The term “transfeminine” refers to a person who was assigned male at birth (AMAB) but whose gender is more aligned with femininity than masculinity.
Gender is the social and psychological aspect of being a man, woman, or other identity. It refers to how a person feels inside. This does not always correspond to their sex.
“Transfeminine” is an umbrella term that includes trans women who identify solely as women as well as people who identify as neither men nor women but who feel more connected to femininity.
This article explores what it means to be transfeminine, how it affects gender identity and expression, and how it relates to gender roles.
“Transfeminine” is a term some people use to describe their gender. It refers to people assigned male at birth (AMAB) who are more connected to femininity than masculinity.
“Trans” is Latin for “across.” In the context of gender, it refers to people whose gender does not match the “traditional” expectation for their sex.
“Feminine” refers to part of the gender spectrum that people often associate with being a woman. Transfeminine people may also use other terms, such as “femme,” to describe themselves.
“Transfemininity” is an umbrella term that includes trans women. As a result, these terms are not mutually exclusive. Trans women can also describe themselves as transfeminine.
The difference between these terms is that “transfeminine” also includes a broader group of AMAB people who may lean toward femininity but who do not identify as women. This can include people who are:
- gender fluid
- gender variant
People in this broader group may feel they are somewhere closer to the middle of the gender spectrum, or that their gender changes between both masculine and feminine while being more feminine overall.
“Transfeminine” can refer to either gender identity or gender expression.
Gender identity is the sense of gender that each person holds deep inside. It is not visible to other people.
Gender expression is how a person presents their gender on the outside.
Aspects of gender expression include:
- body characteristics
Transfeminine people may express their femininity in all, some, or none of these ways.
For example, for one person, it might be important to change all of these things as part of a gender transition. For others, only certain changes feel authentic to who they are, while in other cases, it may not be safe or comfortable to change any of them.
This does not take away from a person’s gender identity. Additionally, even when a person does express femininity outwardly, there is no one correct way to do this.
Gender roles are behaviors and attitudes that a culture expects from people of different genders. For example, a traditional role that many cultures expect women to occupy is homemaker, which involves doing most of the housework.
Other roles people can associate with femininity include:
None of these roles are an inherent or compulsory part of being feminine or a woman. They are a product of society. People can choose to perform these roles, or they may choose something else. Either way, it does not make their gender any less valid.
Some transfeminine people get gender affirming care, but some do not. It depends on what a person feels is right or helpful for them.
If a person does seek gender affirming care, the options may vary depending on their age. To begin with, they may include:
- Social transitioning: This involves changes in behavior, from an individual and from others, to acknowledge and affirm that person’s gender. It could include telling family members about their gender, changing pronouns, trying a new name, or dressing differently.
- Mental health support: Counselling may help a person cope with feelings of gender dysphoria, which is distress from a person’s identity not matching the sex assigned at birth. Counselors may also help a person tell others they are trans.
- Voice therapy: This involves vocal training to help a person match their voice with their gender identity.
- Appearance changes: This could include hair removal, padding the hips or bust, or tucking the genitals.
These interventions are reversible, and for some people, they feel happy with these options alone. Others may want to pursue medical transitioning, which can include:
- Puberty blockers: This involves taking hormones to pause the changes in the body that would otherwise take place during puberty. A 2020 study shows these medications can significantly decrease the risk of suicidal ideation in trans people at risk of suicidal thoughts.
- Cross-sex hormones: After undergoing hormone therapy, people may take cross-sex hormones. In transfeminine people, these medications may cause breast development.
- Surgery: This may be an option during adulthood. It involves surgically modifying the body, such as reducing an Adam’s apple, breast augmentation, or procedures to feminize the face or hips. Some people may also choose surgery to remove male genitalia and create a vagina or clitoris.
A specialist can recommend the most appropriate gender affirming treatment for each person’s situation.
People who want to know more about transfeminine people can find more information in the following places:
- Nonbinary Wiki and Gender Wiki
- Trans Student Education Resources
- National Center for Transgender Equality
People who would like support navigating their gender identity may find the following organizations helpful:
“Transfeminine” is a term that describes people who were assigned male at birth but identify as more feminine than masculine. This can include trans women as well as nonbinary or gender fluid people who feel more aligned with femininity.
Being transfeminine does not necessarily mean a person has to adopt certain gender roles or change everything about their gender expression. Similarly, some transfeminine people benefit from gender affirming care, but others may not feel it is necessary.
The type of treatment a person wants or needs may vary depending on their situation. People who feel they may be transfeminine or are experiencing distress can contact a doctor, LGBTQIA+ organization, or an experienced mental health professional for support.