The Incoming Freshman’s Guide to Penn DoubleSpeak

By Daniel Tancredi

You didn’t ask for it, but here it is: the Incoming Freshman’s Guide to Penn DoubleSpeak. Classes just started, and you don’t have too much homework yet, so it’s probably best to knock this out now. The libs’ll try to get you tripped up on these buzzwords so they can call you a race-phobic gender-bigot, but with a little preparation you too can slip through the cracks relatively unscathed. Know these definitions inside and out, and you’ll be well on your way to surviving the cultural gauntlet that is university life.

Cisgender vs. CISgender

Here’s a tricky one that a lot of people misuse. Cisgender, as every good social justice warrior knows, refers to an individual whose gender identity matches with his/her/ze’s/your honor’s birth sex. Easy enough, right? CISgendered individuals, on the other hand, have no sex. At all. Ever.


Look out future helicopter parents, there’s new teen abbreviations to master. Don’t be alarmed by any reference to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community, of course. The worst that’ll happen to you there is being on the wrong end of a nonchalant wrist slap. But definitely keep an eye out for those LGBBQ’s, I hear they have the best rump roast.

Genderfluid vs. Gender Fluid

Admittedly, this distinction is lesser-known, but certainly not of lesser importance. Our genderfluid friends don’t identify with having a fixed gender. That’s okay, I occasionally identify as a suitcase so I can fly free on Delta. Gender fluid, on the other hand, actually refers to the standard protective coating on all Penn mattresses, statues, and provosts. At first it may be hard to tell the difference between these two definitions since aggressive cleansing doesn’t really help with either one, but with a little practice you’ll soon understand.

Bigot vs. Person

Gotcha! There’s actually no difference here. Use these interchangeably and you’re sure to fit in.

Vagina Monologues vs. Vaginal Monologues

The Vagina Monologues, a feminist play discussing everything from female anatomy to sexual abuse, is too often confused with vaginal monologues, the female bodily function infamous for ruining any intimate affair. I know, I know, these two sound remarkably similar in person, but you have to study the subtle differences if you’re ever going to traverse Locust Walk with any peace of mind in February.

These are but a few of the infinite linguistic traps set before you as you begin your quest to conquer the Ivy League. This guide is not meant to scare you, but do take care to mind the intersectionalities among you. All they ask for is decency, so don’t end up crudely scalped and handcuffed to an exposed conduit under Houston Hall as you’re shitting blood and howling to the moon like the last person to dissent from The Order. Know your definitions, know your pronouns, and know your place. It’s your choice, darling: conform or be cast out.

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