I identify as a trans woman.
In this context, I use the word trans as:
- an adjective, and
- an abbreviation
1. Trans as an adjective: I do not refer to myself as a transwoman for the same reason given by Lisa Harney in her comment on Cedar’s post Put the Goddamn Space in: “transwoman” “transfeminism” “transmasculine” etc (language politics #1):
[F]or a lot of transsexual women, ‘transwoman’ is othering because we’re transitioning to female/woman, and we’re not trying to be a special exceptional kind of woman (transwoman) which is effectively a third or fourth gender, but a woman who is trans (like a woman who is black, or a woman who is lesbian), and for us, the adjective form is preferable.
2. Trans as an abbreviation: I use the word trans as an abbreviation of transsexual, and not as an abbreviation of transgender (which I use as a more generic, umbrella term for people who are gender variant or otherwise questioning their gender): I do not refer to myself as a transgender woman.
By transsexual I mean that I was medically diagnosed as having a long-lasting, extreme case of gender dysphoria. However, I am uncomfortable with the mainstream medical definition of gender dysphoria as a condition in which a person feels that they are trapped within a body of the wrong sex. I prefer the term gender dissonance for the same reason given by Julia Serano in the glossary on the web page for her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity:
A form of cognitive dissonance experienced by trans people due to a misalignment of their subconscious and physical sexes. Gender dissonance differs somewhat from the psychiatric term “gender dysphoria,” which typically conflates this cognitive dissonance regarding one’s sex with the mental stresses that arise from societal pressure to conform to gender norms.
In addition, I prefer the use of the female pronouns she and her (see also nixwilliams’ Getting pronouns right: a guide for spoken conversation), and the formal form of address Ms.
Get it? Got it? Good!
Proviso #1: I see my transition as an ongoing, dynamic and open-ended process. Consequently, I reserve the right to modify, alter or otherwise change my views, opinions and self-identification as I continue to refine my personal value/belief system towards the formulation of an ideology – a “politics of being trans” – that works for me.
Proviso #2: Other trans people may have other definitions, or see things differently from me. This is not a problem. At least, not for me.
For answers to further Trans 101-related questions, please refer to the links in my blogroll under the subheading Trans 101 (hey lord, don’t ask me questions)