transsexual/transgender discreapancy here?

I haven't been posting here long, and Ive just kind of noticed something recently that I've never really observed anywhere else that I find puzzling.

A lot of people on Yahoo actually get pretty hostile over the differences between the words "transsexual" and "transgender" and define "transgender" as basically a transvestite or cross dresser. That definition is certainly news to me, and I've never seen a big deal made of it anywhere but here. No TS/TG community that I have ever been active in has made a big to-do about it, and most people I know (including myself and my therapist) use "transgender" as an umbrella term for anyone with gender/sex conflicts including transsexuals. I don't consider being called "transgendered" rather than "transsexual" offensive, it's just another way of saying the same thing to most people.

What's the deal with that? Is it maybe a regional thing for some of you? Why argue about the "right" word so much when the usual definition of TG includes TS?


On the contrary though, sometimes you don't need to speak up for everyone when you're not everyones voice. I for one, and I know many others, have absolutely NO problem with the word "transgender", and I do consider myself transsexual. Maybe it's an issue of age too? I'm primarily active in younger communities (I'm 18, most of my friends and acquantainces are in the same college-age range and that's what most of the communities I frequent are targetted towards)

I personally see no point in splitting hairs over it and turning transgender into a negative term when it doesn't have to be. I do accept the definition of transgender as an umbrella term, and I have no interest in discriminating against people in a similar situation to me over an issue of blind semantics...

Update 2:

Oh, and to the grammar nazi; it's almost 3:00 am. Leaving out an apostrophe here and there is expected. :)

Update 3:

It's an umbrella term, being included doesn't mean you're everything else included.

I'm transsexual, I'm none of the other terms either, but I still can be considered transgendered.

It's not an issue of me needing to "research" anything, it's semantics and a pointless argument. The word "transgender" isn't what makes people view transpeople in a negative light, it's the fact that a lot of us come off as batshit insane to them and they can't relate to us. I don't need to research anything to know what terms do and do not offend me.

Update 4:

I never said the media portrayal isn't responsible. A word, transgender, however is NOT. People have been prejudiced against us long before that word came into usage and that's just looking for someone else to blame. I specifically said "batshit insane" because I've been told that, in person, by someone who was shocked to find I was trans because "every transperson they've ever known has been batshit insane and obsessive.

Look, I can understand wanting to clarify the difference between the two words but demonizing "transgender" isn't the way to do that and any sensible person knows that. Transgender is not a hate word and is rarely used as an insult, unlike "tranny" "shemale" and that ilk. why are some people so dead-set on turning it into one?

Update 5:

Has anyone ever explained to you that talking down to everyone is really unbecoming?

I'm comfortable enough with myself as a woman, and as a transsexual woman. Whether you are comfortable with it or not, you're going to be "lumped in" with other groups because we're different and in-fighting over which word to use doesn't change that. Ive always found that showing someone I'm a regular person with regular interests is a lot more effective for differentiating myself from cross-dressers and drag queens than screaming the difference between TS and TG. Apparently your approach is different though, but I'd rather appreciate it if you dropped the holier-than-thou attitude that you've adopted.

Update 6:

Answering a question doesn't require you to talk down to someone or respond in a holier-than-thou sense. My question was as much of a statement as it was a question.

you're something of a hypocrite when you say that I'm unwilling to hear other opinions. You yourself have talked down to me several times and tried to basically invalidate my opinion by implying that your opinion was the only correct one, and you'd know because you've finished transition. There's really no other way a "we'll see how you feel about it when (x)" sort of statement can be interpreted.

I still will say that the word "transgender" can not be blamed for our negative stereotypes because it's no more of a negative word than transsexual is. The stereotypes that cause so much harm are caused by the way a small minority of the "community" portrays themselves and the porn industry. You can't place the blame on an innocent word.

11 Answers

  • Diane
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Saying "I am transgender" is, in effect, saying to society "I don't accept your insistence that there are only two genders, and I must belong to one or the other". It's a socio-political statement.

    It simply doesn't apply to transsexual people; we aren't challenging gender, we aren't making any kind of statement; we're just trying to correct a congenital condition, and live our lives as best we can. It does us no favours to blur the distinction in the eyes of the general public; as it says in one of the links below,

    "Being considered transgender does me, a woman born with HBS, more harm than good. It creates the probability that I will be viewed as “born a man, always a man.”

