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I Hate “Transsexual”

I know I already talked about allowing words to push my buttons and how I wasn’t going to go apeshit on someone for calling me a tranny. I still hold to that, but let me tell you, I still can’t get comfortable with the word transsexual. It’s stupid, right? I mean, by very definition, I am a transsexual and meet most or all of the criteria as defined in the DSM V… that says I have gender identity disorder? Shit, my copy at home is still the III-R from back in college. Nevertheless, I, Michelle, am a Transsexual. It’s true… buy why does this make me uncomfortable?

I’ve never made it a secret that my preferred term is Transgendered. I know this is an umbrella term and by co-opting it I’m pushing aside the cross-dressers, female impersonators, gender queer, third sex, intersex, no sex, two-spirit, and every other slightly different but equal group that might also prefer it as an exclusive definition. It’s not fair of me, but I still want to do it. Why, why, why? I think it really comes down to the fact that ‘transsexual’ just sounds incredibly creepy.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a good ‘creepy’. Creepy is when you shake hands with someone who uses way too much lotion. It’s like going into a corn field with disconcerting blonde children who never smile. Too creepy; I’d rather be boiled. Maybe it’s that double ‘s’ in the middle of the word. It’s very German. These are the people who turned the whimsically delightful notion of going to camp into the worst thing ever. I think if someone opened a transsexual gym, people would imagine it has whips, chains, leather and probably a gimp or two running around. I’m probably one of the people who would think that.

That half the word is ‘sexual’ doesn’t help at all. When many people hear the term, I would not be surprised if they assume it’s some sort of fetish where the person being described derives some intense orgasmic delight over the prospect of changing their gender. Those of us who are trans know there isn’t an iota of truth to that. It takes about a week on hormones before even the thought of arousal is a thing of the past. Yes, we know it, but just type it into any search engine, even wavy-gravy hip Amazon, and the vast majority of offerings are meant to titillate, to put it politely. I’m OK with being misunderstood, but not so much when it involves shallow breathing and upper lip perspiration. Ew.

So what do we want to be called? If we stick with the DSM, switching it up to become GID’s would fit, unless we don’t care to sound like we fast tracked a later in life high school diploma. Given a choice, I’d just go with ‘woman’, but we are human and must classify well beyond logical reason. ‘Transgender’ you know I’m down with, but tired of being corrected or asked to qualify, bringing me back to ‘transsexual’. Something about ‘t-girl’ just pisses me off. I have no reason for this, but it does. We could make up something new. Sisters of Loki? The Untesticulated? Reidentified? I’m being facetious.

Truth be told, if I could come up with some catchy new term that would be enthusiastically adopted, I’d do it. This blog just doesn’t get enough hits. Our lives are such that unless we are unquestionably passable, we are going to have to spend a significant portion of our lives having to explain what we are supposed to be anyway. If a single word could sum it all up succinctly, it would be a wonderful thing. In the mean time I’ll stick with transgendered and the strong probability of invasive questions to follow.

About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

8 responses »

  1. Probably the only reason I disagree is I’m very literal. I’m changing my sex, but I can never change my gender. Nor would I want to, since it’s who I am. So TS to be specific, inside the umbrella category of TG. I’ll “answer” to simply trans* though.

  2. I agree with you 100% Michelle, as long as I can remember I have always wanted to change my gender while continuing the action of “Sex”. At my age the word “sex” was always defined having one meaning “sex” as in the definition of an action, usually “sexually”. I hate to hear the word “transsexual”, as far as I can remember Transsexual,T-Girl, Shemale are all related to porn and were actually created by the media. The medical word “Trangender” does give definition to the person as well as the action, to “Transition gender”
    At one time CD related to “Cross Dresser or Closet Dressed” a tittle related to mostly men that got enjoyment from secretly wearing women’s clothing (usually their wife’s) under their suits or man clothes.
    A “Transvestite” is a outgoing “CD”, a person (dresses M/F) that is no longer hidden under the suit or man clothes but out to the public view while dressed en-fem. The “Transvestite” is usually a temporary fix or release to someone that may have transitioning thoughts, but the idea is not intense enough to encourage a full-time decision. “Transvestite” can also be a more confidante “CD”, one that enjoys the fetish of being out in the public eye while dressed en-fem but has no further plans on transitioning.
    My personal description (and I know we all hate labels), is “Transgender-Woman”.
    It defines my action, “to Transition” what? “my Gender” to what? “a Woman”, it’s been such an easy, self describing label that I have rarely (once) ever been questioned including at border crossings.
    Although I enjoy the pride and comfort of my tittle, I also realize that I will never, ever be a real genetic woman.
    I love you all and wish you all the “luck” that I have achieved.
    Sister of the sisterhood,

