A trans woman (sometimes trans-woman or transwoman) is a male-to-female (MTF) transgender person with a female gender identity. The label of transgender woman is not interchangeable with that of transsexual woman, although the two are often combined or mistaken for the same thing. A transsexual woman is someone who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman; transsexual women may undergo physical changes to align their body with their gender identity (known as transition). Transgender is an umbrella term that includes different types of gender variant people (including transsexual people) so transgender women could, for example, refer to either a woman who was assigned male at birth, identifies as a woman, but does not wish to undergo physical changes, or a transsexual woman.
A trans woman at a Gay Pride Parade in São Paulo
"Assigned sex" refers to the assigning or naming of the sex of a baby, usually based upon the appearance of external genitalia.
"Gender identity" refers to a person's private sense of, and subjective experience of, their own gender. This may be different to the sex that the person was assigned at birth.
"Transition" refers to the process of adopting a social and personal identity that corresponds to one's own sense of the gendered self, and may or may not include medical intervention (hormone treatment, surgery, etc.), changes in legal documents (name and/or sex indicated on identification, birth certificate, etc.), and personal expression (clothing, accessories, voice, body language).
Both transsexual and transgender women may experience gender dysphoria, a (sometimes) severe pain and discomfort brought upon by the discrepancy between their gender identity the sex that was assigned to them at birth (and the associated gender role and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics).
Both transsexual and transgender women may transition, though only transsexual women would medically transition. A major component of medical transition for trans women is estrogen hormone replacement therapy, which causes the development of female secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, redistribution of body fat, lower waist to hip ratio, etc.). This, along with sex reassignment surgery can bring immense relief, and in most cases, rids the person of gender dysphoria.
In the same manner, a trans man is someone who was assigned female at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a man.
Some trans women who feel that their gender transition is complete prefer to be called simply "women," considering "trans woman" or "male-to-female transsexual" to be terms that should only be used for people who are not fully transitioned. Likewise, many may not want to be seen as a "trans woman" owing to society's tendency to "Other" individuals who do not fit into the sex/gender binary, or have personal reasons beyond that not to wish to identify as transgender post-transition. For this reason, many see it as an important and appropriate distinction to include a space in the term, as in "trans woman", thus using "trans" as merely an adjective describing a particular type of woman; this is in contrast to the usage of "transwoman" as one word, implying a "third gender".
The stereotype of the effeminate boy who grows up to live as a woman has a very long history. It is a common misconception and stereotype that all transgender and transsexual women are heterosexual (attracted to males). However, research on the sexual orientation of trans women in the past has been dubious at best. Many studies on this issue have suffered from reporting bias, since many transsexual people feel they must give the "correct" answers to such questions to increase their chances of obtaining hormone replacement therapy. Patrick Califia, author of Sex Changes and Public Sex, has indicated that this group has a clear awareness of what answers to give to survey questions to be considered eligible for hormone replacement therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery:
"None of the gender scientists seem to realize that they, themselves, are responsible for creating a situation where transsexual people must describe a fixed set of symptoms and recite a history that has been edited in clearly prescribed ways to get a doctor's approval for what should be their inalienable right."
A survey of roughly 3000 trans women showed that only 23% of them identified as heterosexual, with 31% as bisexual, 29% as lesbian, 7% as asexual, 7% as queer and 2% as "other".
In a 2008 study, trans women had a higher incidence of decreased libido (34%) than cisgender females (23%), but the difference was not statistically significant and may have been due to chance. As in males, female libido is thought to correlate with serum testosterone levels (with some controversy) but the 2008 study found no such correlation in trans women.
Trans women, like all gender variant people face a vast amount of discrimination and transphobia. A survey of roughly 3000 trans women living in the United States, as summarized in the report "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey", found that trans women reported that:
- 36% have lost their job due to their gender.
- 55% have been discriminated against whilst being hired.
- 29% have been denied a promotion.
- 25% have been refused medical care.
- 60% of the trans women that have visited a homeless shelter reported incidents of harassment there.
- When displaying identity documents incongruent with their gender identity/expression, 33% have been harassed and 3% have been physically assaulted.
- 20% reported harassment by police, with 6% reporting physical assaulted and 3% reporting sexual assault by an officer. 25% have been treated generally with disrespect by police officers.
- Among jailed trans women, 40% have been harassed by inmates and 38% have been harassed by staff. 21% have been physically assaulted and 20% sexually assaulted.
