Here are some common words, terms, definitions, and questions you may encounter when you’re learning about “MTF” or “male-to-female” gender, sometimes called being a trans woman, transfeminine, or transitioning from being assigned male at birth (AMAB). Some transgender and nonbinary people call themselves “MTF.” This glossary offers need-to-know information related to feminizing gender transition.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Nonbinary and femme
- Feminine of center
- Hair growth
- Skin care and makeup
- Mood swings and estrogen
- Breast forms, padding, and specialty lingerie
- Voice changes with and without gender-affirming hormones
- How do I know I’m MTF?
- How do I change my clothes and style to fit in as a woman?
- What are some names for my gender identity if I’m MTF?
- Why don’t people say “MTF” anymore?
- What are my hormone options for taking estrogen?
- Can I take only estrogen or do I need other medications?
- Do I need to take Viagra or other sex function medications?
- Is there a natural way to transition without synthetic hormones?
- Can I be MTF without using hormones?
- Where do I find other MTF folks?
- About Plume
An abbreviation for “male to female,” the word MTF describes someone who was raised as a boy and transitioned later in life. Some other terms for MTF folks are trans women or transfeminine people or “assigned male at birth” (AMAB). Some people like the shorthand of MTF when describing their gender (as it indicates both their assigned at birth and current gender). Others prefer not to use this term, as they don’t feel it fits how they view their identity or gender.
Transfeminine or transfemme or transfem identity are terms sometimes used by AMAB (assigned male at birth) nonbinary people to describe their feminine but not female or woman identities. They are also sometimes used as umbrella terms for people who hold feminine transgender identities (inclusive of trans women) or gender transitions, such as dressing more feminine or taking estrogen. Though transfeminine might be used as an umbrella term, not all trans women or people taking estrogen identify with femininity and even those who do express femininity in many different ways.
Nonbinary and femme
Some nonbinary people also identify as feminine or femme or with expressions of femininity. They might or might not also identify as “feminine of center,” transfeminine or transfemme, or with another gender term.
Feminine of center
Some people choose “feminine of center” to describe a gender identity towards the feminine side of a masculine to feminine continuum.
Estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone that is typically produced in all bodies, but in different amounts for different bodies. For gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT, sometimes also called HRT or hormone replacement therapy), our Care Team prescribes synthetic bioidentical estrogen, also known as 17-beta estradiol.
Progesterone is another hormone that can be used during someone’s gender transition. Sometimes people take this with estrogen, or with another medication. At Plume, our Care Team tends to prescribe bioidentical progesterone. This is called micronized progesterone or Prometrium (the brand name). Progesterone is usually taken as a capsule swallowed in the evenings before bed.
There is little research on the use of progesterone for trans people, but many folks feel that this hormone helps with changes like breast development, including rounding out the breasts and areolar development, adding fullness to the hip area, and possibly improving mood and increasing libido. It appears to be safe, so if you want to try it, there doesn’t appear to be much risk.
Some gender-affirming medications can change your hormonal makeup by stopping your body from producing certain hormones. Since everyone’s body makes different amounts of estrogen and testosterone, blockers simply “block” one type of these hormones. Often, blockers are used in combination with other hormones to support gender transition. Spironolactone is one type of T blocker.
People who are using estrogen or progesterone as a gender-affirming medication might be surprised by new hair growth. Estrogen-based medications change the pattern of hair growth and its texture. Some people notice very little new hair, while others get fluffy all over! Learn more about hair changes on E here.
Skin care and makeup
Everyone’s gender expression is different, but many MTF people, trans women, and transfeminine people use makeup to change their look. If you’re on estrogen, you might notice that your skin care routine changes to balance the texture and dryness of your skin.
Mood swings and estrogen
One common fear about estrogen is that it will create intense mood swings—crying, crankiness, and chocolate cravings! Everyone’s experience is different, but most folks on estrogen notice an increased sense of tenderness in their emotions. You can learn more about emotions and estrogen here.
