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TRANS-WOMAN

A trans woman (sometimes trans-woman or transwoman) is a transgender person who was assigned male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman. The label of transgender woman is not always interchangeable with that of transsexual woman, although the two labels are often used in this manner. Transgender is an umbrella term that includes different types of gender variant people (including transsexual people).

Overview

Assigned sex refers to the assigning or naming of the sex of a baby, usually based upon the appearance of external genitalia.

Gender identity refers to a person's private sense of, and subjective experience of, their own gender. This may be different from the sex that the person was assigned at birth.

"Transition" refers to the process of adopting a social and personal identity that corresponds to one's own sense of the gendered self, and may or may not include medical intervention (hormone treatment, surgery, etc.), changes in legal documents (name and/or sex indicated on identification, birth certificate, etc.), and personal expression (clothing, accessories, voice, body language).

Both transsexual and transgender women may experience gender dysphoria, distress brought upon by the discrepancy between their gender identity and the sex that was assigned to them at birth (and the associated gender role and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics).

Both transsexual and transgender women may transition, though only transsexual women would medically transition. A major component of medical transition for trans women is estrogen hormone replacement therapy, which causes the development of female secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, redistribution of body fat, lower waist to hip ratio, etc.). This, along with sex reassignment surgery can bring immense relief, and in most cases, rids the person of gender dysphoria.

In the same manner, a trans man is someone who was assigned female at birth, but whose gender identity is that of a man.

Terminology

Some trans women who feel that their gender transition is complete prefer to be called simply "women," considering "trans woman" or "male-to-female transsexual" to be terms that should only be used for people who are not fully transitioned. Likewise, many may not want to be seen as a "trans woman," owing to society's tendency to "other" individuals who do not fit into the sex/gender binary, or have personal reasons beyond that not to wish to identify as transgender post-transition. For this reason, many see it as an important and appropriate distinction to include a space in the term, as in trans woman, thus using trans as merely an adjective describing a particular type of woman; this is in contrast to the usage of transwoman as one word, implying a "third gender".

Sexual orientation

The stereotype of the effeminate boy who grows up to live as a woman has a very long history. It is a common misconception and stereotype that all transgender and transsexual women are heterosexual (attracted to males). However, research on the sexual orientation of trans women in the past has been dubious at best. Many studies on this issue have suffered from reporting bias, since many transsexual people feel they must give the "correct" answers to such questions to increase their chances of obtaining hormone replacement therapy. Patrick Califia, author of Sex Changes and Public Sex, has indicated that this group has a clear awareness of what answers to give to survey questions to be considered eligible for hormone replacement therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery:

None of the gender scientists seem to realize that they, themselves, are responsible for creating a situation where transsexual people must describe a fixed set of symptoms and recite a history that has been edited in clearly prescribed ways to get a doctor's approval for what should be their inalienable right.

A survey of roughly 3000 trans women showed that only 23% of them identified as heterosexual, with 31% as bisexual, 29% as lesbian, 7% as asexual, 7% as queer and 2% as "other".

Libido

In a 2008 study, trans women had a higher incidence of decreased libido (34%) than cisgender females (23%), but the difference was not statistically significant and may have been due to chance. As in males, female libido is thought to correlate with serum testosterone levels (with some controversy) but the 2008 study found no such correlation in trans women. 

 
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