Push(back) at the Intersections: You Said What?! About Lady Gaga?!

I've talked about what happens when disabled critics take on Glee, and the general marginalization of disabled voices in feminism in general and pop culture discussions in particular. Today, I'd like to turn to another group that has experienced historic marginalization in feminism: The transgender community.

Trans writer gudbuytjane's discussion of Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' attracted a great deal of attention when it was published in March. Lady Gaga is sometimes heralded as a feminist icon, for a whole lot of reasons, ranging from her outspoken comments on feminist issues (we will be returning to this in the near future!) to her explorations of gender and identity in her music videos. There's also been a steady supply of swirling rumors about Gaga's gender, from suggestions that she was intersex to the recent kerfuffle over the connection between Jo Calderone and Gaga. Full confession: I'm a Gaga fan, but I'll be the first to say that I also recognize the troubling content in her work. Both of these facts make me interested in following Gaga's career and, yes, in critiquing and reading critiques of her work.

When 'Telephone' came out, I found myself unsettled by a lot of the imagery in the video. I was troubled by what I saw as a marginalization of the experiences of gender-variant prisoners, and I was also perturbed by the guards in the prison scene, who felt to me like caricatures of trans women. I wasn't the only person to notice this, and thus I was quite excited when gudbuytjane wrote about the video.

She put it this way:

Her anxiety at being seen as trans is clear, and her response is typical of cis privilege and trans marginalization: We're supposed to wipe our brows and sigh relief that she's actually a real woman. This is transmisogyny.

What I (and, I suspect, gudbuytjane) was not expecting was that her relatively brief post discussing Gaga's problematic history and the gender essentialism in the 'Telephone' video would circulate far and wide, first in feminist spaces and then in larger communities.

Here's where things started to get really ugly: The comments started reading like a bingo card, and I can't imagine what the moderation queue and gudbuytjane's inbox must have looked like. Cis commenters showed up to lecture trans folks about how they misread the intent of the video, or they were just looking for something to get offended about, or how the trans women resisting the narrative in the video were angry and scary. Threatening, even. Writing about her experiences for Feministe, gudbuytjane noted:

This fear of trans women expressing themselves, especially in feminist spaces, is based on seeing trans women as men, and then applying to them the cis person's expectations (while denying the lived experience of the trans woman). To suggest that trans women are in a position of social privilege which can silence cis voices is ridiculous on its face, as it is to suggest I had – as an unknown trans activist and blogger – privilege over the literally thousands of cis voices disagreeing with me.

The explosive response to her post reflected a lot of the problematic history of the feminist movement when it comes to interacting with the transgender community. Perhaps first and foremost, there is the idea that trans women have male privilege, and the attached policing of who is (and is not) a woman. Secondly, there's the use of privilege to shut down discussions while couching the demands to shut up in claims of 'polite dissent.'

The silencing of trans people, and trans women in particular, in feminist spaces isn't just limited to discussions about pop culture, unfortunately. Cis voices are centered over trans voices consistently, and sometimes very dangerously, while trans folks are denied autonomy, identity, and even our own experiences.

Trans people are excluded from women's shelters. We are denied medical care. We are told that our opinions have no worth and value and are treated as 'fakers.' It's not just the mainstream media that misgenders trans people; I see it happening in feminist spaces all the time, along with prurient speculation about whether or not trans folks have had reconstruction surgery or what their 'real names' are.

There's something key I want you to take away here:

Cis feminists should be centering the voices of trans feminists when it comes to talking about trans issues. That includes, yes, critiques of pop culture. Because trans folks know their lived experiences. They know that of which they speak. And they know the insidious and myriad forms that discrimination can take.

I trust a trans woman to call transmisogyny in pop culture when she sees it, and transmisogyny anywhere else when she witnesses it too. Because she is speaking from a space of lived experience. Just like I expect people to trust me when I talk about binarism in pop culture, because I am speaking from a place of lived experience as well.

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Comments

31 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Thank you for this post. I

Thank you for this post. I am also a fan of Gaga, but I have seen enough people pointing out very valid objections to her work (you, gudbuytjane, isabel the spy of Tumblr...) to view her with a bit of a skeptical eye.

I mean, I admit that many times I do not notice the issues with a given work she produces upon first viewing--and my being able to not notice them is very much a function of my cis and race privilege. But when people critique her, I try and listen, rather than engaging in knee-jerk disagreement.