Breast forms, padding, and specialty lingerie
Gender-affirming surgery isn’t realistic or desired for everyone. If you want to create a more feminine look, there are many options. Breast forms are a soft gel or fabric pad that gives the shape of breasts or cleavage. Padding around the waist, hips, and bottom can create more of a traditionally feminine “hourglass shape.” And while many people make their own tucking and gaff garments, specialty lingerie can support you with built-in padding and tucking options.
Voice changes with and without gender-affirming hormones
Estrogen can change how your hair, skin, and body shape look—but it will not affect your voice. If you’re interested in having a higher, more feminine, or differently modulated voice, you’ll need to use vocal exercises to train your voice. To try some free training exercises, click here.
How do I know I’m MTF?
Everyone’s journey is different. Some people know and understand from an early age that they’re “not like other boys.” Other people realize their identity is different than they assumed later in life. The question many MTF people ask themselves before coming out is: “Would I be happier if I had been born female?” If imagining yourself as female, feminine, or “not male” makes you feel happy, you may be MTF.
How do I change my clothes and style to fit in as a woman?
When you embrace your femininity, one of the first things you may notice is that clothes are very gendered. Women’s sizing is very different from men’s sizing! It can be hard to find the right fit or figure out what to buy. Before you go shopping, make sure you have your measurements: waist, hips, inseam, shoulders, and chest. Then, compare them to the sizing chart most brands have on their website or in stores. If you sew your own clothes, use the pattern size on the back of the pattern. With these measurements, you can choose (or make!) clothing that fits without having to guess.
What are some names for my gender identity if I’m MTF?
Some of the other words MTF people use to describe their gender identity are: trans, nonbinary, trans woman, transfeminine, AMAB, gworl or gurl, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or genderfluid. Use whatever words feel right to you—you’re the expert on your own identity!
Why don’t people say “MTF” anymore?
“MTF” is still commonly used and understood to describe one type of gender transition. There’s nothing wrong with saying MTF or identifying that way. For many trans people, we don’t transition “to” another gender—we change our gender expression to align with the identity we’ve always had. We didn’t start male and “become” female, we were always ourselves. If you’re hoping to talk to other people who are on a journey like yours, check out Plume Support Groups!
What are my hormone options for taking estrogen?
Estrogen can be taken as a pill, injection, gel, spray or patch. All of these methods are effective and will give you the results you’re looking for! Talk to your Care Team about the type of E that is best for you.
Can I take only estrogen or do I need other medications?
Some people take estrogen by itself, while other people also use androgen blockers (also called T blockers), progesterone, and other medications. Each of these gender-affirming medications will have a different effect on your body. Talk to your Care Team about your transition goals so they can help create a care plan just for you!
Do I need to take Viagra or other sex function medications?
Some people notice a dramatic change in their sexual function when they take E. This is normal, since hormones affect sex drive, erectile tissue, and sensitivity. Plume does prescribe medications to support sexual function and your Care Team can help you decide if that’s a good fit for you. Start the conversation by making an appointment!
Is there a natural way to transition without synthetic hormones?
While some people have used herbal remedies as part of their transition, Plume prefers to recommend FDA-approved, clinically supported treatments. This includes medications such as estrogen, T blockers, progesterone, and other supports. If you’re interested in hormones and want to learn more about creating a care plan that will align with your transition goals, reach out to your Plume Care Team to learn more!
Can I be MTF without using hormones?
Yes, your gender identity has nothing to do with what medications you take. Gender identity is a deeply personal, inherent part of who someone is. You are MTF, transgender, nonbinary, or transfeminine as soon as you acknowledge that part of yourself. You get to define your identity—because you’re the expert on who you are!
Where do I find other MTF folks?
Every Plume Member gets access to a six-week series of support groups as part of their Membership. In these weekly groups, Members can meet and talk with folks who have a lot in common with them, such as gender identity, people with questions about estrogen, and others. Each group is a safe, confidential space facilitated by a trained community member. To learn more about Support Groups and sign up, click here!