Transgender(ed), Trans(s)exual, Trans(*), and more: which should I use?

Cristan Williams has been doing great work on the emergence of these words, primarily looking at ‘transgender’: check out Tracking Transgender; Transgender*: The Rhetorical Landscape of a Term (with K.J. Rawson); and Transgender Timeline. Same with Zagria, whose Cross-Gender, Transgender, concepts and usages series is a treasure trove. All of that is recommended reading.

This is a slightly different perspective, looking not at the words but at their definitions and arguments for usage of one term over another. Definition can be thought of as an active response to word usage which is believed to be incorrect, confused, ambiguous, or just out of date. But when the way a word is used impacts our lives, defining that word is an effort to exert control. How we choose or define one word or another is directly tied to a history of struggling for legitimacy of our gender identities; for medical care that respects us as self-aware; for legal access to basic things like building family and using bathrooms; for respectful, understanding allies and communities.

Another perspective I wanted to work with was one of looking back, starting from the words most commonly used and accessible now and going back to the definitions which got us here today. The definitions that follow are listed starting from the present day and going back, so you can assume that the first things you read are the ones most likely to be familiar to if not used by trans people today; as you go down, you’re getting into the history and development of these definitions.

This is an extremely small sampling of definitions, intended to give many different perspectives and highlight many critical advances in the development of these definitions, including provocative questions about defining terms versus defining communities. I have centered voices of people identified with these terms, included some medical definitions which were progressive for their time, and included a few other definitions which I felt might provide context or indicate milestones. Many quotes were cut shorter after I copied them down, so the page ranges provided may indicate a more extensive definition than is present here. I’ve explicitly focused on close variants of these terms as they are currently used to have often similar meanings in a non-derogatory sense. You can skim, or read the first few definitions, or read the whole thing in detail if you want a quick cross-section of what it’s like to spend a few weeks/months/years researching this stuff.

But I still haven’t answered the question of which term to use! I prefer to use ‘trans’, ‘transgender’, and ‘transexual’ depending on what’s useful or relevant in the given situation. If I’m referring to a specific person, I use terms they have used to define themself.