And generally, when I think about what people take issue with in her work, I end up agreeing with them.

I am a (very) new reader,

I am a (very) new reader, and I'm not familiar with the term "cis". Could someone give me a quick definition?

On the topic of Gaga's sometimes disturbing ideas/imagery: I am not a Gaga fan per se, but I find that I consistently return to her work precisely because it disturbs me, sits a little wrong, makes me slightly anxious. I have always viewed that as the point of her work, because it is from that place of discomfort that I am forced to examine the issues she brings to light more thoroughly than I otherwise would. It throws different light on the subject when it makes me uncomfortable in my own skin - it makes it more personal.

Just my two cents. :)

Here's a good definition of

Here's a good definition of cis, by RMJ.

Gaga at her best, I think, does a good job of what you describe--making people question assumptions they hold, by a sort of appeal to visceral reactions. However, I think she only really manages to hit that balance when dealing with a pretty limited palette of ideas--mostly the ones most immediately relevant to her as a cis white queer woman. She explores/deconstructs conventional notions of beauty, for example, and does a good job of it. But a) she can only do that because she is conventionally beautiful in the first place, and b) her attempts to comment on things she's not experienced seem to fail miserably.

It might also help to define

It might also help to define what is meant by "trans woman" because I've heard transsexuals, transgenderists, to crossdressers all refer to themselves as "Trans Women".

I want to make sure we are all proceeding from a common definition tis all thx...

Also, is it just Trans Women

Also, is it just Trans Women who are excluded from feminist spaces and dialogues or is it trans folk in general?

I would say trans women

I would say trans women specifically. The history (and the present) points to a privileging of folks who were "born women." I have encountered (both personally in meatspace and on the internets and in academia) FAR more trans men and trans masculine people than trans women and trans feminine people in feminist spaces.

~whatsername~

~whatsername~

No, actually, it's trans

No, actually, it's trans people in general, as was clearly stated in the post. For one thing, nonbinary trans people are routinely excluded and often erased and ignored (as in this very comment above, which focuses solely on trans women and trans men).

I can't speak to the experiences of trans men because I am not one, although I do agree that I perceive less exclusion directed against them. That doesn't mean it's not experienced, and some of the exclusion experienced is--well, just for example, a surprising number of 'women only' spaces welcome trans men, which is a form of bizarre exclusion predicated on the idea that trans men are really women, which, no.

You're right

My comment didn't address nonbinary trans people and thus served to erase them (and you). I apologize for that, it was sloppy and poorly done.

My experience has been that trans people in general are erased, yes, ignored, yes. Unless what is being discussed or theorized specifically happens to be or be about "trans people" or "the nature of trans" or something, we don't, for example, generally read the scholarship produced by trans people in my classes (and don't get me started on cis people "theorizing trans"...which we have read).

When I read "exclusion" what came to my mind was a more immediate physical kind of thing; which bodies are walls specifically constructed against? To me it seems like those walls tend to be constructed against trans women, that they tend to be targeted specifically in this way. And that, conversely, there is a privileging of people who are conceived of as having been "born women," which, as you point out, in the case of trans men (and non-binary people) basically puts them in the category "woman" against their will.

I could still be completely wrong about this. But that's where I was coming from, which looking at my comment again didn't seem clear to me at all. And what I failed to acknowledge in any way (and actually implied the opposite), that specific type of exclusion isn't remotely the only kind, and many forms of exclusion are practiced against trans people in general.

~whatsername~

~whatsername~

I've spent most of the last

I've spent most of the last twenty years in and around the trans community and I have never heard anyone who identified as a crossdresser refer to themself as trans woman.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by a transgenderist.

Having seen (and been the target of) the evils of policing the boundaries of the category "woman", the trans community has done a lovely job of not policing such borders. Sorry, we'll get right on that for you.

I've always assumed that...

I've always assumed that what is meant by trans women is any person who identifies herself as a trans woman.

What more do you need to know beyond that?

I mean, I'm a cis woman and no one has ever asked me about my parts or whatever to validate that, they just accept it cuz I say it.*

~whatsername~

*Of course that's not the only reason why they accept it but I'm trying to make a point (possibly badly) about validated identities...

~whatsername~

Putting My Neck Out...

I'm going to put my neck out here as a trans woman and say how I really feel about feminist spaces and the ci-women who occupy those spaces.

For me, this is not about who is a real woman and who isn't. I believe trans women are a *different kind of woman* apart from those who have had the privilege of being born female.

