The dictionary defines transgender and transsexual as the same thing -- someone who has transitioned or deeply desires to transition physically to the 'opposite' sex. The American Psychological Association and wikipedia define transgender as an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity/expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. That makes more sense to me, so in my LJ: transsexual = wanting/making physical changes to sex, and transgender = not identifying with the 'gender' of one's birth sex and identifying as trans.
Until recently I knew next to nothing about trans identities (still don't know much, but am learning!). I had always thought that transsexual people believed in gender as something immutable and inborn, since the reason I always heard for people transitioning was, "I feel [female/male] inside." Then I met someone who does not have that reason (I don't want to paraphrase zir reasons because I would surely do a clumsy job), and realized hey, people can want to change their bodies for other reasons, and there are trans people who actually feel the same way I do about gender (that it is just a set of stereotypes). I'd always thought that trans people would hate me because many cisgender people (those who identify with the gender associated with their birth sex) get angry enough at me for questioning/disdaining gender, and trans people go through so much more to create their gender, so I thought they'd be that much angrier at me. That idea was recently dismantled for me through a conversation with another transgender person I favorited on okcupid, who didn't get upset with me at all but just asked thought-provoking questions (ze had thought that ze embodied an idea I was against). ( my response to thatCollapse )
So I've realized that I technically fall under the umbrella of transgender, and even though I know there are those who would consider me anti-trans, I'm feeling more and more of a sense of community with transgender people. I am not yet comfortable referring to myself as transgender because I don't know what the broader trans community would think of me, and I don't want to put myself where I'm not wanted. But realizing that some trans people might welcome me makes me kinda excited. I've never felt that I fit in any queer community because I'm not gay or lesbian and bisexuals just don't have a community. But I share a common goal with trans people (changing the current system of gender), and it's thrilling to feel so strongly about something and discover a group who ALSO feels strongly about it, and is making tangible progress.
Whether or not I consider myself transsexual is even more confusing. I don't think I'd ever refer to myself as such because it would simply not communicate what I meant -- people'd assume I want to change my body to male, which is not the case. I am perfectly happy with my female body. I like everything about it. BUT. If a body genie appeared to me and told me I could design my own body, I would choose intersex -- vulva, vagina, penis, breasts, and facial hair only on my chin (more than my 13 hairs, heh). I don't think I would want to use surgery to create that body because 1) they can't do it the way I'd want it, 2) I'm only willing to undergo surgery for a life-threatening condition, 3) I would feel like I was rejecting my current body (which would hurt my feelings), and 4) it's expensive. But if I had that shape I'd love my body even more because I'd be sure to never have sexist lovers, haha! And I'd fuck with everybody's mindsets just by being myself. And I'd get to experience the feeling of being inside someone else in that way.
Identifying as trans also becomes more complex/questionable ( when I look cisgenderCollapse )