Here are some common words, terms, definitions, and questions you may encounter when you’re learning about “FTM” or “female-to-male” gender, sometimes called being a trans man, transmasculine, or transitioning from being assigned female at birth (AFAB). Some transgender and nonbinary people call themselves “FTM.” This glossary includes common wellness questions, terms, and experiences connected with the transgender experience of being FTM or “female-to-male.” Here, you’ll find need-to-know information related to masculinizing gender transition.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Masculine of center
- Nonbinary and masc
- Trans man
- Puberty blocker
- Hair loss
- Mood swings and testosterone
- Voice changes with and without gender-affirming hormones
- Staying stealth
- Understanding clothing sizes
- How do I know I’m FTM?
- What are some names for my gender identity if I’m FTM?
- Why don’t people say “FTM” anymore?
- What are my hormone options for taking testosterone?
- Is there a natural way to transition without synthetic hormones?
- Can I be FTM without using hormones?
- Where do I find other FTM folks?
An abbreviation for “female to male,” the word FTM describes someone who was assigned female at birth. Some other terms for FTM folks are trans men or transmasculine people or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB). Some people like the shorthand of FTM 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.
Masculine of center
Some people choose “masculine of center” to describe a gender identity towards the masculine side of a masculine to feminine continuum.
Nonbinary and masc
Some nonbinary people also identify as masculine or with expressions of masculinity. They might or might not also identify as “masculine of center,” transmasculine or transmasc, or with another gender term.
A man who is transgender. Transgender is a term used to describe a person who has a gender identity that differs from the one they were assigned at birth. A transgender man is someone who identifies as a man and was not assigned male at birth. Some other terms for trans men are FTM, transmasculine people, or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB). Not all terms resonate with all people, and language is always evolving.
Transmasculine or transmasc identity are terms sometimes used by AFAB (assigned female at birth) nonbinary people to describe their masculine but not male or man identities. They are also sometimes used as umbrella terms for people who hold masculine transgender identities (inclusive of trans men) or gender transitions, such as dressing more masculine, getting chest-flattening top surgery, or taking testosterone. Though transmasculine might be used as an umbrella term, not all trans men or people taking testosterone identify with masculinity and even those who do express masculinity in many different ways.
Testosterone (often called “T”) 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 testosterone. This medication is very similar to the testosterone all bodies naturally make.
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. Ask your Care Team about how blockers can help you during your gender transition!
For people who are using testosterone as a gender-affirming medication, hair loss can be a common worry. T changes the pattern of hair growth and its texture. Some people notice very little hair loss, while others go bald! So you know, Plume prescribes hair restoration medications to folks who are worried about losing their hair while taking T.
Binding is the practice of flattening or minimizing the appearance of your chest. Some people bind with sports bras while others wear a special garment called a binder. Binding is safe and can help alleviate gender dysphoria, but there are some precautions to help prevent injury.
Mood swings and testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone that affects every system in your body, from your reproductive organs to your skin and hair. T can influence your emotions as well. While many people are anxious about T making them angry or reactive, most folks report that T makes them feel happy and confident.
Voice changes with and without gender-affirming hormones
One of the most dramatic, early changes that T causes is lowering the voice. At first, it may sound husky—as though you have a cold. Within the first year on T, you will likely notice a significant drop in your voice. If you’re not interested in hormones, you can achieve a more “masculine” voice by using vocal training exercises to learn to speak in a new way.
“Stealth” commonly refers to a transgender person who does not share that they are transgender and may present as cisgender. Being stealth can be a choice that someone makes for their own privacy, for safety reasons, to avoid scrutiny or discrimination, or because they don’t feel it is necessary to talk about their medical history with some or all people in their life.
Another term you might hear is “passing.” Passing is a term used to indicate being perceived as cisgender. For example, a trans man who is “passing” is seen as a cisgender man and not recognized as being trans; this might be by choice or just because of how someone looks and presents themself. Some folks can “pass” as cisgender by taking hormones (gender-affirming hormone therapy, sometimes called HRT), changing their voice, body language, or other gender expression. Passing is sometimes a transition goal for people, while others are not interested in looking or being perceived as cis.
Understanding clothing sizes
When you embrace your masculinity, 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.
How do I know I’m FTM?
Everyone’s journey is different. Some people know and understand from an early age that they’re “not like other girls.” Other people realize their identity is different than they assumed later in life. The question many FTM people ask themselves before coming out is: “Would I be happier if I had been born male?” If imagining yourself as male, masculine, or “not female” makes you feel happy, you may be FTM.
What are some names for my gender identity if I’m FTM?
Some of the other words FTM people use to describe their gender identity are: trans, nonbinary, trans man, transmasculine, AFAB, boi or boy, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, genderfucked, or genderfluid. Use whatever words feel right to you—you’re the expert on your own identity!
Why don’t people say “FTM” anymore?
FTM is still commonly used and understood to describe one type of gender transition. There’s nothing wrong with saying FTM 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 female and “become” male, 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 testosterone?
If you want to try gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT, sometimes also called HRT or hormone replacement therapy), you have several options. Testosterone comes in the forms of a patch, skin cream or gel, or injection. Depending on your needs, you can try any of these types of hormones. They all work well, and they all give you the same results. Reach out to your Plume Care Team to learn more!
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 testosterone 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 FTM 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 FTM, transgender, nonbinary, or transmasculine 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 FTM 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!