  3. Luna de Wellesly

    I’m responding to this fairly late because, well, I wasn’t aware this was here. Whoops! But let me just say that rampant political correctness tends to cause just as much confusion as it does comfort. I say I’m a woman in my brain, and tell everyone that my gender is in my brain and is not associate with my body. I want Sexual Reassignment Surgery because I’m unhappy with my sex, not my gender (hey, I’m not ready for that brain transplant to fix my gender, thank you very much!) but then people decided we shouldn’t call it SRS, we should call it GRS (…wait a second, that’s just not right!) because it doesn’t contain the word “Sexual” in it. Well darn, it’s no longer an accurate representation of the surgery, is it? Gender Confirmation Surgery as a definition came out later, which makes a lot more sense — but come on!

    I am proud to be transsexual. I hate that the world is mostly unwilling to try to understand. Changing the words does not change the aversion to the concept. Only education can do that!

  4. I’m with you on this one. I know that technically, the term “transsexual” is my medical definition, but being in a culture where the word “sex” is hardly ever associated with anatomy alone, and almost always with what one does in the bedroom, the word bothers me because I know most non-trans folks are already fixated on sexual expression instead of gender expression. Emphasizing the “sex” in transsexual reinforces the idea of us as deviants and perverts instead of people who have the wrong body parts at birth. I’m not wording this well, but hopefully, you get my gist. Thanks for the post.

  5. Whenever I think of the word transsexual I think of Tim Curry in the Rocky Horror Picture Show in his black outfit and most of the time I will crack a little smile. I have only seen the term transsexualism being used as my medical diagnosis for which I am being treated with hormones by my doctor and I have noticed on a least a few online sites that the term transsexual versus transgender implies that a transsexual intends to seek GRS/SRS whereas the transgender may not. Other sites seem to use both terms interchangeably. My current favorite in talking about myself is to simply say that I am a girl and I no longer draw attention when I’m called sir. In fact, I get ma’am more often than not and I love it.

  6. Quasi-lady. Eunuch. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and transsexuals are from Mercury, so I like your suggestion of Loki: the mischief-maker, “who knows what I shall do?”

    I am happy with the word “transsexual”. It is a long-used word. Politically correct monkeying with language only happens when people find a word or concept embarrassing. I am not embarrassed, so do not care what word is used. And it is not just gender expression, I wanted the operation so I had it done. That is sex, not gender.

  7. I do have a slightly invasive question. Why does the suffix “sexual” make you feel creepy? I don’t have any problem with most words. If one wishes to call themselves transgender, or queer, or even tranny, if some wish to claim it for themselves. Worrying about what others think of a word, because it has “sex” in it is a bit repressive, and I suppose, not surprising in western culture. Transsexual describes what it is, because transing just gender doesn’t describe the issue many of us have lived with for so long, which is dissonance with our bodies. The heart of the issue is my sex, and gender to a lesser degree. That may not be the truth for everyone, and that’s more than okay.
    Having said that, I have walked away from this entire debate. transgenders calling transsexuals elitist and bigoted, transsexuals responding with disappointing accusations of “freak” and “deviant” in order to make themselves feel more pure, or whatever it is they are doing….Who thought we would ever find ourselves here?
    You have the right to your reality, as do I. If asked, and if I feel like responding, I’m a woman who was born transsexual, and if a word with sex in it titillates, or conjures up unwholesome images, that says more about the listener than it does me.
    What has happened here in the last few years is beyond sad. I very rarely talk about it anymore.

  8. This is such a good posting, Although it is my impression that Transgender is the umbrella term, and Transsexual the more defined term. However the fact that the word conjurs up just what you descrbed, I think Creepy fits… This is something I have wrestled with as well. I want to share this if that is ok.


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