“Transmasculine” encompasses diverse gender identities that defy binary notions of male and female. The term generally refers to individuals assigned female at birth who identify with or experience a significant alignment with masculinity.
Transmasculine individuals feel a connection with masculinity but may not identify as male.
Coming to identify as transmasculine involves questioning traditional societal expectations and norms surrounding gender roles. A person may have to navigate complex social, emotional, and medical landscapes to come to align more closely with their internal sense of self.
This article looks at transmasculinity, highlights how it challenges traditional gender norms, and explores how society as a whole can better support transmasculine people.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
The term “transmasculine” generally refers to individuals assigned female at birth based on their external genitalia who identify with or experience a significant alignment with masculinity.
This connection with masculinity may include aspects such as personal identity, expression, and social roles.
It is important to note that not all transmasculine individuals identify as male. Instead, they may identify as nonbinary, genderqueer, demimale, or another identity beyond the binary spectrum.
The term “transmasculine” emerged as part of a growing recognition of gender diversity and the need for language that better encompasses the experiences of individuals who do not identify with traditional gender categories.
While the exact origin of the term is difficult to pinpoint, it gained prominence in academic and LGBTQIA+ communities in the late 20th century.
The District of Columbia Area Transmasculine Society (DCATS) is one of the earliest transmasculine-specific groups. This nonprofit organization began in 1998 but was not responsible for coining the word.
From an early age, transmasculine individuals may experience a profound disconnect between their internal sense of self and the gender roles and social expectations that relate to their assigned sex at birth.
This may lead them to question their gender identity and seek a more authentic expression.
In recognizing and acknowledging their true gender identity, transmasculine individuals often embark on a transition process.
What does transitioning involve?
This can be a multi-faceted journey that can involve various social, medical, and legal steps through which a person aligns their external appearance and identity with their internal gender identity.
A social transition can be a significant aspect of transmasculinity.
It involves transmasculine individuals changing how they present themselves to the world, aligning their appearance and behaviors with their gender identity. It may include:
- clothing choices
- mannerisms and expressions traditionally associated with masculinity
Some transmasculine individuals may decide to undergo a medical transition.
Under the supervision of healthcare professionals, they may undergo hormone or testosterone therapy to develop secondary sexual characteristics typically associated with masculinity. This can include:
- changes in body hair growth
- voice deepening
- fat redistribution
- changes in muscle mass
Gender-affirming surgeries may also be part of a person’s transition.
These surgeries, such as chest reconstruction, also called top surgery, or genital reconstruction, aim to alleviate gender dysphoria and enhance a person’s sense of unity between their physical body and their gender identity.
The decision to pursue surgical interventions is profoundly personal and varies based on individual preferences, needs, and access to healthcare resources.
Transmasculine individuals express their gender identity and masculinity in diverse ways. Their expressions may encompass changes in clothing, hairstyle, body language, and adopting a traditionally “masculine” presentation.
Changes in clothing choices are a common aspect of transmasculinity. People may wear clothing typically associated with males, such as suits, button-down shirts, or jeans, to feel more comfortable in their appearance.
Hairstyle is another powerful form of self-expression for transmasculine individuals. Some may choose shorter hairstyles, buzz cuts, or styles traditionally associated with masculinity. This may help them feel more connected to their true selves.
Adopting more traditionally masculine gestures, postures, and movements may also help people align their external expression with their internal sense of self. This may involve changes in how they walk or stand and their hand gestures, allowing them to embody their identity more authentically.
While transmasculine individuals often have a strong connection to masculinity, gender identities exist on a spectrum.
Some transmasculine individuals may identify as nonbinary or gender fluid, experiencing a fluidity or variability in their gender identity over time. These individuals may embrace masculine and feminine aspects or reject the gender binary altogether.
It is crucial to respect and affirm the self-identified gender of each individual, recognizing that gender is a deeply personal and individual experience.
For each person, choosing the right gender identity term for themselves is a deeply personal and individual process.
Transmasculine individuals may identify as such because it resonates with their lived experiences and helps them articulate their sense of self more effectively.
Self-exploration, self-reflection, and self-identification can help people navigate their gender identity and seek language that best represents their authentic selves. It may help to talk with transmasculine people online or in person or read about others’ experiences.
There is no “right” way to choose the term that feels the most comfortable, and no need to align with a specific identity unless it feels fitting and appropriate.
Supporting transmasculine individuals involves creating safe and inclusive environments that acknowledge each person’s unique experiences and challenges. This includes using correct pronouns, such as he/him, they/them, or any other pronouns the individual prefers.
Respectful and inclusive language and policies that affirm gender diversity are also crucial in fostering an inclusive society. Providing accessible healthcare that recognizes and addresses the specific needs of transmasculine individuals is essential.
Additionally, offering emotional support, resources, and opportunities for education and advocacy can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive community.
“Transmasculine” refers to people assigned female at birth based on their external genitalia who identify with masculinity.
Transmasculine individuals often feel a profound disconnect between the social norms and physical characteristics associated with their assigned sex and their internal sense of self. As a result, they may undergo a transition process that can involve social, medical, and legal steps to align more closely with their true gender identity.
Understanding and supporting transmasculine individuals is crucial in fostering inclusivity and creating an accepting society.