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05 April 2011

Defining transsexuals

What is meant by "transsexual" and "transitioning"?

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Transexual people are usually distinguished from other transgender people by their strong desire to live completely and permanently as the gender opposite to that which they were originally labelled at birth.

Transexual people seek to bring their body into accordance with their gender identity so that the man or woman that they really are finally becomes clearly visible.

The time-consuming and difficult process which transsexual people go through in order to achieve this is called transitioning and usually involves undergoing significant medical treatment in the form of hormones and surgery.

Transitioning is not purely about changes in a person’s physical appearance, personal and social changes are normally involved as well. This is especially true in regard to relationships with those closest to the transexual person, such as their family.

Female to male
A female-to-male (FTM) transsexual man (trans man) is someone who was labelled female at birth but has a male gender identity and therefore transitions to live completely and permanently as a man.

Male to female
A male-to-female [MTF] transsexual woman [trans woman] is someone who was labelled male at birth but has a female gender identity, and therefore transitions to live completely and permanently as a woman.

When people complete their transition, they may no longer regard themselves as part of the transgender umbrella. They may consider having been transsexual to just be an aspect of their medical history which has now been resolved and so is no longer an issue in their life.

In such cases, they simply describe themselves as men or as women and it is most disrespectful to insist on calling them transgender or transsexual against their wishes.

- Adapted from Gender Identity - An Information Booklet For Transgender People In Scotland and Their Families and Friends

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