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Drag artists have a long tradition in LGBT culture.Generally the term drag queen covers men doing female drag, drag king covers women doing male drag, and faux queen covers women doing female drag.Drag is a term applied to clothing and makeup worn on special occasions for performing or entertaining, unlike those who are transgender or who cross-dress for other reasons.Drag performance includes overall presentation and behavior in addition to clothing and makeup. Drag queens have been considered caricatures of women by second-wave feminism.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.Distinctions between the terms transgender and transsexual are commonly based on distinctions between gender (psychological, social) and sex (physical).

In his 2007 book Transgender, an Ethnography of a Category, anthropologist David Valentine asserts that transgender was coined and used by activists to include many people who do not necessarily identify with the term and states that people who do not identify with the term transgender should not be included in the transgender spectrum.

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.

Transgender people are sometimes called transsexual if they desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another.

Transgender is also an umbrella term: in addition to including people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women), it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine (people who are genderqueer/non-binary, e.g. transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, etc., or may decline to label their sexual orientation.