哥倫比亞大學醫學院精神科醫師約翰·F·奧利文（John F. Oliven）在其所著並於1965年出版的參考書《性衛生與病理學》（Sexual Hygiene and Pathology）中首次提出了「transgender」此一用語，並指出以前所使用的用語「transsexualism」「是具有誤導性的，因為性本身不是跨性別的一個重大影響因子」。跨性別一詞因能跟「變性」（transsexual）和「易裝癖」（transvestite）區分開來，而得到廣泛推廣。相關推廣者包括易裝愛好者雜誌《Transvestia》的主编弗吉尼亞·普林斯（英语：Virginia Prince），其於該雜誌的1969年12月號中推广此一用語。在1970年，人們普遍視「trans-gender」和「trans people」為兩個傘式術語並使用之[註 1] ，並使用「transgenderist」一詞去代指没有接受性別重置手術的跨性別者。到了1976年，跨性別者在教材中會遭縮寫為TG。
到了1984年，「跨性別群體」（transgender community）此一概念經已發展起來，此用詞當中的跨性別也是一個傘式術語。阿爾斯特大學的理查德·艾爾金斯（Richard Elkins）於1985年建立了「跨性別檔案」（Trans-Gender Archive）。1992年的跨性別法律和就業政策國際會議（International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy）將跨性別定義為一個傘式術語，當中包括「變性者、跨性別者和易裝者等」。費雷思所著並於1992年發表的小冊子《跨性別解放：時機經已成熟的運動》（Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time has Come）把跨性別定義為任何性別表現與社會規範衝突的统合術語；並認为其已成为酷兒的同義詞。
人類學家戴維·瓦倫丁（David Valentine）在其2007年的著作《跨性別：一個分類的民族志》（Transgender, an Ethnography of a Category）中指出，跨性別一詞是由活動家們創造出來的，但其定義範圍包括許多不認同自身为跨性別者的人。隨後他亦指出不應把不認同自己為跨性別者的人納入跨性別光譜中。費雷思亦同樣宣稱跨性別對於一些人而言並不是一个合適的自我認同，而是他者為了理解某些人而設立的一个分類。然而，波士頓fenway health公司的跨性別者健康計劃對以上此一說法提出了質疑；其指出，跨性別一詞並沒有普遍得到接受的定義，且人們很容易就对此詞產生混淆，因為在21世紀之交流行的用詞現在看來可能具有冒犯性。該計劃建議臨床醫师詢問求診者对哪个用詞較为滿意，並避免使用變性者此一用詞，除非他們確定求診者對此感到滿意。
易装癖者會穿着被視為「與他們出生時的性別指定不同」的服裝。「transvestite」一詞跟「cross-dresser」屬同義 ，不過「cross-dresser」一詞較為常用。「异装」一詞在相關文獻中並沒有完整的定義。加拿大约克大学哲學系教授邁克爾·吉爾伯特（Michael A. Gilbert）則把易装癖者定義為：「有著明顯的性別認同且與其出生時的生理性徵相同的人，但因為那是異性的服裝而選擇穿着之。」這個定義不包括「因其他原因而穿異性服裝」的人，例如扮演異性角色的演員、出席化妝舞會的男女。易装癖者可能但不一定會模仿異性的行為或習俗，且一般不會想在醫學上改變自己的身體。大部分易装癖者認同自己為異性戀者。
美國國家跨性別平權中心（英语：National Center for Transgender Equality）的《國家跨性別歧視調查》（National Transgender Discrimination Survey）成功調查了27,715名跨性別者和性別酷兒。當中21%指出「酷兒」是对他們性傾向的最佳描述，18%自認为「泛性恋」，16%自認为「男同性恋」、「女同性恋」或「同性愛」，15%自認为「直的」，14%自認为「雙性戀」，最後10%自認为「无性戀」。
^*In April 1970, TV Guide published an article which referenced a post-operative transsexual movie character as being "transgendered."(Sunday Highlights. TV Guide. 1970-04-26 [2012-05-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-06-04）. [R]aquel Welch (left), moviedom's sex queen soon to be seen as the heroine/hero of Gore Vidal's transgendered "Myra Breckinridge"...)
