You’re a trans what?
A lot of times I get people who call me either a cross-dresser or he. Sometimes these are honest mistakes; sometimes they could only care less. You might say “hey, what does it matter?” Well, it does matter. Like most people, transgender people like to be called by the proper pronouns. To help this along, I’ve created this handy guide to terms so now you too can know the difference between a transvestite, a cross-dresser and a drag queen (or king)! In each term, I will also include a handy section on “what pronouns do I use?” It should be stated that pronoun usage might vary from person to person. I have known transwoman who don’t mind being called he as they haven’t started hormones yet (for example). The best thing to do if you’re not sure is to politely ask.
Transgender is an umbrella term that includes anyone whose gender identity does not match one’s “assigned sex” (upon birth). This has nothing to do with who or what they find attractive, nor does it typically include intersex (this is often a matter of debate). Transgender includes transsexual, cross-dressers, transvestites, drag kings and queens, gender queer and androgyne.
Originally this term meant someone who wanted to live cross-gender without receiving sexual reassignment surgery but in the last 20 years or so, it has been expanded into a broad term to include all of the above.
But what pronouns do I use? It depends on whether they are transsexual, gender queer or so on and so forth
Transsexuals are people who desire to live and/or identify as a member of a sex other than the one that was assigned to them at birth. Most transsexuals undergo gender transition which may include hormone replacement therapy and sexual reassignment surgery. Some will only take the hormones and not have the surgery, some will do both.
Some transsexuals don’t mind being open about the fact they are trans. Some believe that invisibly is the best way and just want to live their lives fully as a man or woman without the trans prefix in front of it. It should be added that under no circumstance should you ever out a trans person without their permission. To do so would not only be disrespectful to the person involved, it could be dangerous for them as well.
But what pronouns do I use? One of the biggest sources of confusion are those who don’t understand what pronouns to use as they do not know the difference between a transman and a transwoman. A transman is someone who was assigned the sex of female at birth and desires to live and identify as a male. A transwoman is the opposite. You should use the pronoun of the gender after the word trans. So, a transman should be called he and a transwoman would be called she. Transvestite:
A transvestite is someone who cross-dresses in the clothing of the opposite gender. They may not want to be the other gender; they just enjoy wearing their clothing. Some feel that it brings them closer to the opposite gender (the famous Z-movie director Ed Wood was in fact a transvestite who claimed to have been wearing women’s underwear throughout World War 2).
It should be states that a drag queen/king is NOT the same thing as a transvestite.
But what pronouns do I use? When they are not in the clothing of the opposite gender, call them by their birth gender. When they are dressed up, some transvestites like to be called by a different name and gender. Some don’t. Ask, or go by whatever they introduce themselves as.Drag Queens and Kings:
A drag queen (or king) are individuals who dress as the opposite gender for performances or to entertain. A drag queen is a man who dresses as a woman to entertain (Ru Paul) and a drag king is a woman who dresses as man.
But what pronouns do I use? When they are up on stage and in their persona, refer to them by their stage name and gender.Genderqueer:
Genderqueer is probably the most recent term on this list. Genderqueer is a combination of gender identities and sexual orientations. Some genderqueer individuals may switch gender identities daily. One day they feel more male, others they feel more female and other days it might be half and half.
But what pronouns do I use? Ask. Most defiantly ask. Some genderqueer people like to be called he or she to the exclusion of the other. Others like to be called both. Some use a mixture of terms like shi and hir and other don’t mind being called it.Androgyne:
Someone who is androgyne is an individual who may identify as being beyond gender, between genders or even totally genderless. In ancient times, it might have been linked with hermaphrodites. Sometimes it is used as a medical term in relation to intersex people but I do not know if it is still used or not.
But what pronouns do I use? Ask. Like genderqueer, ask.