Why and when did transsexual people begin calling themselves transgender?

According to some internet memes pushed by  so-calledtranssexual separatists, transsexuals  began self-identifying as transgender due to a vast global plot by crossdressers1,2.

According to this conspiracy, transsexuals by the millions were forced by the media3through a cunning application of crossdresser colonization 4.

To start using the term “transgender” sometime in the mid-1990s by a communist.5 

The apparent solution to this imagined dilemma is to invent a new term – or string of terms – which means transgender.6 


This meme has survived because, until recently, few seemed to realize that transgender was decades older than many believed.
Furthermore, it seems that not many are aware that transgender predates the term transgenderist – a word  whose authorship is almost always erroneously attributed to Virginia Prince.
As we review the historical record, we are presented with a choice.

What we believe.

We can choose to  believe that transgender was shot from the mouth of Virginia Prince straight into the collective hearts of all transsexuals or we can take a more reasoned approach. For instance, since trans-sexed  originally appeared in print to refer to transgenderists,  would it not be absurd for non-transsexual transgender people to spread an internet meme that asserted a global conspiracy on the part of transsexuals to steal this identity away from transgenderists? While it is certainly absurd, this scenario is precisely what has taken place – just in reverse.


In this article I will make some reasoned arguments  which will attempt to shed some light on why there was a grassroots linguistic tipping point at the end of the 1980s which had trans events/institutions taking on an inclusive semantic in the form of transgender
 – a term which dates back to at least 1965, years  before Prince used the trans+gender lexical compound. Cultural context is important and, from what I’ve observed, is oftentimes missing in the  various debates concerning transgender terminology.
For instance, I have yet to read  where a
TS Separatist has acknowledged that nobody in popular culture referred to Christine Jorgensen as a
transsexual  when she came out. In fact, her famous
Christine  Jorgensen Reveals LP is devoid of the term. We tend to forget that it wasn’t until 1966 that the term entered popular culture with the publication of Harry Benjamin’s seminal  work,The Transsexual Phenomenon.  Furthermore, we’ve all but forgotten that within  just 5 years of transsexual

becoming the new pop-culture buzz word,