1. informal a male-to-female transsexual

n.early 19c. U.S. colloquial, “a female, a woman,” from she + male. Davy Crockett’s hand would be sure to shake if his iron was pointed within a hundred miles of a shemale. [“Treasury of American Folklore”] This became obsolete, and by 1972 it had been recoined (disparagingly) for “masculine lesbian.” The sense of “transsexual male” seems to date from c.1984.

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