Trans woman

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Mela Habijan, the 2020 winner of the Miss Trans Global contest Trans Global 2020 Official Shoot.jpg
Mela Habijan, the 2020 winner of the Miss Trans Global contest

A trans woman (short for transgender woman) is a woman who was assigned male at birth. Trans women have a female gender identity and may experience gender dysphoria (distress brought upon by the discrepancy between a person's gender identity and their sex assigned at birth). [1] Gender dysphoria may be treated with gender-affirming care.


Gender-affirming care may include social or medical transition. Social transition may involve changes such as adopting a new name, hairstyle, clothing style, and/or set of pronouns associated with the individual's affirmed gender identity. [2] A major component of medical transition for trans women is feminizing hormone therapy, which causes the development of female secondary sex characteristics (breasts, redistribution of body fat, lower waist–hip ratio, etc.). This, along with socially transitioning, and receiving desired gender-affirming surgeries can relieve the person of gender dysphoria. [3] [4] Like cisgender women, trans women may have any sexual orientation.

Trans women face significant discrimination in many areas of life—including in employment and access to housing—and face physical and sexual violence and hate crimes, including from partners. In the United States, discrimination is particularly severe towards trans women who are members of a racial minority, who often face the intersection of transphobia and racism.

The term transgender woman is not always interchangeable with transsexual woman, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Transgender is an umbrella term that includes different types of gender variant people (including transsexual people).


Transgender (commonly abbreviated as trans) [5] is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or gender expression are different from those typically associated with members of the sex they were assigned at birth. [6] Transgender women, sometimes called male-to-female (MTF, M2F), are those who were assigned the male sex at birth (AMAB), but who identify and live as women. [7]

Trans woman may also be short for transsexual woman. Transsexual is a subset of transgender, [8] [9] referring to people who desire to medically transition to the sex with which they identify, usually through sex reassignment therapies, such as hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery, to align their body with their identified sex or gender. The term is rejected by some as outdated, though others within the trans community still identify as transsexual. [10]

Transfeminine (or transfemme ) is a broader umbrella term for assigned-male trans individuals with a predominantly feminine identity or gender expression. This includes trans women, but is used especially for AMAB non-binary people, who may have an identity that is partially feminine, but not wholly female. [11]

The spelling transwoman (written as a single word) is occasionally used interchangeably with trans woman (where trans is an adjective describing a kind of woman). However, this variant is often associated with views (notably gender-critical feminism) that exclude trans women from woman, and thus require a separate word to describe them. [12] For this reason, many transgender people find the spelling offensive. [12] [13] Some prefer to omit trans, and be called simply women. [10]

In several Latin American countries, the word travesti is sometimes used to designate people who have been assigned male sex at birth, but develop a female gender identity. The use of travesti precedes transgender in the region; its distinction from trans woman is controversial and can vary depending on the context, ranging from considering it a regional equivalent to a third gender. [14] [15]


Trans women vary greatly in terms of sexual orientation. [16] [17] [18] [19] A survey of roughly 3,000 American trans women showed 31% of them identifying as bisexual, 29% as "gay/lesbian/same-gender", 23% as heterosexual, 7% as asexual, as well as 7% identifying as "queer" and 2% as "other". [20] A 12-month survey of trans women in Europe found that 22% identified as heterosexual, 10% were attracted almost exclusively to men, 3% were mostly attracted to men, 9% were bisexual, 7% were mostly attracted to women, 23% were almost attracted exclusively to women, and 20% were lesbian. A smaller 2013 study of Italian trans women found that 82% identified as heterosexual. [21]

The European study found that sexual orientation did not change over the 12 months. [22] A 2018 study found that the most common sexual partner for trans women was cisgender women prior to transitioning. Trans women who had been for transitioning for ten years or more were more likely to report a shift in their sexual orientation. [23]

