Although transsexual technically means someone who identifies themselves with a different sex than what they are biologically identified with, similar to transgender, it should not be used as an umbrella term for all transgender people, as it does not reflect/represent everyone under the trans community.
The term transsexual is more commonly used by people who underwent medical surgery or hormonal therapy to fully transition into the gender that they identify with. However, the term transsexual is still problematic for many. Some opt to use a phrase like “gender affirming procedures”. In any case, asking the person permission regarding the use of the word and preferred pronouns is the most respectful option.
What is the Difference Between a Transsexual and a Transgender Person?
Major differences can be found in the root words sex and gender. Sex refers to being male or female, generally based on the genitals a child is born with. On the other hand, gender refers to social constructs or social expectations of each sex. Examples of this include boys wearing blue and playing sports while girls wear pink and use makeup.
Expanding upon these words, a transsexual person is someone who changes their sex, either through surgery, hormonal therapies, or other means. But not all transsexual people do these procedures to “prove” their identity. Transgender is the term that encompasses transsexuals along with the various gender identities, including nonbinary individuals. Essentially, transgender refers to all people that do not conform to their “assigned” biological sex at birth.
In short, transsexual people are transgender but not all transgender individuals are transsexual.
Knowing more about gender identities and everything that come in between like what’s the difference between a transsexual and a transgender person is just one of the many steps that we can do to educate ourselves and to know the LGBTQ+ community better. The more we know about them, the more we can understand what they are going through.
If you are questioning your gender and sexuality, feel free to open up to supportive friends and family members. For help coping with difficult emotions or traumatic events, there are a number of hotlines and psychologists available.
Learn more about Sexual Wellness here.