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Collage: cropped eyes against a transmasc person sitting and leaning against a record player at golden hour

Feb 23, 2024

What Does it Mean to
Identify as Transmasculine?

Finnegan Shepard

If you are exploring your gender identity, one of the first places to ground yourself is in understanding the scope of terms and forms of gender expression that are out there. Trans man, transmasculine, non-binary, enby, gender non conforming–there are a lot of terms, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. But on the other hand, I know that for myself personally, it was hugely helpful to realize that I was not alone, that there were many other people with whom I shared common experiences and ways of thinking about and engaging in gender. We all need to feel reflected in the world, that we have a community, that there is nothing wrong with us for feeling and thinking the way that we do.

With that in mind, this post is going to reflect on and answer the following questions:

What is transmasc? 

How is transmasc different than trans man?

What is non binary transmasc?

How do I know if I am transmasc?

And finally,

What are useful resources for transmasc people?

Without further ado, let’s get into it!


What is Transmasc?

Transmasc as a term is relatively flexible in its usage, but the baseline definition is that it is used by people who identify on the masculine side of the spectrum. Anyone who was assigned female at birth but who aligns (whether consistently, or at times) on the masculine side can use this term.

This definition makes sense if we break down the root of the word. Transmasc literally is broken into ‘trans’, which is a Latin prefix meaning ‘across from’, and ‘masc’, which is the root of our word for masculine. If you were assigned female at birth, then your sex at birth is ‘across from’ male, so transmasculinity means the alignment or moving towards the masculine.


If you would like to read more about transmasculinity and three empowering definitions for it, we recommend you check out this article.  

How is Transmasc Different than Trans Man?

Trans men are people who were assigned female at birth and who have transitioned to be male. While trans men do not necessarily have to transition socially, legally, and medically, they have often done so across all three categories of transitioning.

Transmasc people, on the other hand, can be trans men, but they don’t have to be. Transmasculinity exists more on the gender spectrum, as a way of presenting and identifying that is fluid rather than fixed.

Collage of trans man and transmasc person

 A cousin term of transmasc is simple 'masc', which is being used by a wide spectrum of people. If you'd like to learn more about that term, here is a great essay about it. 

What is Non Binary Transmasc?

So if being transmasculine doesn’t mean you are necessarily a trans man, does it mean you are non binary? Not necessarily, but it can! Some people identify as non binary transmasc. Again, the best way to think about this term is to conceptualize gender as a spectrum. On one side is ‘feminine’, and on the other side is ‘masculine.’ Of course, what constitutes feminine and masculine is also up for debate, but we will leave that for another day!

If you identify as nonbinary transmasc, that you are likely someone who was assigned female at birth, does not identify as either male or female, but like to present your gender identity at least partially on the masculine side of the spectrum. Often, non binary transmasc people find joy and personal alignment in the contrast of gender presentation: for instance, to wear make up while wearing very masculine style clothing. There are many different ways of presenting and inhabiting a non binary transmasc identity, and it is always personal to the individual exploring it.

Nonbinary genderqueer black person, with makeup and accessoriesImage credit: VICE


How Do I Know if I Am Transmasc?

One of the best ways to figure out if a particular identity resonates with you is to listen to other people’s stories, and to see whether they strike a chord with you. We have another article that does exactly that: it runs through a series of questions and personal stories of transmasc individuals, in the hope that their experiences can help you explore your own.

Portrait of a person in grey beanie and green hoody from behind

We strongly encourage you to read that article, but for the purposes of this piece, we want to note that one of the nice things about transmasculinity is also one of the things that make it a challenge to explain. Transmasculine doesn’t have a fixed definition. It doesn’t mean one single thing. Instead, it is a concept and identity that is constantly evolving and being shaped by the people who identify with it. In this way, transmasculine is always a reflection of where we stand culturally and as a community, in our shared exploration and discussing, de-construction and re-construction of our perceptions around masculinity.

I have always felt that being a transmasculine (trans man) has put me in a beautifully privileged position: on the one hand, I have to construct and curate every aspect of my masculinity, because I wasn’t born into a mindless, default position. But on the other hand, I get to curate and construct my masculinity. What a beautiful thing!


What Are Useful Resources for Transmasc People?

It is no accident that with the rise in social media, more people are identifying as nonbinary, transmasc, and gender queer. While social media definitely has its downsides and should be used with great mindfulness, it has also created unprecedented visibility for a group that has historically been fractured, with limited access to each other and our shared experiences. Simply by seeing the vast spectrum of how people identify and present, we realize that we are not alone and that we do not have to subscribe to either/or categories, but can instead engage in a both and worldview.

Below, we are linking you to a number of helpful resources that you can check out. 

Learn about transmasculine fashion here. 

 Want to read personal reflections on coming out as a trans person? You can do that here.

What about traveling as a trans person? Here's an essay!

What about swimwear, or pants? Click the links to do deep dives.  

Finally, let's answer some of the community-sourced FAQs:


What are some experiences of transmasc individuals with hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?

Many (but not all) transmasculine people find hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to be a critical step in aligning their physical appearance with their gender identity. The most common hormone used is testosterone, which can lead to changes such as:

- Deepening of the voice
- Growth of facial and body hair
- Redistribution of body fat
- Increase in muscle mass
- Possible cessation of menstrual cycles

While many report positive effects on their mental health and self-esteem, there can be side effects and medical considerations. It's important to undergo HRT under medical supervision to manage these potential risks effectively. It's also important to note that while HRT is common amongst transmasculine people, there are plenty of transmasculine folks who do not do HRT.


How do transmasc individuals navigate social transitions in professional or personal settings?

Social transition involves changing one's presentation and interactions to align with one's gender identity. This can include changing one's name, pronouns, wardrobe, and possibly legal documents. This process is entirely unique to each person who undergoes it. Some common challenges folks face are:

- Lack of acceptance when explaining their identity and pronouns to friends, family, and colleagues
- Dealing with misgendering
- Navigating gendered spaces, like restrooms and changing rooms

Support from friends, family, and trans-friendly communities or organizations can significantly ease this process. Many also find it helpful to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences through support groups, social media, Discord, online forums, etc. If you would like to join Both&'s (extremely) active and support Discord channel, you can do so here


What resources are available for transmasc individuals looking for support or advice?

There are numerous resources available to transmasculine individuals seeking support or advice, ranging from more formal settings to the informal but often extremely helpful communities and resources one can find on social media. The more formal resources include:

- Transgender Health Clinics and Services: Many healthcare providers specialize in transgender health and can offer personalized advice on HRT, surgeries, and mental health.
- Support Groups: Both online and in-person support groups can provide a sense of community and a space to share experiences and advice.
- Legal Assistance: Organizations that offer legal help can guide the process of changing names and gender markers on official documents.
- Educational Resources: Websites, books, and online forums can offer valuable information on everything from medical transition to everyday living as a trans person.

It's crucial for transmasculine individuals to seek out supportive environments and resources tailored to their unique needs. Everyone's journey is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. On a personal note, what we and the community at Both& have found helpful is to mix the formal resources with informal community feedback. Sometimes reading a wikipedia style article about your identity can feel really overwhelming, too sterile, and isolating. Conversely, with big medical decisions you don't want to base your reference points simply off of what you see second hand on social media. You need to find the right path for you.