Saturday, April 11, 2009

Transvestite Used To Describe Transsexual In The Star... Again....

As much as I am happy that Shannon Shah's Air-Con is continuing to gain rave reviews and publicity for his wonderfully made masterpiece, this article in The Star's R.A.G.E. got me feeling a little uneasy.

So, I sent an e-mail to the writer below.

Good evening Ms. Sharmila,

I refer to this paragraph in your article on Air-Con for R.A.G.E. (The Star).

It explores the issues of sexual awakening, bullying and social prejudice, among
other things. When a transvestite prostitute is murdered near their school, it
triggers discussions and introspections among them which led to some surprising

With all due respect, I would like to point out the innacuracy in using the term transvestite.

A male transvestite would be a cross-dresser who is male identified, but yet dresses as a woman, which in the context of the play is not the identity of the prostitute.

The correct term to use here, especially when the character within is female identified, is transsexual.

You can also use the neutral term transgender, which encompasses all gender variant individuals.

The American Psychological Association:

What does transgender mean?

Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity (sense of themselves as male or female) or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. Many transgender people live part-time or full-time as members of the other gender. Broadly speaking, anyone whose identity, appearance, or behavior falls outside of conventional gender norms can be described as transgender. However, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-atypical will identify as a transgender person.

What is the difference between sex and gender?

Sex refers to biological status as male or female. It includes physical attributes such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, internal reproductive structures, and external genitalia. Gender is a term that is often used to refer to ways that people act, interact, or feel about themselves, which are associated with boys/men and girls/women. While aspects of biological sex are the same across different cultures, aspects of gender may not be.

What are some categories or types of transgender people?

Transsexuals are transgender people who live or wish to live full time as members of the gender opposite to their birth sex. Biological females who wish to live and be recognized as men are called female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals or transsexual men. Biological males who wish to live and be recognized as women are called male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals or transsexual women. Transsexuals usually seek medical interventions, such as hormones and surgery, to make their bodies as congruent as possible with their preferred gender. The process of transitioning from one gender to the other is called sex reassignment or gender reassignment.

Cross-dressers or transvestites comprise the most numerous transgender group. Cross-dressers wear the clothing of the other sex. They vary in how completely they dress (from one article of clothing to fully cross-dressing) as well as in their motives for doing so. Some cross-dress to express cross-gender feelings or identities; others crossdress for fun, for emotional comfort, or for sexual arousal. The great majority of cross-dressers are biological males, most of whom are sexually attracted to women.

Drag queens and drag kings are, respectively, biological males and females who present part-time as members of the other sex primarily to perform or entertain. Their performances may include singing, lip-syncing, or dancing. Drag performers may or may not identify as transgender. Many drag queens and kings identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Other categories of transgender people include androgynous, bigendered, and gender queer people. Exact definitions of these terms vary from person to person, but often include a sense of blending or alternating genders. Some people who use these terms to describe themselves see traditional concepts of gender as restrictive.

I hope this clears the air. And thank you for the awesome report on the show. Take care and cheers.

Best Regards,

Yuki Choe.

I am praying for the day that all writers can use the correct terms to not misrepresent anyone.

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