Transvestite is a term that has been used to refer to people who like to dress in what would be conventionally worn by the opposite gender. It is a term that has fallen out of favor, however, as it is often seen as derogatory.
It is important to distinguish this word from drag queen and drag king, which are terms for performers who perform femininity and masculinity respectively.
A transvestite is a person who likes to dress in clothing traditionally associated with the opposite gender. Often, this is for sexual arousal. The word is often paired with the term cross-dresser, which applies to people who dress up as other genders for nonsexual reasons. For instance, many men who enjoy dressing in women’s clothes and acting femininely consider themselves to be cross-dressers. However, they don’t typically associate with the LGBTQ community or perform drag, such as drag queens or drag kings.
It’s important to understand the differences between transvestite, cross-dresser, and transgender so that you can avoid using offensive language or accidentally misusing these terms. You should also be aware that most transvestites are cisgender and do not use medical procedures to change their biological sex, unlike those who identify as transgender or nonbinary. Despite this, some people who dress in clothing that is traditionally associated with the opposite gender still feel uncomfortable about their sexual orientation or the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transvestite, transexual, and transgender are terms that sometimes get mixed up. It’s important to understand the differences between them so you can have respectful and accurate conversations about gender identity issues.
For example, it isn’t appropriate to refer to a man who dresses like a woman as a transvestite. He is more correctly described as a cross-dresser or a transvestic fetishist.
The term transvestite was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld, a German sex researcher and homosexual rights advocate in the early twentieth century. He believed that people could be divided into three sexes: male, female, and a third sex.
Transvestism has been present in many cultures throughout history. It appears in Mesopotamian temple records and the texts of Babylonia, Assyria, and Babilonia as early as 4500 bce. Castrated males who changed into women became priestesses of goddesses such as Astarte, Dea Syria, Ashtoreth or Ishtar, Cybele, and Hecate in the ancient world. The Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut was a pre-operative male transvestite, wearing a ceremonial beard and a male kilt while ruling the country.
The terms transvestite, transexual and transgender are often confused. They are not interchangeable, and using the right term is important for accurate communication.
A transvestite wears clothing that is typically associated with the opposite sex for the purposes of sexual arousal. Transvestism is not a mental health disorder, but it can be a very intense experience. Heterosexual men may begin cross-dressing in late childhood, while homosexual men are more likely to start earlier and have a greater interest in women’s clothing.
Gender identity describes how a person feels, not what sex they were assigned at birth. Cisgender people, also known as cisgender men and cisgender women, are those who feel that their gender aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender man who is attracted to other men and dresses as a woman is a MtF transgender person. Using the wrong term for someone can dox them (make public otherwise private information) or misgender them, and it’s never okay to deadname them.
Although some transvestites may feel psychologically distressed about their thoughts and behavior, they generally do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of transvestic disorder. Typically, doctors only diagnose paraphilias when they cause distress or disruption to daily functioning, and the urges have been present for at least six months.
People with transvestic disorder often keep their behavior secret because of negative societal reactions. Some of these individuals have also been told by family members that their cross-dressing is “normal” or “abnormal.”
The term transvestite should not be confused with the term transgender, which is used to describe a person who identifies with a gender different from the one assigned at birth. Cross-dressing is not a form of transgender identity, but a type of paraphilia. The preferred term for trans-gender is transgender person or transgender woman, rather than transvestite. The word transvestism is also no longer in general use, as it can have pejorative connotations.