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    Gender Modality

    Gender modality refers to the correspondence or lack of correspondence between one's assigned gender at birth and one's actual gender identity. The two primary, and most well known gender modalities are cisgender and transgender. However, those are not the only possible modalities one can have.

    While the term "trans" may by defined as lack of correspondence in any form between gender assigned at birth and gender identity, some individuals may find the all-or-nothing nature of ‘correspondence’ too constraining or may feel that their relationship with their assigned gender at birth is more complicated than can be described through the terms cis or trans. The cis-trans binary is challenged by some non-binary individuals (especially agender individuals), as well as some intersex individuals and plural system members, who feel they cannot fit into either term. Gender modalities also create a space for cultures in which terms like transgender and cisgender do not reflect cultural understandings of gender in that society.

    Gender modality has, in some cases, been expanded by LGBT+ individuals to a more general relationship or directionality of one's gender irrespective of assigned gender, exemplified by adgender and genderqueer.

    Modalities

    Umbrella Terms

    These modalities can be used as umbrella terms or may be as labels themselves.

    • Cisn't: Describes any modalities or individuals who are not cisgender.
    • Transn't: Describes any modalities or individuals who are not transgender.
    • Centrgender: Describes any modalities or individuals who are neither cisgender nor transgender (combines cisn't and transn't).

    General Identities

    These identities are not exclusive to certain individuals.

    • Cisgender: An individual who always completely identifies with their assigned gender.
    • Transgender: An individual who identifies with a different gender identity than their assigned gender.
    • Integragender: An individual who has multiple gender identities, one of which matches their assigned gender (combines trans- and cisgender).
    • Intragender: An individual who has similar experiences to those of cisgender individuals. Examples include:
      • Identifying partially with their assigned gender.
      • Identifying with a gender identity similar to their assigned gender.
      • Feeling that their gender identity is heavily influenced by their assigned gender.
    • Absgender: An individual who is beyond, between, or removed from trans/cis dichotomy, or who is neither cis nor trans.[1]
    • Isogender or Metagender: Someone who is not cis, but also does not identify as transgender for whatever reason. Examples include:
      • Identifying with multiple gender identities most of which strongly resemble their assigned gender.
      • Identifying with a gender identity closely resembling or related to their assigned gender.
      • Feeling fluctuating gender incongruence.
      • Being genderless or agender and thus not having a gender identity.
      • Being fluid between gender identities, one of which is their assigned gender.
    • Sensgender: Someone who relates to the trans experience, but only sometimes, temporarily, or partially. Examples include:
      • Identifying with the trans experience only sometimes due to fluid or fluctuating gender identities.
      • Identifying with multiple gender identities, only some of which are different from their assigned gender.
      • Feeling that transitioning has nothing to do with their gender identity, but relates to their presentation.
      • Feeling that their gender identity and how they want to transition don't "match up" with how they are perceived.
    • Adgender: Someone who wants to/is/has transitioned towards a particular gender identity or presentation, including those who are not transgender. Examples include:
      • Being transgender.
      • Being a system where some headmates have to dress as another gender than the body to feel as themselves.
      • Being a system where a transgender headmate's gender identity matches the body.
      • Transitioning to a gender identity which is similar to their assigned gender.
      • Transitioning from intersex but not necessarily considering themselves trans.
    • Genderqueer: As a modality, someone who queers gender; subverting and challenging common expectations related to gender.[2][3]

    Intersex/AIAB Exclusive

    These are identities that are exclusive to intersex individuals or those who are AIAB.

    • Ipsogender: Intersex individuals who identify as their assigned gender at birth, but do not feel the term “cisgender” describes them due to being intersex. A “cis intersex” individual.
    • Ultergender: Intersex individuals who identify as a gender other than their assigned gender at birth, but do not feel the term “transgender” describes them due to being intersex. A “trans intersex” individual.
    • Utrinquegender: Someone who has aspects of both trans and cis experiences due to being AIAB or being part of a system.
    • Exparium: An identity label for intersex people who identify as transmasculine, transfeminine, or another trans/non-binary gender, despite it corresponding to their assigned gender.

