Terminology can be so fraught! I wrote a story once titled, “When Trans Doesn’t Mean Transgender.”

I was writing about my late friend Carla who sometimes called herself a transvestite and at other times called herself a crossdresser. Except during the day when he called himself David.

In his 60s, he became a professional dominatrix after having retired from an advertising career. I wrote about Carla because I thought that her experiences had so much to say about misogyny. About how people value the feminine inherently less than the masculine.

The story was well received here on Medium, but I had so much trouble promoting it off site. Just using words like transvestite and cross-dressing invited fierce emotional criticism from different sectors.

I’m happy to see your article today that digs so deeply into terminology. Words change over time, and they contain great power. We need to think carefully about them, their histories, their current usages, and where they can go in the future.


Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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