and transphobia of this culture crush in, overwhelming and unstoppable, these three words are how I push back.
Would that I could push harder.
Accompanied by the post are photographs of a tattoo and a jacket which say, “die cis scum” on them.
So, “die cis scum” is meant to be hostile, according to this blogger. Apparently the phrase has a somewhat interesting and recent history:
For those who don’t know the “die cis scum” history, it’s a phrase that many in the trans community on tumblr have taken to use as a rallying cry/pushback against ciscentric culture that literally kills a whole fucking lot of trans people. I’m not going to lie, the phrase makes me mildly uncomfortable, but I absolutely understand where it’s coming from and am not going to begrudge anyone their anger against a vastly more powerful group that stands a much-higher-than-is-comfortable chance of killing them, because it’s not my place to police people’s expressions of anger against oppression. It was said in a moment of frustration and anger, got picked up by a lot of people, and became A Thing, with the inevitable result of a whole lot of cis people having very hurt fee-fees over it. A backlash developed, with far too many cis people saying that Die Cis Scum makes the trans* people who use it “just as bad” as the cis people who murder and abuse trans* people. (O rly? Just as bad? You have an…interesting morality scale.) The response from many trans* people has been “It doesn’t say “die cis people”. It says “die cis scum”. Are you cis, but not scum? Then you’re safe, now shut up.” Of course, backlashing cis people couldn’t let it rest there.
I don’t have any hurt fee-fees and the like, but I do have questions:
Die bourgeois scum.
Die Christian scum.
Die male scum.
Die average-sized person scum
Die white scum
Die cis scum
Die educated scum
Die able-bodied scum
Die adult (but not geriatric) scum
Die American scum
Die native-born US citizen scum
Die Neurotypical scum
Die monogamous scum
Die native-language speaking scum
Are these phrases meaningfully different from “die cis scum”? Can all of the arguments about why “die cis scum” is acceptable be applied to these other phrases?
Some in the community have suggest that “die cis scum” does not mean something like, “hostility toward all cis people, who are all scum” but something more like, “hostility only to those cis people who are oppressive, and therefore scum”. As illustrated by this diagram (found here):
Okay, so if that’s the intent, then why not: Die Grues? or: die misogynistic creeps? or: die white supremacists? or die pedophile priests? or…. die scum?
I’m just curious.