In the 1974 edition of Clinical Sexuality: A Manual for the Physician and the Professions, transgender was used as an umbrella term and the Conference Report from the 1974 "National TV.TS Conference" held in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK used "trans-gender" and "trans.people" as umbrella terms.(Oliven, John F. Clinical sexuality: A Manual for the Physician and the Professions 3rd. University of Michigan (digitized Aug 2008): Lippincott. 1974: 110, 484–487. ISBN 978-0-397-50329-2. （原始内容存档于2015-12-05）. "Transgender deviance" p 110, "Transgender research" p 484, "transgender deviates" p 485, Transvestites not welcome at "Transgender Center" p 487), (2006). The Transgender Phenomenon (Elkins, Richard; King, Dave. The Transgender Phenomenon. Sage. 2006: 13. ISBN 978-0-7619-7163-4. （原始内容存档于2015-09-26）.)
However A Practical Handbook of Psychiatry (1974) references "transgender surgery" noting, "The transvestite rarely seeks transgender surgery, since the core of his perversion is an attempt to realize the fantasy of a phallic woman."(Novello, Joseph R. A Practical Handbook of Psychiatry. University of Michigan, digitized August 2008: C. C. Thomas. 1974: 176. ISBN 978-0-398-02868-8. （原始内容存档于2015-09-19）.)
^Magnus Hirschfeld coined the German term "Transsexualismus" in 1923, which Cauldwell translated into English.
^The recurring concern that transsexual implies sexuality stems from the tendency of many informal speakers to ignore the sex and gender distinction and use gender for any male/female difference and sex for sexual activity]. (Liberman, Mark. Single-X Education. Language Log. [2012-06-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-04-15）.)
^ 2.02.1Craig J. Forsyth, Heith Copes. Encyclopedia of Social Deviance. Sage Publications. 2014: 740 [2016-04-12]. ISBN 1483364690. （原始内容存档于2016-12-01）. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identities, gender expressions, and/or behaviors are different from those culturally associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.
^ 4.04.1Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender. GLAAD. 2011-09-09 [2018-05-13]. （原始内容存档于2018-05-12） （英语）. "An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth."
^ 5.05.1Bilodeau, Brent. Beyond the Gender Binary: A Case Study of Two Transgender Students at a Midwestern Research University. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education. 2005, 3 (1): 29–44. doi:10.1300/J367v03n01_05. "Yet Jordan and Nick represent a segment of transgender communities that have largely been overlooked in transgender and student development research – individuals who express a non-binary construction of gender[.]"
^ 6.06.1Susan., Stryker,. The Transgender Studies Reader.. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis [www.worldcat.org]. 2013: 666. ISBN 9781135398842. OCLC 870591878. The authors note that, increasingly, in social science literature, the term "third gender" is being replaced by or conflated with the newer term "transgender.缺少或|title=为空 (帮助)
^ 7.07.1C., Chrisler, Joan; R., McCreary, Donald. Handbook of gender research in psychology. Volume 1, Gender research in general and experimental psychology. New York: Springer [www.worldcat.org]. 2010: 486. ISBN 9781441914651. OCLC 630057607. Transgender is a broad term characterized by a challenge of traditional gender roles and gender identity[. ...] For example, some cultures classify transgender individuals as a third gender, thereby treating this phenomenon as normative.缺少或|title=为空 (帮助)
^ 8.08.1Reisner, Sari L; Conron, Kerith; Scout, Nfn; Mimiaga, Matthew J; Haneuse, Sebastien; Austin, S. Bryn. Comparing In-Person and Online Survey Respondents in the U.S. National Transgender Discrimination Survey: Implications for Transgender Health Research. LGBT Health. 2014, 1 (2): 98–106. PMID 26789619. doi:10.1089/lgbt.2013.0018. Transgender was defined broadly to cover those who transition from one gender to another as well as those who may not choose to socially, medically, or legally fully transition, including cross-dressers, people who consider themselves to be genderqueer, androgynous, and…
^ 11.011.1Kozee, H. B.; Tylka, T. L.; Bauerband, L. A. Measuring transgender individuals' comfort with gender identity and appearance: Development and validation of the Transgender Congruence Scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly. 2012, 36 (2): 179–196. doi:10.1177/0361684312442161.
^George R. Brown, MD. Chapter 165 Sexuality and Sexual Disorders. (编) Robert S. Porter, MD; 等. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy 19th. Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA: Merck & Co., Inc. 2011-07-20: 1567–1573. ISBN 978-0-911910-19-3.
