Difference Between Transgender & Transsexual

A child’s sex is determined at birth, resulting in either a boy, girl, or occasionally, an intersex individual. However, while a person’s physical sex is apparent at birth, their gender identity may not align with societal expectations for that sex. This can lead to confusion and the use of terms like transgender and transsexual to describe such individuals. This article aims to clarify the subtle differences between these terms and discourage using them interchangeably.


A transsexual person experiences a conflict between their physical sex and their self-perceived gender, a phenomenon known as gender dysphoria. This state of perpetual distress occurs because the individual is seen as belonging to a specific sex, while their mind identifies with the opposite gender. Scientists believe that the parts of the brain responsible for defining a transsexual person’s gender identity do not match their sex organs. An example would be a person with male physical attributes but a female gender identity, or vice versa. Transsexual individuals often feel trapped within the body of the opposite sex.


Transgender individuals do not subscribe to the binary gender system and perceive themselves as belonging to a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth. The term “transgender” is broad and encompasses transsexuals, transvestites, intersex individuals, crossdressers, and other gender nonconforming individuals. While a person’s sex is identifiable through their genitalia, their gender identity may not be as easily discerned. Most people have a gender identity that aligns with their physical sex, but some do not.

Key Takeaways

  • Transgender and transsexual individuals fall on the same continuum, with transsexuals potentially opting for medical intervention to change their sex, while transgender individuals may express themselves as the opposite sex without undergoing surgery.
  • Transsexuals experience a significant emotional disconnect with their physical sex, which may lead them to seek breast implants or gender-affirming surgeries.
  • Individuals born with a specific sex but presenting themselves as the opposite gender are considered transgender.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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