Words on this page are used to insult or attack people. Some of these words may be upsetting or traumatic for people, and we strongly suggest you avoid using them.
“Tranny” was originally a term used by transgender people to refer to themselves.
However, over time it started to be used differently - by people who did not consider themselves transgender, to refer to transgender people pejoratively.
As a result, it is now normally considered a slur and to be offensive, but some people who adopted the “tranny” identity in the past still use it. Others have also attempted to reappropriate the term by using it to describe themselves positively.
It is strongly recommended that you do not use “tranny” to describe other people unless you are absolutely sure they are happy for you to do so, and that other people around you will not be upset by it.
Julia Serano has written a detailed personal history of the term which may help illustrate the changing meanings of the term over time.
“Hermaphrodite” is a obsolete historical medical term used to refer to intersex people.
It is now considered to be offensive.
It is also normally medically inaccurate (as “hermaphroditism”, named after the mythological character Hermaphroditus refers to having a combination of both female and male genitals at once).
There is a useful guide to intersex and terminology used to describe intersex people on the OII Australia website.
“Shemale” is a term primarily used in pornography and sex work to refer to transgender women.
It is considered to be an offensive term 1, p.36, particularly as it suggests that the people in question are male.
“Heshe” is considered an offensive term. Do not use this term to describe anyone.
“Chick-with-a-dick” is a term primarily used in pornography and sex work to refer to transgender women.
It is considered an offensive term. Do not use this term to describe anyone.
This is an outdated medical term which has significant connotations of disorder or pathology and is no longer in medical use (along with “transgenderism” and “transsexualism”) and is normally considered offensive 1, p.36.
- 1.Vincent, Ben (2018) Transgender Health, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Link
Errors and omissions
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