Anyone with a male gender identity is male: he is a man or boy. Any man's manhood is valid regardless of what kind of body parts he has, or what gender he was assigned at birth. Having or wanting to have a penis are not what makes someone a man. People who were assigned male at birth (AMAB) or people who are perceived as men (PPM) don't necessarily identify themselves as men, which is the crucial criteria for whether someone is a man. Only identifying as a man makes someone a man. Cisgender men, transgender men, and intersex men are all equally men. Because gender isn't the same thing as sexual orientation, men are still men whether they feel sexual attraction to men (gay), or to women (heterosexual), either/any gender (bisexual or pansexual), or none (asexual).

In the Western colonialist gender binary system, "man" is considered to be one of the only two genders that exist, one of the binary genders. For all of written history, cultures all over the world have acknowledged people who were gender-variant or who transitioned to a different gender role than the one assigned to them at birth. Ancient cultures that thought of there being a specific number of genders did not always say there were just two. In ancient Egyptian writings, man was one of three genders, and in classical Jewish literature, man was one of six genders. The gender binary is an artificial and relatively new concept to humanity. Gender is not inherently binary. Therefore, "man" is not inherently a binary gender. Rather, "man" is one of many genders that people have. Throughout the history of the world, there have been many people who do not identify with being only female or male, who are therefore nonbinary. There are also people who identify partly as a man, and yet do not feel they completely fit into that category, so they call themselves nonbinary men. Although the gender binary system is coercive and limiting, "man" is a valid identity. Manhood can be better understood as an identity in its own right, rather than as an opposite pole in a binary system.[1]

Etymology and terminologyEdit

The English term "man" is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž "man, male").[2] More directly, the word derives from Old English mann. The Old English form had a default meaning of "adult male" (which was the exclusive meaning of wer), though it could also signify a person of unspecified gender. The closely related Old English pronoun man was used just as it is in Modern German to designate "one" (e. g., in the saying man muss mit den Wölfen heulen).[3]

Gender symbolEdit

The Mars or male gender symbol. Depicts the shield and spear of Mars, the Roman god of war

The symbol for male (as well as for the planet Mars in astrology, and iron in alchemy) comes from a set of symbols that were first used to denote the effective sex of plants (i.e. sex of individual in a given crossbreed, since most plants are hermaphroditic) by naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1751.[4] The male and female symbols are still used in scientific publications to indicate the sex of an individual, for example of a patient.[5] Joseph Justus Scaliger speculated that the male symbol is associated with the Mars, god of war because it resembles a shield and spear; and that the female symbol is associated with Venus, goddess of beauty because it resembles a bronze mirror with a handle.[6] Later scholars dismiss this as fanciful,[4]The visual equivalent of a backronym, preferring "the conclusion of the French classical scholar Claude de Saumaise (Salmasius, 1588-1683) that these symbols [...] are derived from contractions in Greek script of the Greek names of the planets".[4]Thouros (Mars) was abbreviated as θρ, and Phosphoros (Venus) by Φ, in handwriting.[7][4]

Cisgender menEdit

Cisgender men are men who were assigned male at birth (or were born with certain intersex conditions), and who have a male gender identity. Cisgender means "not transgender," as they don't transition to male from some other gender.

A few of the physical characteristics of a cisgender man often include:

  • No vagina or uterus. However, some men were born with one or another of them (persistent Müllerian duct syndrome). Some only find out they have a uterus if they have scans or surgery on their abdomen for other reasons, or if they menstruate.
  • Descended testes and scrotum, although sometimes testes never descend (cryptorchid), or are removed to treat or prevent disease
  • Penis or large clitoris. With some intersex conditions, the difference between these can be unclear.
  • Chromosomes that are XY (textbook example), XX (de la Chapelle syndrome), XXY (Klinefelter's syndrome), XXYY, or others.

It is possible for a cisgender man to have a body with few of the above physical characteristics that are usually used to describe a typical cisgender male body. For example, cisgender men who have lost their genitals due to disease or injury are nonetheless real men, as much as they ever were. Furthermore, having the above characteristics do not make someone a cisgender man. For example, some people who were assigned male at birth but identify as a different gender have these characteristics. Some people with intersex conditions have these physical characteristics, but don't consider themselves cisgender men. Meanwhile, some intersex people consider themselves to be cisgender men.

Transgender menEdit

Trans rights marchers at Pride London 2010. Their banner says "Supporting Female to Male Trans People."

Transgender men are men who were assigned female at birth (or had certain intersex conditions), and who have a male gender identity. Most trans men ask to be called by "he" pronouns, though there are exceptions. A trans man's sexual orientation can be gay, heterosexual, or otherwise. Trans men are on the female-to-male transgender spectrum. Older psychological and medical writings wrongly call trans men "female transsexuals" or "female transvestites", and call them by "she" pronouns that they did not want. Trans men are men, not masculine women or butch lesbians. However, there are people who have considered themselves more than one of these at different points in their lives, because it can take time to figure out one's identity.

