What Does AFAB Mean?

For decades now, singular pronouns have seen a rise in both acceptance and definition. Terms such as they, agender, non-conforming and gender expansive have now become much more understood.

What Does AFAB Mean

This queer lexicon continues its expansion and helps to understand and define people’s experiences, feelings and identities.

When it comes to the trans community, we may already be familiar with F2M or M2F (female to male, male to female), but now we’re seeing more expansion.

We now recognize AFAB and AMAB which mean assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth. Regardless of someone’s gender identity, these terms can be applied to others. 

Whilst currently this lexicon is only primarily used within the LGBTQ+ community, it is slowly starting to see its progression into mainstream language.

Today, we’ll delve a little further into these terms and define them further. Read on to learn more. 

AFAB And AMAB Definition 

As we mentioned earlier, AFAB stands for assigned female at birth and AMAB stands for assigned male at birth. 

The specifics of this refer to the time when a baby is born and the person (usually a doctor or other medical professional) determines the baby’s sex. It can also occur during an ultrasound examination prior to birth. 

The importance of this is to some in the trans community, due to the fact you are being assigned a gender without your agreement. When we look at some of those terms we mentioned earlier, such as M2F – this has an assumption.

The assumption is that the person began as a particular gender. In other words, you were biologically determined to be male or female and your gender is connected to this assignment. 

The problem with this is there is a difference between gender and sex. Sex is a biological determination, whereas gender is an identity and an expression. 

Not only this, using the terminology of M2F or F2M automatically displaces those who are agender or non-binary gender. This is why the terms of AFAB and AMAB are much more useful now.

They apply to almost anybody by defining the biological sex of a person at birth, but do not assume someone’s gender later. 

The Origin Of AFAB And AMAB 

Both AFAB and AMAB, and even CAMAB (which means coercively assigned male at birth), were coined by members of the trans community, in an effort to try to separate and define others, however there’s more to it than that. 

CAMAB or CAFAB were older terms which originally existed to highlight the force and wrongful categorization against their will.

However, over time – AFAB and AMAB became the more used terms, which do not hold such an expression of aggression and violence.

These exist as a way to shift away from the binary restraints imposed upon those in the trans community. More and more, we are starting to understand the thoughts behind these terms and try to distance ourselves from gender normativity. 

It must be stressed though that AFAB and AMAB are unlikely to be the end of such categorization. The communities are highly expansive and we are trying to learn more about where people feel they belong when it comes to definition.

Indeed, while many in the trans community will be pleased with using the terms AFAB and AMAB, others will feel this does not yet go far enough.


Nearly all of us will be placed into the category of AFAB or AMAB, but it’s important to note that whilst being one of these, you can also identify yourself as trans, cis, non-binary etc. 

However, it’s also critical that we note that AFAB and AMAB are not genders. The terms are not nouns that you can use to define a gender, they merely help to understand someone’s relationship or connection to their gender.

Using an example, stating that someone is a cis woman does not mean that they are a different or separate gender from a trans woman.

The term cis is more used with activism to establish the point that we all have somewhat of a relationship between ourselves and gender.

Cis is not used as a way to create further division or make a separate binary group, but to indicate the relationship (and in some instances, highly complex) relationships with us and gender. 

The Importance Of AFAB And AMAB

The Importance Of AFAB And AMAB 

These two terms are important because they help to further understand and distinguish the differences between biological assignment and from gender which is the product of someone’s identity and expression.

It helps others who are not necessarily a member of the trans community to further understand the differences and how someone might identify themselves.

Indeed, many see these terms as highly helpful because they try to distance from the absurd notion of an assignment of gender – when this is a part of you, not something to be dictated.

Understanding these terms and why they exist is very important. These terms are not created as a way to further complicate or make situations unnecessarily complex.

They exist to try to help understand and define how a person feels, identifies and sees themselves in the world. 

If we work to try to help each other with such terminologies, we can better understand ourselves – and this will help push the barriers of fear, confusion and hate. 

The Bottom Line 

The terms AFAB and AMAB stand for assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth. These terms exist as a way to distinguish between biological sex and gender identity. 

Whilst we are beginning to understand these terms, pronouns and the trans community as a whole much more, we are still not quite there yet. 

We must continue to help each other and understand pronouns and terminology so that we can better educate ourselves and others in the future.

If you liked this article, then you might enjoy our post on ‘What Is Pangender?’.

Gay Worlley

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