Here’s Why the Term “AFAB Only” is a Huge Red Flag

Finding queer-friendly housing isn’t always the easiest task, especially if you don’t live in a major city. However, there are ways and means of making sure that when the time comes to move, you don’t find yourself sharing an apartment with 3 heterosexual men whose favorite pastime is watching Avatar and screaming the f-slur at the TV round the clock (this anecdote taken from personal experience!)

But you know what’s not okay, and definitely not indicative of an LGBTQ+ safe space? The phrase “AFAB only.”

Now there are a few different modes of thinking when it comes to the terms ‘AFAB’ (assigned female at birth) and ‘AMAB’ (assigned male at birth.) While these acronyms can be helpful in medical settings when you want to refer to your own body without getting dysphoria or being misgendered by medical professionals, they can also create some pretty messy inter-community arguments.

For instance: this week on Twitter, a post calling for queer roommates has been making the rounds for featuring the gender-essentialist phrase “AFAB Only.”

When the original poster wrote “AFAB only,” many users quickly (and correctly) identified the problem: the term AFAB, with its implicit assumptions about genitalia, can often come off as quite TERF-y. Because why say “AFAB only” rather than simply “nonbinary or trans only?”

AFAB can often be a transmisogynist dog whistle meaning “no trans women allowed.” And that’s absolutely not okay, especially during a moment when trans people are being broadly legislated against and are in even more desperate need of safe living spaces. We’re supposed to be helping each other out, people!

In short: if you’re still viewing certain body parts (or ideas about “socialization”) as being inherently threatening, you’re engaging in transmisogyny. It’s that simple.

Sadly, too many trans folks normalize transmisogyny within our community under the guise of “safety concerns.” But when you scratch the surface, it’s just plain bigotry.

Also…who said that all nonbinary people were AFAB? Because…no.

Blaming the whole thing on your dog makes it even more absurd.

The point is: the terms ‘AFAB’ and ‘AMAB’ at this point, outside of a very specific setting, are doing a lot more harm than good.

Now folks are gleefully making fun of this clear display of transmisogyny:

Because it’s simply ridiculous.

If your queer community doesn’t include all queer people, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself why that is.

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