Just a small note.
Trans can be used in several ways, because it is merely a prefix that means to move. For example, transition means to move where you are positioned. It stands to reason that trans means different things depending on what it is placed before.
Next, sex is a binary: male and female. There is such a thing as “intersex,” but there’s a reason that the word means “to lie between” or “to take from both sides.” Sex is a binary only in that there are two clearly-defined sides, not to erase the existence or naturalness of intersexed people.
Gender, however, is not a binary. As a sensation or feeling, it does not have any clearly-defined sides whatsoever, and would be better explained by a sphere where all colors and luminosities exist, amorphous and unstable.
Granted, gender can also be understood as the inner feeling supposed to correspond to a given sex, with behavioral (and to a point appearance) stereotypes associated with those sexes described as gender roles.
When you are transsexual, it means you want to be identified as the opposite sex of the one you were assigned at birth. You can be genderqueer and also transsexual, but apparently it’s fairly rare—or maybe not, depending on how the individual interprets gender. Someone who is transsexual may very well simply associate their gender with their chosen sex regardless of “accuracy.”
The trans in transsexual means to go across—because there are two binaries. Like transcontinental, the prefix specifically refers to linear travel.
Transgender is to fall entirely outside of the gendered sex binary: your inner feeling of gender has no reflection or relation to your sex, regardless of whatever similarities it shows to gender roles. In this way, the trans in transgender means to transcend—to rise above or outside, that is, to move from the binary (feminine/masculine and assumed genitalia) outside of it, to the color-light gender cloud described above.
It is virtually impossible to tell who is “cis” or not because of two inarguable facts about the state of gender-sex relations right now:
1. Someone who you would define as transgender were you to see their gender-flavor might not define themselves as transgender for a number of reasons—because they assumed their gender corresponded to their sex, because they never wanted to actively change their sex, or just because they don’t feel any particular importance in identifying as transgender.
2. Large swaths of people—especially those who were assigned the sex of “female” at birth—are not comfortable with their assumed gender, gender roles, and the way they are treated and perceived.
There are serious ethical and ideological problems with focusing so strongly on dis-identification with one’s genitalia and the desire for surgery. Assuming that merely because someone does not want to alter their secondary/primary sex organs, they can be described as “cis”—which is shorthand for not oppressed by the gender-sex system. Similarly problematic is the assumption that someone also oppressed and trapped by the gender-sex binary is privileged simply because they “win,” even though it’s a pretty harmful thing to “win” at.
Destroying the gender-sex binary can only be a good thing for everyone involved. Transfolk, please stop treating people who were assigned “feminine” at birth as enemies: they aren’t in control of the gender-sex binary—in fact, they’re forced to compete in it as well, with consequences just as dire as you have seen for any transperson—and are not the people who are likely to enact violence against you at any level. Those assigned “female/feminine” gender roles at birth do not hold significant social or economic power over you.
Solidarity is working with everyone who is oppressed, marginalized and maligned by the status quo—not slandering them with accusations of nonexistent privilege.