I have been asked many times to explain certain definitions and differences regarding genders other than straight and gay, so I will take the opportunity here to make some things as clear as I can. And by the way, there is not full agreement on some of the differences, subtle as some may be, between some of the different gender, different people that are out there.
First, cross-dressers and transvestites are pretty much the same thing. Generally, a cross-dresser is a man who carries out his strong desire to dress like a woman. There are women who cross-dress like men, but typically, men are those who live this lifestyle. By the way, just to get it out of the way, drag queens are not cross-dressers in the sense of some internal desire to dress opposite of what is accepted for their gender, they are simply men who dress like women for entertainment purposes. So in theory, yes, but technically, in the actual gender identity sense, no. I must add there are those who feel that cross-dressing is more a fetish that anything to do with gender identity. Some consider cross-dressers to be transsexuals as well. I am thinking those who have the tremendous urge to cross-dress are best to define this definition.
A transgendered person is one who has a gender identity that is opposite his or her physical being. Basically, I mean people with the physical components of a man who feel inside that they are women, or people with the physical components of a woman who feel inside that they are men.
A transsexual is someone with a gender identity opposite his or her physical being, but who desires to (pre-op), is in the middle of, or has already changed their physical being with hormones and/or surgery (post-op). There are transsexual men and there are transsexual woman. A transsexual man or a trans-man is a female-to-male (F2M) transgendered person who was born with female physical components but who identifies as a male, and who may make physical changes to match that identity. A transsexual woman or a trans-woman is a male-to-female (M2F) transgendered person who was born with male physical components but who identifies as a female, and who may make physical changes to match that identity. Some people use the term tranny to identify transsexual. I have heard that it is an offensive term and I have heard it is not. Again, as with cross-dressers, it is best to yield to those who have this gender identity.
Shemales are pre-op M2F trans-women. Typically, they change part of their physical being with hormones and surgery. For example, they will take hormones and/or get implants for breasts but keep their penis. Many find the slang term shemale offensive, but then again others don’t. A ladyboy could be a transvestite or a trans-woman, and is associated with Thailand or other Asian countries where the term was popularized. Again, some but not all people might find this term offensive.
There are differences and subsets within subsets and I hope I have not offended anyone in any way. People should be respected for who they feel they are inside. Period. And everyone deserves to love and be loved. Period. FYI, a year ago Facebook added 51 gender ID options when making a profile page, to be sure they covered as many bases as possible. The definitions may continue to change or evolve. In any event, this is a great TS dating site: SingleTransexuals.com. Or please go here to find the TS dating site of your desires: DateSitesReview.com – TS Dating. Good luck!