In a 2008 study, no statistically significant difference in libido was detected between trans women and cisgender women. [24] As in males, female libido is thought to correlate with serum testosterone levels [25] [26] [27] [28] (with some controversy) [29] but the 2008 study found no such correlation in trans women. [24] [30] Another study, published in 2014, found that 62.4% of trans women reported their sexual desire had decreased after sexual reassignment therapy. [31]


Gender-affirming care

Gender-affirming care for trans women may include feminizing hormone therapy, transgender voice therapy, and gender-affirming surgery (often referring to vaginoplasty, but may also include tracheal shave, orchiectomy, facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation, and vulvoplasty). [32]

Feminizing hormone therapy

Feminizing hormone therapy is a type of hormone therapy focused on turning the secondary sex characteristics of a person from masculine to feminine. Feminizing hormone therapy often includes a mix of estrogens, antiandrogens, progestogens, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone modulator, [1] [33] though the most common approach is an estrogen in combination with an antiandrogen. [34] [35] Feminizing hormone therapy can induce effects including breast development, softening of the skin, redistribution of body fat towards a gynoid fat distribution, decreased muscle mass/strength, and changes in mood.

Feminizing voice therapy

Trans women may seek to feminize their voice through transgender voice therapy, as hormone therapy does not affect the voice of a trans woman at all. The aim of voice therapy is frequently to change the fundamental frequency, resonant frequency, and phonatory pattern to reflect that of a cisgender woman. [36] This can be accomplished through speech therapy, or surgeries (including feminization laryngoplasty). Throughout multiple studies, voice therapy has generally been shown to increase vocal satisfaction of the patient and a greater listener perception of a feminine voice. [37] [38]


While the relationship is not completely understood, [39] feminizing hormone therapy appears to reduce the ability to produce sperm. [40] Individuals who have been on hormone therapy for an extended period of time have been shown to have a lower total sperm count than males not on hormone therapy. [41] Succession of hormone replacement therapy has been associated with a renewed level of fertility. [42] [43]

Tucking is also associated with lower quality sperm production because of the increased temperature of the testicles, causing premature sperm death. [44] [45] [46]

Trans women may elect to undergo fertility preservation through semen cryopreservation via masturbation or testicular sperm extraction. [39]


Transmisogynistic graffiti in Springfield, Missouri Transphobic Graffito.jpg
Transmisogynistic graffiti in Springfield, Missouri

Like all gender variant people, trans women often face discrimination and transphobia, [20] :8 particularly those who are not perceived as cisgender. [47] A 2015 survey from The Williams Institute found that, of 27,715 transgender respondents, 52% whose families had rejected them attempted suicide, as did 64.9% of those who were physically attacked in the past year. [48]

A 2011 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: [20] [ specify ]

The American National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' report of 2010 anti-LGBTQ violence found that of the 27 people who were murdered because of their LGBTQ identity, 44% were trans women. [49] Discrimination is particularly severe towards non-white trans women, who experience the intersection of racism and transphobia.

In her book Whipping Girl , trans woman Julia Serano refers to the unique discrimination trans women experience as "transmisogyny". [50]

Discrimination against trans women has occurred at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival after the Festival set out a rule that it would only be a space for cisgender females. This led to protests by trans women and their allies, and a boycott of the Festival by Equality Michigan in 2014. The boycott was joined by the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. The "womyn-born-womyn" intention first came to attention in 1991 after a transsexual festival-goer, Nancy Burkholder, was asked to leave the festival when several women recognized her as a trans woman and expressed discomfort with her presence in the space. [51] [52]

Violence towards trans women

A group of Argentine travestis carrying the coffin of their murdered friend, August 1987 Cortejo funebre travesti.jpg
A group of Argentine travestis carrying the coffin of their murdered friend, August 1987

Trans women face a form of violence known as trans bashing. The Washington Blade reported that Global Rights, an international NGO, tracked the mistreatment of trans women in Brazil, including at the hands of the police. [53] To commemorate those who have been murdered in hate crimes, an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in various locations across the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, with details and sources for each murder provided at their website. [54]

United States

According to a 2009 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, quoted by the Office for Victims of Crime, 11% of all hate crimes towards members of the LGBTQ community were directed towards trans women. [55]

