What is gender euphoria and how can it affect your health?

Gender euphoria looks different for each person, but everyone can benefit.

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Have you ever felt so happy with how you felt about singing how you present your gender identity to the world? Then you experience something called gender euphoria.

“Gender euphoria is about being able to live your true identity openly and fearlessly,” Dr. Jerrica Kirkley, chief medical officer at Plume Health, told LIVESTRONG.com.

Here’s everything you need to know about gender euphoria, including what it means, what it’s like, and how it can benefit your mental and physical health.

“Many people know that gender dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort or distress when there is a disconnect between a person’s gender identity and physical body,” says Elyse Pine, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at Gender JOY in Chase Brexton Health Care.

But gender euphoria plays as important a role as dysphoria in the lives of transgender people.

Here is the definition of gender euphoria: “It is a positive feeling that occurs when a person feels recognized and seen in their true gender or feels a alignment between gender identity and body,” says Dr. Pine.

What gender euphoria means to each person depends on who is experiencing it. Noah Cherry, a transgender hairdresser and barber at Bernie and Brother Barber Co., helps her clients find euphoria by helping them approach a gender expression that gives them joy.

“For me, gender euphoria means the excitement, the freedom, the experience of being unforgiving myself and being seen that way,” says Cherry. “In that euphoric moment, I know my best self exists even on the hardest days.”

He added: “When I turn the chair around and see a smile [a client’s] face and difference in their walk, I know that even though they have gone through many ugly days, at least today they feel their most genuine self. ‘

Why is gender euphoria important?

For those who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, it can be difficult to understand why gender euphoria is so important. In fact, there are many cisgender people who have never experienced gender euphoria.

Cherry has a compassionate attitude to explain gender euphoria to those who don’t understand how it can change a transgender person’s life.

“Usually they ask me to think of a time when they felt like they were the real ones. At the time, did they really love themselves? Did they feel comfortable on their skin?” says Cherry.

“The idea is to remember the feeling of a dam in one’s own sense, and to understand that a lot of trans people never have that feeling and that they work so hard every day to get it.”

And gender euphoria can do more than affect the way a transgender person feels about themselves; it can also allow them to interact safely and securely with the world around them.

For example, Dr. Kirkley says that gender euphoria can interact with a patient’s experience in the health care system.

“Most cisgender people, whether they go to a health center or not, don’t think twice about using the right name, just because it’s there,” says Dr. Kirkley. “It simply came to our notice then [people called you] wrong names or pronouns every day “.

Conversely, being able to use the right nouns and pronouns can build trust and comfort, and encourages ongoing medical care.

Tip

There are some barriers to trans- and non-binary-friendly care, such as your location or lack of insurance. See our guide to overcoming barriers to gender reassurance care so you can get the support you deserve.

What is Gender Euphoria like?

Because each person has their own unique gender expression, gender euphoria can manifest in many ways.

Sometimes people are affected by gender euphoria through major changes such as gender reassurance hormone surgery or surgery.

And they can be just as effective as small changes in one’s gender expression: “Euphoria doesn’t have to come from major decisions, from life-changing ones,” says Cherry. “It’s in the details. Maybe all it takes is hair removal from the neck and ears, maybe an inch from the top. These small decisions can save lives.”

Dr. Pine has also noticed that changes in physical appearance facilitate gender euphoria for many of his patients. “[Gender euphoria] It can be seen as a recognition and joy of trust in the clothes or hairstyles that help a person connect with their gender identity, ”she says.

People may also experience gender euphoria for other reasons. “It can be internal, for example, to a person who enjoys hearing a change in the voice of testosterone, or it can be social, such as hearing the chosen name and pronouns used consistently,” says Dr. Pine.

And people can experience gender euphoria in public even before they live as their true selves.

“People describe their initial experiences, for example, when a waiter asks, ‘What would your son like?’ A woman was assigned a child at birth, and she is happy to be considered a boy, sometimes long before her true gender identity is revealed to anyone, ”says Dr. Pine.

Health Benefits of Gender Euphoria

For those who don’t see a big change in quality of life when transgender people have gender euphoria, it’s easy to think that all that gender euphoria does is make them feel better.

However, there are significant mental and physical health benefits from ongoing gender euphoria.

1. It Can Improve Mental Health

“One thing we know is that the transgender community has a disproportionate impact on different health inequalities,” says Dr. Kirkley. “We’ve seen these markers move in the mental health space. Several studies have shown that access to hormone therapy and surgery that confirms gender — just those two things — has improved mental health.”

Also a study conducted in February 2022JAMA network openThe transgender and non-binary youth found that gender-based care is associated with a reduction in the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Dr. Kirkley says his Plume patients experience a marked reduction in anxiety, depression, and self-harm when they receive gender-confirmed care, as well as treating underlying medical problems.

As they receive this care, “patients feel more secure than ever before because of physical changes that match their personality,” says Dr. Kirkley.

“[Experiencing gender euphoria] It allows people to be more involved in their communities, “says Dr. Kirkley.” And when you can get involved in your community, it will work wonders for your physical and mental health. “

For example, being more involved with your peers and the wider community will encourage you to go outside and participate in activities that you would otherwise avoid, says Dr. Kirkley.

3. May be associated with reduced risk of disease

Dr. Kirkley is not the only one who has seen how improving mental health can affect better physical health.

“People with depression and anxiety may have higher rates of problems, such as heart disease and substance abuse,” says Dr. Pine.

In fact, a study was conducted in September 2021Health IssuesPrivate insurance transgender people were found to be at higher risk for most chronic conditions (such as diabetes or heart disease) than their peer cisgenders.

But gaining attention to gender reassurance – and the euphoria that this can bring – can help reduce mental health conditions associated with an increased risk of disease.

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