    It does not matter that I had the corrective surgery... years ago, because as a transgender individual one’s sex never changes from the one you're assigned at birth. It also creates the nasty corollary mentality, of “gee, why can't you just live with what you have, and be happy with it like a cross- dresser, she-male, or drag queen does?” "

    Every transsexual person has, I'm sure, heard of the HBIGDA - Harry Benjamin International gender Dysphoria Association - which has done a great deal to improve understanding, and medical treatment, of transsexualism, including producing the famous Standards of Care, which are the 'blueprint' used by medical professionals worldwide.

    A little while ago, the governing authority of HBIGDA voted to change the name of the organisation to WPATH - 'World Professional Association for TransGENDER Health' - and appointed a transvestite as president.

    THAT was the moment I cancelled my membership, and withdrew my financial and professional support for that organisation; What does a TRANSVESTITE know of OUR needs and difficulties, of our pain and loss; of how it feels to be born this way?

    I have nothing against transgender/transvestite people; I know, work with and support many of them, as a LGBT/Police liaison.

    But *I* have no more in common with them than I do with stamp-collectors or football players.

    And, I believe I've said this before;

    Most transgender people insist that 'transsexual' is part of 'transgender'; most transsexual people insist that it is not. This should give you some idea of who stands to gain, and who stands to lose, from such an inclusion.

    I suggest anyone who doesn't see that there IS a difference read these articles; they say it much more eloquently than I can;

    Some people may say 'it's only a word' or 'we're being pedantic', but words are how we - every one of us - express thoughts and opinions; they alter our perceptions of each other, and the world.

    If you think this is nonsense,, try calling a black man 'n****r' or a gay man 'f****t', and see whether he agrees with you that it's 'only a word'....

    Source(s): I'm a clinical specialist in surgery and anaesthesia, and I was born transsexual.
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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    I happen to also think that the word "transgender" should be retired. All it does is foster confusion and bad feelings. I agree with Brittney, I think a crossdresser should be a crossdresser, a drag queen should be a drag queen and a transsexual should be a transsexual. There is one point I'd like to make that I don't think has been made here. Crossdressers still identify as their birth sex.....a transsexual's body and mind don't match sexes. The two are not even remotely the same and while some transsexuals once identified as crossdressers, they realized that the act of crossdressing was not enough and they realized they were, in fact, the wrong sex, their mind was incongruent with their body.. Yes, there are factions of transpeople constantly in a kind of silent war against each other. The young ones don't like the older ones because the older ones are more stable and often have access to more fundage. often the older ones don't like the young ones because they slip into the mainstream of society so easily. Crossdressers don't like transsexuals, on and on and on. I remember my first support group meeting. I was scared out of my mind and just looking for help and trying to network ASAP. There was a crossdresser there and she was a member of a well known crossdressing organization. She talked about how great the people were and I asked if I could come to the next meeting. She looked at me with contempt and said "Sorry. Transsexuals aren't welcome." I thought "Geez, what did I do? Kill your cat or something?" That was my first received salvo from the great trans-CD war. After being in transition for four years and passing very well now I don't want to be around CDs. I'd rather not get "read" by association. BTW, I disagree with the poster who talked about non-ops not being transsexual. I plan to have SRS myself, but I think transition is a journey. You take your own path and decide for yourself when you are finished. If you identify as female, who am I to say you aren't?

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm not anything that could be considered transgender... but this is how I view the situation:

    A transsexual is somebody who underwent surgery to change their gender because they were basically born the opposite gender they feel they should be.

    They are also transgender because transgender is an umbrella term in which every group that crosses male and female traits/genders/etc. is housed. (Yes you are a man/woman and you're not mixing traits or genders, but you were born, genetically, the opposite and changed it is the point) I would never refer to a transsexual as a transgender because I'm convinced they are the same as a drag queen/king, crossdresser, genderqueer, or anything else.

    I fail to see why everybody answering is making such a blow up gigantic huge deal about this. Then again... I'm just bisexual so I really can't relate.

    The point is, I agree with the asker. I don't see transgender as a negative term at all, nor do I know anybody who would assume transgender meant you were plethora of different things grouped together as one.

