Karl Stefanovic, the host of popular Today show recently offered an unreserved apology while being on air because he had used the word transvestite and tranny while making several transphobic jokes. He admitted that he had been an ignorant tool. He also said that he got it wrong and hurt the feelings of a lot of beautiful and sensitive people.

Adding further to his apology, the veteran host said that he didn’t know that the word had a hurtful and negative impact on not only on the people who belong to the LGBTQI community but on their families and friends as well. His problem was that he didn’t bother to ask.

The Outrage

The outrage of people on social media began when Stefanovic used the offensive word during a segment which was about a Nine Network crew that was assaulted in Rio de Janeiro.

Understanding the Term

Transvestite is a word that is accepted by some people in the cross-dressing or transgender community while others think it’s too offensive. The word transvestite is now replaced by the word crossdresser which usually refers to people who are born in one gender but feel that they belong to the other gender. In most cases, it refers to a heterosexual man who chooses to wear clothing that’s usually associated with women.

As cross-dressing is considered as a means of gender expression, not sexuality, people who do it usually do it to express themselves better. In most cases, such people don’t wish to change their gender as a transgender person usually would.

According to transgender Victoria, the term transvestite usually refers to men who prefer to dress up for sexual pleasure. This is probably why the secretary of the Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland, Kristine Johnson found it to be offensive.

What’s a Tranny?

Some people are not bothered by the word transvestite, but they are bothered by the use of the word tranny. They think it’s offensive because it’s a put down like the words leso or homo or other abbreviations that are not used by the group itself.

GLAAD has listed the word tranny among defamatory terms because its derogatory and dehumanizes people who belong to the transgender community.


In essence, it can be said that both transvestite and tranny are offensive words and you would do well not to use them if you don’t want to apologize to people as Karl Stefanovic did.

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