On June 21st, 2023, tech magnate and entrepreneur Elon Musk took to Twitter to declare that the words “cis” and “cisgender” are now considered slurs on the platform. This statement has sparked off a volatile debate among people with different beliefs and ideologies.
Elon Musk is a South African-born American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He is also one of the world's wealthiest people with an estimated net worth of over $233 billion.
The term cisgender (or cis) is used to describe someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth. It is often used in contrast to transgender or nonbinary identities. However, Musk's recent statement has caused controversy among those who use these terms to identify themselves as well as those who oppose them.
In response to a tweet from user @Gemma_Lilley questioning why "transitioning" was being promoted for minors, Musk tweeted: "Cisgender is a slur on Twitter." His comment quickly went viral with many people expressing their shock and outrage at his statement.
"I think it's really important that we don't let powerful people like Elon Musk dictate what language we use," said Dr. Julia Serano, an author specializing in queer theory. "It's not up to him or anyone else to decide which words are acceptable or unacceptable for us to use."
Other influential figures have also weighed in on this issue with some agreeing with Musk while others disagreeing strongly with him. For example, British actor Jameela Jamil tweeted: "This isn't okay... We need more understanding & acceptance for trans & non binary people." On the other hand, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted: "This should be obvious but apparently it needs saying: If you don't like being called 'cis,' don't call other people 'trans.'"
Musk's declaration has certainly stirred up a lot of debate about language usage on social media platforms such as Twitter where users are often quick to criticize each other for using certain terms they deem offensive or inappropriate. It remains unclear how this will affect future discourse on the platform but one thing is certain - this issue won't be going away anytime soon.