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In 1930, Hirschfeld supervised the second genital reassignment surgery to be reported in detail in a peer-reviewed journal, that of Lili Elbe of Denmark.

In 1923, Hirschfeld introduced the (German) term "Transsexualismus", Benjamin went on to popularize the term in his 1966 book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, in which he described transsexual people on a scale (later called the "Benjamin scale") of three levels of intensity: "Transsexual (nonsurgical)", "Transsexual (moderate intensity)", and "Transsexual (high intensity)".

Gynephilic and androphilic derive from the Greek meaning love of a woman and love of a man respectively.

but this view is controversial, and others argue that merely having some medical procedures does not have such far-reaching consequences as to put those who have them and those who have not (e.g.

because they cannot afford them) into such distinctive categories.

Another reason for objecting to the term transsexual is the concern that it implies something to do with sexuality, when it is actually about gender identity.

For example, Christine Jorgensen, the first person widely known to have sex reassignment surgery (in this case, male-to-female), rejected transsexual and instead identified herself in newsprint as trans-gender, on this basis.

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