DFAB, AMAB, DSAB, AGAB? The birth sex acronyms

There’s a family of terms used in the transgender community to describe what sex and/or gender was prescribed to a person by medical professionals—and subsequently placed on all their legal documentation—when they came into the world. Just about all of these terms are in the form of acronyms. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the most commonly-used ones and what they mean.

AFAB and AMAB

Assigned Female At Birth & Assigned Male At Birth

These terms stand for “Assigned Female At Birth” and “Assigned Male At Birth” respectively. When spoken aloud, they’re usually pronounced as words: “A-fab” and “A-mab.” Transgender and gender non-conforming folks use these terms to indicate what sex marker was put on their birth certificate when they were born, often in contrast to the person they truly are.

DFAB and DMAB

Designated Female At Birth & Designated Male At Birth

These terms stand for “Designated Female At Birth” and “Designated Male At Birth” respectively. When spoken aloud, they’re usually pronounced as words: “D-fab” and “D-mab.” They are used interchangeably with AFAB and AMAB, having the same meaning. It seems that between the two sets, AFAB and AMAB are slightly more commonly used—at least in my experience.

ASAB and DSAB

Assigned Sex At Birth & Designated Sex At Birth

ASAB and DSAB stand for “Assigned Sex At Birth” and “Designated Sex At Birth” respectively. When spoken aloud, they’re usually pronounced as words: “A-sab” and “D-sab.” These terms are used interchangeably. They refer specifically to the sex prescribed to a person by medical professionals when that person was born.

AGAB and DGAB

Assigned Gender At Birth & Designated Gender At Birth

AGAB and DGAB stand for “Assigned Gender At Birth” and “Designated Gender At Birth” respectively. When spoken aloud, they’re usually pronounced as words: “A-gab” and “D-gab.” These terms are used interchangeably. They refer specifically to the gender prescribed to a person based on the sex that was prescribed by medical professionals when that person was born.

While sex and gender are two different things, people are usually assigned gender along with sex when they are born. So while these terms are different from ASAB/DSAB, they’re often used in similar contexts for similar reasons. Someone might say “my ASAB was female,” and it would be implied that their AGAB was also female. Maybe as our society advances in understanding that gender and sex are distinct, this will stop being the case.

CAFAB and CAMAB

Coercively Assigned Female At Birth & Coercively Assigned Male At Birth

These terms stand for “Coercively Assigned Female At Birth” and Coercively Assigned Male At Birth.” Yes, they’re just as dystopian as they sound.

CAFAB and CAMAB are used to describe intersex people (people born with a combination of male and female sex characteristics) who received nonconsensual medical treatments to coerce them into a binary sex and gender assignment. Many intersex people don’t learn that these procedures were performed on them until later on in life when they experience medical issues, or their assigned gender conflicts enough with their self-identification for them to look into their medical history.

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