Latin trans- + vestite, form of vestiō (“I clothe, I dress”) (as in English vestment, vest). Literally, a "cross-dresser". From transvestitism, from German Transvestitismus, coined in 1910 by Magnus Hirschfeld (the practice itself is much older).
transvestite (plural transvestites)
- A person who sometimes wears clothes traditionally worn by and associated with the opposite sex; typically a male who cross-dresses occasionally by habit or compulsion.
- This term is relatively formal (Latinate); cross-dresser is more casual, but whereas the verb cross-dress is common, the verb transvest is quite rare.
- Transvestite should not be confused with transgender or transsexual (see those terms for more); transvestites are often happy with their gender and have no desire to change their sex, but simply enjoy being able to cross-dress from time to time. When speaking of to or about an individual who identifies as transgender, the term transvestite is typically seen as derogatory.
- The term should also not be confused with drag queen (“male who wears women’s clothing for public performance”); that term is specifically for performers.