What’s up with all these different labels for transgender women?
Most laypersons new to the transgender scene get confused by the myriad of terms used to describe different transgender girls. If you’re new to the transgender scene you’ve probably noticed there lots of different labels. You'll see and hear terms like: Transsexual (TS); Transgender (TG); Transvestite (TV); Crossdresser (CD); Drag Queen (DQ). You'll also notice various slangs associated with these same people such as: MTF (a Male-to-Female transgender person), an FTM (a Female-to-Male transender person), Tranny's; T-Girl, T-girlz, Grrls; CD'er, X-Dresser, She-Males; He-She, Lady Boys, and even the infamous: Chicks-with-Dicks.
The wide range of characterizations within such a small subset of total society often makes it difficult for a layperson to accurately categorize one transgender person from another. Don't feel bad. Even those of us within the transgender world often vehemently disagree over the exact nature of all these classifications and the role of each in our growing community.
I prefer exploring traits that transgenders have in common. Sadly, transgenders are by their nature splintered from mainstream society & often fight amongst themselves in an effort to accurately communicate their own unique journey. However, for purposes of this education? I’ll do best by illustrating how we’re different & how those variations change the appropriate terminology to describe us.
Most commonly, transgender women are considered distinctive & different based upon:
The proper terminology for various forms of transgender expression is often considered very important to the trans-person because some gals consider other labels to be insulting.
Please note: the exact terminology that you use to address us is often considered very important. Using improper language can get you in a great deal of hot-water in a hurry.
Some jargon used to describe transgenders was developed by the sex-trade. An example would be the term she-male - it was coined by the pornographic industry to add a hint of eroticism to transgender characters in sexual material. Thus, those trans-girls that identify exclusively with the erotic aspect of their transgendered natures or those working in sex-trades will often use this term to describe themselves.
Since lots of men first become aware of trans-females through pornography, it’s only natural they’ll have a propensity to call transgendered women by vocabulary they’re most familiar.
Trouble is, unless the girl you’re approaching identifies accordingly? For all intents & purposes, if you refer to her as a she-male? You just called her a prostitute. Ever walked up to a genetic female and said: “Excuse me, but are you a slut?” Strangely, that approach doesn’t go over very well. *Laugh* It's a lot like calling an African American a nigger.
Some gals get pretty sensitive about these comments. Many of us have endured more hell, more abuse, and more utter lack of compassion – than you’ll ever understand. Can you imagine the potential anger you can rile with such a remark? Sadly, I've endured this sort of condemnation in high-level business meetings because of such ignorance.
Most experienced trans-women are fully aware of the level of unawareness amongst the general public regarding transgender issues. Thus, a more experienced gal will often take the time to explain what she’s about & what would be more appropriate language to describe her. However, even a highly sensitive trans-woman can be having a bad day and be a total bitch to some neophyte that addresses her so haphazardly. Alas, she’s aware the only place you’ll find such terms is in the sex-trade. Thus, she realistically assesses you’re only hitting-on her…for sex. Make sense?
Finally, this is a dynamic process because we're talking about people. Guess what? People sometimes change. For instance, a gal you met awhile back might've once considering herself a "transvestite". Over the course of a couple of years, she could've determined she's really a "transsexual". More recently, she might have concluded she's best described as "transgendered".
If we could make this any more confusing we'd probably try. It's a female thing: we get to change our minds and not be remotely bothered by our indecision. I'll bet you thought the only way we manifested our femininity was with our dresses. *Grin*
The bottom line?
If you want to enjoy some success within any new culture you’ll do better if you take the time to learn the local customs.
That’s where I come in.
Additional Chapters in This Section Include:
Do You Already Know a Crossdresser?
What's Up with all these different labels?
Important Terminology in the Transgender Community
Additional Slangs and Terminology
Problems Associated with Transgender Labels
Telling Your Friends You're Transgender
Crossdressing in Public
Making Transgender Friends
Your Evolution as a Transgender Lady
Finding Happiness in a Dress