"My Life as a Cissexual"
You’ll have seen the lurid headlines staring out from the red-top papers: “Cissexual Gunman on Rampage in North-East”, “Cis Women Get Hormones on NHS”, “Sex-Stick Prostitute Murdered”. Stories about cissexuals seem to dominate the press at times. But how much do we really know about the cissexual community in Britain today? In fact, cissexuals form a surprisingly large proportion of the population – some estimates put the figure as high as 98% – so the chances are that you or your family knows someone who is cis, even if you don’t realize it. We decided to delve further into this most-misunderstood section of the SC (Straight Cissexual) community, and to look at the human face behind the headlines.
Meet “Alex” (real name Alexandra) – pictured here applying make-up in her modest two-bedroom Streatham flat. At first sight, Alex might be any thirty-something career woman. Except for one thing... Alex is a cissexual. “I suppose I’ve known since I was born,” she explains. “It’s like there was always this weird kind of ‘fit’ between the way I felt inside and how everyone seemed determined to treat me. Maybe I was just born in the right body? Of course, the word ‘cissexual’ didn’t exist back then – people were very ignorant about issues of gender identity – but I doubt I’d have told my parents anyway. It just wasn’t the kind of thing you mentioned.”
On the face of it, Alex’s childhood was a perfectly normal one. “I grew up with three older brothers. I used to play football with them sometimes, that kind of thing. But I also liked playing with dolls. They’d tease me about it, but as we got older they didn’t seem to mind, and by the time I went to college I had a wonderful bunch of people around me who just accepted me for what I was. In fact, my closest friends around that time were cissexual. Some of them used to tell me that gender was nothing but a social construct, but no one had any problem with my identifying as a woman. After all, most of them did too!”
It was just a few weeks after her graduation that Alex met Steve. “It was love at first sight, and we were married within months. I really thought Steve was my Happy Ever After.” For five years Alex and Steve enjoyed married bliss. But all the time they were together, Alex was nursing a secret. “I’d never told him I was cissexual,” she admits. “I’d like to say that it never occurred to me it might be an issue, that I’d always thought of myself simply as a woman. If I’m honest, though, I wasn’t sure how he’d react. Steve was trans himself, and so were most of our friends. One day we were being intimate, and somehow he guessed. Then it all came out. Of course he felt betrayed. It’s a pretty big thing to keep from someone, I realize – but there never seemed a right time to tell, you know?” Unable to cope with Alex’s deception, Steve left.
“It’s taken a lot of therapy to get where I am today,” she says. “For a while I just hated myself, Steve, the world in general. But I think I’ve turned a corner.” For the last six months, Alex has been working in a clerical position at a major bank. It may not seem much for someone who left university with a first-class degree in Economics and a promising City career ahead of her, but as Alex says, it’s a start. “At least I know who and what I am now. I don’t have to hide any longer. And that’s got to be worth 30K a year, right?”