Transgender woman through history

It’s been almost a month since my last post. I’d love to say that I was busy with the holiday season, or that I’d temporarily lost my muse, or find some other innocuous excuse for my absence. The truth is unfortunately more grim, as the situation between my wife and I has deteriorated quickly. I won’t hash through all the intimate details, but I’ve found it difficult to follow my last article.

I look at the words I wrote, and can’t find the person inside who wrote them. I read the words of love and thankfulness and wonder where they came from. Perhaps it’s fate that had me pen them before it all changed, so their undeniability can stare back at me. So that weeks, or months, or years I can look back as a healed woman. I’ll never know the reason for such timing until the passage of time has sutured my heart. But until then, I found something interesting – and not emotionally charged – that I wanted to share with you.

What Words Are Used To Describe The Transgender Through History

Google just released a new website, called the Ngram viewer, that allows you to see the comparative prevalence of terms in the many hundreds of thousands of books scanned as part of the Google Books project. I thought it would be interesting to see how some common words in the gender community fared through history. You can find link to the chart here.

The Language of Transgender

The Language of Transgender

As you can see, the word ‘transgender’ didn’t gain prominence until the last few decades, and just recently eclipsed ‘transsexual’. It’s also surprising the ‘crossdresser’ barely features at all in literature. Why do you think this is? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Personally, I refer to myself as a woman, or more descriptively a transgender woman. I have a few friends who refer to themselves as a transsexual woman. For me, transgender captures the inclusive and nuanced nature of gender identity. Rather than focusing on the organs which undergo an operation, it seems to, for me, highlight the emotional journey and intellectual struggle that is so much more profound than the physical.

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8 Comments
  1. Tina Thompson 9 years ago

    I’m so sorry to hear about the decay in your marriage’s health, dear. That sort of thing is horrible enough to go through any time of year, but during the holidays it’s even worse. After all, we’re all supposed to be full or merry and joy in December, and that’s just hard to do when things are tough at home. Having once been there myself, my heart goes out to you, as does a virtual hug. Hang in there the best you can, and know that better times lay ahead, hopefully very soon.

    Your second subject is interesting, because the words you track have strong connotations and they carry a great deal of power, perhaps more than many realize.

    Say “transvestite” to a cloistered suburban cisgendered person, and many automatically think of a middle-aged ugly, hairy, fat man with hair all over his body in ill-fitting fishnets and a bodice admiring his made-up but mustachioed face in a mirror as if s/he were Miss America.

    They’ve undoubtedly also heard of transsexuals who’ve undergone a “sex change” and automatically make assumptions that this person is a sexual deviant with a perversion only slightly less disgusting than child molestation. It sounds harsh, but that’s the popular view in Middle Class America.

    First of all, while the vision of the “Ron Jeremy in fishnets” probably happens, we tgirls know how hard we try to look “passable” when we go out somewhere or take a picture, and how many of us are thrilled when we come close to that ideal. Little does Middle America know that indeed, there are crossdressers who are so skilled at their art that they are utterly passable to the point that some can and do interact in the “straight world” with ease and confidence. They can walk by any man and turn his head for a second look, and he is definitely not thinking he just saw a “tranny.” Secondly, the stereotype of a transsexual as a pervert could not be more incorrect. To my thinking, a transsexual who has undergone SRS has not had a “sex change” – they have simply become what they really were in the first place. That is true even with the people who have no plans for surgical genital reconstruction yet have undergone extensive plastic surgery to augment their feminine features – the so-called “third sex” that live and breathe as women, but who also have very well functioning male plumbing. They are not perverts, they simply are being who they have always been.

    Powerful labels, those all are, and it is interesting to see how their usage has been born, and risen or fallen through the years. I will be happy to see some go because of their common use as a perjorative, but I fear that others will simply take their place and that the ignorance of who and what we are will never end.

  2. Leslee 9 years ago

    I never thought of myself as a crossdresser, even when very young. I envisioned myself as a girl and nothing less. Although there were years when I could not express my inner self it was always there. I could say I’m transgendered and at the same time I am a transexual women from the physical changes of my body. Sorry to hear about your wife but I am going through something very similar so I can direstly relate to your problem. There are very few women who relate well to what we go through even when they say they do.Leslee

  3. Rusti9211 9 years ago

    I too am saddened to hear that you are going through a difficult time. I do not know what the future holds for you. Just be true to yourself and see what happens, Angie

  4. Vanessa Law 9 years ago

    Thanks all for your care and concern! Hugs!

  5. Agent_J 9 years ago

    I wish you well on the relationship front. My spouse and I had our own troubles earlier this year.

  6. Bobbieusa 9 years ago

    Hi,
    How did the change go at work?
    Bobbie

    • Vanessa Law 9 years ago

      Hi Bobbie,
      The change went better than expected at work. Everyone was kind and gracious – I feel truly blessed.

  7. Tracey Rose 4 years ago

    hi – I correspond to the term transgender woman also – a great story – thank you x

    best wishes,
    tracey x

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