Social Question

danielklotz's avatar

What's the clearest way to refer to a transexual person?

Asked by danielklotz (36points) April 22nd, 2011

I’m involved in editing an article on Wikipedia where the discussion has been heated for a long time. I’m trying to help out as a disinterested third party. One of the issues coming up is how to refer to transexual individuals in the article itself.

What’s at issue here are individuals born of the male sex who become, in one sense or another, women. The trickiest instances are individuals who never have surgery, only long-term hormone therapy. Their bodies become “womanly” but they do not undergo operations to change their genitalia. If you were to ask such individuals whether they’re men or women, they would tend to say they are women (“I am a woman”).

So my question here is, what words are clearest for referring to such an individual? “Transexual man”? “Transexual woman”? Simply “woman”? In the context of an article that reviews competing theories of they psychology of transsexuals, what’s the best wording?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

7 Answers

DrBill's avatar

I wrote something similar a few years ago and refereed to them as M2F Transsexual or F2M transsexual.

While addressing them in person, I refer to them as man or woman as they are dressed.

bkcunningham's avatar

@danielklotz you actually made it pretty clear just now. I would write it the way you just did when editing the article. In the first reference in any type of article, you give the lengthier title or address for the person and then the shorter more succinct.

Example: Jasmine Smith, who was born with the body of a male and has undergone surgeries to alter the male sexual organs, is now living as a woman. Smith said her childhood was normal.

dialectical1's avatar

First off, I strongly suspect there’s a very small percent of the trans* community who refer to themselves as transexual. I can’t speak for them, but I believe most would use the term transgender. If you really have to refer to their transition status (many decide against it, are unsure, or can’t afford it), they’d describe themselves as post-op if they’ve elected to have surgery. There’s different levels of transitioning. Some bind their breasts, some use hormones. (The decision to get or not get surgery has nothing to do with the validity of their gender identity, btw. It’s also not something you’d probably ask of anyone who wasn’t a friend, the state of acquaintances bodies usually being a private matter.)

If one identifies as a woman, as a woman or as a trans woman (with the space). Similarly for a man. Trans is not a gender, but has to do with the relation between social categories (sex) and identity.

Why this distinction? Just like you hopefully wouldn’t call someone ‘that black I went to school with’ when refering to an African American man, it’s not always going to be recieved well to refer to anyone as ‘a transgender’. (Transgender is not a noun, but can be used as an adjective.)

There’s also MAAB for male assigned at birth (& FAAB).

Collectively, there’s the term ‘trans folk’.

For which pronouns you should use, it never hurts to discretely ask which ones they prefer. Some people aren’t prepared to deal with the potential emotional fallout of their co-workers, families &tc. knowing their gender identity… and other people identify as some form of genderqueer or gender fluid, meaning they don’t always feel that a he or a she is the best pronoun for them. You may slip & accidently call them by the wrong pronoun if you’ve known them for a long time, & this isn’t the worst thing in the world… but disputing or refusing to call someone their chosen pronoun(s) is extremely disrespectful.

Here’s a wonderful primer of relevant etiquette, btw!

FluffyChicken's avatar

If the person is now living as a woman, I would call her a she.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Transgender is a good term, imo, to use for a multitude of us, whether pre-op, post-op or non-op. Of course you can be even more inclusive and say trans, gnc (gender non conforming) and gender questioning/resistant.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think it varies from one person to another on what term they prefer for themselves and it’s not necessarily always consistent.

A good friend of mine when I lived in Philly had transitioned and had her surgery about 10 yrs. ago so was happiest simply being acknowledged as a women but she wasn’t shy about letting anybody know that she was also a lesbian woman.

However, she could also frequently be seen wearing a “Transsexual Menace” T-shirt so I can’t imagine that would upset her either being that she chose to display it prominently over her chest :)

(BTW it’s the name of an activist group, not a slang term). And they’re a pretty sizable and prominent group so the number who people who are fine with that word might be larger than you think.

After we had known each other for awhile and had some in-depth conversations, suddenly realized to what extent the entire notion of gay/straight is a totally man made construct created by society.

What I mean is this. The narrow minded religioud types who would insist that the way your body was at birth determined your gender regardless of how you chose to alter or change it, would , by their own logic be prevented from being homophobic towards her. After all, if she were still a “man” according to them, then her desire for a woman would be “normal” according to their “logic”.

However, their homophobia knows no end. Because she looks like a woman she should not be with a woman or she’s living in sin (according to them)

She had been raised in a strict RC family so the hypocrisy of their position and the mind-bending they would have to do to wrap their tiny narrow brains around the dichotomy she presented gave both of us a good chuckle numerous times.

But if you’re trying to write an objective article, your best bet would be to interview as many transgender people of all types and get of straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Different strokes for different folks. The trans community, like any other, is not monolithic. And as long as you are respectful to them, I think it will come out ok.

seazen_'s avatar

I am colour-blind, literally and try to be metaphorically.

I call someone by their name.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther