Moments of Gender Euphoria
I got my ears pierced recently for the first time ever. Just regular lobe piercings on each ear. Though initially just a basic aesthetic desire, when looking into the mirror right after they were pierced a wave of positive emotions came over me. I can only summarize these feelings as another moment of gender confirmation. For me, it was a little bit of Queer magic.
Gender euphoria is defined as, “A feeling of well-being arising from the affirmation of a person’s gender.” These are the moments of joy and contentment people experience when their true gender identity is validated and uplifted. This type of euphoria can occur in many ways, including correct pronoun usage and likewise gender-affirming language, acknowledgment of bodily appearance through your own actions or by someone or something else, and when you are socially categorized or associated with groups that correlate with your true gender. You know, those human rights matters that should already be upheld.
Though inclusive to all, gender euphoria is a concept that is brought forward to validate the comprehensive lived experiences of TGNCNB people so that their gender identity is not solely associated with the historical and present-day trauma of so. As a genderqueer person, this balance in recognition is important to me. In the marginalized sense, gender euphoria is similar to the intersectional concept of Black joy.
Cultural ideals are what ultimately influence our politics, especially here in the U.S. In the negative sense, this then creates a society where people of marginalized gender identities truly can’t live a single day without experiencing some sort of heteronormative push-back, if not outright discrimination. The binary exposes itself in many forms and it is necessary to shine a light on the TGNCNB struggle. Though gender is for many an important part of one’s identity, TGNCNB people are much more than their gender; just like everyone else. TGNCNB lives are not just centered around their gendered pain. That’s the point of the Queer liberation movement in the first place.
Let’s continue to celebrate who we inherently are.
I want to share moments of gender euphoria people have submitted to me to acknowledge the importance of the happiness that one’s true gender identity brings alongside the importance of giving a platform to express gender dysphoria. This type of euphoria and dysphoria of equal standing.
We are One through the laughs, the cries, and the beautiful in between.
Ren (they/them) — Nonbinary
“I am middle-aged and spent my childhood and adolescence buying mostly boys’ and men’s clothing, but when I hit my mid-20's I decided to act more feminine in order to ‘fit in’ and attain career success. After a decade of forcing myself into cocktail dresses and makeup, I decided to buy a men’s suit.
Looking at myself in the mirror with even the sample garment on made me feel sexier than any designer dress and professional makeover I ever had. Finally allowing myself this particular gender expression that I have ignored for years was possibly one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Luna (she/her) — Genderfluid
“Recently I went to buy something at a shop but I had to wait for an older man to be done with his shopping first before I could. He probably couldn’t see very well giving his age and possible health issues, but he referred to me as a boy as he told the shop owner they could serve me now since he was done. I was feeling/identifying as male at the time.
I felt really excited for the rest of the day and still smile when remembering it, even if he probably just couldn’t see well enough and actually thought that I was AMAB and cis. I’m just glad I could pass as male, even to someone possibly partially blind.”
Kylie (she/her) — Nonbinary Transwoman
“The first week I had started living ‘full-time’ as a woman I went out shopping in feminine clothing. I was with my mom and the checker called us ladies. It was a really simple thing, but it made me feel so normal and like I was any other girl. It was very validating and a rush of positive emotions.
As a transwoman who’s nonbinary, I often feel like a weird person who many people won’t accept or respect. To be referred to in a casual manner as a lady made me feel accepted and normal.”
Kath (they/them) — Nonbinary
“I’m not out at work so I present quite feminine. I also work at an all-boys catholic school so it’s pretty conservative. Most of the time the students call me ma’am. But on Tuesday I was sitting down doing COVID registration and wearing one of my collared masc shirts and one student called me ‘sir’ and it was the most wonderful thing that has happened all year.”
Pan (they/he) — Nonbinary
“So I met a FTM dude some time ago and he told me that how I was binding wasn’t good for my body and recommended me a real binder. I bought it later and as I put it on I realized that this one did a really good job at binding.
I was flooded with a massive feeling of euphoria and couldn’t stop smiling and jumping around. It felt incredibly good with a flat chest and anytime I wear my binder I still feel somehow better about myself. This feeling always gives me a glance at what it may feel like after transitioning; like a pure drop of luck juice.”
Ferroday (she/her) — Transwoman
“I got called ‘mommy’ by a character in a video game. I was overcome with an intense feeling like I’d been hooked up to a car battery of pure happiness.”
Toby (they/them) — Nonbinary
“A recent moment of gender euphoria was just yesterday. I had forgotten my phone in my bedroom and had to walk back to get it, and I said to myself out loud, ‘Good job Toby.’ There was no hesitation, it felt so natural coming out of my mouth like the name truly belonged to me.
It made me feel so good about myself as I had been worrying a lot recently about whether or not I had picked the right name for me, but I feel much more confident in my choice now.”
Charlie (he/him) — Transman
“Someone in public called me ‘sir’ rather than ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss.’ It’s usually someone older, but goddamn it’s the best feeling in the world. I feel somewhat of a sense of relief/momentary spring in my step. It’s honestly so fulfilling and amazing.”
A (they/them) — Nonbinary
“I was in class and we were discussing things when my teacher called me ‘they.’ I get consistently misgendered at school so it was super cool to have her address me correctly. I just suddenly felt so valid and amazing by being gendered correctly.
I was also wearing one of my favorite outfits, which causes a lot of gender euphoria for me because it highlights my (bound) flat chest and muscles that make me look more masculine which validates my identity.”
Cen (he/they) — Demiman/Transmasc
“I got a sports bra and I felt so cool cause I looked flat. It’s one step closer to my transition goals.”
Vane (they/them) — Nonbinary
“A few weeks ago I was walking down the street in the city and some random guy at a bike stand near me said, “Hey, young man.” There was nobody there he could have addressed but me, so I turned around to him and he actually was looking at me, referring to me.
He asked for a cigarette and I answered that I don’t smoke — my voice gives away that I’m AFAB so he looked kinda confused. But that moment of being called a guy for the first time, and thus validating my composure/demeanor/clothing, whatever it was, was an amazing experience. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of that day.”
Dawn (she/her) — Transwoman
“I was going to tell the story of how I stood up one day and my skirt brushed my legs that triggered waves of euphoria that were so indescribably wonderful. But being right here, right now, sharing my name and identity with the world is giving me feelings of happiness like light and warmth are being poured into me.”
I am truly touched that people continue to share their moments of both joy and sadness through me for others to read. That takes courage. Euphorically, and not, we move forward together.
Seriously, thank you.
Is Gender Confirmation as Fluid as Gender Itself?
Some thoughts on the liberation and dysphoria that can come with gender confirmation
Fellow Activists: You Are Enough
Mental health reminders for my fellow activists doing the good work