    They're just words. It's like saying a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn't a square. A transsexual can be transgender, but not all transgenders are transsexuals.

    I can understand that this is a sensitive issue for a lot of people, but getting worked up like this and making this little issue over words a huge deal is what makes transgender a negative, insulting word. Not the media alone, not ignorant people who don't know any better, not transsexuals who are okay being referred to as transgender.

    Point is, I can assure you the majority of the general public does not view all of these different things as the same because of a single word. Hell, they don't view them as the same anyway! They might not all understand the reasons behind the behavior, but they sure as hell aren't too stupid to realize there's a huge difference between somebody who gets a sex change and somebody who is straight but wears the other gender's clothing.

    YOU (not the asker, but some answerers) are making this a negative thing by letting something as small as word, semantics, a huge deal.

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  • 1 decade ago

    blah, it sounds like you need to learn the difference between Umbrella term and sub categories

    It would be like calling you a cripple because you have Multiple Sclerosis, then locking you up in a mental institution, saying that you were the same as all of the other unwanted wackos..

    No, I'm sorry like the above example, Transgender is a term which was coined by someone who happened to be very anti transsexual, his assumed name was Virgina Prince, he as transvestite disliked the social ramifications of the term Transvestite, thus coined transgender.

    then around 10 years ago now, the Gay and Lesbian Community, while attempting to gain social political power decided to include Bi-sexual, and Transgender..

    once again, transgender an umbrella term, strictly every gender variance excluding Intersexed and transsexuals, both legit medical issues, "not" sexual preferences.

    really until recently, the only reason the gay and lesbian community have attempted to encompass intersexed and transsexual people for social and political power, sadly that power has been abused and opening transsexual/intersexed people to even more discrimination by the not only the heterosexual community but also the gay and lesbian community..

    if you don't believe me look at the gay movement history in the United States starting, in the late 60's all the way to today.

    Source(s): Woman Born Intersexed/transsexual - 1st year law student.
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  • Keli
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago


    I've been around the tg/ts community for quite some time and have witnessed first hand how the definitions evolved.

    Many people are ambivalent about the differences between transgender and transsexual. I have seen many young trangenders and transsexuals use the term "transgender" and "transsexual" interchangeably and it's understandable, since you weren't around when these terms were coined. However, most "old timer" transsexuals still differentiate the two. But each individual truly defines him or herself.

    I can only define the terms with respect to legal and medical terminology and give you a little history as to how the terms came about. I've tried to simplify this the best way that I can. I apologize for the lengthy explanation.

    The term Transgenderd was created by "Virginia Prince", a full time cross dresser who openly disdained transsexuals. She wrote a book called "How to be a Woman though Male". She believed when a dual personality cross-dresser emerges this continues and separates the genders in the cross-dressing man and gender dipolarity itself becomes a sort of a fetish and eventually defines himself as transgendered and live full time as a woman without the need for S.R.S..........and so "transgender" was defined.

    As you can see, this is where transsexuals started to resent being called "transgender".

    In the 1990s the term took on a political dimension where tg groups formed alliances covering all who have at some point not conformed to gender norms. They included transsexuals and intersexed to the mix.

    In the mid to late 90's "transgender" became a common term to define tv/tg and ts's and intersexed. Many transsexuals and intersex people oppose this term to this day.

    Many ts's (and ts exclusive organizations) seperate themselves from "transgender" simply because they wish to be seen as male or female, and being transsexual was a process not an identity. Many ts's also feel that the "transgender" movement is creating a third gender. Many transsexuals believe in the binary male or female and do not believe temselves to be a third gender.

    Transgender groups also try to include intersexed, even though it is not condoned by the intersexed, medical and legal communities.

    Intersex is a biological condition involving anomalies of the chromosomes, hormones and/or genitalia.

    The ISNA (intersex society of north america) , a leading intersex organization also does not define intersex as being inclusive of the transgender community. (please read link above for details).

    Though there are some intersexed people who do transition from one sex to the other, they are not bound by the same legal requirements set forth for a sex change.

    I hope this helps with all the confusion

    Source(s): medical and legal professional
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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    They -- transgendered people and cis-gender normal people get pretty angry because of a single fact.

    87% of transgendered people suffer violent and vicious attacks committed on them by a person who has no idea about what transgender really is or what it takes to be a transgendered person.

