Let’s Talk: The Weaponisation of “Cishet” [Aphobia TW]

“Cishet” was a term that meant “cisgendered, heterosexual, and heteroromantic”. It was usually used by the LGBTQIA+ community to identify people who were not like them, otherwise known as people who are straight. But as technology has improved,  and social media has improved and become more popular it has become a weapon against asexuals, aromantic, and aromantic asexuals of all genders and/or sexual or romantic orientation.

If you are asexual, aromantic, aroace, or even questioning any of this I would either recommend you don’t read any further or you read with caution. I’m going to discuss why I hate the word “cishet” and how it’s been used against me a nonbinary aromantic asexual, and the aro and ace communities in general.

If I’m honest I don’t think I’ve ever seen “cishet” used in a non aphobic manner. I don’t even know how it started but I do know it’s the main thing that is used in “ace/aro discource”. Ace/Aro discourse, usually found on Tumblr (I think it originated there), is when people try to gate keep aromantic and asexual people from the LGBTQIA+ community and/or invalidate our experiences. Just all out horrible things said towards the ace and aro communities.

Aros, aces, and aroaces are not “cishet” because they either aren’t (depending if they are aro, ace, or aroace) heteroromantic or heterosexual. And a lot of the time the aro, ace, or aroace person who is being called “cishet” isn’t/aren’t cisgendered.

The usage of “cishet” has been used to invalidate all and every aro, ace, aroace person’s identity by saying we are “basically straight”. It has been used to tell us that our experiences aren’t “that bad” and that we should “suck it up” because we could have “had it worse”. It tells aros, aces, aroaces, who have suffered from abuse, rape, etc because of their identity that it doesn’t matter, that they should just accept it and move on. Which isn’t true. Every aro, ace, aroaces experience is valid, whether they be good or bad experiences.

When I see the word “cishet” used naturally in a normal conversation I’m really wary of it. It makes me nervous, because I try to make my experience safe around social media (I’ve never heard or seen the word used outside of social media). Because I use social media to help talk about issues, and educate people, as well at times to remind myself I am valid as an aromantic asexual. But the usage of “cishet” against me sometimes stops that.

I’ve heard that in the past “Cishet” was also used to gatekeeper and invalidate both bisexual people’s experiences and identity as well as trans people’s identities and experiences. But because I was introduced to the word “cishet” through “ace/aro discource” I don’t really have the right to talk about this.

Before I started questioning my gender I thought I was a cisgendered heteroromantic asexual before I realised I was aromantic so it changed to cisgendered aromantic asexual. And during that time I did not once have the word “cishet” used against me. But since I realised I was nonbinary it’s been used against me multiple times. I talk a lot about asexuality and aromanticism on Tumblr and people who don’t even know or follow me will tag my posts, comment on my posts, about how I’m “cishet” and how “aro/aces aren’t queer” or aren’t “valid in the queer community” or that we “don’t have the right to reclaim the word queer”. (I use queer because I have so many labels, but that’s a topic for another day). I have enough trouble as it is in real life with my gender because I’m “seen as female” I don’t need the term “cishet” thrown at me as well. It invalidates me as an nonbinary person, as someone who hates the fact that they are perceived as the assigned gender at birth. It also invalidates my experiences as both an asexual and aromantic person.

A good (probably a bad choice of word here) example would be when I made a post about respecting aromantic and asexual characters (this one). And one of the comments, in a mocking tone a similarly to how I wrote it, was something along the lines “you know what would be nice? gay/lesbian/trans characters. You know what would be nicer? People respecting those characters are gay/lesbian/trans and not ignoring it” I’m not 100% sure that they said trans characters, and I think they said something about ace/aro people “being straight”, and their username was proof that the comment was aphobic, but because I blocked them and I can’t remember exactly what their username was I can no longer see the comment on my post thankfully.

I’ve seen more people use “cishet” against non cis people, and aroaces more than I do towards actual allo cis straight people. The fact is that cisgendered heteroromantic asexual exist, and cisgendered heterosexual aromantics exist and the usage of “cishet” really invalidates their experiences as either an asexual or an aromantic person. “Cishet” is hardly ever used against allo cis straight people, it’s used against aromantics, asexuals, and aroaces more than anything. It’s used to invalidate, and gatekeep all and every aro, ace, and aroaces from the LGBTQIA+ community. I’ve seen non LGBTQIA+ people gatekeep aros, aces, and aroaces from the community, which makes no sense.

I’m really sorry if I’ve repeated myself, but I really needed to get this off of my chest. I will clear one thing up, if I ever use the word “cishet” I’m usually speaking out against it and I’ll always use quotation marks to show that I don’t mean it in an aphobic manner, and I will never use it casually in a conversation to talk about all cis straight people. I probably missed some key points as well, but just being on tumblr alone can show you how easily it’s weaponised against the aro and ace communities.

Stop using “cishet” to invalidate non cisgendered, heteroromantic, and heterosexual people.

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