GENDER EUPHORIA: a powerful feeling of happiness experienced as a result of moving away from one’s birth-assigned gender.
So often the stories shared by trans people about their transition centre on gender dysphoria: a feeling of deep discomfort with their birth-assigned gender, and a powerful catalyst for coming out or transitioning. But for many non-cisgender people, it’s gender euphoria which pushes forward their transition: the joy the first time a parent calls them by their new chosen name, the first time they have the confidence to cut their hair short, the first time they truly embrace themself.
In this groundbreaking anthology, nineteen trans, non-binary, agender, gender-fluid and intersex writers share their experiences of gender euphoria: an agender dominatrix being called ‘Daddy’, an Arab trans man getting his first tattoos, a trans woman embracing her inner fighter.
What they have in common are their feelings of elation, pride, confidence, freedom and ecstasy as a direct result of coming out as non-cisgender, and how coming to terms with their gender has brought unimaginable joy into their lives.
What I Thought:
What a wonderful book Gender Euphoria is!
So much of what is written about the non-cisgender community in the press and on social media focuses on the negative, both in how gender dysphoria is supposedly faddish and being pushed by a ‘woke’ agenda, and also in stories from non-cisgender people themselves whose journey of trying to claim their identity has been marked by overwhelmingly negative feelings and experiences.
It’s heartening then to read a book like this that is a collection of 29 essays focusing on the truly wonderful moments of the authors’ own coming out stories – that certainly isn’t to say that there are not sad moments, especially when some of these authors write of a lack of understanding in family and friends or the agony of undergoing a puberty that they did not welcome, but overwhelmingly this is a life-affirming collection of essays that are a joy to read.
There are several contributions from editor Laura Kate Dale, and I just wanted to touch on the one that struck me the most – the effort to present as female and always be ‘on’ in public situations. As a cisgender woman, I have never considered the fact that I can dress how I want, and be as scruffy and as masculine as I want without it being a thing. Laura describes such a different experience, where she feels that she must always put on her most feminine face in public to avoid being misgendered. It’s just something that I have been lucky enough to never have to consider and it’s one of many ‘oh yeah’ moments in the book. When Laura writes of her euphoria at being correctly addressed when even on one of her scruffy days, it’s really lovely.
I would absolutely recommend this book – as someone who would like to consider themselves a trans ally, I’m fully aware that I get things wrong sometimes so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to read this book that is not necessarily ‘for’ me, but that has certainly helped me understand how to do better and be better.
You can’t put a price on hearing from people about their own lived experience, rather than relying on what outside sources have to say about them – in the spirit of this, instead of reading my review (or in addition to), read this book!
Gender Euphoria is published by Unbound.
Laura Kate Dale is a full-time video game critic, video creator, podcaster and author. Her first book was Uncomfortable Labels, a memoir about growing up at the intersection of being a member of the LGBT community and living with autism, and she writes regularly on the theme of transgender rights and experience. She can be found tweeting at @LaurakBuzz, where she has over 53k followers.
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.