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2013 “Transgender: Commonly used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex or gender they were assigned at birth, and for those whose gender expression differs from what is culturally expected of them. Some people use transgender to describe their primary gender identity. The term transgender is not indicative of sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life.
Transsexual: Similar to transgender in that it indicates a conflict between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth, but with implications of physical/hormonal/surgical transition from one binary societal gender role to the other. The term has started to fall out of favor due to its narrowness and problematic use as an objectifying term within the porn industry.
Trans: Prefix or adjective used as a simultaneous abbreviation of either transgender or transsexual, derived from the Latin word meaning across from or on the other side of. Because it avoids the political connotations of both those terms, many consider trans to be the most inclusive and useful umbrella term, as there are transgender people who do not identify as transsexual, and transsexual people who do not identify as transgender.
Trans Woman / Trans Man: Trans woman refers to a woman of transgender experience. She might actively identify herself as trans, or she might just consider being trans part of her medical history. It is grammatically and definitionally correct to include a space between trans and woman. The same concept applies to trans man. Unless you’re involved in a conversation specifically about trans issues, you should just stick with woman or man.”
— houdini, erin. ‘Erin’s Trans Glossary.’ http://www.erinhoudini.com/transgender-glossary.html (2013)
“transgender, adj. and n.
A. adj.
Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these; transgendered.Although often used (esp. among participants in transgender lifestyles) as a generic and inclusive term which deliberately avoids categorizations such as transsexual or transvestite, in wider use transgender is sometimes used synonymously with these more specific terms.
B. n.
Transgenderism; (now usually) a transgender person.”
Oxford English Dictionary, third ed. (2013)
“The asterisk is a blank, a placeholder, an etc., an includer. What the symbol means when it is put at the end of trans* is rooted in this same “wildcard” use. It is expanding the trans* umbrella to include folks who identify as transgender and transsexual (the terms usually understood as included when the prefix trans is used on its own) as well as other identities where a person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
— Jones, Nash. ‘Bridging The Gap – Trans*: What Does the Asterisk Mean and Why Is It Used?’ QBlog. http://www.pdxqcenter.org/bridging-the-gap-trans-what-does-the-asterisk-mean-and-why-is-it-used/ (2013)
“We don’t append an asterisk onto the end of “gay” to indicate that it also includes gay trans men and other gay men who don’t fit the normative, privileged gay identity, or indicate that not every man who exclusively fucks men identifies as gay. We don’t append an asterisk onto “lesbian” or “bisexual”, either…why are we assuming “trans” didn’t already include non-binary iterations, and didn’t already mean more than just transsexual? And why are we fighting for the asterisk instead of fighting for the original term to simply mean what it should have meant? Especially since it’s still the same word.”
— Reed, Natalie. ‘So Let’s Talk About The Fucking Asterisk.’ A Natalie Reed Tumblr. http://nataliereed84.tumblr.com/post/65412526336/so-lets-talk-about-the-fucking-asterisk (2013)
2012 “Many people feel more comfortable when they have a list of terms and accompanying definitions. In fact, some people believe that knowing exactly what a set of terms means is a critical component of being culturally competent. FORGE takes a different approach. We recognize that the meanings of terms are in a constant state of flux and evolution, and that every individual defines particular terms in very different ways. This may be especially true in the transgender community, where there are literally hundreds of words used to describe transgender and gender non-conforming identities and experiences…To be culturally competent, you need to find out what terms a person uses to refer to themselves and then reflect those terms back to them…What you really need to know about transgender people in order to serve them appropriately isn’t going to come from an identity term, but from asking specific questions related to their needs, concerns, experiences.”
— Forge. ‘FAQ: Terms Paradox.’ http://forge-forward.org/wp-content/docs/FAQ-06-2012-terms-paradox.pdf (2012)
2011 “Transgender is a wide and nebulous concept and so is mainly used as a ‘cover all’ term to allow all people who experience prejudice or discomfort due to their ‘transgressive gender’ to be described and protected (such as in hate crime or employment protection legislation)…Be aware that many people assume that ‘trans’ or even ‘transgender’ refer only to transsexual or gender dysphoric people, and so may need their identities listed separately to ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’ in order to feel included. Consider using the wider ‘trans*’ in the place of ‘trans’ when referring to all transgender, genderqueer and gender variant people, however do not use ‘trans*’ only when referring to non-transsexual people as this would be othering.”
— Nat. ‘How transgender organisations can demonstrate inclusivity.’ Practical Androgyny: Ambiguous Gender Presentation Resources and Information. http://practicalandrogyny.com/2011/04/28/transgender-organisation-inclusivity/ (2011)
