What Is the Difference between Transgender and Transsexual | Using the Proper Terms
Do you have trouble knowing whether to use the term transsexual or transgender? In today’s world, it is extremely important to understand the terminology around gender, physiology, and sexuality so that you can avoid making a mistake when referring to someone’s identity. Just like you wouldn’t want someone to call you an outdated term when referring to a part of your identity, neither would a transgender person. There is a connection between the terms transsexual and transgender, but transsexual and transgender are not interchangeable. If you want to learn the transsexual/transgender difference this article is a great step in understanding and educating yourself about important terminology regarding the LGBTQ+ community.
Definition of Transgender and Transsexual
Transgender and transexual are two different words with two different definitions. Those definitions are as follows:
- Transsexual: referring to a transgender person, usually someone who has gone through the process of gender-affirming surgery.
- Transgender: a person whose gender is different than the assigned gender they were given at birth in relation to their physical sex.
For example, a transgender woman would be someone whose physical sex was male at birth, but whose personal gender identity is that of a woman. A transgender woman or sometimes referred to as a transwoman would be more comfortable navigating the world as a woman than as a man and would likely wish to be referred to with feminine pronouns like she and her and hers. A transgender man would be a person who was assigned female at birth but whose gender identity and expression is that of a man. A transman or transgender man would typically want to be referred to with masculine pronouns like he, him, and his. People who are transgender will often alter their bodies in ways that will allow society to see and acknowledge their gender identity as different from what is assumed for them at birth.
For some, this means getting gender-affirming surgery which can take many forms. Gender affirming surgery might mean top surgery, which is done to either remove or implant breasts to either make a person look more or less feminine. Bottom surgery refers to when a person gets genital reconstruction in order to have their genitals match their gender identity. Both of these surgeries may be accompanied by a course of either male or female sex hormones. Surgery of any kind is not necessary for a person to be transgender, but for some people who wish to have surgery it can make them feel more affirmed in their gender and it can take away some of the difficulties they face in society when trying to live freely with their gender expression.
Are Transgender and Transsexual the Same?
Transgender and transsexual are not interchangeable terms. Someone can be transgender and not be transsexual. Someone might refer to themself as transgender and transsexual rather than simply transsexual or transgender. In today’s world, the term transsexual is outdated and not frequently used to describe a person. It is similar to referring to a person based on their genitals and not their gender. If you’re not sure about what term to use, it might be best to simply ask a person what their pronouns are so that you don’t have to make guesses about their identity. If you hear them refer to themselves as trans they are most likely using a shortened version of the word transgender. Don’t use transsexual as a way to refer to a person, as it is outdated and considered rude. If you’re trying to figure out whether to use transgender vs transsexual, it is usually best to use the term transgender.
Transgender and Transsexual Difference
What is the difference between transgender and transsexual? Transsexual is usually a term that is used to refer to a person who has gotten gender-affirming surgery. It is a term that was more popularly used historically and it does not fully encompass the experiences or definition of what it means to be a transgender person. One does not have to undergo any surgery, hormone therapy, or physical body alterations of any kind to identify as transgender. There is plenty of transgender and queer people who use non-invasive ways to express their gender identities like clothes, hairstyles, and makeup. While all of these things are changes to the physical state, the true essence of being transgender or non-binary is not feeling like you fit comfortably into the gender category you have been assigned at birth. If you don’t feel comfortable navigating the world as a woman and feel that you would be more true to yourself navigating the world as a man, you can do as much or as little to change your physical body as you see fit to allow you to be most comfortable and true to yourself in your own skin.
Transgender is the preferred term to describe a person whose gender identity does not correspond to the gender identity they were assigned at birth. Transsexual is a term that is used to describe a post-operative transgender person and is not the preferred term for most people in the LGBTQ+ community.
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