The word “trans” is a short form that allows us to describe the reality of transgender and transsexual people.
Transgender people don’t identify with their biological sex or the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender person may also have begun a process to make their gender expression and gender identity match better. Finally, we can also use the word “transgender” for a person whose biological sex falls outside the man-woman duality: they have physical features that belong to both sexes.
Sex assigned at birth
When we’re born, it’s the doctors who assign us male or female sex. They make that decision based on the appearance of our genitals and a few other factors. After this announcement, we grow up as a boy or girl. However, some children are born intersex, which means they have genitals, hormones, and chromosomes that aren’t typically male or female.
When we assign sex at birth, it’s impossible to know how the child would self-define when he/she grows up. That can cause harm since some children are raised in a gender that isn’t really theirs or is different from what they feel inside. And some people who are identified as male or female at birth, based on their true biological sex, discover over time that they don’t feel right, as if they were in the “wrong body.”
Transsexual people have completed a transition to make their biological sex and gender identity match better. Important: not all trans people want to use hormones and/or surgery to change their bodies and their genitals. So some people are transgender but not transsexual.