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Intersex people have genitalia or other physical sex characteristics that do not conform to strict definitions of male or female, but intersex people are not necessarily transgender because they do not necessarily disagree with their assigned sex.Transgender and intersex issues often overlap, however, because they may both challenge rigid definitions of sex and gender.Androgyne is also sometimes used as a medical synonym for an intersex person.The term cross-dresser is not exactly defined in the relevant literature. Gilbert, professor at the Department of Philosophy, York University, Toronto, offers this definition: "[A cross-dresser] is a person who has an apparent gender identification with one sex, and who has and certainly has been birth-designated as belonging to [that] sex, but who wears the clothing of the opposite sex because it is that of the opposite sex." This definition excludes people "who wear opposite sex clothing for other reasons," such as "those female impersonators who look upon dressing as solely connected to their livelihood, actors undertaking roles, individual males and females enjoying a masquerade, and so on.Bigender and androgynous are overlapping categories; bigender individuals may identify as moving between male and female roles (genderfluid) or as being both male and female simultaneously (androgynous), and androgynes may similarly identify as beyond gender or genderless (postgender, agender), between genders (intergender), moving across genders (genderfluid), or simultaneously exhibiting multiple genders (pangender).Limited forms of androgyny are common (women wearing pants, men wearing earrings) and are not seen as transgender behavior.

Leslie Feinberg's pamphlet, "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time has Come", circulated in 1992, identified transgender as a term to unify all forms of gender nonconformity; in this way transgender has become synonymous with queer.

People who cross-dress in public sometimes may have a desire to pass as the opposite gender, so as not to be detected as a cross-dresser.

The term transvestite and the associated outdated term transvestism are conceptually different from the term transvestic fetishism, as transvestic fetishist describes those who intermittently use clothing of the opposite gender for fetishistic purposes.

The THP recommends that clinicians ask clients what terminology they prefer, and avoid the term transsexual unless they are sure that a client is comfortable with it.

Harry Benjamin invented a classification system for transsexuals and transvestites, called the Sex Orientation Scale (SOS), in which he assigned transsexuals and transvestites to one of six categories based on their reasons for cross-dressing and the relative urgency of their need (if any) for sex reassignment surgery.

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