Everything you need to know about gender, sexuality, and more.

Non-Binary, Trans*

How to Know If You’re Transfeminine

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

(I define transfemininity 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 transfeminine but in the gender binary (e.g., transgender). If you think you might be transgender, check out this article.)

Boy. Girl. Boy becomes girl, or something completely different. Figuring out a label is difficult, but if you think you might be transfeminine, this article will help you decide for sure. 

What is Being Transfeminine?

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 “femininity” part means that the gender identity someone identifies with is either physically or mentally more feminine in the traditional sense. Transfemininity tends to apply to people who were assigned male at birth but identify with a feminine gender identity, such as female, woman, girl, demigirl, etc, but this is not always the case.

So a transfeminine person is someone who identifies with a gender identity outside of the one they were assigned at birth, and this gender identity is feminine of center.

It’s a case of squares and rectangles. Transgender women (transwomen) are transfeminine, but not all transfeminine folks are transwomen. Someone who goes on estrogen to feminize their appearance but identifies as non-binary/agender/genderless would be transfeminine.

In short, transfeminine is a way to describe one’s transness without adhering to binary gender positions (as with mtf). Transfemininty is inclusive to non-binary people.

How to Know If You’re Transfeminine

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 feminine men hating to wear traditionally masculine clothes or performing traditionally masculine actions, 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 transfeminine.

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 tuxes or doing traditionally manly 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 feminine and being referred to as a feminine person sits right with you. You like being called “she” or dressing in a dress, putting on make-up, or walking with a little more swish.

While there’s still a lot of discourse around it, most transfeminine people align with traditional feminine roles and dress, so gender dysphoria towards masculine traits and euphoria with feminine ones are strong indications of transfeminine.

At the end of the day, your gender is what you make it, but labels like transfeminine 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 “she” or “they” rather than “he.”)

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 woman versus some other non-binary definition.

Trans-Binary

For a binary definition, you want to be perceived as a woman and live how a cis lady would. You like “she/her” pronouns and a more female-aligned name rather than a gender neutral one (Alex, Jamie, Mika, etc). You may experience some gender nonconformity, but cis women do as well.

At the end of the day, a feminine trans-binary person would feel okay being seen, interacted with, and performing as a woman for the most part. “Woman” honors them, as well as feminine forms of address, such as “Hey girl!” or “Will you be my bride’s maid at my wedding?”). Such a person would be male to female (mtf) transgender.

Trans Non-Binary

For non-binary, you want to look like a chick but perhaps not be seen, act, dress, etc like a traditional woman. For example, you’d like to grow your hair out and wear high heels but something about being someone’s bride’s maid makes you uncomfortable due to the gender rigidity.

If you want to look feminine but something about the female gender role doesn’t feel right to you, you’re most likely transfeminine rather than mtf.  

  • Indicators You Might Be Transfeminine Rather Than MTF
  • Not liking your male primary or secondary sex characteristics, such as tucking genitalia or wearing bras to hide a flat chest.
  • Disfavoring traditionally male or manly roles for more feminine ones.
  • A desire for estrogen hormone replacement therapy, breast implants, or other medical interventions.
  • Disliking traditionally gendered social roles, forms of address (“dude,” “bro,” “chick,” girl,”), or gender positions.
  • Not feeling honored by or not feeling like a woman.
  • Feeling constrained with traditionally female gender roles.

So, to review: a transfeminine non-binary person is most likely born male or close to it, but they have a gender identity outside of “man.” This gender identity is feminine of center, typically associated with feminine presentation and perhaps a desire to feminize the body. However, you may feel restricted by being seen, interacted with, and performing womanhood, so you don’t necessarily identify as a woman or female.

Good Videos to Check Out

Stacy Fatemi — “Whoops, I’m Non-Binary”

Stacy describes their experience thinking they’re a transgender women before realizing they’re trans. They eloquently describe their experience, so I highly recommend checking them out! 

AJ Clementine — “How to Know You’re Transgender”

Ms. Clementine discusses her experience realizing she’s transgender, transitioning, and living as a transwoman. One thing I liked about her video is that she says that it’s okay to detransition. We’re all just trying to figure ourselves out and trying to be as comfortable as we are. If that means not continuing a transition, that’s fine — you’ve at least tried it. Don’t fear “being wrong,” because you really can’t be. 

Conclusion

Experiment. Grow your hair. Change your clothes. Change your pronouns. Do what you want to feel comfortable and dance your little transfeminine heart out in the loud, cacophonous world of gender.

You rock. Stay golden.

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    I just noticed that this article has a typo:

    “So, to review: a transmasculine non-binary person is most likely born male or close to it, but they have a gender identity outside of “man.” This gender identity is feminine of center, typically associated with feminine presentation and perhaps a desire to feminize the body.”

    In the above statement, “transmasculine” should be transfeminine.

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