Femboy is a term for a feminine man. It is commonly used as a derogatory term for people perceived as men who present as women, including gay femme men and especially transfeminine individuals. It also used as an aesthetic/presentation label by feminine queer men and mascs, feminine men in general, and sometimes as a gender label.
A portmanteau of "feminine" and "boy".
- Femboy is a slang term for a young, usually cisgender male who displays traditionally feminine characteristics. While the term can be used as an insult, some in the LGBTQ community use the term positively to name forms of gender expression. - Dictionary.com
- [As a result of shifting away from the "trap" trope] Femboys often look exactly like the standard trap ... though they’re frequently depicted even more salaciously ... It’s connotative of a cis boy in disguise; [the penis'] accentuation goes hand-in-hand with male femininity, designating male femininity as inherently erotic - Understanding Transmisogyny, 2020
- Q: What does it mean to be a femboy? A: I would say being a femboy is almost like an expression. Its basic definition would be a boy that prefers to be feminine, so that could mean a wide variety of things. It's a very general term to describe a lotta different things; it could be a boy who crossdresses, or it could be even a style. There's a kind of a culture that goes along with it and there's a certain kinda fashion that goes with that culture sometimes, so it can really be a lotta different things, but I would generally just say that it's whatever you want it to be. - @femboy_fishing
The term has ties with fetishization and exploitation of transgender women, and is often considered a slur by the trans community, especially transfems. As such, people may opt for alternative labels such as tomgirl, rosboy, or feminine boy.
Femboy most likely rose to prominence on fan forums and in pornography being used beside other transmisogynistic terms, referring to transfem-coded characters or outright trans women; its original use was not to refer to cisgender men. Femboy originated in the 1990s as a transmisogynistic and homophobic slur, targeting people perceived as "men" who presented femininely. It was reclaimed by many in the community, though the term retained its derogatory meaning. Online in the 1990s, many online discussed sexual fantasies of femboys, and this was its most common usage for some time; as a fetishistic, derogatory label for femme men and trans women.
In the 2000s, it became more commonly reclaimed--usually by those not targeted by the slur--though it remained derogatory and highly sexualized for the most part. The term quickly became commonly fetishized, being used commonly in pornography to refer to transfeminine people and crossdressing men, often used interchangeably with the slur trap. In 2013, it became a searchable term on a hugely popular porn site as a word most frequently used to refer to transgender women, making its popularity only grow and further enforcing the fetishistic and transmisogynistic connotations of the label.
Many reclaimed the term, often trying to distance from the term's fetishizing connotations; in 2020, the tag #femboyfriday went viral on TikTok, popularized by teenage boys. Most individuals on the tag were cisgender, with many being straight. The primary message of the trend was normalizing men being feminine and wearing feminine clothes. This was not the first femboy social media movement--multiple subreddits are devoted to femboys and feminine men--but it was possibly the most mainstream, and was also more cis centric than was typical for the movement before. Many trans women expressed discomfort with this, especially #femboyfriday, which was most popularly used by cisgender men.
In late 2019, the term as a fetishistic label outside of porn was propelled into public consciousness through the viral meme Femboy Hooters. The basic premise was a restaurant that, like Hooters, had its servers wear revealing and suggestive uniforms, but instead with femboys (presumed to be men who looked like women). On October 1, 2019, Twitter user @Comfy_Times tweeted "hooters but its staffed entirely by femboys". The tweet received over 170 retweets and 840 likes in eight months.
The idea did not see viral spread until March 2020. On March 11 Twitter user @Drommels_YT tweeted "we need a femboy hooters", gaining over 1,200 retweets and 4,900 likes in three months. On the same day, Redditor Grrundee posted a screenshot of the tweet to the /r/gay_irl subreddit, gaining over 1400 upvotes in three months. On March 16th, Instagram user germed.avi posted a video based on a photoshop mockup of Femboy Hooters, with the post receiving over 1,000 views and 280 likes in three months and gaining viral spread online in the following weeks.
On March 27, 2020, the r/femboyhooters subreddit was created, with more memes exploring the concept being posted on Reddit, Twitter, iFunny, TikTok and other platforms in the following months. On May 31st, Twitter artist @ms_pigtails posted an artwork that received over 3,500 retweets and 19,100 likes in one week, prompting a surge in popularity of the meme in the following days. This meme often specifically played on many transphobic tropes, and perpetuated transmisogyny through the sexualized use of the label.
Most controversy surrounding this term are debates on whether it constitutes a slur, and whether non-transfeminine individuals can use it. Many argue that it's just a combination of feminine and boy, simply refers to feminine men, and is being misused when applied to trans women; it's simply a male presentation label. It is unclear what the community majority opinion on this is. Some AMAB transfems assert that one doesn't need to be transfem to use the word, while others disagree.
When the issue is addressed, it is often insinuated that by saying femboy is derogatory to trans women, one is conflating trans women with cis men. Due to the nature of transphobia, most transmisogynistic terms and stereotypes do treat trans women as men, and pointing out this pattern is not equivalent to transphobia.
|“||I personally prefer to use “femboy” as just a word for certain social role (composed of inherent behavioural gncness + chosen visual expression/representation of it + societal responses/treatment) regardless of one’s age, but the “boy” component does stem from objectifying young gnc men and rings of the “expiration date” element, so I understand the discomfort, valid preference|
|— Mod Regina, femboy-gatekeepers, https://archive.is/WH47p#selection-505.0-505.12|
Though not all trans women see the term as transmisogynistic, and some men and transmascs may find claiming the term to be empowering, the word's history and the trauma it has inflicted on the transfeminine community should not be ignored.
|“||Ok here’s the thing. Our oppressors are always gonna group trans women and gnc men together. They’re both ‘supposed to be men’ but they aren’t acting the way our society says that men should.
That means that a lot of things that effect one community also effect the other! That means that historically there has been a whole lot of overlap in those communities! So when people are upset over the use of the word femboy as a self identifier, and say, well, this is a problem for trans women, and so gnc men can’t reclaim it,,, i want to remind y'all of that history. I want to remind you that the issue isn’t just 'trans women being called boys’, it’s a lack of respect for anyone who chooses to shed the traditional standards of manhood. That conflating two identities is bad for both identities involved. That referring to trans women as men in dresses is offensive not only in its innacuracy, but also in the way that it uses another group’s actual identity as an insult. And that boys who are fem exist, and have been a part of our communities, often standing right alongside trans women, for a long time.
Femboy flag used by yourfaveisafemboy on Tumblr. 
- Dictionary.com on "Femboy"
- Tumblr post on femboy and specifically Femboy Hooters
- Discussion of the history of the word femboy and explaining the transmisogyny inherent in its use
- Tumblr post demonstrating the prominent transmisoynistic and pornographic connotations of the term
- Vice article on #FemboyFriday
- Know Your Meme on Femboy Hooters
- A Tweet on the femboy/trap equivelency and discussing the perception of trans women as feminine men