The term cisgender is often used in the context of how somebody’s assigned biological sex and legal gender correspond to the person’s gender identity. For example, a cisgender woman is a person who was born with a vagina (biological sex), who was registered as a ‘female’ by authorities (legal gender), who considers, and has always considered, herself a female (gender identity) and who expresses her female gender through for example clothing, body language, hairstyle and social behaviour (gender expression) (see also binary/linear gender). These individuals can be referred to as cisgender persons and one central aspect of that position is that it to a large degree can be associated with social notions and ideas about what is normal, natural and healthy, something that implies many privileges. Large parts of society are constructed based on the idea that a person’s biological sex and legal gender should correspond to each other and that people can be divided into only two opposing sexes/genders (the so-called binary gender norm).

The term cis is also used for example within activism to point out how many functions in society, such as schooling, healthcare and the legal system, are based on cisnormativity, which defines individuals who do not fit into the binary norm as deviant. This can in turn lead to these individuals facing a higher risk of discrimination. The concept of cis privileges, which refers to analyses of the privileged position enjoyed by cisgender persons, is central in these contexts. The cis concept is important also in some parts of the field of gender studies (in queer and trans research). For example in order to show how the idea of the universal ‘woman’ (actually being a heterosexual cis woman) often is in the centre for feminist creation of knowledge. Something that affects not only the type of research that gets carried out but also what type of knowledge that is considered important and which subjects that are assigned central importance (see also situated knowledge).