I also believe spaces like The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and other feminist spaces are for women who have had the privilege of being born female.

We as trans women should form our own spaces and turn our backs on these groups who at best tolerate us and at worst invalidate our existence as a *different kind of women*.

Even in the most ideal of situations, they are limited in what they can offer us as trans women because they do not understand our lived experience any more than we can understand theirs.

definitions

Thanks for asking for clarification about what people mean when it comes to "trans" vs. "cis." I have always found that asking an individual, if I am not sure, is the best way to find out what they mean when they use a term. Sometimes I get snarky replies... like I should just know, automatically, what a term means, or because by asking for a clear definition I have made the person I have asked feel attacked (which makes me feel bad, especially when I do not know why I have offended by seeking understanding).

We are on individual journeys through the experiences of our lives, here, and it is important to share our experiences and perceptions with others on similar journeys... not so we can pretend we understand their individual struggles, but so that we can understand just what the struggles are. And, just maybe, we can share some of the joys.

Ah, Separate But Equal? I Think Not

Indeed your neck is out there. It's it always easier, when rejected by what looks like your preferred constituency to fall back, take your ball and go home. That mentality will never move us forward. We would remain cloistered away, wallowing in our own misery with a dialog of contempt for those who do not "get us".

The reality is we win this ground by engaging on a personal level. You do not tell, you ask. You do not lecture you discuss. Nobody ever became your advocate by being "in their face". Look to the LGB world for guidance on this. We are 30 years behind them, it is our 1980. The way you gain inclusion is by exposure, not isolation. Join social organizations, single gendered or not. Show people you are "normal". Show them you have value, take on responsibility. Demonstrate to them that you are an asset, and not a detriment to their community.

Will there be those who reject you, yes. Go to them, ask them why? Ask them what they are afraid of, ask them how many transpeople do they know? In a womans group, ask if they know lesbians, ask if any of their friends are. See what the reaction is. Ask them how they felt about those people in 1980. And how about now?

Zealots of any kind are anchored to their ideology. Like the the Michigan Festival. I agree that these places exclude us unfairly. But they do so out of fear and not knowledge. The solution, as borne out by the recent demonstration of support on stage there, is to change them from within, one by one, one on one. This is how hearts and minds are changed. Not with a picket and rhetorical signage and slogans. Go earn their respect, it is much better than having it issued.

Between the Legs

I was disappointed when she revealed what she carries between her legs because I didn't want to know. "Because I said so" is all the reason in the world we need to call her a woman. As a genderqueer person, I am delighted by all the various performances of femininity by people of all physical forms as personal expressions, not as functions of some nonexistent biological mandate.

question

gudbuytjane's reading of the video as transphobic is absolutely valid. and she absolutely deserves more respect, esp. in her own online space, than she received from many of her commenters. but that's not to say that her interpretation of the video is the ONLY valid interpretation...right?

not trying to turn this into a debate on the merits of "Telephone" or Gaga. just asking for clarification. i think this is the point upon which many of these online debates turn (and get ugly).

I would take this a step further...

Cis feminists should be centering the voices of trans feminists when it comes to talking about trans issues.

I think trans women's voices should be centered when discussing even more than trans issues. As just one example Julie Serano's discussions of femininity in "Whipping Girl" should not be taught just in a class about trans identity, they apply to cis women too and should be informing feminist thought in general.

~whatsername~

~whatsername~

this!

The biggest reason to include trans women in feminist discourse is not necessarily to be nice to trans women. The biggest reason is that it makes for better feminism.

(not to make less of the fact that it's fucked up not to)

RE: This!

Speaking again as a trans woman, I feel there is a legitimate issue when it comes to having a trans women participate in groups dominated by natural born women....

Many of my sisters seem to believe that by virtue of taking estrogen, they are somehow able to erase *years and years* of male socialization including things like dominating conversations, interrupting, talking over people

Well the reality is that hormones do not undo one's socialization and trans women often bring these undesirable traits into feminist spaces. In fact the number one complaint I hear about trans women from ci-women is that they tend to come into women-only spaces and "take over" meaning dominating the conversation, talking loudly, interrupting people.

So I get why Trans Women can be seen as offensive and I get why there is a need for spaces that are exclusively for natural born women like the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and see nothing wrong with it.

