Phenomena are separated by significant difference, and there are two major differences between transsexuals and transgenders: (1) the need to be the opposite sex from each other, and (2) having an opposite sexual response from each other, as male or female.
Sex and gender are two different things. Transsexual and transgender are two different things, each with its own spectrum. Transsexual is not transgender with an extra surgery; they’re opposite in mind and body on sex identity, physical sex need, and sexual response as a male or female.
SEX VS. GENDER
In cases where one may be of the other gender yet choose to retain same sex, issues usually seen together may become clear as separate.
SEX: Primary sex characteristics; chromosomes, reproductive organs, genitalia; going to reproduction for the species; male or female. A person can have an identity of a sex and so can society in prevailing beliefs. Not gender; not man or woman. Secondary sex characteristics, such as stature, breasts, body hair, voice…are common to the sexes but do not themselves denote the sexes; modifying them does not indicate a need to change physical sex as in most cases it is not even desired. As of yet, biologic sex cannot be changed, but it can be legally, socially, and genitally in form and function.
GENDER: Social construct, varies with culture; masculinity or femininity; manly or womanly; sometimes man or woman. A person can have an identity of a gender and so can society in prevailing beliefs. Not sex; not male or female. Gender is often used as a euphemism for physical sex, but the differences are made clear with transgenderism where, for example, a male may womanize yet keep male genitalia, sexually respond as male. Gender can be changed as it’s a social role, or masculinity or femininity, and can be affected by attire, hormones and surgeries.
The transgender paradigm needs to evolve, to begin to embrace what it’s really doing, much as Kenji Yoshino shared in his marvelous book Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2006). In order for people to accept us as we truly are, we need to BE who we truly are. Transgenders need to embrace the concept with society of being the other gender and keeping the same sex and sexuality. “Yes, I’m a woman and I have a penis. I am a woman with male sexuality…” Transgender leaders write books to please a buying base and marginalize the truth of this, which leaves main-stream transgenders alone when facing family, friends, co-workers.
However it goes, with “transsexual” marginalized in discourse or re-characterized as transgender, I’m left with the painful reality that I am something people feel they should not even mention any more—a feeling I also had after watching the 2016 Academy Awards, Oscars when they referred to “The Danish Girl” movie about Lili Elbe as “transgender” who had “gender confirming surgery.” Lili died having SRS, sex reassignment surgery, and we can’t even say it. I’m ashamed of people who can’t recognize something that kills so many, and I feel so low when people refuse to acknowledge the core of my life, as if I’m not really here, as if I’m in denial of the presumed fact that I’m really about gender, as if I don’t exist but to serve the tenets of another political movement.