Natalie Frost, a 21-year-old polyamourous trans lesbian game design student, who is better known online as Mismembered, didn’t initially intend for the her #offendcispeople tag to actually get anywhere. “I didn’t, like, devise it to be this trending hashtag. It actually started as a regular tweet, which I made after seeing a post appear on my dashboard that begged trans people to be patient with cis people when explaining gender to them, asking us to ‘not offend cis people, it won’t help you at all’ or something to that tune,” explained Frost. “Me, being my usual snarky self thought, ‘offend cis people, that’s a pretty easy thing to do’, which I eventually tweeted out as a hashtag.”
Natalie actually credits a tweet from @magicnanners for really solidifying the ethos of the tag and helping her see the significance of it:
“It went from being this sort of glib offhand series of tweets to really focusing on how the very existence of trans, genderqueer, non-binary and nonconforming and intersex people is seen as offensive by a large portion of cis people.”
Before long, other trans, non-binary, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, and intersex twitter users began to tweet their own frustrations about daily experiences with systemic violence, cissexism, transphobia, and more. The tag also began to highlight many of the micro-aggressions that people both knowingly and unknowingly direct toward trans individuals in their lives and communities. Some of these behaviors include a general reluctance to using a person’s pronouns, both passive and aggressive misgendering, referring to a trans person by their deadname, telling and/or defending transphobic jokes, invalidating and disrespecting identities, referring to one oneself as “normal” rather than cisgender, as well as generally dismissing serious issues facing the trans community as not being important.
It was something that Frost not only didn’t find surprising at all, “The backlash was unavoidable. I wasn’t surprised when it came. I’ve dealt with GamerGate before. I was aware the hashtag itself was written in an inflammatory way,” said Frost. “As sad as I was that the tag was eventually flooded, a part of me was really happy to see that in the end the only people in the #offendcispeople tag were offended cis people. It felt kind of like a perfect, and very meta, a meaningful conclusion to the whole tag.”