In 2015, a false statistic was widely reported in the United States media stating that the life expectancy of a trans woman of color is only 35 years. [56] This appears to be based on a comment specifically about Latin America in a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which compiled data on the age at death of murdered trans women for all of the Americas (North, South, and Central), and does not disaggregate by race. [56] [57] [58]

In 2016, 23 transgender people suffered fatal attacks in the United States. The Human Rights Campaign report found some of these deaths to be direct results of an anti-transgender bias, and some due to related factors such as homelessness. [59]

One type of violence towards trans women is committed by perpetrators who learn that their sexual partner is transgender, and feel deceived ("trans panic"). Almost 95% of these crimes were committed by cisgender men towards trans women. [60] According to a 2005 study in Houston, Texas, "50% of transgender people surveyed had been hit by a primary partner after coming out as transgender". [55]

Trans women in the media

Trans representation in television, film, news, and other forms of media was slim before the 21st century. Early mainstream accounts and fictional depictions of trans women almost always relied on common tropes and stereotypes. [61] However, portrayals have steadily grown and improved in tandem with activism. In the 2020 film Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen , director Sam Feder explores Hollywood's history of trans representation and the cultural effects of such depictions. Many notable 21st century trans actresses and celebrities shared their stories in the film, including Laverne Cox, Alexandra Billings, Jamie Clayton, and more. [62]

See also

Related Research Articles

Gender dysphoria (GD) is the distress a person experiences due to a mismatch between their gender identity—their personal sense of their own gender—and their sex assigned at birth. The term replaced the previous diagnostic label of gender identity disorder (GID) in 2013 with the release of the diagnostic manual DSM-5. The condition was renamed to remove the stigma associated with the term disorder.

The word cisgender describes a person whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth, i.e., someone who is not transgender. The prefix cis- is Latin and means on this side of. The term cisgender was coined in 1994 as an antonym to transgender, and entered into dictionaries starting in 2015 as a result of changes in social discourse about gender. The term has been and continues to be controversial and subject to critique.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transphobia</span> Anti-transgender prejudice

Transphobia consists of negative attitudes, feelings, or actions towards transgender people or transness in general. Transphobia can include fear, aversion, hatred, violence or anger towards people who do not conform to social gender roles. Transphobia is a type of prejudice and discrimination, similar to racism, sexism, or ableism, and it is closely associated with homophobia. Transgender people of color can experience many different forms of discrimination simultaneously.

Gender-affirming surgery is a surgical procedure, or series of procedures, that alters a person's physical appearance and sexual characteristics to resemble those associated with their identified gender. The phrase is most often associated with transgender health care and intersex medical interventions, although many such treatments are also pursued by cisgender and non-intersex individuals. It is also known as sex reassignment surgery, gender confirmation surgery, and several other names.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to transgender topics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trans man</span> Man assigned female at birth

A trans man is a man who was assigned female at birth. Trans men have a male gender identity, and many trans men undergo medical and social transition to alter their appearance in a way that aligns with their gender identity or alleviates gender dysphoria.

Gender-affirming surgery for male-to-female transgender women or transfeminine non-binary people describes a variety of surgical procedures that alter the body to provide physical traits more comfortable and affirming to an individual's gender identity and overall functioning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transfeminism</span> Branch of feminism

Transfeminism, or trans feminism, is a branch of feminism focused on transgender women and informed by transgender studies. Transfeminism focuses on the effects of transmisogyny and patriarchy on trans women. It is related to the broader field of queer theory. The term was popularized by Emi Koyama in The Transfeminist Manifesto.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transgender rights in Iran</span>

Transgender rights in Iran are limited, with a narrow degree of official recognition of transgender identities by the government, but with trans individuals facing very high levels of discrimination, from the law, the state, and from the wider society.

