The Meaning of Transvestite: What It Is and How To Use It

What is transvestite, and how is it different from someone who is transgender? This article will review the meaning of transvestite.

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What is a transvestite? Is someone who is a transvestite also transgender? This article will define the meaning of the word transvestite and clarify how it differs from someone who is transgender. Then, it will explore translations of the word transvestite, example sentences containing the word transvestite, synonyms, and more. 

Please remember that this term may be outdated and offend others — this article will explain why you should likely avoid using it in conversation.

What Does Transvestite Mean?

A transvestite is a person who wears clothing that is traditionally associated with the opposite gender or sex. This also used to be called cross-dressing. Both the terms cross-dresser and transvestite can be considered offensive, so avoid using them unless an individual has specifically requested to be referred to using one of these words.

Many cultures practice transvestism for ceremonial reasons. The pronunciation of the word transvestite is ​​trænzˈvɛstaɪt.

People who wear another gender’s clothes are not necessarily homosexual or transgender. There are many heterosexual males who choose to dress in clothes of the opposite sex either because those clothes make them happy or for sexual arousal. 

Someone who is transgender is also not necessarily a transvestite. While people can be both transgender and enjoy dressing in the opposite gender’s clothing, being transgender means that a person’s assigned sex at birth does not match their gender.

A trans man or transgender woman may choose to dress in the clothes of the opposite sex before transitioning, but it is not a defining trait of being transgender; it is simply a behavior. 

Someone who is transgender may choose to go on hormones or get gender confirmation surgery to assist with a medical transition. Hormone supplements and medical interventions like a sex-change operation might change secondary sex characteristics like breast growth or genitals.

The word trans is an umbrella term that also encompasses gender fluid people, transgender nonbinary people, and others whose genders fall outside the gender binary. The opposite of a transgender person is a cis or cisgender person, meaning their gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth. 

What Is the Origin of the Word Transvestite?

The word transvestite comes from two Latin roots, trans and vestire. The Latin root trans means across or on the other side. Vestire means “to dress.” Literally, the word transvestite means “to dress on the other side.” 

Dictionary states that the word transvestite was first used in English in the 1920s and comes from the German transvestit. This comes from the Latin vestītus, a form of vestiō and vestite. These roots also give us words like the English vestment and travesty.

An easy way to remember the definition of the word transvestite is through its origin. If you can remember that “vest” is related to clothing, you can easily remember what transvestite means. This is easy because a vest is a type of clothing.

What Are Translations of Transvestite?

The concept of a transvestite is not solely present in English-speaking countries. People who choose to wear clothing that is traditionally associated with the opposite sex appear all over the world. 

To learn how to refer to a person who is a transvestite in different languages, you can use this list of translations of transvestite that are provided by Nice Translator.

Many of the below translations of the word transvestite look and sound similar to transvestite because they have a similar root word. Many languages have words with Latin roots, so it is not surprising that the word transvestite has cognates in other languages. 

Cognates can help you learn what words in other languages mean, but beware of false cognates that lead you down the wrong path.

  • Chinese (Taiwan): 易裝岩
  • Finnish: transvestiitti
  • Bengali: ট্রান্সভেস্টাইট
  • Hungarian: transzvesztita
  • Chinese (PRC): 易装岩
  • Slovak: transvestit
  • Estonian: transvestiit
  • Gujarati: ટ્રાન્સવેસ્ટાઇટ
  • German: Transvestit
  • Thai: ตุ๊ด
  • Greek: τραβεστί
  • Danish: transvestit.
  • Catalan: transvestit
  • Ukrainian: трансвестит
  • Welsh: transvestite
  • Malayalam: ട്രാൻസ്വെസ്റ്റൈറ്റ്
  • Turkish: geçiş
  • Italian: travestito
  • Polish: transwestyta
  • Bulgarian: Трансвестит
  • Russian: трансвестит
  • Croatian: transvestit
  • Hindi: समलैंगिक
  • Indonesian: banci
  • Kannada: ಟ್ರಾನ್ಸ್ವೆಸ್ಟೈಟ್
  • French: travesti
  • Spanish: travestido
  • Hebrew: טרנסווסטיט
  • Urdu: ٹرانسمیشن
  • Dutch: travestiet
  • Basque: travestite
  • Korean: 트랜스베스테이트
  • Latvian: transvestīts
  • Portuguese (Portugal): travesti
  • Slovenian: Transvestit.
  • Portuguese (Brazil): travesti
  • Lithuanian: transvestitas
  • Amharic: transvesitite
  • Japanese: 哀れみ
  • Romanian: Transvestite
  • Serbian: трансвестит
  • Swedish: transvestit

What Are Synonyms of the Word Transvestite?

The word transvestite is fairly specific and refers to a person who chooses to dress as the opposite sex for any number of reasons. While there are not many synonyms for the word transvestite itself, Power Thesaurus provides a list of numerous different related words to transvestite. 

Remeber, these are not necessarily synonyms — some are simply related words. Still, these may be useful because of transvestite’s offensive nature.

Make sure that you ask someone what they prefer being referred to as before describing them as a transvestite, as they may prefer one of the below terms:

  • bewitching
  • bisexed
  • bisexual
  • closet queen
  • cross dressing
  • cross-dresser
  • drag queen
  • effeminate
  • female impersonator
  • gender bender
  • queer
  • trans
  • transgender
  • transsexual
  • transvestic
  • transvestism
  • transvestitism


Someone who is a transvestite enjoys dressing as the opposite sex. Many different types of people can choose to dress as a transvestite, from a heterosexual man who enjoys the freedom that female clothing provides to a gay man who is a drag queen. 

Just because somebody enjoys dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex does not allude to their gender identity or sexual orientation.

The word transvestite is very different from the word transgender. Someone who is a transvestite simply chooses to dress as the opposite sex, while someone who is transgender identifies as a gender that is seperate from the sex they were assigned at birth. 


  1. Transvestite synonyms – 60 Words and Phrases for Transvestite | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Transvestite | Nice Translator 
  3. Transvestite Definition & Meaning |