Notable trans women
- Marja-Sisko Aalto, Finnish former Evangelical-Lutheran priest
- Calpernia Addams, American actress, author, autobiographer, entrepreneur, activist, fiddle player
- Aderet, Israeli pop singer
- Allenina, Chinese-American model, actress, dancer, and director
- Rebecca Allison, American cardiologist and past President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA)
- Nadia Almada, Portuguese-British Big Brother UK 2004 winner
- Barbra Amesbury, Canadian singer-songwriter
- Charlie Jane Anders, writer and co-editor of the blog io9
- Enza Anderson, Canadian media personality and political activist
- Anna Anthropy, American video-game designer and critic
- Patricia Araujo, Brazilian actress and model
- Alexis Arquette, American actress, musician, member of the Arquette family of actors
- Nina Arsenault, Canadian writer, actress, columnist and sex-trade worker
- April Ashley, British model
- Estelle Asmodelle, Australian actress, author, dancer, and transgender activist
- Mianne Bagger, Danish-Australian professional golfer
- Jenny Bailey, British politician and mayor
- Christine Beatty, American writer, musician and transgender activist
- Georgina Beyer, New Zealand politician, first transgender person globally to become a mayor (1995) and a member of Parliament (1999)
- Alexandra Billings, American actress
- Maddie Blaustein, American voice actress
- Alejandra Bogue, Mexican actress and TV host
- Kate Bornstein, American activist, author, gender theorist, performance artist and playwright
- Marci Bowers, American gynaecologist and sex-reassignment surgeon
- Wendy Carlos, American composer and electronic musician
- Candis Cayne, American actress and entertainer
- Parinya Charoenphol, Thai muay thai boxer, actress and model
- Jamie Clayton, American model and actress
- Roberta Close, Brazilian model
- Coccinelle, French actress, entertainer and transgender activist
- Canary Conn, American musician and author
- Raewyn Connell, Australian sociologist
- Joanne Conte, American politician and activist
- Lynn Conway, American computer scientist, electrical engineer and transgender activist
- Caroline Cossey (a.k.a. Tula), English model
- Jayne County, American rock singer
- Roberta Cowell, First legally recognised male to female transgender person in the UK (1951), memoirist
- Katelynn Cusanelli, cast member on MTV's The Real World: Brooklyn, and the first transgender individual to star on the show.
- Michelle Duff, Canadian former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer
- Michelle Dumaresq, Canadian downhill mountain bike racer
- Lili Elbe, Danish artist, society figure and early recipient of sex reassignment surgery (1930)
- Amanda Lepore, American model and performer.
- Bülent Ersoy, Turkish singer of Ottoman classical music
- Bibiana Fernández, Spanish presenter and actress
- Ina Fried, American journalist and senior writer for CNET Networks
- Chiya Fujino, Japanese fiction author
- BB Gandanghari, a Filipina actress and commercial model
- Francis García , Mexican performer and actress
- Laura Jane Grace, lead singer and guitarist for punk rock band Against Me!
- Anna Grodzka, Polish politician
- Harisu, South Korean entertainer, actress, and singer
- Choi Han-bit, South Korean model
- Ai Haruna, Japanese singer and television personality
- Lauren Harries, British media personality
- Rebecca Heineman, One of the founders of Interplay and long time video game programmer.
- Adela Hernandez, first transgender person elected to political office in Cuba
- Jenny Hiloudaki, Greek model
- Dana International, Israeli pop singer
- Kim Coco Iwamoto, American politician
- Andrea James, American filmmaker and activist
- Aya Kamikawa, Japanese politician
- Isis King, American designer and finalist on America's Next Top Model
- Victoria Kolakowski, American lawyer and judge
- Christine Jorgensen, First male-to-female transgender person in the US (1953), celebrity
- Jennifer Leitham, American double-bass musician
- Chen Lili, Chinese singer, model and actress
- Alicia Liu, Taiwanese model and television personality
- Deirdre McCloskey, American economist
- Micheline Montreuil, Canadian lawyer, teacher, writer, radio host, trade unionist and politician
- Jan Morris, British writer
- Ataru Nakamura, Japanese singer
- Judiel Nieva, Filipina alleged witness of a Marian apparition
- Bell Nuntita, a Thai freelance singer, entertainer and radio D.J
- Jessica Orsini, American politician
- Kim Petras, German singer
- Veronique Renard, Dutch author and Free-Tibet activist
- Renée Richards, American tennis player
- Miriam Rivera, reality television, Mexican television personality and model
- Martine Rothblatt, American lawyer, technological theorist, author and entrepreneur
- Joan Roughgarden, American biologist
- Carmen Rupe, New Zealand/Australian entertainer, politician, activist and cultural identity
- Jessica Amanda Salmonson, American fantasy author
- Kayo Satoh, Japanese model and television personality
- Amanda Simpson, Senior Technical Adviser to the United States Department of Commerce
- D. C. Simpson, American cartoonist (Ozy and Millie)
- Theresa Sparks, executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission
- Allanah Starr, pornographic actress and party hostess
- Sandy Stone, American academic theorist, media theorist, author, and performance artist
- Margaret Stumpp, American executive
- Lea T, Brazilian fashion model
- Audrey Tang, Taiwanese free software programmer
- Manuela Trasobares, Spanish artist, opera singer and politician
- Ayana Tsubaki, Japanese television personality and fashion model
- Kelly van der Veer, Dutch celebrity and singer
- Bali White, Researcher and Activist
- Sophie Wilson, British computer scientist
- Marie-Pier Ysser, French entertainer and academic
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