I wrote about gender euphoria as the first sign of my 10 Signs I Was Transgender But Didn’t Know It. I wanted to expand on that for a few reasons:
1) So many people talk about gender dysphoria; it’s one of the first things people hear and understand about transgender experiences. It’s important, of course, but it can also be a downer to constantly discuss. I wanted to share my experience of gender euphoria to counter that.
2) I realized I am a transgender woman because of euphoria, not because of dysphoria. Dysphoria is more like a background radiation for me: it permeates my life with a constant dose of depression, so I’ve gotten used to it. Gender euphoria has been more fleeting, so it gets my attention in a big way. If more experiences of gender euphoria are shared, then others like me might have their realizations sooner.
3) I didn’t name “gender euphoria” as a concept in my original article! Here is what I wrote:
“I never felt like a boy or a man. I identified as non-binary for about a year, but I didn’t feel it. I chalked that up to alexithymia and the idea that non-binary people don’t feel like a gender either–somehow ignoring the fact that many non-binary people actually do FEEL no gender (including my partner). I was nonchalant in deciding I was non-binary, saying it was my way to reject the gender binary and embrace some of my more feminine qualities. However, when I saw RozRaid’s tweet and its replies, I FELT IT. I was overwhelmed with FEELINGS that were amazing and confusing and affirming and a billion other feelings I rarely remember feeling in the past. Later, I said out loud to myself that I am a trans woman, and I CRIED because I felt another wave of THOSE SAME INCREDIBLE FEELINGS. Of course I didn’t feel male or agender… I’m a woman!”
See all those FEELS in all caps? That excerpt was my first attempt at describing gender euphoria before understanding the name for that feeling. In my haste to describe what I was feeling, I was able to dance around the name pretty well, huh?
Alexithymia makes it difficult to discern and name feelings; it actually feels like it is hard to even feel things sometimes. I knew I was super happy–look at all of those friggin’ FEELS in that passage! But happy is more of a category, and it can be carved up into satisfied, cheerful, exuberant, safe, hope, inspiration, awe, love, and euphoria, among others. I had rarely felt euphoria in the past; I would certainly count my wedding and two kids’ births as euphoric experiences. But those still felt distinct from gender euphoria.
The difference seems to be that they were outward experiences where I was focused on my relationship with other people, and not myself. Even with a feeling as specific as euphoria, the outward version felt different enough from the inward version that the name stumped me.
Gender euphoria is what keeps trans folks going. I get pops of it whenever someone refers to me as “she”, when I tried on skirts and leggings for the first time, or when thinking about growing long hair. Sometimes alexithymia delays, softens, or even hides those feelings, but I’ll keep chasing them. I need to chase them, because those feelings are me.
That’s my euphoria and I’m sticking to it!
What do you think?
💜💙 Gee 💜💙