Many transgender men transition to address gender dysphoria, and some also consider themselves to be transsexual men. Any transgender person's transition path is very individual. Common features in a transgender man's transition path include hormone therapy to create a balance with testosterone higher than estrogen, and surgery to remove breasts (double mastectomy, in this situation called female to male chest reconstruction), and sometimes to remove their internal reproductive organs (complete hysterectomy). Many trans men choose not to get genital surgery, or are satisfied with contemporary methods that create a penis that looks and works differently to that of a cisgender man. With hormones alone, a trans man can easily be seen as a man in daily life, which owes partially to how patriarchy polices manhood differently than womanhood.[8]

Some cultures that recognize(d) female-to-male spectrum gender roles include the Blackfoot Confederacy (Ninauposkitzipxpe, "manly-hearted women"), the Navajo (Dilbaa), the Bugis people of Indonesia (calalai) the Maori (Wakatane), and Albania (Burrnesha, "sworn virgins"), and many others. Historically, these female-to-male spectrum people have included some people who were analogous to modern, Western ideas of trans men, as well as some possibly cisgender women who took up a male gender role or appearance in order to escape patriarchal oppression, to protect themselves from violence, and to have jobs that only men were allowed to have.

Nonbinary menEdit

Some people identify as both nonbinary and as a binary gender such as male. They see themselves as almost but not quite fitting into the gender binary, and feel an association with being male, while still feeling that it's significant that they don't fit into that category. Depending on how the individual defines their identity, they may consider themself to be nonbinary men if they also consider themself to be partly male (demiboy), queer masculine (butch), someone who only wants to be in the active role of sex without being touched (stone), lesbian man, having a gender that often changes (genderfluid), genderqueer, having more than one gender (multigender), eunuch, or other kinds of identities. A self-described nonbinary man may consider themself to be on the female-to-male spectrum, or trans masculine. However, a nonbinary man could also be someone who considers themself to be on the male-to-female spectrum, or trans feminine, and partly identifies with having been assigned male at birth.

Notable nonbinary menEdit

Musician Du Blonde performing in July 2019, who identifies as nonbinary predominantly male.

Some notable people who identify as nonbinary as well as a male, boy, or man include:

  • Chinese-American clinical psychologist and educator Dr. Sand Chang (they/them) - nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, demiboy, femme[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. Sophie Labelle. Assigned Male (political comic). February 6, 2019.
  2. American Heritage Dictionary, Appendix I: Indo-European Roots. man-1 May 2006. Accessed 2007-07-22.
  3. John Richard Clark Hall: A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Stearn, William T. (May 1962). "The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology". Taxon. 11 (4): 109–113. doi:10.2307/1217734. JSTOR 1217734. The origin of these symbols has long been of interest to scholars. Probably none now accepts the interpretation of Scaliger that Template:Char represents the shield and spear of Mars and Template:Char Venus's looking glass. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  5. Zhigang, Zhigang; et al. (25 September 2009). "A HIV-1 heterosexual transmission chain in Guangzhou, China: a molecular epidemiological study". Virology Journal. BioMed Central. 6 (148): Figure 1. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-148. PMC 2761389. PMID 19778458. (Mars male gender symbol) indicates male; (female Venus gender symbol) indicates female
  6. Taylor, Robert B. (2016), "Now and Future Tales", White Coat Tales, Springer International Publishing, pp. 293–310, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-29055-3_12, ISBN 978-3-319-29053-9
  7. H W Renkema, Oorsprong, beteekenis en toepassing van de in de botanie gebuikelijke teekens ter aanduiding van het geslacht en den levensduur, in: Jeswiet J, ed., Gedenkboek J Valckenier Suringar. Wageningen: Nederlandsche Dendrologische Vereeniging, 1942: 96-108.
  8. Cary Gabriel Costello, "Testosterone Does Not 'Work Better' than Estrogen." January 19, 2015. TransFusion (personal blog).
  9. Sept 27, 2019 instagram post
  10. Steven Loftin (18 February 2019). "Will the real Du Blonde please stand up?". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  11. @kacencallender (October 13, 2019). "I'm the demiboy of my dreams, honestly" – via Twitter.
  12. Kramer, Kaiya (11 December 2015). "Ep 69 Dr. Sand Chang Licensed Psychologist Interview". The Queer Life Radio. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  14. Lowrey, Sassafras (8 November 2017). "A Guide To Non-binary Pronouns And Why They Matter". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  15. @sassafraslowrey (11 October 2019). "and to have made a core aspect of my career around writing the queerest books and stories I can imagine. Happy #NationalComingOutDay Queerly yours a: #runaway, formerly #homeless, #genderqueer, #trans, #femme, #queer, #polyamorous, #asexual, #little, #leather boy" – via Twitter.
  17. Dalbey, Alex (4 September 2019). "'I will finally explore my true identity': SonicFox comes out as nonbinary". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  18. Ratchford, Sarah (6 January 2017). "Getting To Know The Creator Of 'Babes,' The Web's Cutest Queer Series". Medium. Retrieved 22 October 2020. T. Thomason, a nonbinary trans man