transsexual versus transgender

The transsexual versus transgender arguments that I sometimes encounter on the web have always baffled me. I never saw a need for them and I still don’t.

There are likely people out there who are really transsexuals and have never transitioned and we certainly know of people who were really transvestites, crossdressers or disphorics who transitioned only to later realize that they had made an error. Some maybe adjusted to their reality but if they had it to do over they may not have carried through with the operation.

The fact is that science is not currently able the make the distinction between them.

The main driver seems to be the personal conviction of the individual who is suffering often debilitating disphoria and, because changing your gender is so inconceivably horrific to most people, there has to be something there far beyond personal whim driving this directive.

This is why I so strongly support the idea of transition for those who feel there was no other option for their survival.

People like me are somewhat stuck in the middle. We seem to have been born with more disphoria than your average crossdresser but less than a full blown transsexual. I am still disphoric but to a lesser degree and if I am able to get past the horrible guilt most of us experience I might be able to get by with only cross gender expression.

Others are different and indeed everyone has a personal story.

Harry Benjamin noted the differences he observed and categorised people into groups; ostensibly reflecting the severity of their disphoria. You will note the absence anywhere in his book talking about who is or isn’t really a woman. This just is not a measurable thing. It wasn’t then and still is not now.

Helene Cote recently told me something analogous when she told me they don’t use the word transsexual anymore at the hospital and strictly refer to gender disphoria only.

So I see no point in disparaging each other.

In the end we are all people with something we did not ask for and we all deserve to be respected for our decisions in life. How each of us deals with our particular level of disphoria is highly personal and should be considered so.


  1. So here we go onto the third rail.. I see this argument or debate based on some understandable push back from those who are/were clearly born with a total and complete psycho-sexual inversion.

    The term transgender grew in popularity after being borrowed and re-defined after its introduction and initial popularization by a . Dr. Arnold Lowman, AKA "Virginia Prince.

    Lowman originally coined the term "transgenderist" to distinguish himself, and those of his ilk, from those who were so deranged, (in his opinion), as to desire/need an actual sex change.

    With the emergence of the Internet, those cross dressing men adopted the term 'transgender' as a more palatable alternative to 'transvestite' which translates simply as cross (trans) - dress(vestire). The new term then evolved into a catchall "umbrella" term to include everybody from a cross dressing homosexual man, to a straight man in a dress, to a genderqueer to a drag king. An amazingly. inaccurate and more importantly, convenient conflation.

    I think another important fact that is being conveniently swept under the carpet is that the dysphoria, the unhappiness, the intense psychic pain experienced by a transsexual is not the result of a gender dysphoria, but much more accurately sources from a complete psycho-sexual disconnect.

    Their is a huge difference between being unhappy because one cannot wear a dress or 'present/pass' as a woman, and being totally outraged by our own physical bodies.

  2. I am not disagreeing but the problem here is that people like me and lindsay are more than cross dressing men and to suggest otherwise is a bit insulting. I don't criss dress for fun but for survival and its a critical part of who I am. I only use the term transgender because it is an accepted term to denote a person who is not entirely comfortable with their birth gender as opposed to someone who thinks putting on a dress is a fun weekend hobby.

    Your situation is different fine but it should never be used to disparage people like me.

    A drag queen or king is not a transgender because they do not experience disphoria. This is very very clear...

  3. I need to wear a dress and if I do not express that side of myself I become depressed. Where this comes from I have no idea but no one has fought harder to eradicate it than I have and so I do take what I have seriously and you needing to transition need not be in conflict with this. Yet again and again I find very negative remarks from time to time from true transsexuals disparaging the poor transgenders which really makes absolutely no good sense...

  4. I cannot see how you find my comments in anyway disparaging. We are agreeing that we are simply different, not "better than". I see absolutely no problem with yoor self identifying as transgender or gender dysphoric. I think that you are using the term accurately. It is a shame that others would conflate your condition with those conditions that are demonstrably different from yours.

  5. I have read everything about virginia prince and am familiar with the entire history. There was recently a very nice write up done on zagria's blog...

  6. Which others are you referring to AQV?

  7. I mean everybody and anybody that intentionally misuses or distorts the meaning of the term transsexual to server their own selfish personal needs/wants/whims. A transsexual is simply someone who changes their sex. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    If you really need more examples of who those "others" might be, you need look no further than the GLAAD Media Reference Guide.

    "We are all the same, (only different)". How much sense does that make?

  8. @AQV - "A transsexual is simply someone who changes their sex. Nothing more. Nothing less."

    So you're implying that SRS is the test for transsexualism? You're TG until you get SRS?


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