I can't say that I haven't

I can't say that I haven't met any pushy trans women. I can't say that I haven't met equally pushy (and dominating or whatever) cis women. In my experience, cis women get way more slack in the kinds of situations you are describing than trans women do. Is there a reason that when problematic trans women enter such a situation that they can't be dealt with in the same ways a cis woman is dealt with when she is similarly problematic?

All too often, trans women are criticized for either being manly if they assert themselves or for supporting gender stereotypes if they do not. The name for any woman who dominates conversations by interrupting and not listening is the same. Cis or trans, she is a bitch.

I find it presumptuous to say what a trans woman's socializing has been like. It assumes that all men are the same and that all women are the same. It assumes that their socialization is uniform by gender and that their response to that socialization is uniform. If this socialization that we're talking about is so irresistible and impactful, then why was I not content to live the rest of my life as a man? I was socialized to.

Should we also exclude straight women from women's spaces because they are simpering cows obsessed with men's approval? This seems to me an equally offensive generalization. What about Jews? They're really pushy aren't they?

Speaking as a Trans Woman

To understand this post you may have to google cisgender (cis).

The socialization argument is bunk.

There is a legitimate issue when it comes to having trans women participate in groups dominated by cis women.

That issue is that history trans women have been historically excluded from these groups, not because we have actually done anything but because we are assumed to be stormtroopers for the patriarchy. Even as trans women apparently suffer incredibly high levels of domestic violence, of rape, of violent assault relative to cis women we hear that we're not wanted in DV and rape shelters because notional cis woman who is also a survivor might be triggered by us. For example. Now, this argument puts the weight for managing other people's triggers upon trans women, which, okay, anything can be a trigger. I was triggered during a role-playing game and have been triggered while reading books, watching movies, reading things on the Internet. And yet somehow my need for support and safety is considered less than another womans because someone somewhere believes that what she assumes I experienced a childhood that she imagines, and what does my childhood matter when I am in crisis right at that moment?

But socialization. Socialization is bunk. The idea that trans people socialize the same as cis people of the same sex assigned at birth is bunk. The idea that somehow there's special laser-guided socialization missiles aimed at those male assigned at birth and female assigned at birth and are not in many ways experienced by both is bunk. The idea that socialization is something that happens to children is bunk. The idea that trans women who ask for a place among other (cis) women are acting from entitlement is bunk. That somehow cis women are angels who never ever internalize sexism while trans women always internalize sexism is bunk. The truth is much more complex than that, and everyone internalizes sexism because there is no outside.

And socialization is not programming and we are not computers. We doing spend the first 12 years of our lives learning "boy" or "girl" scripts and spend the rest of our lives playing those scripts out.

And of course estrogen doesn't change your socialization. It doesn't. I don't even see why you'd throw that out there except to minimize what others say. Socialization changes, though. When you're seen as, treated as a woman? You are constantly socialized at all ages to not take up space, to please other people, to well, be all the things that women are expected to be. You know it took four years of drama to learn to assert myself and speak up? And it took maybe a month of being told "women don't behave like that" to tear it all down. A month at most.

And that socialization that happens every single day? Includes sexism, all the time. We can't escape it. Trans women experience sexism, and to pretend that this misogyny is somehow less important, less damaging, less of a concern than cis women's pain? No, just no.

Creating a supportive space for a day or a week to find a way to not be around that toxic sexism from men? That's valuable for all women. And if we're going to dissect what trans women do and claim "This action is male and that action is female" why do cis women get a free pass on the same behaviors? Why can we talk about so-called "male entitlement" in wanting to be welcome among all other women, but we can't talk about how cis women who create and justify these policies attack, lie about, trash, even encourage outright genocide against trans women (remember Janice Raymond? She said we should be "morally mandated out of existence." What on Earth do you think that means?). Is that male violence? Is that male entitlement? Or do they get a free pass because they're cis?

A note about DV Shelters

I worked at a DV shelter for a long time (I only quite because I had to move). It was in Utah (not really the most progressive place in the US) and we did provide services for trans folk and men, by providing hotel rooms. Yes, this is not the best solution but the truth is that it would have been upsetting to the other clients. There is not a lot of privacy in the shelter, unless you were there with children you had to share a room with other residents. So our choices were: WE will pay for a hotel room or we have to ask you to not discuss your trans identity at all. Which is more offensive?

