Cistem Failure: Essays on Blackness and Cisgender by Marquis Bey

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Marquis Bey meditates on the antagonistic relationship between blackness and cisgender, showing that as a category, cisgender cannot capture how people depart from gender alignment and its coding as white.

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In Cistem Failure Marquis Bey meditates on the antagonistic relationship between blackness and cisgender. Bey asks, What does it mean to have a gender that “matches” one’s sex—that is, to be cisgender—when decades of feminist theory have destroyed the belief that there is some natural way to be a sex? Moving from the The Powerpuff Girls to the greeting “How ya mama’n’em?” to their own gender identity, Bey finds that cisgender is too flat as a category to hold the myriad ways that people who may or may not have undergone gender-affirmative interventions depart from gender alignment. At the same time, blackness, they contend, strikes at the heart of cisgender’s invariable coding as white: just as transness names a non-cis space, blackness implies a non-cis space. By showing how blackness opens up a way to subvert the hegemonic power of the gender binary, Bey makes a case for an antiracist gender abolition project that rejects cisgender as a regulatory apparatus.

Cistem Failure: Essays on Blackness and Cisgender by Marquis Bey