“Many identities fall under the transgender umbrella. The term transsexual refers to people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex…People who were assigned female, but identify and live as male and alter or wish to alter their bodies through medical intervention to more closely resemble their gender identity are known as transsexual men or transmen (also known as female-to-male or FTM). Conversely, people who were assigned male, but identify and live as female and alter or wish to alter their bodies through medical intervention to more closely resemble their gender identity are known as transsexual women or transwomen (also known as male-to-female or MTF). Some individuals who transition from one gender to another prefer to be referred to as a man or a woman, rather than as transgender.”
— American Psychological Association. ‘Answers to Your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression.’ http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.pdf (2011)
2009 “A transgender (trans) person is someone who has a different sex, gender identity, and/or gender expression than the one assigned to them at birth, regardless of their sexual orientation. Due to assumptions and/or discomfort among health professionals to ask questions about gender identity, trans people are either completely missed and not accurately counted in surveillance methods, or miscounted as MSM (often trans women are incorrectly counted as MSM). In addition, many funders, health departments and government agencies do not even allow for the reporting of trans people as clients and patients, as if they don’t even exist.”
— Center of Excellence for Transgender Health. ‘Recommendations for Inclusive Data Collection of Trans People in HIV Prevention, Care and Services.’ http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/pdf/data-recommendation.pdf (2009)
2007 “PROBLEMATIC: “transgenders,” “a transgender”
PREFERRED: “transgender people,” “a transgender person”
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, “Tony is a transgender,” or “The parade included many transgenders.” Instead say, “Tony is a transgender person,” or “The parade included many transgender people.”
PROBLEMATIC: “transgendered”
PREFERRED: “transgender”
The word transgender never needs the extraneous “ed” at the end of the word. In fact, such a construction is grammatically incorrect. Only verbs can be transformed into participles by adding “-ed” to the end of the word, and transgender is an adjective, not a verb.”
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Reference Guide: Transgender Glossary of Terms. http://archive.glaad.org/media/guide/transfocus.php (2007)
2003-2004 “Trans Female/Woman: An MTF. The medical literature tends to use the extremely demeaning term ‘male transsexual’ to mean the same thing. Note that you can tell the preferred form is in use when the gender word comes after the ‘T’ word.”
— Glossary. Anderson-Minshall, Diane, and Gina de Vries, eds. Becoming: Young ideas on gender, identity, and sexuality. p. 293. An equivalent definition is provided for Trans Man/Male. (2004)
“In this book we have chosen to use the word transgender, not transgendered, for the same reasons offered by John Shelby Spong in his book A New Christianity for a New World… In his endnotes Spong writes that transgendered ‘implies something has been done to a person. We never say that one has been maled or femaled; we should likewise call no one transgendered” (255). We agree with this reasoning. This is a new linguistic understanding and an important, gender-based nuance that we recommend to all people when discussing gender-variant individuals.”
— Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey and Vanessa Sheridan. Transgender Journeys. (2003)
2001-2002 “…transgender has undoubtedly enabled many despised and marginalized people to come together around a common voice and a way to identify that is empowering and constructive…Transgender is now commonly used in two ways: as both an identity and a descriptive adjective. As an identity, it faces the same question as gender itself. Is it transgression about something we are or something we do? So far the answer has been definitely ‘something we are.’ This has created an interesting collision between theorists who understand gender as doing and many transexual activists who claim it as a being…while there are undoubtedly millions of Americans who frequently transcend gender roles — from ballet-loving quarterbacks to suit coat-wearing soccer moms — the identity remains inhospitable to them as well…Some trans activists have tried to correct these limitations by ’embracing the contradiction.’ They emphasize the big-tent approach of transgender-as-adjective and assert, ‘We are all transgendered.’ This rings true, but does it also ring useful?…The emphasis on transgender as a description also harks back to the idea of all gender as drag, a kind of displacement of self into binary norms. Yet many transexuals reject such arguments. They understand — and want others to understand — that their gender results from a core identity, a true self that is not the result of some external norms…
The only group today using transgression in its widest and most uncritical descriptive sense is queer youth, who consistently prefix anything genderqueer with ‘trans’ or ‘tranz.'”
— Wilchins, Riki. “Deconstructing Trans.” From Nestle, Joan, Clare Howell, and Riki Wilchins. Genderqueer: Voices from beyond the sexual binary. p. 58-62. (2002)
