The Transgendered Community is actually a very wide group of people.
Much as the Earth is made up of radically different continents, so too
the Transgender Community has many types within it. Whilst labels aren't
exact and can have annoying stereotypes attached to them, they can be
useful in helping you understand the type of person you are and from
there, the type of support, lifestyle and facilities available for you.
So let's take a look at some of the categories people talk about shall
Before I start, I best say that these aren't Oxford English Dictionary
definitions of Transgender Groups. To some a word may connotate more
or less and so these are the definitions I use in lieu of the world actually
having any decent ones!
Transgendered or TG -
Dead simple, anyone involved in activities which cross normal accepted
behavior can be said
to be transgendered or crossing gender boundaries. That could be
as clear and radical as physically altering one's body with anything
and make up to surgery and hormones. Or it could be as subtle and
hidden as the way you think.
The term transgender is also used occassionally
to refer to someone who lives as the opposite of their birth sex
without surgery, but that seems to be less and less common these days.
All other groups listed below are classed as Transgendered. For
example, I'm transexual so I'm a type of transgendered person. My
is a Drag Queen, so Debs is also Transgendered. However in reverse,
being a transgendered person doesn't make you all of the categories
it - Debs definitely is not a transexual and I'm not a Drag
Transgendered is just the umbrella covering all.
As a rough gauge, 80% of the transgender
community is physically
male, 20% female from birth. 82% of the Transgender
heterosexual, 15% bisexual and the rest homosexual - that is sexual
the transgender community is roughly the same as that anywhere
else. 90% of the community only ever expresses itself within their
home. I guess that explains why I get those cheeky looks when I'm
foam at the supermarket whilst wearing my best Dior!
Transexual (transsexual) or TS -
To be Transexual means that you fundamentally view yourself as being
your physical body. You could have a male body with a female mind,
this is called Male to Female Transexual (often abbreviated MtF
There is also the reverse, a person born with a female body and
a male mind. This is Female to Male or FtoM. In fact this condition
not only Humans but animals too. Although it's exact causes are
to be conclusively understood, current medical knowledge classes
Transexualism as a birth defect. A part of the individuals brain
which deals with
is formed as that of the opposite sex to the physical body. Fortunately
this condition is relatively rare and whilst transexualism certainly
isn't the norm, it is a natural phenomena and definitely isn't
invented or "chosen".
You may also hear the terms pre-op and post-op Transexual. This is
because some transexuals find living with their condition so difficult
hormones and undergo surgery (SRS or Sex Reassignment Surgery
or GRS Gender Reassignment Surgery) to make their body match their
process is called transitioning. Whilst current medical science
only offers a sex change as a cure to transexualism, the degree to
a person has mastery of their own mental states often has a bearing
whether a sex change operation is essential. Some will get depressed
or view their life as a lie if they are forced to live in the
gender role of their physical body and in extreme cases sex change
the difference between life and death. However it would be wrong
to say that
the goal of all transexuals is to transition to one gender. There
are many more who leave their bodies unaltered and view their unique
of female outlook with masculine strength and presence as an
advantage. Certainly statistically speaking, many transexuals benefit
combination of female understanding with male competency, as a
higher than average
number of us are in the higher income bracket with technical
or professional skills. Oh come on, you know when God takes with one
hand he gives
Cisgendered (or cis) - the reverse of transgendered, basically someone who feels they are of the physical gender they were born in. To some it's a more fancy play on the old concept of normal, yet actually it's a little more specific and a useful word if you're going to look at gender theory. Typically it's used to refer to the thoughts and assumptions made by the majority who are unaware of the transgender phenomenon, ie "that's a very cis or cissexist point of view"
Transvestite, tranny or TV - A transvestite is a person who chooses
to outwardly express their inner feelings through their appearance.
They could be male or female yet have the desire to show their feminine
masculine nature through dress. Think of it this way. You have a
line numbered from 1 to 100. 1 is 100% female and 100 is 100% male.
of people would be a comfortable mixture of both genders in the way
they think - say 90% male, 10% female. However, some people have a
feminine or masculine side, maybe 60-40. Having this stronger leaning
within they may feel unable to express themselves fully within the
constraints of their day-to-day gender and so find release in spending
the opposite gender role.
By far the majority of Transvestites are heterosexual, marry and
live otherwise "normal" lives save the odd girls night
out at a TV club or group or they dress at home. The majority
do not take their need for expression into their sex lives and
topics on discussion at TV groups are normally very clean, along
a woman's magazine - make up, dressing nicely, where to shop
for bargains etc.
Cross Dresser or CD - Whilst most Transgendered
groups could be considered as a form of cross dressing, within the
TG community Cross
often seen as something more specific; it's when dressing
is done for sexual pleasure. It often centers on wearing more intimate
as lingerie or underwear, as well as fetish wear like PVC
or leather. There can be a huge gulf in outlook between a Transvestite and a
Cross Dresser since the Cross Dresser is motivated by sex,
whilst the transvestite
is motivated by the need for expression. Therefore Cross
Dressers may not feel the need to look convincing or act in anyway
like a female
For some cross dressing can be part of a complex about their sexual
orientation - some people cannot accept themselves to be bisexual
or gay and so cross dress because the thin veil of the woman's role
them to act out fantasies that their own mental conditioning is at
odds with. It's basically like saying to yourself it's OK for me to
sex with a man because at the moment I'm a woman.
