“Transitude”, a new term to describe being transgender

History of a concept. What word should be used to describe being trans, that is, living in a different sex or gender than the one igned to an individual at birth? Introduced into the academic world in 2014 by Alexandre Baril, ociate professor, specialist in diversity, at the University of Ottawa, and Catriona LeBlanc, translator, “transitude” is one of the latest proposals to date. This neologism – a French equivalent of the English term “transness” – has since crossed the Atlantic and is beginning to be used in France by the persons concerned, instead of the more frequent “transidentity”. The two, however, are synonymous: how, then, to explain the need for a new word?

To understand this, it is useful to go back a little, this lexical evolution not being the first. Historically, transitude in the broad sense has been theorized successively – even if this succession is not complete and there are temporal overlaps – by four main concepts, which correspond to three medical paradigms and their interactions with the demands and the struggles of trans people »analyzes Pauline Clochec, lecturer in philosophy at the University of Picardy.

First on this list, the concept of “transvestism”, used by the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld at the beginning of the 20th century.e century, identifies trans people as an intermediate type of nature. In the 1950s, following the success of Christine Jorgensen’s sex reignment operation (often considered one of the first in modern history), American sexologist and endocrinologist Harry Benjamin proposed the notion of “transism”. Just like its synonym “transity”, this new term envisages the trans fact as “a syndrome with mainly psychic causes, consisting of a split in the psycho-physical unity of the individual between his gender identity, his physical sex and his social sex role”says Pauline Clochec.

Depathologize the lexicon used

If “transity” and “transism” imposed themselves in France between the 1970s and 1980s, they constituted nosographic entities – that is to say terms whose objective is the description and clification of what is still considered a mental illness.

First in the United States, then in France from the 1990s, trans and queer circles began to denounce this pathologizing and psychiatric approach to the trans fact, and initially favored the use of the term “transgender”. “. This concept (without noun in French) therefore aims not only to depathologize the lexicon used to talk about trans people, but also to no longer make a distinction between them on the basis of the criterion of resorting to sex reignment surgery.

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