The way the terms are used and perceived is the primary distinction between transgender and transsexual. Many transgender persons do not identify as transsexual, despite the fact that their definitions are identical.

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The term “transgender” refers to a broad category of people whose gender identity differs from the binary gender (boy or girl) or sex (male, female, or intersex) to which they were biologically assigned.

Within the transgender category, there is a more precise word called “transsexual.” Use of this word should only occur when someone expressly requests to be referred to in this manner because it can be divisive.

Continue reading to find out more about the distinctions between transgender and transsexual identity, as well as the reasons behind word choice.

What does the term “transgender” actually mean?

To various people, the term “transgender” might signify different things. Transgender individuals refer to their gender by a variety of other names.

At first, this may seem unclear, especially if you or someone you know is investigating or doubting your gender.

Someone who identifies as masculine and was given the gender “female” at birth, for instance, may be considered transgender.

Another individual who fits the definition of transgender is one who identifies as feminine yet was designated male at birth.

In order to identify the gender that an individual believes they belong to, the term “transgender” can also be used in conjunction with other categories.

A transgender man, woman, or transgender nonbinary individual, for instance.

The word “nonbinary” refers to a broad category of people whose gender cannot be clearly classified as either male or female.

To express and validate their internal sense of gender, some transgender persons alter their name, legal identity marker, body type, or outward appearance.

Some people don’t think they have to alter in order to express and justify this part of who they are. It doesn’t matter which way.

What does being transsexual actually mean?

In the past, the word “transsexual” was used in medicine to describe a person whose internal gender identity differed from their biological gender identity.

More precisely, the phrase is frequently used to convey that a person’s experience of gender entails physical modifications, such hormone therapy or surgery, that assist their anatomy and appearance better reflect their gender identification.

It’s critical to keep in mind that not all members of the transgender community fit neatly into the definition of “transsexual,” nor does it accurately represent their experiences. Until they expressly state otherwise, it shouldn’t be used to refer to them.

Moreover, the term “transsexual” is hurtful and stigmatizing to some transgender persons. This is due to the term’s origins and history in the medical and psychological professions, which wrongly classified all transgender persons as mentally ill or sexually deviant.

It is widely recognized by medical and mental health professionals that being transgender or transsexual is not a mental disease, but rather that transgender identities are a normal aspect of the diversity of human gender experiences.

It seems like you simply repeated yourself. What is the difference?

The way the terms are used and perceived is the primary distinction between transgender and transsexual.

Many transgender persons claim that the term “transsexual” conjures up unpleasant connotations for them.

Current best practices in transgender health still use the word transsexual, but acknowledge that it’s no longer the most inclusive and affirming term to describe someone who has a gender that’s different from what was assigned at birth.

The terms “transgender” or “trans” are now widely used in Western nations to refer to people whose gender is not what was assigned to them at birth.

Although some proponents of transgender and transsexual identity have contended that the term “transsexual” need not always imply medical modifications, the transgender community as a whole has not yet embraced this idea.

In general, the term “transgender” acknowledges that not everyone who identifies with a gender other than the sex given at birth needs to physically change their body, hormonal composition, or appearance.

The choice to seek medical and physical modifications might differ among transgender individuals.

What makes the term “transsexual” so divisive?

Because the term “transsexual” was sometimes used to label transgender persons as mentally ill, it might be controversial. It was frequently used as an excuse for abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

Both inside and outside of the transgender community, there is much discussion about this phrase.

Some believe that receiving a medical diagnosis or having surgery validates one’s transsexual experience.

Some believe that a transgender person’s medical or mental health diagnosis and need for assistance just serve to reinforce the false belief that transgender individuals are inherently ill.

These phrases are no longer used to suggest that being transgender or transsexual is a sign of a mental disorder or other medical issue in and of itself, according to current medical and psychological recommendations.

More precisely, the mental health problems that many transgender persons experience are a result of a lack of access to, acceptance of, and knowledge of gender variation.

Gender dysphoria is the current diagnosis used to describe the distress an individual may experience as a result of having a gender that’s different from what was assigned at birth.

If it has this history, why do some people refer to themselves in this way?

Despite this history, some in Western countries and other cultures across the globe continue to use the word transsexual to refer to themselves and the experience of having a gender that’s different from what was assigned at birth.

Many who use the word transsexual to describe their gender see a medical diagnosis, medical transition using hormones, and gender confirmation surgery as important parts of their experience. They use the term to help communicate that viewpoint.

If a particular culture, community, or individual experiences and uses the word transsexual as a respectful and authentic descriptor, then it can be used in that particular situation or context.