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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Transsexual vs. Transgender

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Author Topic: Transsexual vs. Transgender
blarg
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I have kind of a weird question. I understand that sex and gender are different things, "Gender is what's between your ears, sex is what's between your legs", etc. etc.

I was wondering though, what exactly is the differenc between someone who is trangender and someone who is transsexual? Like, someone who is transgender is someone whose gender is not the same as his/her sex, correct? As in, a transgender person might be physically male, but identify as female. By the same etymological reasoning, doesn't that make a transsexual someone who changes sex? All of the transgender people I have known want, some day, to have a sex change because they feel, for example, that they were female born into a male body. Generally, isn't it fairly common for transgender people to WANT to be transsexual?

Or is my understanding of the term 'transsexual' incorrect?

And if it is, in fact, correct, why are there ever-expanding acronyms (LGBT to LGBTQQT . . . etc.) that include both transsexuality and transgenderism when people who are transexual tend to be transgender as well? I wouldn't imagine someone would want a sex change from male to female yet still identify as male the whole time . . .


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feefiefofemme
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Hmm. I don't know. I've always kind of wondered about/been confused about what the terms mean. A very good question, if you ask me.
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HumanTornado
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Someone who is transsexual is also transgendered, whereas someone who is transgendered does not automatically have to be transsexual.

Now that I've confused you both even more, I'll explain. Transgender is the collective term for anyone who experiments with gender boundaries. That can include anyone from a Drag Queen to a cross-dresser or just a very 'butch' lesbian. And it includes those who feel that they were born in the wrong body - transsexual people.


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Heather
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Actually, the term transsexual is applied to someone who is post-operative, or who plans to, or is in the process of, sexual reassingment surgery, hormonal treatments, etc.

But, as Tornado said, transsexuals are transgender. But not all transgender people are transsexual. And usually, butch lesbians, for the record, don't ID as transgender, and same for cross-dressers. Genderqueer, maybe, but even that's fairly rare.

Transgender also generally is NOT the term for people who are outside "traditional" gender lines. (In fact, in some ways, FTM and FTM are right within very traditional notions of gender, by supporting a binary gender system.) That's genderqueer, or for many people who recognize that "traditional" gender is arbitrary and limited, that's just plain people. For instance, most radical feminists oppose traditional gender norms and live outide them but most radical feminists also by NO means ID as transgender or even genderqueer.

(Of course, all of these terms are very new, and like any new language, are going to be somewhat malleable as they develop. People are apt to use new terms broadly and creatively at times, and when it's about personal idenity, all the more so.)

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 01-30-2006).]


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HumanTornado
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Sorry if I got anything mixed up. I thought I had a fairly firm grasp of these concepts, but apparently it's more complex than even I thought. :P Thanks, Mz Scarlet.
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blarg
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Okay, so I guess I was kind of correct in saying that transsexual refers specifically to people who have had/are undergoing a sex change, and that, by that definition, transsexual people would ALSO be automatically transgender as well.

Why, then, do we even include transsexual in all these acronyms and such if all transsexuals are automatically included in the term "transgender"? L & G because there are lesbians and gays, we've got B because we've got bisexuals who are obviously not gay or lesbian, we've got Q (queer) for people who feel that they do not wish to confine themselves to one of the above three sexualities, and we've got transgender because LGBQ does not necessarily include transgender people. However, transgender NECESSARILY includes transsexuals. So why is transsexual even in the acronym if it is, by definition, already included?

I seem a bit obsessed with this, I know. It's just something that's been nagging me at the back of my mind for a while now, and every time I've asked people in the past, they either just say, "I have no idea" or they go on a rant and accuse me of not prejudice and intolerance. But yeah, thanks all for helping to clear this up a bit.


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Blink
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Not to complicate things further, but I've heard both Miz Scarlet's and HumanTornado's definitions used fairly often in different places. Since these terms are so new and are still evolving, it is difficult (pretty much impossible) to pin them down to one "correct" meaning when there are so many people using the terms in different ways.

For instance, while Miz Scarlet's definition of "transsexual"--"someone who is post-operative, or who plans to, or is in the process of, sexual reassingment surgery, hormonal treatments, etc."--is, as far as I know, the older one, HumanTornado's definition--"those who feel that they were born in the wrong body" regardless of their plans to physically transition--has been in use more recently, because some people believe that it is not fair to have someone's identity be dependent on whether they have the financial (etc.) means to be able to access physical transition.


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gravity_defying_tiger
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Can you still be transgendered and not exactly gay? The thing is, I am bisexual - more straight than gay - yet I don't have any clue what gender I am between my ears. I suspect I don't really have one. I have a lot of masculine personality traits, yet no desire to alter my body radically. I sometimes enjoy dressing a bit masculine and playing a male role in a relationship - yet I do wear make-up and like men. I sometimes feel like I'm a very flambouyant man in a woman's body - or just some kind of androgyne.

Or maybe I analyze myself too much.

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Heather
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Gender identity and sexual orientation are actually not related.

There are people who are transgender of all orientations, just like anoyone else.

And remember again: there really are not "mascualine" and "feminine" traits. There are traits our culture has ASSIGNED such -- for various reasons and to suit various agendas -- but there really is no such things as biological sex dictating character. There also are not male/female set "roles" in relationships, either: we all get to choose our roles. We can let culture or history dictate them to us, but again, that's a choice.

I think maybe you just have the idea that male/female gender have very strict limits when they really don't. Transgendered people usually deal with some very heavy-duty body dysphoria and identity issues I'm not hearing from you here.

What I'm hearing is that you don't feel you fit whatever mold for women you've decided defines women.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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