There are two words deeply entwined with the concepts of masculinity and femininity that different transgender folks often use to describe themselves.

Transmasculine means that someone is transgender in the direction of masculinity, but not that they are necessarily male.

Transfeminine means that someone is transgender in the direction of femininity, but not necessarily female.

Let’s unpack each of these in a little more detail.

What transmasculine means

the transmasculine pride flag

Transmasculine, sometimes shortened to “transmasc,” can refer to both transgender men and nonbinary people. For someone to be transmasculine, it means that their true self is more aligned with masculinity than is represented by the gender that was assigned to them when they were born.

Typically, this means that most transmasculine people were assigned the female gender when they were born, and they’ve moved away from that incorrect assignment towards masculinity.

Transmasculine people may or may not pursue surgeries and hormone therapies that help them present in a more masculine way.

These folks can be found spread across many different gender identities.

For example, I’m an agender person, and the word transmasculine vaguely applies to me. I was assigned the female gender when I was born, but my true self is closer to male (even though I don’t strongly relate to either binary gender).

What transfeminine means

On the other side of things, transfeminine—which is sometimes shortened to “transfemme,” can refer to both transgender women and nonbinary people. For someone to be transfeminine, it means their true self is more aligned with femininity than is represented by the gender that was assigned to them when they were born.

So this means most transfeminine people were given the male assignment at birth, and they’ve moved away from that incorrect assignment towards femininity.

There are a huge variety of transfeminine folks across many different gender identities and modes of expression.

These words are useful to the trans community

Transfeminine and transmasculine are umbrella terms that include transgender women, transgender men, and a variety of nonbinary people (but not everyone). They’re useful terms for trans people relating to each other’s struggles and experiences.

If you want to learn more terms that are useful in discussing gender, here’s some more vocab.