Last week my friend, Professor Jenny Boylan of Barnard College, penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Trans Community Can Change Minds by Changing Discourse." She uses the promotion of marriage equality as the gay analogue to what the trans community now needs. With all due respect, I think she's got it backwards.
Since the publication of Time's cover story "The Transgender Tipping Point," there has been a spate of conservative op-eds in retort. The attacks follow a predictable set of talking points that rely on the reader having no scientific knowledge of the issue. However, when examined from a perspective of peer-reviewed medical consensus and law, these talking points fail utterly.
Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism, or TERF, is a loosely-organized collective with a message of hate and exclusion against transgender women in particular. They have attached themselves to radical feminism as a means to attempt to deny trans women basic access to health care, women's groups, restroom facilities, and more.
"Cis" and "cisgender" certainly have a proper place in academia and are likely to be used there for a long time, given how their use has steadily increased. They are also increasingly used in non-LGBT progressive circles as part of policy and sociology discussions. Outside these contexts, however, neither word does us much good.