Updated: OCTOBER 14, 2019
Feminine-presenting is an adjective to describe individuals who present themselves as feminine, rather than masculine or gender-neutral, despite not being born female. Male-to-female transgender people and drag queens are some of the people who could be described as feminine-presenting. Feminine-presenting people may have a female gender identity, personally identify as male, or reject gender labels entirely.
Feminine-presenting is the opposite of masculine-presenting.
More About Feminine-presenting
Feminine-presenting individuals vary in the way they present themselves from very feminine with dresses and long hair (or wigs) to a more androgynous femme look with pants and shorter hair. They may or may not wear makeup to enhance their appearance.
Whether they personally identify as female or not, feminine-presenting individuals tend to get gender stereotyped just as cisgender women do. People can find it confronting when a feminine-presenting person speaks openly about sex, for example. They aren’t expected to ask people out; they are expected to wait for someone else to pursue them. It can be difficult to adhere to these societal expectations, especially if a feminine-presenting person is sometimes masculine-presenting, as with drag queens.
Some people appreciate the term feminine-presenting because it seems inclusive of transgender people, drag queens, and others often marginalized and removes assumptions about their gender identity.
However, others feel feminine-presenting can be a derogatory term and that it’s more inclusive to simply refer to anyone presenting as female with traditional cisgender terms like woman or she. The terms can also be confusing to some people because some women are quite masculine appearing just as some men like to appear feminine. They can do this without attempting to look like a person of the opposite gender.