30 January 2010


Consider the following pairs of words:


There is an importance difference of meaning between the first and the second in each case. The first word is simply the state or condition. The second word turns it into something that is being advocated, an ideology.

There is another usage of the 'ism' ending. It is used by doctors for diseases. Both 'transvestism' and 'transsexualism' were coined by doctors to label diseases.

In English both 'transsexuality' and 'transsexualism' are used. I and others use the former by preference to diminish the medical implications of the word. Even 'transsexualism' had lost much of its medical implications by the 1970s, and the doctors came up with a new phrase: 'gender dysphoria syndrome' frequently shortened to 'gender dysphoria' to remedicalize the concept.

So, as we have both 'transsexuality' and 'transsexualism', why don't we have both 'transvestity' and 'transvestism'? A google search for 'transvestity' shows that it is used in Czech, but not much in other languages. I seem to be in a small minority in my use of it in English.

I have been using 'transvestity' since the early 1990s, and will continue to do so. I urge others to follow.

1 comment:

  1. I see your point. I don't use "transvestity" or "transvestism" because of the stigma attached; I use "bigender" and "crossdress" instead.