    System Exclusive

    These identities are exclusive to systems.

    • Afficgender: Someone who is a system member, whose gender identity is the same as the body's AGAB.
    • Detragender: Someone who is a system member, whose gender identity is different from the body's AGAB.
    • Utrinquegender: Someone who has aspects of both trans and cis experiences due to being AIAB or being part of a system.
    • Azonosgender: Someone who is a system member and is transgender in the innerworld, however shares the same gender as the body's AGAB.
    • Confudirgender: Someone who is a system member and is cisgender in the innerworld, however does not share the same gender as the body's AGAB.

    History

    Gender modality was a term created by Florence Ashley, a transfeminine jurist and bioethicist, some time around February 28, 2019.[4] The term was coined because Ashley noted that the notion of ‘gender identity’ as used in law, perpetuates the idea that ‘gender identity’ is something only used by trans individuals (whereas cis individuals would just have 'gender'). Ashley traces this misuse of the term gender identity to fact that a conceptual category such as gender modality was not available when policymakers attempt to speak of discrimination against trans people by virtue of being not cis.

    The benefits of using gender modality as a concept include:

    1. Moves away from the othering nature of using the term "gender identity" when trans individuals are the sole intended subjects, which normalizes terminology that describes non-LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ individuals as equals.
    2. Enhances our vocabulary when discussing the various aspects of gender (e.g. gender assigned at birth, gender identity, gender expression, and now gender modality).
    3. Resolves controversies surrounding appropriate terminology when referring to the fact of being trans, with terms such as “transsexuality”, “transgenderism”.
    4. Opens the door to gender modalities outside of a cis/trans binary, by enabling us to talk about ones “gender modality” instead of one “being cis or trans” (in the same way that “sexual/romantic orientation” gives us conceptual tools to avoid reproducing a “straight/gay” binary).

    Ashley advocates for the usage of gender modality in the WPATH Standards of Care version 8 and has written several essays on the topic of gender modality.[5] The term has since been used in research about transgender health.[6][7]

    The need for a categorical term of one's relationship to one's assigned gender had been explored prior to Florence's coining as early as 2014.[3]

    Resources

    1. http://web.archive.org/web/20201231191637/https://gender-resource.tumblr.com/post/624951702581362688/absgender-a-genderedness-that-is-between-beyond
    2. Andrew Pegoda (15 July 2020). Not cis. Not trans. Genderqueer.https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/article/not-cis-not-trans-genderqueer
    3. 3.0 3.1 queeranarchism (16 February 2014). "Yeah, but can you explain the cis gender thing?". Tumblr. Retrieved 28 January 2021
    4. Ashley Florence (2019-04-08). "Gender modality: Proposal for new terminology." Medium. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
    5. Ashley, Florence. (2021). 'Trans' is my gender modality: a modest terminological proposal. In Laura Erikson-Schroth (Eds.), Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press (forthcoming). https://www.florenceashley.com/uploads/1/2/4/4/124439164/florence_ashley_trans_is_my_gender_modality.pdf Accessed 2020-08-02
    6. Felt, Dylan; Xu, Jiayi; Floresca, Ysabel B.; Fernandez, Ella S.; Korpak, Aaron K.; Phillips, Gregory; Wang, Xinzi; Curry, Caleb W., and Beach, Lauren B. (30 November 2021). "Instability in Housing and Medical Care Access: The Inequitable Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on U.S. Transgender Populations". Transgender Health. https://doi.org/10.1089/trgh.2021.0129 (forthcoming)
    7. Phillips, Gregory II; Xu, Jiayi; Ruprecht, Megan M.; Costa, Diogo; Felt, Dylan; Wang, Xinzi; Glenn, Erik Elías; Beach, Lauren B. (30 Jun 2021). "Associations with COVID-19 Symptoms, Prevention Interest, and Testing Among Sexual and Gender Minority Adults in a Diverse National Sample". LGBT Health. 8 (5): 322-329. http://doi.org/10.1089/lgbt.2021.0002 (online)
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