“…we are not going to get caught up with labels because definitions change very quickly and the lines between them blur. For instance, a transsexual can identify as such and never swallow a pill. A transvestite may experiment with hormones but not really want to make a permanent change. Straight men in drag (which sounds like a contradiction in terms but isn’t) can be referred to as queens, especially by gay queens. ‘Cross-dresser’ is a term used to describe straight men, though not all are. And women cross-dress too. ‘Transgender’ is a good word except that it is not very sexy, which is exactly why some people prefer it. We are not going to spend a lot of time debating the terms. Debate is so male and boring!”
— Vera, Veronica. Miss Vera’s Cross-Dress for Success: A Resource Guide for Boys Who Want to be Girls. p. xv-xvi. (2002)
“The truth is the distinction between TVs [trans and TSs was invented by doctors to distinguish between people who needed surgery and people who didn’t.”
— Anders, Charlie Jane (as Charles). The Lazy Crossdresser. p. 5-7. (2002)
“When menstruation was viewed as an incorrigible proposition supporting the belief that women were incapable of being responsible voters or holding responsible positions in the workforce, what better time to haul out the gender ammunition, forcing the discussion away from the physicality of the body? This is a viable political strategy that shifts the debate and widens the field for potential allies. We used the same technique when we instituted ‘transgender’ as an overarching term, minimizing the stranglehold of the medical/psychiatric profession (and the law’s reliance on that profession) on transsexual lives and broadening the scope of gender variance to include virtually anyone.”
— Green, Jamison. The Art and Nature of Gender. From Haynes, Felicity and Tarquam McKenna. Unseen Genders: Beyond the binaries. p. 63. (2001)
2000 “In Anglo-America, access to the public sphere for transsexuals is facilitated to the extent that we express ourselves in the language of Anglo-American lesbian and gay theory and politics…
I have no intentions of erasing the specificity of transsexuals, but as a kind of shorthand, I use ‘transgendered people’ throughout the book, despite the fact that where I live and work in Québec, the term ‘transgender’ does not exist in French…I am increasingly uneasy with an Anglo-American use of the term ‘transgender’ to the extent that it ignores transsexual individuals.”
— Namaste, Viviane K. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. p. 63, 273. (2000)
1998-1999 “My intention is to move away from ‘transsexual’ because the label implies female/feminine identity. Transpeople is a change from the sexed connotations of transsexual, which only heightens the confusion between sexual behavior and gender identity.”
— Cromwell, Jason. Transmen & FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders & Sexualities. p. 19-22. (1999)
“Underpinned by the postmodern turn in the conditions of signification, entirely new language games – novel configurations of discourse involving not just new content but new speakers and audiences – have begun to emerge through various attempts to articulate transgender phenomena. The result, to steal a phrase from Sandy Stone, has been a ‘bumptious heteroglossia’ of competing accounts of what properly constitutes transgenderism and who gets to talk in which ways for what purposes. This metadiscursive situation itself, quite apart from any discussion of what transgender phenomena might actually be, has attracted swarms of academic culture workers who cut their critical teeth in the language-obsessed and theory-driven 1980s.”
— Stryker, Susan. ‘The Transgender Issue: An Introduction.’ From Stryker, Susan, ed. ‘The Transgender Issue.’ GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies. (4) 2. p. 147-153. (1998)
“I’m what’s called a transsexual person. That means I was assigned one gender at birth, and I now live my life as something else.”
— Bornstein, Kate. My Gender Workbook. p. 7. (1998)
“What makes me transgendered is that my birth sex – which is female – appears to be in social contradiction to my gender expression – which is read as masculine. I defend my right to that social contradiction. In fact, I want to live long enough to hear people ask, ‘What made me think that was a contradiction in the first place?'”
— Feinberg, Leslie. Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue. p. 69. (1998)
1997 “The term transgender has quickly become the word of choice for both professionals and consumers when referring to individuals or the community as a whole. Bringing individuals together under a common label is not without consequences. Potentially this may encourage people to overlook the unique traits and needs that distinguish various subpopulations. Additionally, some individuals abhor the thought of being associated with other subpopulations under a transgender label. They may feel that such an inclusion may be misperceived as pathologizing by others, or they may think inclusion inapplicable as a result of personal ideology.”
— Israel, Gianna E. and Donald E. Tarver II, M.D. Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information & Personal Accounts. p. 8-9, 14. (1997)
“Concurrently, transexual women are unerringly described as ‘cutting off their dicks.’ No one ever formulates this act as gaining a cunt – not even lesbians, feminists, or transgender women.”
— Wilchins, Riki Anne. Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender. p. 193. (1997)
“More and more transexual people are accepting their transgendered condition as a permanent state of being; this has opened the door for political and scientific activism and, moreover, to the realization that being pre-operative is not inevitably a way-station on the road to surgery, but perhaps a permanent state of non-operativeness…In keeping with the emerging transexual sentiment that those who are transexual have the ultimate right of self-definition, throughout this paper I have used the word transexualism rather than the more commonly used transsexualism.”
