Unfortunately, in politically heated transgender circles, the argument about Transsexual versus Transgender inevitably comes up. Words fly, and usually people end up saying a lot of incredibly busted things. The idea of being a “real” trans person gets bandied about, and people’s gender identities get thrown by the wayside as what essentially resorts to namecalling ensues.
Julia Serano, author of The Whipping Girl, recently made a very valid and well thought out blog post about it, and I can’t recommend it more. It’s a long read, but very much worth it. As she puts it:
“For those who are unaware of this debate, it stems from a subset of transsexuals who feel that the transsexual community is not served well by being included under the transgender umbrella (some even go so far as to insist that there is a mutually-exclusive dichotomy between transsexual and transgender people). Along similar lines, these transsexuals also argue that inclusion under the LGBT umbrella does a disservice to the transsexual community, as it conflates two very different issues (i.e., sexual orientation and gender identity), and emboldens many cissexual LGB folks to appropriate trans identities and experiences, and to claim to speak on our behalf.“
The rest of the essay gives her opinion on both the pros and cons of the “transgender umbrella” and activism in regards to it. Again, it’s well worth the read.