There are also cultural differences in this term. In North America,
the word crossdresser can essentially be the same as transvestite;
it needn't necessarily connotate for sexual purposes. However in Europe
there are clear examples of this connection. For example if a celebrity
or politician was found in some sex scandal where they were dressed
it would be described as a "crossdressing shocker" rather than a "transvestite
shocker". This is why I prefer to split the terms transvestite and
crossdresser to refer to two different motivations.
Drag Queens - A Drag Queen is the name given to a performer or entertainer
who dresses as a woman. The majority of Drag Queens are gay and the
woman they portray themselves as is really a caricature of feminity.
not intended to bear any more than a superficial resemblance to any
real woman and many Drag Queens use their act as an opportunity to
I should note here that there are also many Drag Kings - women who
impersonate men. Don't knock it, if only Elvis actually did look as
good as them!
Sissies - A sissy is a man who enjoys being dominated
by another, normally a woman. Their Mistress may make them do a variety
and non-sexual ranging from serving her to doing housework.
Domination is a big part of being a Sissy and failure to please the
may result in humiliation, forced feminisation, bondage,
spanking or other
forms of disciplining. For some sex may form the final
part of the role play, for others their wife may enjoy forcing them
to do the dishes
Intersexuals (Hermaphrodites) -
Different from Transexuals, Intersexed people are born with the physical
organs of both
although they may not be fully formed. For them, choosing
which sex to live as
can be the most important consideration as some have surgery
to remove one set of organs, although their parents are often placed
in the difficult decision of deciding at birth resulting in many becoming
female since medically this is easier. Some will grow up and like transexuals realise they are in a body that doesn't match their internal gender
and seek a sex change. Some choose to remain ambiguous whilst others
very clearly define themselves as
gender. Like Transexuality,
Intersexuality is a birth defect but it's visible symptoms
can cause just as much, if not more issues to contend with. It can
also have a variety of causes such as Chromosomes.
part of the Transgendered
Community, it is rarer to meet
an Intersexed person
since the condition is apparent from birth. Most will
receive medical advice from an early age and do their best to lead
lives. The term Hermaphrodite used to be widely used to describe
them, but nowadays this term is not used since it's not really accurate.
Intersexual is now used in it's place and refers solely to those
born with both sexual organs in non-hermaphroditic species, i.e.
Shemales - A shemale is
someone who takes hormones and may undergo feminising surgery
but chooses to keep their
male genitalia. Some
do this because it allows them to earn money in the sex
industry since once
they have the chop, they loose their uniqueness. This
allows them to save money for their treatment as transitioning can
be very expensive
with surgery alone costing thousands, not to mention
the cost of hormones
which transexuals must take for the rest of their lives.
Similar names include Chick with a Dick and Ladyboy. Whilst Shemale
is a word
in the porn industry, Ladyboy is a translation of a Thai
word as Thai people have believed in the existence of a third gender
of years. Not all shemales transition like transexuals do as some
prefer being both sexes or have commercial interests that require
them to have a functioning male genitalia.
Androgynous - To be androgynous is to be on the borderline between
male and female. There are people who enjoy creating confusion this
terrorists) or just naturally look that way. One can be androgynous
in thought or appearance.
Third Gender Terms - The Third Gender lies somewhere
between male and female and has been accepted by many cultures since
giving rise to many names. The Third Gender applies to pretty
much all male to female transgendered groups. Terms include the Thai
Katoey or Ladyboy, the Indian Hijra or Evening People,
the North American Indian Winkte and Berdache or
Two Spirit and the Arabic
Khanith or Not Clearly Male. In the Roman times the Galli were
transgendered priestesses of the Goddess Cybele who voluntarily castrated
themselves. There are also similar terms from many other African, Asian
and American cultures dating back thousands of years - as I said earlier,
transexuality and intersexuality are naturally occurring conditions
and although rare have been around as long as humanity.
Autogynephile - this a relatively new term that deals more with
sexual arousal in the sense that there are many men - often classed
transvestites, transexuals or cross
dressers - who find themselves
aroused at the thought of themselves being female. One argument goes
that this is natural in the case of transexuals as it is normal and
healthy to have a sex drive and when you have a clear body image
that you find attractive it is appropriate that you find it a turn
Another argument goes that fancying yourself as a woman is very
different from being a woman and can simply constitute a fantasy
of supreme appreciation for women (if the person having it is heterosexual)
or of denial of one's latent homosexuality. I guess there are probably
people that fall into both categories, although I suspect that there
are more men who are comfortable being men yet find the thought of
being female erotic than there are transexuals who have autogynephilia
as part of their natural sex drive.
Afternote added May 2010: A further point on the subject that was quite rightly raised to me by one reader is that there are lots of cisgendered
people who find affirmations of their gender a turn on such as the guy who feels good when a woman makes him feel a real man or how women like to be treated like a woman by a gentleman. Therefore there is an argument that autgynephile is a word invented by cispeople to pathologise the transgender condition. At anyrate, the term is included here for discussion and debate and like all my transgender term definitions, I don't claim that they are all encompassing or complete, nor do I edorse them all. They're merely here and present to serve to inform and stimulate debate.
Always remember that whatever title you feel fits you or someone else,
that's not all you are. You might be a screaming tranny but you're also
a human being right? Could it be possible that that person who you dismissed
yesterday as a sick cross dresser might also be the paramedic who one
day saves your life tomorrow? What I'm trying to say is that people -
all people - are wonderful creatures with many sides and traits.
Use titles to help understand your world and tell others about it but
make the mistake of thinking that's all you are. Don't let your gender
identity rule your life - let your mind rule your life. Much as a beautiful
mind will create a beautiful life, so to a mind that traps itself in
words or titles can create a life that is hemmed in and restricted. Free
your mind and the rest will follow...