— Denny, Dallas. ‘Transgender: Some Historical, Cross-Cultural, and Contemporary Models and Methods of Coping and Treatment.’ From Bullough, Bonnie, Vern L Bullough and James Elias. Gender Blending. p. 38-39. (1997)
1994-1996 “…there is also a movement within the gender community to reject medical labels like transsexual and transvestite, using instead self-generated and non-stigmatizing terms like transgenderist and cross-dresser…the concept and use of the word transsexual continues to be the source of great controversy among the different disciplines involved in transsexual research, as well as among transsexuals themselves. Much of this controversy centers on the medical relationship established between transsexualism and sex-reassignment surgery. The controversy includes the volatile issues of who should be sexually reassigned as well as whether sex reassignment surgery (SRS) is really rehabilitive.”
— MacKenzie, Gordene Olga. Transgender Nation. p. 2, 5-6, 57-58. (1994)
“Transsexual: An individual who rejects the gender into which she or he was born. Transsexuals may opt for sexual-reassignment surgery, but may also be ‘pre-operative’ or choose not to have surgery at all.
Transgendered: Refers to an individual who identifies with the gender different from the one she or he was born into. While all transsexuals may be said to be transgendered, the reverse is not always true.”
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Guide to the Lesbian and Gay Community. p. 38. (1995 or 1996)
“Transgenderism supplants the dichotomy of transsexual and transvestite with a concept of continuity.”
— Bolin, Anne: ‘Transcending and Transgendering: Male-to-Female Transsexuals, Dichotomy and Diversity.’ Third Sex Third Gender: Beyond sexual dimorphism in culture and history. Ed. Herdt, Gilbert H. p. 461 or 473. As quoted in Sterling, Sexing the Body. (1994)
1992 “In recent years a community has begun to emerge that is sometimes referred to as the gender or transgender community. Within our community is a diverse group of people who define ourselves in many different ways. Transgendered people are demanding the right to choose our own self-definitions. The language used in this pamphlet may quickly become outdated as the gender community coalesces and organizes – a wonderful problem.”
— Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come. (1992)
1989-1991 “transˈsexual, a. and n.
Also (A. 1, B.) transexual, (esp. A. 2) trans-sexual. [f. trans- 3 + sexual a.]
A. adj.
1. Of or pertaining to transsexualism; having physical characteristics of one sex and psychological characteristics of the other.
2. Of or pertaining to both sexes. Also, intersexual.
B. n. A transsexual person. Also, one whose sex has been changed by surgery.
transˈsexualism
Also trans-sexualism, transexualism. [f. trans- 3 + sexualism.]
The state or condition of being transsexual (see transsexual a. 1), manifested in an overwhelming desire to belong to the opposite sex.
So transˈsexualist n. and a. = transsexual n., a. 1.
transsexuˈality
Also trans-sexuality, transexuality. [f. trans- 3 + sexuality.]
= transsexualism; loosely, bisexuality.”
Oxford English Dictionary, second ed. (1989) Entry first added in 1986.
“In the medical literature, the transsexual condition has commonly been designated by the term ‘gender dysphoria syndrome.’ In fact, transsexuals usually claim to have a quite definite sense of their gender; it is their physical sex that is experienced as the problem. The term ‘sexual dysphoria’ was thus at one point suggested as being more appropriate. And yet, the concept of biological ‘sex’ is not without its own problems; the more we learn about it, the more complicated things become, since we might be talking about chromosomal (or genetic) sex, anatomical (or morphological) sex, genital (or gonadal) sex, germinal sex, and hormonal sex. Perhaps the most satisfactory formulation is that transsexuals are people who experience a conflict between their gender assignment, made at birth on the basis of anatomical appearance, and their sense of gender identity.
This, however, opens up the question of what is meant by ‘gender identity’…”
— Shapiro, Judith. ‘Transsexualism: Reflections on the Persistence of Gender and the Mutability of Sex.’ From Epstein, Julia Kristina Straub, ed. Body Guards: The cultural politics of gender ambiguity. p. 249-251. (1991)
1986 “Recently, the mental health profession has come to regard transsexualism as a symptom of an underlying disorder, rather than as the disorder itself. The underlying disorder is generally gender dysphoria, or a disturbance of gender identity: gender dysphoria is commonly regarded as being primary (present constantly from childhood and to a considerable degree) or secondary (being intermittent or of low strength, and exacerbated by some problem later in life). In many cases of secondary dysphoria, there has been some degree of gender disturbance or dissatisfaction throughout life, but problems such as the break-up of relationships, aging, or inability to function in the appropriate masculine or feminine role, have brought it to the fore. Unfortunately, many who present for treatment with gender dysphoria have diagnosed their symptom of transsexualism as being the disorder itself, and request gender reassignment surgery as the ‘cure’. It is necessary, however, for the professional to set aside this self-diagnosis and prescription for treatment, and to determine a diagnosis from a careful history and from other appropriate investigations.”
— Walters, William AW, and Michael W Ross, eds. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. p. 1. (1986)
