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'Masc' text over photo of woman wearing black tank, sleep shorts and socks, tying their hair back in bed

Feb 21, 2024

What does it mean to be ‘Masc’?

Ella Dame

Depending on what social media you use the most as well as what demographic you fall into, your relationship to the word masc can vary drastically. The term has been growing in popularity over the past few years with the aid of social media. Considering how social media has been helpful as a communication and education tool for the queer community can explain how the term masc became so widespread, as well as what it really means.


The word ‘masc’

Masc is short for the word masculine, which can be defined as, “of or denoting a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as male.” (Oxford Languages). The shorthand for masculine is often used within the queer community to describe somebody’s gender expression or style when it has predominately masculine features.

Masculine features in this sense may mean a vast amount of things. It truly is subjective to the person it is describing. Historically more masculine style characteristics in fashion have been viewed as looser fitting, longer length of shirts, boxier shapes, and lower rise pants. (English Heritage).


Masc fashion—online

The concept of ‘masc fashion’ has become very popular on platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram that allow users to post images and videos with corresponding music to express themselves. A common video format on Tiktok is an ‘OOTD’, Outfit Of The Day. When users post their daily outfits they are able to connect with other community members who may share a similar fashion sense, gender expression, or any other related interest.

The openly communicative and social aspects of these platforms is what so easily leads to the spread of information and terminology like the word masc. The tag ‘masc’ on Tiktok has 6.1 billion views and the tag ‘mascfashion’ has 71.9 million views. The videos under these tags explore a variety of unique definitions to the word masc. Identifying as masc is subjective and is as individualistic as the people it represents.

Some influential masc creators like Jade Fox (@Iamjadefox) and Claire Holt (@Claire_Holt12) use their platforms on both Tiktok and Instagram to give out fashion advice that adheres to their masc aesthetic. These outfits range from more casual to formal and are aimed to help further interconnect the queer community.

Masc person with short hair wearing a black and white beanie, black puffer jacket, and cream cargo pants with a green cross body purse
Image Credit @Claire_Holt12
Masc person posing and wearing bright red  jean jacket with a white undershirt and purple patterned cargo pants
Image Credit @Iamjadefox



Butch or Masc?

The actual term masc has been adopted by the queer community to represent many people within the community. The word masc is often associated with the lesbian community, but it can be used by anyone within the queer community.

Masc is such a versatile word because it is not exclusive within the lesbian community. It is important to acknowledge the word ‘butch’ when discussing the lesbian community, masculine terminology, and the historical significance of using certain descriptor words.

The word ‘butch’ began surfacing in the early 20th century, and stems from the word butcher. The slang butch in American culture meant ‘tough kid’ and while it was used to originally describe ‘aggressive’ women, it was quickly reclaimed, according to Kerry Manders for the New York Times.

By the 1940s, the lesbian community had empowered the term and were using it to describe masculine lesbians. While it was empowering, it didn’t gain widespread popularity and acknowledgement until the 1970s. During the American civil rights, womens, and gay rights movements, butch women found themselves more visible in society.

The term butch is sometimes used interchangeably with the term masc when describing lesbians but, the term masc is more of an umbrella term able to apply to many different groups of people unlike the more specific term butch.


How do you Masc?

We wanted to know how our community defines their masculinity and finds the term masc relevant to their identity. Below are some of the ways our community ‘mascs’. We would love to hear more perspectives, stories, and voices from our community; if you would like to share how you masc please join our community Discord where these discussions are held! 

Orion Sacs, figure in white tee and jeans dancing on a beach