The American-Canadian sexologist Ray Blanchard proposed a psychological typology of gender dysphoria, transsexualism, and fetishistic transvestism in a series of academic papers through the 1980s and 1990s. Building on the work of earlier researchers, including his colleague Kurt Freund, Blanchard categorized trans women into two groups: homosexual transsexuals who are attracted exclusively to men and are feminine in both behavior and appearance; and autogynephilic transsexuals who experience sexual arousal at the idea of having a female body. Blanchard and his supporters argue that the typology explains differences between the two groups in childhood gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, history of sexual fetishism, and age of transition.

Gender incongruence is the state of having a gender identity that does not correspond to one's sex assigned at birth. This is experienced by people who identify as transgender or transsexual, and often results in gender dysphoria. The causes of gender incongruence have been studied for decades.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transgender sexuality</span> Sexuality of transgender people

Sexuality in transgender individuals encompasses all the issues of sexuality of other groups, including establishing a sexual identity, learning to deal with one's sexual needs, and finding a partner, but may be complicated by issues of gender dysphoria, side effects of surgery, physiological and emotional effects of hormone replacement therapy, psychological aspects of expressing sexuality after medical transition, or social aspects of expressing their gender.

In the context of gender, passing is when someone is perceived as a gender they identify as or are attempting to be seen as, rather than their sex assigned at birth. Historically, this was common among women who served in occupations where women were prohibited, such as in combat roles in the military. For transgender people, it is when the person is perceived as cisgender instead of the sex they were assigned at birth. The person may, for example, be a transgender man who is perceived as a cisgender man.

Feminizing hormone therapy, also known as transfeminine hormone therapy, is hormone therapy and sex reassignment therapy to change the secondary sex characteristics of transgender people from masculine or androgynous to feminine. It is a common type of transgender hormone therapy and is used to treat transgender women and non-binary transfeminine individuals. Some, in particular intersex people but also some non-transgender people, take this form of therapy according to their personal needs and preferences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transgender</span> Gender identity other than sex assigned at birth

A transgender person is someone whose gender identity differs from that typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual. Transgender is also an umbrella term; in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex, it may also include people who are non-binary or genderqueer. Other definitions of transgender also include people who belong to a third gender, or else conceptualize transgender people as a third gender. The term may also include cross-dressers or drag kings and drag queens in some contexts. The term transgender does not have a universally accepted definition, including among researchers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">LGBT people in prison</span> Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in prison

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people face difficulties in prison such as increased vulnerability to sexual assault, other kinds of violence, and trouble accessing necessary medical care. While much of the available data on LGBTQ inmates comes from the United States, Amnesty International maintains records of known incidents internationally in which LGBTQ prisoners and those perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have suffered torture, ill-treatment and violence at the hands of fellow inmates as well as prison officials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transsexual</span> People experiencing a gender identity inconsistent with their assigned sex

A transsexual person is someone who experiences a gender identity that is inconsistent with their assigned sex, and desires to permanently transition to the sex or gender with which they identify, usually seeking medical assistance to help them align their body with their identified sex or gender.

Transgender hormone therapy, also called hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT), is a form of hormone therapy in which sex hormones and other hormonal medications are administered to transgender or gender nonconforming individuals for the purpose of more closely aligning their secondary sexual characteristics with their gender identity. This form of hormone therapy is given as one of two types, based on whether the goal of treatment is masculinization or feminization:

The real-life experience (RLE), sometimes called the real-life test (RLT), is a period of time or process in which transgender individuals live full-time in their identified gender role in order to be eligible to receive gender-affirming treatment. The purpose of the RLE has been to confirm that a given transgender person could function successfully as a member of said gender in society, as well as to confirm that they are sure they want to live as said gender for the rest of their life. A documented RLE was previously a requirement of many physicians before prescribing gender-affirming hormone therapy, and a requirement of most surgeons before performing gender-affirming surgery.

Transgender health care includes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental health conditions, as well as sex reassignment therapies, for transgender individuals. A major component of transgender health care is gender-affirming care, the medical aspect of gender transition. Questions implicated in transgender health care include gender variance, sex reassignment therapy, health risks, and access to healthcare for trans people in different countries around the world.


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