    They simply get attacked because of how they dress.

    It's that simple.

    But what is even more striking -- and here is my single focal point -- many of them have children -- and others. many others are children who through no fault of their own were born transgendered.

    What will you tell their children when their father or mother who happens to be transgendered gets killed for simply being themselves walking down the street late at night...?

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  • 1 decade ago

    My partner is transitioning (in the UK) and would agree whole heatedly with what you say.

    From my own point of view people outside the community have issues with the idea of people being gender dysphoric or cross dressing they don't even consider the places in between. So finding a way to explain simply and without going into graphic detail as to whether or not you need to be the person your inner self is on the outside too , regardless of surgery, or if you get turned on by dressing, is surely a good thing. If you say transgender you can do this.

    I know a lot of forum space has been taken up discussing this issue and the differences between the labels.

    You are born the gender you realign your body through GRS to fix what is in effect a birth defect. There is no dispute over that so I fully support trans sexual people stating "I am and have always been ........ [insert correct gender]"

    There is an inherent problem here, people in general do not understand anything about non stereo typical genders. Schools need to teach kids about this in sex education and also in the lessons where the "Do not be racist, sexist or intolerant of religious beliefs" are taught.

    It appears, and this is only my personal opinion (and I'm ready to be shot down in flames) even within the community that there seems to be a sense that being diagnosed gender dysphoric has more validity than the other categories. There is an acceptance of those who dress for kicks but those who take hormones and do not have GRS seem to be second class citizens. Surely you should all support each other, you get enough c**p thrown at you for being who you are by the world at large without fighting over silly categories which are employed to explain to other people the fact you are different.

    I understand the reasons that the association of trans -sexuality and the LGB community is sometimes frowned on ..

    it is not an sexual orientation but there are a lot of similarities in the fight for acceptance. This though sometimes blurs the differences still further by the association with drag queens, who as far as I understand are homosexual guys who like to portray women rather than who desire to become one.

    It is bad enough that you have to go through a huge range of official hurdles to be allowed to be who you are without having to explain yourself to the public who if you take the time to do so are likely to throw it back at you or say "Well I wouldn't want to explain you to my kids"

    People are different, peoples sexual orientation varies, we as a society need to start embracing people for who and what they are as a whole, surely the labelling of people creates the divisions from which ostracisation is born.

    This article has a definition in

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  • MarjaU
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I think it's an important distinction, whether we count ourselves as transgender or not.

    The cross-dressers, drag queens, drag kings, etc. are concerned with *gender roles,* while transsexual people are concerned with *gender identity.* (There are some people concerned with both, one way or another).

    People can understand gender roles: masculine roles, feminine roles, etc. People can understand reshaping gender roles: masculine women, feminine men, even "second selves." But people have trouble getting gender identity. It doesn't necessarily correspond with the body, that's why we're transsexual, and it doesn't necessarily correspond with the roles either.

    People assume that MtF transition is for very feminine gay *cross-dressing* men, and that FtM transtion is for very masculine lesbian women, and few of us fit either stereotype.

    In my case, the stereotypes made it harder to connect my experience with other trans women's experiences, so it deayed my transition, and I want to fight the stereotypes for the next person in my situation. In other trans people's cases, the same concerns may apply.

    At the same time, the stereotypes may also hurt feminine gay men (and sometimes masculine ones), cross-dressers (mostly heterosexual), and masculine lesbian women (and sometimes feminine ones).

    I hate the term "gender" anyway. "Brain sex" is so much clearer than "gender identity." Gender is for words, not for people...

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    The long standing puritanical refusal to discuss sexual matters has left us with no definitive lexicography for such things, a lack that badly needs filling and not just in the TS/TG community. The same problem occurs in the BDSM community, and, I would imagine, in others. Meaningful communication will always be a problem until we all start speaking the same language, and that means using words the same way. As things stand now people spend more time arguing definitions than anything else, and nothing is likely to be achieved that way.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I agree with you; I don't understand the hair splitting.

    I personally hate the word transsexual, even though I am. It's not about sex at all, it's about gender identity.

    The word transsexual to me conjures up stereotypes I wish didn't exist.

    But I'm not the terminology police. I just live my life and am trying to do that without labeling myself.

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