Gender euphoria can look like a lot of things, but mostly it’s about finding joy in how your gender is expressed and perceived.
Have you ever heard of gender euphoria? While most people understand that gender dysphoria is part of what makes people realize they are transgender — most people may not be aware of gender euphoria.
Gender euphoria describes feeling “right” in your gender. When you can look at the way your gender is presented and received and feel happiness or joy.
You do not have to be transgender to experience gender euphoria, but many trans people do experience gender euphoria when they transition to the gender (or transitioning away from the gender) that is correct for them.
Gender euphoria is the opposite of gender dysphoria. Where gender dysphoria describes the feeling of discomfort or unease when one’s perceived gender doesn’t match their internal sense of gender, gender euphoria is when someone’s perceived gender aligns with their sense of self and causes them to be happy and feel at ease.
With this in mind, gender-affirming medical care is lifesaving for trans youth. A
This important research shows how important it is to find joy in your gender journey. Maybe even more than avoiding the gender dysphoria you feel.
Gender euphoria vs. gender dysphoria
The difference between gender dysphoria and gender euphoria is when someone is experiencing dysphoria, they’re having mostly negative feelings associated with being in a body that doesn’t allow for a gender expression that matches their gender identity.
Gender euphoria, on the other hand, is feeling at ease or happy with the alignment of their gender identity and their gender expression.
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences gender dysphoria, but many people do understand and feel gender euphoria. Many of us know the experience of having a good moment and a peaceful feeling in our bodies.
Gender euphoria can look and feel like many different things. It’s ultimately about being happy, confident, and comfortable. Often the feeling of happiness, peace, and the feeling of being “right” will align with your gender.
Similarly to gender dysphoria, though, it can sometimes be hard to recognize. When looking for gender euphoria in your early transition you may ask yourself:
- Do you find yourself drawn to certain types, colors, or patterns of clothing? Do your favorite outfits relate to your gender?
- Do you find happiness in embracing or rejecting traditionally gendered activities?
- Do you have any feelings about your name? Does using more gender-neutral nicknames with your friends bring you joy? Do nicknames that are traditionally more masculine or feminine feel better to you?
- Do the people who you’re most comfortable with treat you in a gendered way (or lack thereof)?
Even though gender euphoria often focuses on trans people finding peace with transitioning toward the gender they’re most aligned with, anyone can experience gender euphoria as well. When cis people put on gendered clothes and have friends compliment them, that can make them feel good about their gender.
Personally, as a trans man, I love the look and the feeling of a tighter t-shirt on my body post-top surgery. It makes me happy to see and makes me feel “right.”
“It’s a little like, you know, you’re getting out of the shower with the towel around your waist, looking at yourself in the mirror thinking ‘there I am’.” – Elliot Page
The best way to find gender euphoria is to first take the steps you need to figure out what your gender identity is, and what things (socially, physically, medically, or legally) bring joy.
There are many aspects of gender you may want to experiment with to bring more gender euphoria into your life:
- Persona use: If you’re not ready to take any transition steps yourself, you can try playing an online or TTRPG game as a different gender.
- Different clothes: A transmasculine person wearing a binder for the first time may find they like the way their shirts fit much better with it. Transfeminine people trying dresses or skirts may find they enjoy how the fabric spins and moves with them. Nonbinary fashion can draw inspiration from anywhere and often trail-blazes new trends.
- New hairstyle: Transfeminine people may enjoy how they look with longer hairstyles, and transmasculine may want to try a short haircut out. You may even find that a new hair color makes you feel more “you.”
- Gendered products: It may seem silly, but if you get a jolt of gender euphoria from using gendered products, (like a “men’s” or “women’s” body wash) you can lean into that. Why not?
- Different pronouns: Ask your friends to try using different pronouns for you and see how it feels. This could also extend to other gendered words like “sir” or “ma’am.”
- New name: Ask trusted close friends or family to call you a new name and see how it feels for you. As a smaller step, you could try out a new name at a coffee shop.
Ask yourself if there are already existing things in your life that make you feel happy in your gender, and continue to choose what brings you joy!
“I wanna look like what I am but don’t know what someone like me looks like.
I mean, when people look at me, I want them to think — there’s one of those people that reasons, that is a philosopher, that has their own interpretation of happiness. That’s what I am.”
- Louis Graydon Sullivan, We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan
Starting with body neutrality
How can we feel gender euphoria when we’re not feeling so … euphoric?
One way we can look at our bodies is through a body neutrality perspective (as opposed to the “body positivity” movement), which asks us to remove judgment from our bodies and how they look. Instead, it asks us to respect our bodies from a neutral perspective and try to understand everything our bodies do for us.
With this in mind, when we talk about gender euphoria, much like the body neutrality movement, you don’t have to love your body every day. There might be days and months when it’s really hard to find the positives about our bodies, and we can’t help but compare ourselves to others.
But even on those days, you can appreciate the fact that you can enjoy your favorite foods, or watch your favorite shows in the body that you’re in. It’s about looking at your body in a neutral way ― you don’t have to love it, but you don’t have to hate it either!
Gender euphoria has an effect on your mental and physical health. Even if we aren’t actively aware of the stress that gender dysphoria has on our health, we can notice when we feel better. Feeling less anxious, less depressed, and more at peace with your own body will definitely affect your quality of life for the better.
Although there are no studies on gender euphoria yet in trans patients, it has been shown treating PTSD in veterans has improved their quality of life. Studies have also shown that
If gender dysphoria is causing stress in your life, easing that stress with sources of gender euphoria may be able to lessen the overall effect of stress on your body.
Gender euphoria is different from gender dysphoria, in the way that someone is feeling at peace and feeling “right” in their gender.
The best way to recognize it in yourself is to see what makes you feel most comfortable in your gender. This could look like new pronouns, clothes, or names, or medically transitioning to feel most at home with your body.