The Social Perception, Attitudes, Mental Simulation Lab

Gender Glossary: Cis Woman


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Term and Definition:

Cisgender woman: Refers to a person who was assigned by a cultural authority (usually a medical professional) to the gender category “female” at birth, and who experiences her gender as “female.” (Cis- is the Latin prefix for “on the same side.”) Cisgender women may also be called “cis women” and are often referred to as simply “women,” since they are numerically the largest group with a female gender identity. (A small number of academics refer to cis women as “gender normal,” but this label can imply that transgender identities are not valid. Thus, we do not endorse the use of “gender normal.”) Almost all cis women prefer female pronouns (she/her/hers) to communicate their gender identity to others.

Cis women vary in their visual appearance. Some cis women have appearances that are common for women in their given society. Other cis women have appearances that are less common for women in their given society (including appearances that are associated with men in that society). In any case, being a cis woman is about the psychological experience of being in a female gender category. Visual presentation is often an easy way for other people to categorize the person into a gender group based on cultural standards, but this visual presentation may not necessarily the person’s individual psychological feelings about her gender category because visual appearance is gender-expression (based on cultural stereotypes for groups), not gender identity. 

Return to Glossary of Gender-Related Terms

Go to our Definition List of Gender-Related Terms (all terms; alphabetically listed)

Note: This glossary of terms was compiled by Charlotte Tate, Ph.D. (who publishes under "Charlotte Chucky Tate" to have female, trans, and butch lesbian visibility simultaneously), and Jay Ledbetter, M.A., in an attempt to provide quick, concise definitions of gender-related concepts to a general audience. Most of the definitions are paraphrased and expanded from manuscripts and published articles by these two authors. All of the definitions were inspired by and summarize existing work on gender identity in gender studies. Accordingly, the point of the glossary is not to provide definitive definitions of the terms listed; instead, the point of the glossary is to help people understand the various experiences of gender that people have and how these experiences are related to psychological science.

On a practical level, this means that some scholars and activists may disagree with some the definitions within the glossary (esp. concerning the meaning of “genderqueer”). Nonetheless, we offer the glossary as a starting point, and, an admittedly incomplete, compendium so that readers of Dr. Tate’s websites can have some understanding of the terms used. This is a living document and will change over time with additional research, findings, and feedback.

For those interested in further discussions (both academic and popular) of the gender categories and concepts presented in this glossary, we may find this bibliography helpful.