^ 13.013.1Victoria,, Maizes,; Tieraona,, Low Dog,. Integrative women's health. Second edition. Oxford [www.worldcat.org]. : 745. ISBN 9780190214807. OCLC 921176115. Many transgender people experience gender dysphoria—distress that results from the discordance of biological sex and experienced gender (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Treatment for gender dysphoria, considered to be highly effective, includes physical, medical, and/or surgical treatments [...] some [transgender people] may not choose to transition at all.缺少或|title=为空 (帮助) 引文格式1维护：冗余文本 (link)
^Bradford, Judith; Reisner, Sari L.; Honnold, Julie A.; Xavier, Jessica. Experiences of Transgender-Related Discrimination and Implications for Health: Results From the Virginia Transgender Health Initiative Study. American Journal of Public Health. 2013, 103 (10): 1820–1829. PMID 23153142. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300796.
^Whittle, Stephen. "Respect and Equality: Transsexual and Transgender Rights." Routledge-Cavendish, 2002.
^Oliven, John F. Sexual Hygiene and Pathology. 1965: 514. Where the compulsive urge reaches beyond female vestments, and becomes an urge for gender ("sex") change, transvestism becomes "transsexualism." The term is misleading; actually, "transgenderism" is what is meant, because sexuality is not a major factor in primary transvestism. Psychologically, the transsexual often differs from the simple cross-dresser; he is conscious at all times of a strong desire to be a woman, and the urge can be truly consuming.
^ 22.022.122.2Thomas E. Bevan, The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism (2014, ISBN1-4408-3127-0), page 42: "The term transsexual was introduced by Cauldwell (1949) and popularized by Harry Benjamin (1966) [...]. The term transgender was coined by John Oliven (1965) and popularized by various transgender people who pioneered the concept and practice of transgenderism. It is sometimes said that Virginia Prince (1976) popularized the term, but history shows that many transgender people adovcated the use of this term much more than Prince."
^Stryker, S. (2004), "... lived full-time in a social role not typically associated with their natal sex, but who did not resort to genital surgery as a means of supporting their gender presentation ..." in Transgender互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2006-03-21. from the GLBTQ: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer culture. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
^First International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy (1992). organizational pamphlet. ICTLEP/. 1992 [2012-05-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-03-30）. Transgendered persons include transsexuals, transgenderists, and other crossdressers of both sexes, transitioning in either direction (male to female or female to male), of any sexual orientation, and of all races, creeds, religions, ages, and degrees of physical impediment.
^Stryker, Susan. "Transgender History, Homonormativity, and Disciplinarity". Radical History Review, Vol. 2008, No. 100. (Winter 2008), pp. 145–157
^ 31.031.1Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "GLAAD's Transgender Resource Page"互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2012-10-06., "GLAAD", USA. Retrieved 2011-02-24. "Problematic: "transgendered". Preferred: transgender. The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous "-ed" tacked onto the end. An "-ed" suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is "gayed" or Ellen DeGeneres is "lesbianed," therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is "transgendered."
^Transgender Rights (2006, ISBN0-8166-4312-1), edited by Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, Shannon Minter
^A. C. Alegria, Transgender identity and health care: Implications for psychosocial and physical evaluation, in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, volume 23, issue 4 (2011), pages 175–182: "Transgender, Umbrella term for persons who do not conform to gender norms in their identity and/or behavior (Meyerowitz, 2002). Transsexual, Subset of transgenderism; persons who feel discordance between natal sex and identity (Meyerowitz, 2002)."
^For example, Virginia Prince used transgender to distinguish cross-dressers from transsexual people (glbtq > social sciences >> Prince, Virginia Charles. glbtq.com. （原始内容存档于2015-02-11）.), writing in Men Who Choose to Be Women (in Sexology, February 1969) that "I, at least, know the difference between sex and gender and have simply elected to change the latter and not the former."
^Sex -- Medical Definition. medilexicon.com. （原始内容存档于2014-02-22）.: defines sex as a biological or physiological quality, while gender is a (psychological) "category to which an individual is assigned by self or others...".
