Clarification of Terminology: Transvestite Prostitute

July 24, 2012 · Posted in Eye on Midtown 

UPDATE Feb. 2014: We have officially abandoned the term “transvestite prostitute.” We have come to the conclusion that simply “trans prostitute” is the most agreeable and widely accepted, and adequately gets the point across. After all, the real problem lies in the criminal activity surrounding street prostitution, and the manner in which a distinct set of criminals adversely affects our neighborhood, and not whether the perp is transgender or “transvestite.”



From time to time we receive a reader response from folks who imagine the ordinary term “transvestite” as being pejorative in some way. The latest edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defines transvestite as “a person who dresses in a style or manner tradionally associated with the opposite sex.” This entry affixes no reference to being pejorative, it is NOT synonymous with transgender, and we are not aware of any issues related to the objectivity of the American Heritage Dictionary. We treat this terms as synonymous with cross-dressing. Other dictionaries of good authority define the term along the same lines. This definition ranges broadly from drag queens, to silly college boys at a frat party, to celebrities like the legendary Divine (who always identified himself as male, and not transgender).

The Associated Press Stylebook, a good authority for journalists, does address the term transgender without any mention of the term transvestite. That entry instructs one to use the term transgender instead of the word transsexual (which, in our estimation, sounds clinical anyhow). We do not view either of these terms as being synonymous with transvestite. Transgender is built into one’s legitimate identity for some people (and not a “lifestyle”), whereas transvestite serves as a physical description at a given occasion in the same sense as a work uniform worn only at certain times, or like a red shirt which one wears at whim.

We furthermore question whether most of what we describe as transvestite prostitutes are even transgender. Many of the transvestite prostitutes appear around town in plain, ordinary male clothing and appearance. They are even seen regularly changing into “work” attire before hitting the stroll. Many of them also turn up in jail logs with mugshots wearing male attire. Granted, jail officials obviously require subjects to remove wigs, and may even require removal of what they would deem as excessive make-up, but we have seen many mugshots in which both male and female subjects have at least remnants of make-up upon booking into the jail.

In light of the foregoing, and especially considering routine observations such those illustrated in the pictures below, we do not presume the transvestite prostitutes coming into the neighborhood as being collectively transgender, and find that the term “transvestite prostitute” most accurately and objectively describes a certain segment of problematic individuals appearing in the neighborhood. We do not view these street criminals as ordinary transgender fellow citizens…

We are also aware of GLAAD’s media reference guide in which the terms “transvestite” and “cross-dressing” are labeled as being pejorative. Again, transvestite is indeed an inappropriate (and even downright offensive) term for transgender citizens, but GLAAD also prefers that the term cross-dressing be used when applied to non-transgender individuals. We do not follow this, and treat  the term transvestite as exactly synonymous with cross-dressing. Cross-dressing/transvestite is appropriate when applied to non-transgender persons who are, at some particular time, simply dressed in a manner normally associate with the opposite gender. Transgender identity entails significantly more than merely cross-dressing/transvestite in appearance, or even effeminacy (among males).   In our particular case we are dealing with a distinct faction of street criminals in drag, and we most definitely do not view them as ordinary transgender fellow citizens.

Sample subject #1

This one was working the streets of Midtown one morning in 2004. After leaving “work” he changed from “work” attire to ordinary street clothes. This is not what you would call transgender…






Subject #2

This transvestite prostitute in “work” attire on the streets of the neighborhood, compared with mugshots at the Fulton County jail. Note the stubble beard upon being booked into the jail. Strictly transvestite, and not transgender…






Subject #3

Meet a transvestite prostitute who reportedly stalked a woman on Piedmont repeatedly as she walked her dog. Eyes blotted out because the victim was afraid to press charges, so no criminal charges arose out of this incident. But this individual has been seen in drag working the streets of Midtown. We have no field photos of this invidual, but found no shortage of mugshots for drug and assault offenses. Note that he wears what can be clearly deemed to be ordinary male clothing in some of the mugshots, with no remnants of make-up, upon booking into the Fulton County jail.






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