1983-1985 “Women who identify as transsexuals experience an urgent, compulsive, unrelenting wish to rid themselves of their breasts and inner female organs. They are obsessed with wearing men’s clothing, enacting a male role, and being socially accepted as men. They deny being homosexual and insist on dating feminine heterosexual women. Most of these women are driven to have surgery and are obsessed with the idea of having a penis. It is not as if they have a choice.”
— Lothstein, Leslie Martin. Female-to-Male Transsexualism: Historical, Critical, and Theoretical Issues. p. 13-14. (1983)
“The classical definition: a male transsexual is a man with the mind of a woman.
The modernistic definition: a male transsexual is a woman with the body of a man.”
— Breton, Jacques, C. Frohwirth, S. Pottiez, and S. Kindynis. Le Transsexualism: Etude nosographique et médico-légale. (1985) As quoted in Chiland, Colette, translated by Philip Slotkin. Transsexualism: Illusion and Reality. p. 16.
1969-1980 Diagnostic criteria for transsexualism as listed in the DSM-III:
“A. A sense of discomfort and inappropriateness about one’s anatomic sex.
B. Wish to be rid of one’s own genitals and to live as a member of the other sex.
C. The disturbance has been continuous (not limited to periods of stress) for at least two years.
D. Absence of physical intersex or genetic abnormality.
E. Not due to another mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.”
— As quoted in MacKenzie, Gordene Olga. Transgender Nation. p. 69. (1980)
“The differential labeling of transsexualism, transvestism, and homosexuality is not always clear-cut, although a few oversimplified distinctions can be made. The essential basis on which differentiation is made focuses on gender identity (a person’s self-concept as a man or a woman) and sexual object choice (whether the person is sexually attracted to males or females). Broadly stated, gender identity is contradictory to genital anatomy in transsexualism and in accord with anatomy in transvestism and homosexuality…The practical significance of diagnostic distinctions lies in the extent of the patient’s male identification and the pleasure derived from the use of his penis. Intuitively, it would appear that the more masculine a person, the more difficult would be the transition into living the role of a woman; and the more sexually gratifying has been penile sexuality, the more significant would be its loss through surgery.”
— Green, Richard, M.D. Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults. p. 82. (1974)
1969 “transsexualism: behaviorally, it is the act of living and passing in the role of the opposite sex, before or after having attained a hormonal, surgical, and legal sex reassignment; psychically, it is the condition of people who have a conviction that they belong to the opposite sex and are driven by a compulsion to have the body, appearance, and social status of the opposite sex.”
— Glossary. Green, Richard, M.D. and John Money, Ph.D, eds. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. p. 487. (1969)
1966 “The transsexual (TS) male or female is deeply unhappy as a member of the sex (or gender) to which he or she was assigned by the anatomical structure of the body, particularly the genitals….True transsexuals feel that they belong to the other sex, they want to be and function as members of the opposite sex, not only to appear as such. For them, their sex organs, the primary (testes) as well as the secondary (penis and others) are disgusting deformities that must be changed by the surgeon’s knife. This attitude appears to be the chief differential diagnostic point between the two syndromes (sets of symptoms) – that is, those of transvestism and transsexualism…The person so afflicted is best referred to as a “transsexual,” a simpler term than “transsexualist,” which is also used and which, unfortunately, I myself used in the beginning…Dr. Van Emde Boas of Amsterdam prefers to call such patients “transexists,” which is shorter but a bit of a twister for the American tongue; and Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins University has written aptly of “contra-sexism” which, however, ignores the transformation urge. Hamburger and his associates spoke of the transsexual urge as “genuine transvestism” or “eonism.” The late Dr. David O. Cauldwell had, in 1949, described in Sexology Magazine the strange case of a girl who wanted to be a man and called the condition “psychopathia transsexualis.” Dr. Daniel C. Brown speaks of transsexualism as a term related to “Sex role inversion,” specifically meaning that this type of invert wants or receives surgical alteration of his genitals. He uses “inversion” as the widest term with transvestism, transsexualism, and homosexuality “expected to accompany most cases of inversion.” So much for the term and its synonyms…The use of “transsexualism” (sometimes called “transsexuality”) seems to have caught on in the international medical literature of recent years.”
— Benjamin, Harry. The Transsexual Phenomenon. p. 13-16. (1966)

 

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3 Responses to Transgender(ed), Trans(s)exual, Trans(*), and more: which should I use?

  1. Very fascinating! A lot of what drew me to the post was hoping to get a little insight on the asterisk (wasn’t disappointed!), but it was quite interesting to see the evolution of the terms over time. I especially like the point about always using “transgender” and never “transgendered;” although it should be obvious that “transgendered” is just grammatically wrong, it had never struck me that way for some reason. Great post!

  2. Pingback: Asking gender on surveys | Catching Wine

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