The origins of the term ' transgendered' are looked at in more detail on the next page. On this page we will concentrate on defining some of the terms you may come across - transvestism and transsexualism, which are true transgendered conditions, and also types of behaviour which are neither transsexualism nor true transvestism, but which nevertheless involve a blurring of the accepted gender boundaries and are therefore sometimes incorrectly described as 'transgendered'.
As explained further on, the term 'transgendered' has acquired new meaning in recent years and while it is now most commonly used as a generic term used to describe anyone suffering from gender dysphoria, it is sometimes also used to refer to simple behaviours such as cross dressing, although it is not strictly correct to do so.
Most of these terms we will not touch again, as we prefer to keep things simple when at all possible. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but we have briefly touched on the more common behaviours which are covered by the term 'transgender', and also some which are often lumped in incorrectly.
If you're easily confused, look away now! :)
Drag Queen :- Either a persona created to generate income, or a specialised area of dressing-up performed by a person who is male and who generally has no gender issues at all. Drag queens are often, but not always, gay men, and for those not in the entertainment industry it's usually an expression of 'camp' rather than a manifestation of gender dysphoria.
Cross dresser :- The term 'cross-dresser' is often used as an alternative to 'transvestite', but strictly speaking they're not the same thing. 'Cross-dresser' is correctly used to describe a man who wears female clothes, but without the creation of a female persona which is typical of true transvestism - for example, someone who enjoys dressing as a woman, but without making any attempt to alter his facial appearance.
Fetishistic Transvestism:- Cross dressing, with the creation of a female persona, but purely for the purpose of sexual gratification, either alone or with others.
Transvestism :- Cross dressing, with the development of a female persona, for pleasure, comfort and a feeling of relief and 'rightness'. This pleasure is not necessarily sexual, although it may be in the early stages (teenage years, early twenties). Taken from the Latin 'trans' meaning across and 'vestitus' meaning 'dressed'.
Gender Queer:- A term we are not going to use on site, but just for reference, it is one of the new age terms used for someone who bends the gender boundaries, who may appear as either gender but crucially without body modification.
Transgender (old definition) now Third Gender:- person who lives full time as the opposite gender, with or without certain body modification which may or may not involve taking hormones or having breast implants, but falling short of full sexual reassignment surgery. Confusingly the new term 'Third Gender' term also encompasses 'androgyne'.
Androgyne:- A person who is a mixture of masculine and feminine. Like 'transvestite', the word 'androgyne' comes from two classical roots (Greek rather than Latin) - 'aner' meaning man and 'gyne' meaning woman, used to denote someone who is neither unequivocally male nor unequivocally female. Androdyne was once used to describe a 'hermaphrodite', or 'intersexed person' as we now call them.
Intersex :- used to describe a person born with characteristics of both sexes. Usually born with genitalia of both sexes, either fully (rare) or more usually to some degree or another.
Transsexual:- Someone who feels that they belong in the opposite gender to that which matches their birth sex. Generally Transsexuals seek to live life fully in the opposite gender role, and when possible, to have surgery to align their sex to their gender. Some transsexuals may, for whatever reason, be unable to have surgery to correct what they consider to be a bodily defect. This can be distressing; however such individuals do their best to live their lives in their chosen gender and prefer to be classed as 'non operative transsexuals' as opposed to 'third gender', for example.
© Transpartners 2008