Transgender For the Uneducated & Clueless Bigot
First, the term TRANSGENDER is an all inclusive umbrella term that includes ALL variations of gender identity, gender expression, and gender variation that does not conform to any binary gender. When in doubt as to a persons specific gender identification and/or reasons for gender expression, the correct term to use at all times is TRANSGENDER, because, if you use a more specific term that may not apply to the individual, you are very likely to not only offend them, but cause the person emotional distress.
Now let's get into some of the more specific terms of various gender identity and gender expression related terminology. I am only going to cover the basics and most common.
- Transsexual - A transsexual is a person with the gender identity of the opposite sex engaged in gender expression to present themselves as the gender they identify with. In simplest terms, a transsexual is a person born with the body of the wrong sex. Most transsexuals seek medical treatment such as hormone replacement therapy or sex reassignment surgery although does not always include surgery for a variety of reasons, one of them usually being financial. A transsexual is either a man born in the body of a woman, which is commonly referred to as Transman, Transgender Man, or FTM (Female Transitioning to Male), or a woman born in the body of a man, commonly referred to as Transwoman, Transgender Woman, or MTF (Male Transitioning to Female). In my case, Transsexual is the most accurate term to describe me personally as I was born male, identify as female and express my self as female and transition has been in progress for some time
- Cross Dresser - In simplest terms, a cross dresser is a male who wears the clothing of the opposite sex, BECAUSE the garments are associated with the opposite sex and often includes gender expression but usually does not include gender identification except on a temporary basis. Cross-dressers have little or no interest in changing sex.
- Transvestite - A transvestite is a person who wears clothing of the opposite sex for sexual gratification or sexual purposes due to fetishistic elements of either the garments themselves or the gender role associated with the garment(s).
- Drag Queen - a drag queen is a male engaged in gender expression as a member of the opposite sex for the purpose of performance art and entertainment which often includes comedy, theater, singing and dancing. The majority of drag queens are gay men, however, there are some heterosexual male drag queens. The female version of drag is referred to as Drag King.
Next, I'd like to cover derogatory terminology. Under no circumstances whatsoever should anyone ever use these terms in reference to transgender persons.
- Shemale - A term used in pornography featuring transsexual women who have not undergone sex reassignment surgery..
- Tranny - A derogatory slur. Using this term is similar to calling someone a racial slur. It is also used in pornography.
For the same reasons that a woman can be lesbian, so too could a transgender woman. The ONLY time a transgender person is to be referred to as gay is in the cases of gay men engaged in drag queen performance, or transgender men who are sexually attracted to other men. A transgender woman who is sexually attracted to women is a lesbian. A transgender woman who is sexually attracted to men, or a transgender man sexually attracted to women, is considered as being straight. Take note that this does not include cross dressers or transvestites because this is a form of gender expression without the gender identity, so, a cross dresser or transvestite that is sexually attracted to men is considered as being gay, but , a cross dresser or transvestite sexually attracted to women is NOT lesbian, but straight.
Take note however that the terms gay, straight or lesbian do not apply to the physical sexual acts themselves when involving transgender persons, since a pre-op transgender woman engaged in sexual activity with a natal female is not engaged in "lesbian" sex, but hetero sexual intercourse. It's complicated.
Moving on, let's cover some basic transgender etiquette and your ethical responsibilities when dealing with transgender persons in respect to gender identity.
- Respect their gender identity - If the person in front of you is presenting themselves as a woman then address that person as a woman. If the person is presenting themselves as a man, then address that person a man. This means that you should use the proper pronouns and address them with the proper name. If you once knew the individual as John but that person now uses the name Mary when expressing her self as female, then you should address her as "Mary."
- Treat them the same as any other person of their gender. - A transgender woman wants to be considered as a woman and treated as such. Similarly, a transgender man wants to be considered a man and treated as a man. Just use some common sense, that one's biological sex is irrelevant.
- Do not refer to biological women/men as "real women/men" in that it conveys the idea that the transgender person is not really a woman or man.
- Never assume a transgender persons sexuality, nor ever consider transgender persons as sexual deviants or that it is some perversion. Gender identity with the accompanying gender expression have nothing whatsoever to do with sexuality.
- Never refer to transgender persons with derogatory terms connotative of sexual orientation, such as faggot, queer, homo, dike, butch, etc. Gender identity and sexual orientation are unrelated and each a separate distinctive characteristic.
As a transsexual woman, I my self am the HAPPIEST I ever been my entire life having been finally able to BE MY SELF and there's simply NO WAY I can undo this, nor can I ever go back. I WOULD RATHER DIE than have to SUFFER again being something I only was on the outside because of the expectations and societal conditions placed upon me by others.