Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not That Old Joke!

Q: What's the difference between a transvestite and a transsexual?
A: Three years.

Or five years.  Or two years.  However you heard it.

I've been thinking about this a lot.  There are differences between the two.  And yes, I'm going to call it "two".  I'm going to limit myself to born males, although my gut tells me it works the same for those born female.  My gut is unreliable at best.

My two categories:
Transvestites (TV): men who enjoy wearing women's clothing.
Transsexuals (TS): men who believe they should have been women.  I'm phrasing this badly; it sounds like I'm belittling that belief.  I am not.  I'm just not sure how to describe a TS properly, without using a word like "believe" or "convinced".  "Men who want to be women" is wrong.  I'd love to hear from the ts community, to help me acquire the right words.

I'm using TV and TS for the trans- comparison.  If you have a word you prefer, feel free to make the substitution.

First, TV is a fetish.  TS is not.  That's one difference.  Maybe you're TS and at one time the clothes caused arousal.  They do feel nice.  I think the novelty of wearing silk and satin and lace would cause arousal in civilians.  Maybe you're TV and you don't find the clothes exciting.  I bet they did once.  That's what kept you coming back to them.

Second, TV and TS are separate.

You don't go from TV to TS.  You might go from denial to TS, or from "testing the waters" to TS.  I think if you're TS you know it.  Maybe not now, but eventually (hence the old joke I started with).

And you don't go from TS to TV.  You might go from confused to TV.  When I was little, I wanted to be a girl more than anything.  Well, that's not true.  I went through the "if I do this, tomorrow when I wake up I'll be a girl" phase and I bet many of you did too.  But I didn't really want to be a girl.  I wanted something that was beyond my grasp so I applied little kid logic.

"I want to wear a dress."
"Only girls wear dresses."
"Therefore, I want to be a girl."

A classic deductive fallacy.

Would I have been happy if my wish came true?  Maybe.  Maybe if I were a girl from age three or four I would have been a happy, well-adjusted mom today.  Maybe I'd be an unhappy woman, wanting to fit in but really not interested in men, as much as I think I should be.  Maybe I'd miss being a crossdresser.

But we're not discussing wishes here.

I'll be coming back to this in the future, probably after I get a bunch of e-mails and/or comments telling me I'm full of crap.  I'm open to discussion, and I'll be happy to debate.  I might be full of crap.  But I think my two basic points are right.


  1. I love this post! I'm sure there are lots of interesting buttons you have pushed here Meg! I like a gal who will stir the pot; my kind of person! :)

    I'll get it started with something pretty mild, but it might be in there. Is tv really a fetish by definition? Wouldn't that only be true in the case of men who must have some form of cross-dress in order to have sexual gratification? In other words, lets open up the old 'autogyna-whatsit' file and see what turns up!

  2. Halle, to answer your questions:



  3. I suppose the idea of fetish is different from the definition of fetish, hmm?

    Like a lot of words whose meanings migrate as they get used.

  4. I'm being quite literal.

    fetish (n): a form of sexual desire in which gratification depends to an abnormal degree on some object or item of clothing or part of the body

    I think that's the difference between us and civilians ~ our brain says "wow" and theirs... doesn't.

  5. You have been thinking a lot about this so:
    If Transsexuals (TS) are men who believe they should have been women AND enjoy wearing women's clothing would you sub-label them Transvestite (TV)?

  6. No. I bet there are women who love wearing ultra-feminine clothing, and maybe even find it exciting. I haven't asked enough women to find out if that's true.

    I'd say they're TSs who will really love their new life.

  7. Meg,
    i think difference is kind of this:
    Tv enjoys wearing women,s clothes...but there are multiple levels...
    Ts is convinced he or she should have been in opposite sex, and they feel they would be happy if they could change it.
    My experience is this: i always love womens chothes, and frequently i wore them and i felt very happy for a moment...later i felt unconfortable, and clothes weren,t enough...
    One day I discovered that what i wanted was be a girl, look like them...and since, clothes for me are beautiful, lovely...but not the whole thing...
    Maria Victoria

  8. I heard the old joke a different way.

    What,s the difference?

    A transvestite can't wait to get home from work to put on a bra.

    A transsexual can't wait to take it off!

  9. It's kinda funny that you've given your take on this 'joke' question, as I did a blog post on it last month.


    I believe that the best definition of a transsexual that I've come across is a person whose brain gender does not match their birth sex.

    This is based on the medical research that indicates that brain gender is defined by hormonal influences on the foetus during development, so it's really not that they 'believe' that they are the opposite gender but that they 'know' that they are.

  10. Great post :-)


  11. Interesting.

    I actually describe myself as TS, and I object to the description I read so often...I don't feel like a woman trapped in the body of a man, because I don't know what it feels like to be a woman. For that matter, I don't really know what it feels like to be a man...I just know what it feels like to be me. I describe myself as someone who has "always wanted to be female". Easy for me, and the people around me seem to get it.

    Except I don't even call myself TS to anyone beyond me. I describe myself as "transgender" only because when you mention anything with the word "sex" in it people around here think one thing and it's not what I mean, so I say "transgender".

    I think when it comes to TVs there are those who dress for non-fetishistic reasons and there are those who do.


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