“Transmasculine” is an umbrella term that refers to people who were assigned female at birth but identify with masculinity.
It’s often abbreviated as “transmasc.”
Transmasculine people are people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) but identify more with a masculine identity.
Being assigned female at birth means that, when you were born, someone declared you a female based on your genitals. It’s a more respectful alternative to saying that you were “born a woman” or “biologically female.”
Transmasculine is often used to refer to:
- transgender men
- AFAB nonbinary people who identify with masculinity
- AFAB demiboys (which is someone who partially identifies as a boy, man, or masculine)
- AFAB gender-fluid people who identify with masculinity, whether it’s all, most, or some of the time
- other AFAB people who identify with masculinity
In other words, transmasculine is a broad term that includes a few different groups of people.
While the term might seem new to some, “transmasculine” is actually a word that’s been around for at least 2 decades.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of the term. One of the earliest known transmasculine-specific organizations is the DC Area Transmasculine Society (DCATS), a nonprofit organization that was established in 2000.
DCATS doesn’t take credit for coining the word, which suggests the term is older than the organization.
Gender roles include the behaviors, attitudes, and values that a culture expects you to have based on your gender. Gender roles vary among cultures.
In many American cultures, for example, gender roles determine:
- which gender is expected to pursue another romantically
- which gender is expected to be the breadwinner or sole provider of a household
- which gender is expected to take care of domestic duties
However, many of us don’t entirely conform to these gender roles.
Being transmasculine doesn’t dictate which gender roles someone does or doesn’t follow. Transmasculine people don’t always follow what’s expected of men, or associated with masculinity, in their culture.
No. The term transmasculine can also refer to nonbinary people who identify with masculinity.
In other words, you don’t have to fully identify as a man to use the word “transmasculine.”
The term “transmasculine” is meant to be used for people who were assigned female at birth.
If someone was assigned male at birth (AMAB), they can’t be transmasculine.
AMAB people who identify with femininity, however, might use the term “transfeminine.”
There isn’t a “right” way to be transmasculine. Being transmasculine looks different to different people.
Transmasculine people may (or may not) express their gender through different clothing, hairstyles, grooming practices, and so forth.
Transmasculine people don’t have to look or act a certain way for their gender to be valid. Ultimately, it’s up to them to decide what they’re comfortable with.
While some transmasculine people medically transition using hormone therapy or surgery, not all transmasculine people do.
Somebody can be both transmasculine and nonbinary. They can also be transmasculine and gender-fluid.
The key difference is that transmasculine people identify with masculinity; nonbinary and gender-fluid people may identify with masculinity, femininity, both, or neither.
“Transmasculine” is a useful, broad term that applies to any AFAB person who identifies with masculinity. It’s useful for describing a large group of people that includes transgender men, masculine nonbinary people, and more.
Because it’s a broad term, it can be a great term for someone who’s exploring their identity and isn’t sure whether they’re a transgender man or a nonbinary person who strongly identifies with masculinity.
If you’re questioning your gender, it can be tough to figure out which term works best for you.
There’s no test to figure out whether you’re transmasculine.
But to understand your gender better, and to help you understand whether this term is a good fit, you can do the following:
- Talk to transmasculine people on online forums or groups, or in real life, to hear what being transmasculine means to them.
- Read about the experiences of transmasculine people and ask yourself whether you relate. Bear in mind that everyone’s experience is different.
- Consider which aspects of your gender expression or identity you consider to be transmasculine.
- Try the term out by referring to yourself as transmasculine, either out loud or in written words. You don’t need to share this with anyone if you don’t want to. Just try it and see how it feels.
- Journal about your gender. Sometimes, writing it out helps you understand it better.
Again, there’s no “right” way to be transmasculine. If you identify as transmasculine, you are transmasculine.
It’s OK if your gender changes and shifts over time. This happens to many people.
If you identify as transmasculine and later feel like the term no longer fits, that’s fine. It doesn’t make your gender any less valid.
There are a few ways you can support transmasculine people:
- Educate yourself about transgender identities. This will help you understand and support them better. Reading this article is a great first step!
- Give them space to talk about their gender to you, but don’t pressure them to do so, and don’t ask prying questions. Gender can be a very personal thing, and it’s important to respect boundaries when it comes to this.
- If they’ve changed their name and ask you to use different pronouns, respect this change. Don’t refer to someone as a woman if they don’t identify as such. You can learn more about this here.
- Don’t “out” them without permission. We live in a transphobic world, and they might not feel safe disclosing their gender to everyone.
Above all else, ask them directly if there are any specific ways you can support them. It’s always important to come from a place of respect and kindness, and offer to support them on their own terms.
If you want to learn more about gender, there are many online resources.
- Nonbinary Wiki and Gender Wiki are wiki-type sites that include a lot of information relating to gender identities.
- Genderqueer.me has a thorough list of resources on gender identity and related topics.
- Book Riot has a great list of books about gender identity, including both fiction and nonfiction books.
- Places like TSER (Trans Student Education Resources), the National Center for Transgender Equality, and The Trevor Project all offer resources and support to transgender people.
You can also check out our list of 64 different terms used to describe gender identity and expression, or our list of transgender resources, which includes links relating to identity, language, support resources, surgery, and more.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Grahamstown, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice, cannabis, and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.