We also excluded a lot of women born women who fell into pre defined categories. If you had ever been convicted of a violent crime, if we saw you strike your child, if you yelled or cursed after being warned you were not welcome at the shelter. We also couldn't accept people who could not care for themselves because the staff wasn't certified for medical aid. That is the problem with safe spaces, to make them safe you exclude people. We didn't have all the answers and I think that organizations and music festivals are a completely different story but if it is a shelter where we are trying to create a minimum stress environment to get over a traumatic event. We were trying our best and we are going to keep trying.

I am glad your shelter

I am glad your shelter helped trans women and did not turn them away. I want to say that, and that I am glad to see more and more shelters are accepting trans women, but:

Trans women are not a danger to cis women, and treating us as if we are is a hostile and degrading move. I am glad you were helping trans women, but the way you were helping is marginalizing. It is supposed to make me feel better that you lump trans women in with convicted criminals and child abusers? And that the only options were "be invisible or stay somewhere else?" I am sure you can find shelters today that are more accommodating for trans people in general.

The problem is, I will say here: Your shelter didn't really know how to deal with trans women. Unfortunately, this is all too common. And when this happens, trans women are made out to be a problem to be solved, whether or not we're also seen as women who need help. We're made responsible for cis discomfort with trans women, we're positioned as dangerous and upsetting to cis women because we are trans. This only serves to further marginalize us and minimize our needs while cis people get to be treated with full humanity.

I am not trying to ignore trans men, because they are also vulnerable to domestic violence, but you at least treated them as you did cis men (even though you categorize them as separate from men, which is pretty offensive, tbh - just as you categorize trans women as separate from women). I can't critique whether that treatment is correct or provided them the services they needed, however.

But I do not think what you say here is how trans people should be treated when we need help. Even if you're helping us, there's that stigma that your policies themselves enforced. You may have been trying your best, but people can and do learn how to try even better all of the time.

BTW, in case it wasn't clear

BTW, in case it wasn't clear in the previous comment:

I totally respect that you did serve trans women, and that a lot of shelters took longer to come around and serve trans women in any capacity. I don't know when you worked there, but even 20 years ago, being open to trans people was a huge step up from what was more commonly available.

And I do not mean to single your shelter out for not knowing how to serve trans women - this was true of many many shelters. While each shelter is part of the problem, it is a cultural problem and I do not mean to say that what you described was uniquely marginalizing.

When I saw the "Telephone"

When I saw the "Telephone" video (parts of which I really enjoyed), I was unsure about how I felt about the "revelation" that Gaga was a cis woman. On the one hand, I always thought the rumors about her body were offensive in and of themselves--it seemed to me like the same old attacks launched at anyone who attempts to examine or critique the traditional binary sex/gender system ("Yeah, well, you're a tranny!"), and I was glad to see her handling it in a seemingly light-hearted way. On the other, I felt that addressing it at all, and ultimately making a clear statement about her cis-hood was only adding to the problem, and ended up entrenching her further into the binary system that she so often attempts to get away from. Instead of questioning why being trans is considered such an insult, she simply proved that she was cis...you know, "normal." I kind of wished she'd left the rumor dangle (no pun intended) and forced her audience to examine the origins and the meaning of it.

True, the best response...

...might have been no response at all, but I still think what Gaga does in that segment is more complicated than simply declaring her cishood. The gender essentialism in that scene is pretty clearly coded as a Bad Thing. Video-Gaga’s body is forcibly examined (the strip search), then labeled as dangerous (the caution tape, later); the guard, not Gaga, declares the absence of a penis, as though that tells us anything about video-Gaga’s possible queer/trans/intersex identities, which it doesn’t; and as a result she’s left imprisoned in a particular identity that’s been imposed on her (the, er, prison). Though I suppose we can accuse her of is having her cake (critiquing gender essentialism) and eating it too (declaring her cishood at the same time)...

I am at a disadvantage

I say that because, not only did I just learn what "cis" means, but also because I am a cis-male, and--through no fault of the blogs and forums on this website--I am socialized to assume that in any legitimate discussion of gender issues, my opinions are wholly unwanted. *Whew* that was one way to introduce myself.

So, bearing all that in mind, I wanted to draw attention to a facet of the conversation that I believe has been overlooked. That is, that for cis people, the fact that there is no disconnect between their first- and third-person gender identification readily begets an intuitive, nay, intrinsic link between their "equipment" and their identity. Because of this, what can oftentimes be regarded as ciscentrist behavior on the part of the cisgendered would not be, in fact, the result of a cultural paradigm, but of an instinctual pattern. That is to say, it is not a matter of ego--and much less of super-ego--but of Id.

