Transsexual Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

Do you know what the word transsexual means? Not to worry — we’ll tell you. Read on to discover the meaning of transsexual and more.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

If someone says that they are transsexual, what does that mean? Is transsexual the same as transgender? What is intersex? 

You have questions, and we have answers. Read on as we explore the term transsexual to uncover what it means and more. 

What Is the Definition of Transsexual?

According to the experts at the American Psychological Association, the term “transsexual” is largely outdated, so it should only be used for an individual who specifically claims it. With that in mind, a transsexual person feels that they are not the same gender as the body that they were physically born with. 

In other words, a person with a strong desire to assume the gender role and physical characteristics of a different sex may choose to identify as transsexual. 

What Is the Origin of Transsexual?

The history behind the word transsexual is a bit unclear; however, “transsexualism” was considered a mental illness in the manuals of the American Psychological Association as well as the World Health Organization back in the 1980s. 

That said, both terms — transsexualism and transsexual — are no longer used in any medical profession today, having been replaced by gender dysphoria in medical terminology. 

There are, however, some older trans people who identify using “transsexual.” Taking into account that the word had previous associations with a mental disorder diagnosis, it’s now often considered offensive in general use. 

Terms, Words, and Phrases Frequently Associated With Transsexual

As you move forward in your research to understand the term transsexual, you’ll likely come across a number of new words, such as:

  • Gender-expansive
  • Agender 
  • Mtf 
  • Pronouns
  • Transgender rights
  • Gender expression
  • Aromantic 
  • Transvestite 
  • Neopronouns 
  • Trans
  • Reassignment surgery
  • Sexual orientation
  • Two-spirit 
  • Cisgender 
  • Gender role
  • Pansexual 
  • Genderqueer
  • Gender nonconforming
  • Asexual 
  • Female-to-male 
  • Gender dysphoria 
  • Non-binary
  • Hormone therapy or hormone treatment 
  • Gender identity 

To expand your overall understanding of our word of the day, we suggest researching each term listed above. By learning these definitions, you’ll not only improve your knowledge of the word transsexual, but you’ll enhance your existing vocabulary, too. 

What Are Some Common Translations of Transsexual?

Did you know that there’s more than one way to say transsexual? Here is the list of the top translations from around the globe:

  • Chinese: 变性者
  • European Spanish: transexual 
  • Italian: transessuale
  • American English: transsexual  
  • Japanese: 性転換者
  • Korean: 성전환자
  • European Portuguese: transexual 
  • Spanish: transexual
  • Brazilian Portuguese: transexual
  • French: transsexuel 
  • British English: transsexual
  • German: Transsexuelle

What Does Transgender Mean?

Many people are under the impression that transsexual and transgender are two terms that can be used interchangeably; however, this is not the case. 

As mentioned previously, transsexual is an outdated term that was historically used to refer to those who had undergone medical procedures — such as gender-affirming surgery — to match their physical appearance and gender identity.

Transgender is an umbrella term that is commonly shortened to “trans.” According to the LGBTQIA Resource Center, if an individual’s gender identity differs from the traditional expectations of the sex that was assigned at birth, that person may identify as transgender (or trans).   

For example, trans may refer to a person who was assigned female at birth but identifies as male, and vice versa. However, it’s important to keep in mind that transgender doesn’t always refer to the binary transition between female and male. 

You see, an individual may refer to themselves as trans if they identify with a gender that’s neither female nor male, a blend of the two genders, or if their identity shifts between female and male.  

What Is Intersex?

Intersex is another LGBT+ term that can sometimes get confused with transsexual. Just like the word transgender, intersex is not interchangeable with transsexual.

Intersex is an umbrella term that describes differences in sex characteristics — such as genitals, hormones, and chromosome patterns — that fall outside the strict female and male binary. 

Being intersex is not a disease but a naturally occurring variation in humans. In fact, it’s estimated that one in 100 babies born in the United States are intersex. To put this into perspective, this is about the same number of infants that are born annually with red hair. 


Transsexual is a term used to describe an individual who has decided that they want to live as a person of the opposite sex. That said, it’s not an umbrella term and should never be used to refer to the entire transgender community. The only appropriate time to refer to someone as “transsexual” is if someone specifically asserts that preference. 

At the end of the day, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone what pronouns they prefer to use. If you feel a little awkward, consider introducing yourself by sharing your preferred pronouns first. Doing so is a great way to encourage others to open up and share their pronouns with you if they feel comfortable doing so. 

Remember, gender can be very important to someone’s sense of self. So, be respectful and always call people by their preferred pronouns!


  1. Transsexual Definition & Meaning |
  2. LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary | UC Davis 
  3. What is Intersex? : Definition of Intersexual | Planned Parenthood