^R Polly, J Nicole, Understanding the transsexual patient: culturally sensitive care in emergency nursing practice, in the Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal (2011): "The use of terminology by transsexual individuals to self-identify varies. As aforementioned, many transsexual individuals prefer the term transgender, or simply trans, as it is more inclusive and carries fewer stigmas. There are some transsexual individuals[,] however, who reject the term transgender; these individuals view transsexualism as a treatable congenital condition. Following medical and/or surgical transition, they live within the binary as either a man or a woman and may not disclose their transition history."
^A Swenson, Medical Care of the Transgender Patient, in Family Medicine (2014): "While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual."
^Parker, Jerry. Christine Recalls Life as Boy from the Bronx. Newsday/Winnipeg Free Press. 1979-10-18 [2012-05-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-04-25）. If you understand trans-genders," she says, (the word she prefers to transsexuals), "then you understand that gender doesn’t have to do with bed partners, it has to do with identity.
^News From California: 'Transgender'. Appeal-Democrat/Associate Press. 1982-05-11: A–10 [2012-05-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-04-12）. she describes people who have had such operations’ "transgender" rather than transsexual. "Sexuality is who you sleep with, but gender is who you are," she explained
^ 46.046.1Valentine, David. Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category, Duke University, 2007
^ 47.047.1Stryker, Susan. Introduction. In Stryker and S. Whittle (Eds.), The Transgender Studies Reader, New York: Routledge, 2006. 1–17
^Kelley Winters, "Gender Madness in American Psychiatry, essays from the struggle for dignity, 2008, p. 198. "Some Transsexual individuals also identify with the broader transgender community; others do not."
^Boyd, Hellen. The Umbrella. enGender. [2012-06-28]. （原始内容存档于2012-07-22）. the only part of the gender binary we *necessarily* challenge is the notion that people are always assigned to the right side of the binary at birth, and don’t need sympathy or help if the assignment goes wrong.
^ 50.050.1Benjamin, H. (1966). The transsexual phenomenon. New York: Julian Press, page 23.
^Amy McCrea, Under the Transgender Umbrella: Improving ENDA's Protections, in the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law (2013): "This article will begin by providing a background on transgender people, highlighting the experience of a subset of non-binary individuals, bigender people, ..."
^Wilchins, Riki Anne (2002) 'It's Your Gender, Stupid’, pp.23–32 in Joan Nestle, Clare Howell and Riki Wilchins (eds.) Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary. Los Angeles:Alyson Publications, 2002.
^Nestle, J. (2002) "...pluralistic challenges to the male/female, woman/man, gay/straight, butch/femme constructions and identities..." from Genders on My Mind, pp.3–10 in Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary, edited by Joan Nestle, Clare Howell and Riki Wilchins, published by Los Angeles:Alyson Publications, 2002:9. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
^ 66.066.1APA task force (1994) "...The paraphiliac focus of Transvestic Fetishism involves cross-dressing. Usually the male with Transvestic Fetishism keeps a collection of female clothes that he intermittently uses to cross-dress. While cross dressed, he usually masturbates..." in DSM-IV: Sections 302.3互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2007-02-11. published by the American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
^Tobin, H.J. (2003) "...It has become more and more clear that trans people come in more or less the same variety of sexual orientations as non-trans people..." Sexual Orientation from Sexuality in Transsexual and Transgender Individuals.
^APA task force (1994) "...For sexually mature individuals, the following specifiers may be noted based on the individual's sexual orientation: Sexually Attracted to Males, Sexually Attracted to Females, Sexually Attracted to Both, and Sexually Attracted to Neither..." in DSM-IV: Sections 302.6 and 302.85互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2007-02-11. published by the American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved via Mental Health Matters互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2007-04-07. on 2007-04-06.
^Goethals, S.C. and Schwiebert, V.L. (2005) "...counselors to rethink their assumptions regarding gender, sexuality and sexual orientation. In addition, they supported counselors' need to adopt a transpositive disposition to counseling and to actively advocate for transgendered persons..." Counseling as a Critique of Gender: On the Ethics of Counseling Transgendered Clients from the International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, Vol. 27, No. 3, September 2005. Retrieved via SpringerLink互联网档案馆的存檔，存档日期2012-01-22. on 2007-04-06.
^Hanssmann, C.; Morrison, D.; Russian, E. Talking, gawking, or getting it done: Providing trainings to increase cultural and clinical competence for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients and clients. Sexuality Research and Social Policy. 2008, 5: 5–23. doi:10.1525/srsp.2008.5.1.5.