Difference Between Transexual and Transgender

Difference Between Transexual and Transgender

The terms transsexual and transgender both refer to people with sexual or gender identity conflict. They have sexual identities, expressions or behavior that does not agree with the one they were assigned to by birth. These two terms have often been used interchangeably. But there is a thin line differentiating transsexual and transgender, as some scholars have argued. While transsexual is places emphasis on a physical problem (desire to change sexual appearance and orientation), transgender emphasizes more a mental problem (desire to adopt the socially constructed roles of the opposite sex without necessarily adopting sex change).

According to GBLT Resource Center of Michiana, “The premise of being transgender is to work past those socially constructed definitions of gender identity. In this case, the person doesn’t have to pursue a sex change or any form of social transition. In general, there is no “diagnosis” to make unless it is a form of gender dysphoria. … With transsexuals, the emphasis is on a physical problem more than a mental one according to those who are in this situation (the individual does not identify with their gender and has an underlying desire to change their gender/sex through operations). It is a physical condition. It can be difficult for these situations because societal pressure can get in the way of what’s going on in their lives. These individuals can face depression and/or anxiety depending on their setting.”

Being transgender has nothing to do with sexual orientation. A transgendered individual can be straight, gay, bisexual, or any other orientation. Such a person experiences signs of depression and anxiety as a result of persistent conflict between their primary and secondary sexual identities. The primary sex characteristics refer to the sex features the person was assigned to at birth while the secondary sex characteristics are the features of opposite sex the person identifies with or always desires to identify with. You may have to note this slight difference to understand gender discussions from proper perspectives especially in emerging multi-gender, contemporary world.

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The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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