(I define transmasculinity briefly in the article you’re reading, but check out this AAG article if you want a more thorough explanation of the identity.)
(Conversely, this article is going to focus on if you’re transmasculine but in the gender binary (e.g., transgender). If you think you might be transgender, check out this article.)
Labels. They’re confusing as hell — but your gender (and trying to figure it out) is even more confusing. Whatever your opinion on labels is, they can certainly help you understand who you are and what you’re comfortable with. Best of all, they’ll reduce that gnawing discomfort caused by having unanswered questions about your identity.
Does the transmasculine label fit you? This article will help you find out.
What is Being Transmasculine?
As the label suggests, there’s some inkling of “trans” to it. This is in the transgender sense, where someone’s gender identity doesn’t match up to the sex/body they were born as at birth according to the Human Rights Campaign.
The “masculinity” part means that the gender identity someone identifies with is either physically or mentally more masculine in the traditional sense. Transmasculinity tends to apply to people who were assigned female at birth but identify with a masculine gender identity, such as male, man, boy, demiboy, etc, but this is not always the case.
So a transmasculine person is someone who identifies with a gender identity outside of the one they were assigned at birth, and this gender identity is masculine of center.
It’s a case of squares and rectangles. Transgender men (transmen) are transmasculine, but not all transmasculine folks are transgender men. Someone who goes on testosterone to masculinize their appearance but identifies as non-binary/agender/genderless would be transmasculine.
In short, transmasculine is a way to describe one’s transness without adhering to binary gender positions (as with ftm). Transmasculinity is inclusive to non-binary people.
How to Know If You’re Transmasculine
While the best answer would be thorough introspection and empirical self-reflection, but you can view this from realizing you’re transgender, realizing you’re non-binary, and combining the two forms.
Let’s start with the basics and work our way up.
Cis vs. Trans
First, decide if you are cisgender or not.
Broadly speaking, cisgender people tend to be fine with the sex characteristics of their physical body. Some may experience discomfort with gender or gender roles, such as butch lesbians hating to wear traditionally feminine clothes or perform traditionally feminine roles, but cisgender people would still either label themselves a man or women in conjunction with the body they were born with — even if they are gender non-conforming.
However, transness comes when your gender doesn’t match up with your sex. So if you want to change your name, pronouns, physical sex characteristics to better match your gender identity, you’re likely not cis and thus trans in some way. From here you can move in a variety of directions on the gender spectrum, but you’re closer to transmasculine.
Assuaging Gender Dysphoria: Social and Physical
So you’ve decided you’re not cis. Cool! You probably don’t like certain aspects of your gender role and body and want to change them.
Perhaps you don’t like wearing dresses or doing traditionally girly things. Doing such gives you dysphoria. Maybe you don’t like how your body works and you wish you were more androgynous. Maybe these feelings aren’t strong enough to give you depression or anxiety, but your body or gender role brings you discomfort you want to mitigate.
Here’s another kicker — maybe you don’t experience gender dysphoria at all. You’re fine with your body and don’t care about your gender role. But something about dressing masculine and being referred to as a masculine being sits right with you. You like being called “he” or dressing in a suit, button-down, or cutting your hair short.
While there’s still a lot of discourse around it, most transmasculine people align with traditional masculine roles and dress, so gender dysphoria towards feminine traits and euphoria with masculine ones are strong indications of transmasculinity.
At the end of the day, your gender is what you make it, but labels like transmasculine help others understand you a bit more and will make them more inclined to automatically act in ways that would make you more comfortable (e.g, calling you “he” or “they” rather than “she.”)
Trans Binary vs Trans Non-binary
Lastly, if you feel you want to change your name/body/role, let’s see if you want to adhere to the gender binary of male versus some other non-binary definition.
For a binary definition, you want to be perceived as a guy and live how a cis guy would. You like “he/him” pronouns and a more male-aligned name rather than a gender neutral one (Alex, Jamie, Mika, etc). You may experience some gender nonconformity, such as painting your nails or having long nails, but cis men do this as well.
At the end of the day, a masculine trans-binary person would feel okay being seen, interacted with, and performing as a guy for the most part. “Man” honors them, as well as masculine forms of address, such as “What’s up dude?” or “Will you be my best man at my wedding?”). Such a person would be female to male (ftm) transgender.
For non-binary, you want to look like a dude but perhaps not be seen, act, dress, etc like a traditional man. For example, you’d like to grow a beard but something about being someone’s best man makes you uncomfortable due to the gender rigidity.
If you want to look masculine but something about the male gender role doesn’t feel right to you, you’re most likely transmasculine rather than ftm.
Indicators You Might Be Transmasculine Rather Than FTM
- Not liking your female primary or secondary sex characteristics, such as seeking to reduce the size of your chest or wearing baggier clothes to hide wide hips.
- Disfavoring traditionally female or womanly roles for more masculine ones.
- A desire for testosterone hormone replacement therapy, top surgery, or other medical interventions.
- Disliking traditionally male social roles, forms of address (“dude,” “bro”), or gender positions.
- Not feeling honored by or not feeling like a man.
- Feeling constrained with traditionally male gender roles.
So, to review: a transmasculine non-binary person is most likely born female or close to it, but they have a gender identity outside of woman. This gender identity is masculine of center, typically associated with masculine presentation and perhaps a desire to masculinize the body. However, you may feel restricted by being seen, interacted with, and performing manhood, so you don’t necessarily identify as man or male.
To quote Raffi Marhaba who you’ll see in a moment, if gender where a line with man and woman on either side, you want to bring yourself closer to man, but you don’t actually identify as or feeling like a man.
Good Videos to Check Out
Raffi Marhaba – “Transmasculine + Non-binary. Fears, guilt and making sense of it”
Raffi Marhaba describes transmasculinity excellently. Though Raffi feels like a woman at their core. They want to present themselves as masculine and get as close to looking like a man as possible but they don’t want to be a man. Raffi still identifies with the struggles most women face.
Aaron Ansuini – “Trans Masculine folk and “Feminine” Gender Expression”
Aaron describes his experience being a trans man but liking feminine items. To use his words, “Wearing nail polish is not going to change how male I am, and if people are going to see that and interpret it that way, so be it.” He’s showing his masculinity how he interprets it. Though Aaron is transbinary, so ftm, he says that you ultimately decide who you are and how to live comfortably, so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about performing your gender in any specific way.
Experiment. Cut your hair. Change your clothes. Change your pronouns. Do what you want to feel comfortable and dance your little transmasculine heart out in the loud, cacophonous world of gender.
You rock. Stay golden.