A male-to-female (MTF) transsexual woman (trans woman) is someone who was labelled male at birth but has a female gender identity, and therefore transitions to live as a woman. Transsexual women can be distinguished from other transgender people by their extremely strong need to live completely and permanently as women in contrast to their original birth label of male.
Transsexual women seek to bring their physical bodies and gender expressions into better accordance with their strong gender identities so that their identities as women finally become clearly visible to their friends, families and colleagues. However, some may be restricted by their personal or social circumstances in their ability to achieve this. Transsexual women often experience significant emotional distress, usually referred to as gender dysphoria, if unable to live fully as women.
The lengthy and difficult process which transsexual women go through in order to achieve this is called transitioning (or gender reassignment) and usually involves undergoing significant medical assistance in the form of hormones and sometimes various surgical procedures. They may get this medical assistance from the National Health Service or from Private Healthcare Providers. However, transitioning is not purely about changes in a person’s physical appearance. During transition, social and personal relationship dynamics also change to better reflect the gender identity of the transsexual woman. This can be both challenging and rewarding for the transsexual woman and her friends and family.
When these women complete their transitions, they may often no longer regard themselves as being under the transgender umbrella. They might consider having been transsexual to just be an aspect of their medical history which has now been resolved and so is no longer an issue in their life. Some women may use the phrase: women with transsexual backgrounds to describe themselves. However, in the vast majority of circumstances they will most likely simply describe themselves as women and it is most disrespectful to insist on calling them trans, transgender or transsexual against their wishes.