Thus, GaGa's (or the typical male's) impulse to publicly self-identify as cis would not be the result of any denigrating, paradigmatic -ism, but of a clumsy and confused attempt to belatedly egotise that which was confirmed at birth as instinct by virtue of an anatomical identity in sync with the self-identity. Therefore, any surprise at such behavior is akin to the surprise of the toddler that her younger sibling can only crawl. And any attempt to correct such behavior without proper explanation will at best be met with bewilderment and at worst with backlash.

That's my 2 ¢ents. I went to great pains to express myself clearly, but I expect to be misunderstood. If I can clarify my thoughts in any way, please alert me.

you're right about the

you're right about the toddler comparison except that the world seems to overflow with toddlers who hold advanced degrees and positions of influence who insist that nobody really crawls.

Except...

I think you misspoke. I believe you intended it to be the crawlers with advanced degrees insisting that they do not crawl. That is no exception to my analogy, but an illustration of the scope of the issue at hand. Not to toot our own horns, but the fact that we are able to discuss this without slipping into bigoted rants is either evidence that we may, in fact, be the toddlers, or that we are severely conceited crawlers. (I don't, however, suspect the latter.)

But I chose my analogy carefully. The toddler, even as she learns to really walk, cannot actually teach the younger sibling to do the same. As the expression goes, it's just part of growing up. Not everything learned can be taught. And yet, for some reason, babies with older siblings walk faster than firstborns. No one is completely sure why that is, but many suspect it is because they had an example to follow. So maybe we concentrate on improving our walk and let little brother (even if he has a paper degree in advanced walkology) watch the example.

On the other hand, if you meant exactly as you said, that is a sinister image.

Okay.

So, if cispeople intuitively feel that their gender is in line with their anatomy, they have a natural "impulse" to declare their cishood, and it's not their fault if they do it problematically because they're not educated enough to stop "crawling" yet?

I don't think so. I have no idea who this "typical male" is, either.

Re: Okay.

You don't think so. Do you care to elaborate? I'm not really talking about education, so much as something pre-educational. Like language. It isn't taught per-se, but it is learned, and no instructive learning can occur before this thing which cannot be taught is picked up first.

I don't think I'm going too far to say that the concepts of cis- and trans- are like a new language for the world. It's as though a child speaks only Spanish, but has been sent to an English-only school.

I take umbrage at your use of "fault". It is mean and, I dare say, it is lazy. It shrugs responsibility off of the blamer and onto the blamed. But is it the fault of the Spanish-speaking child that he does not understand English? I would not even blame the English-only school unless they made a point to hide their nature. Perhaps you could blame whoever sent the child there, but they probably did so out of ignorance. Which illustrates my point. The problem is, ultimately, ignorance. No one can be blamed for what they do not know. If fault is to be assigned, it belongs to the knowing who will not educate.

To elaborate: Teaching and lecturing are two very different things. Unfortunately, the latter is far easier to do, and so is often the tact of those who would implement change. But if teaching requires a willing student, how much more does lecturing! Either represents a daunting task, with so many more to educate than there are educators. But is not the teacher the minority in the classroom?

We're talking about shifting a millenniums-old paradigm here; the fact that we even have the terminology to have this conversation represents a major upset. It is simply inappropriate to start assigning blame--deciding who is at fault--unless one wishes to inspire a backlash that sets the paradigm back to where it was before.

Lastly, do you attempt to discredit me through my use of the phrase "typical male"? Just as none of us are "typical" in certain respects so too are we all typical in other respects. Take the initial subject of this conversation as example. Lady Gaga has established a career of being atypical, and yet she exhibits certain "typical" cis behavior. Besides, don't trans individuals have just as strong an impulse to declare their transhood? We all want to be understood as what we are. It only becomes a problem when that desire is somehow forbidden.

Speaking of educating.

I too have only recently learned what cis means, an I too am starting to wrap my head around some of these issues, but I think you might benefit from having a read through is the following:

http://www.derailingfordummies.com

This is in response to :
"If fault is to be assigned, it belongs to the knowing who will not educate."

Particularly check the very first item on that list.
http://www.derailingfordummies.com#educate

I may be misinterpreting your intention or what you are getting at, but ignorance is a really difficult subject.

In any case that site I linked to before really opened my overprivledged eyes to a lot of things I hadnt considered before.