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What Is Gender Euphoria?

| 07/02/2021

two people have gender-affirming sex Illustration by Sofie Birkin

TL;DR

  • Gender euphoria is a feeling of relief, contentment and joy from gender-affirming experiences—the exact opposite of gender dysphoria.
  • Gender euphoria can be felt by everyday expression, gender-affirming sex, and masturbation.
  • You deserve to feel euphoric inside your magical body every single day!

Gender euphoria is the feeling of relief, contentment and joy that arises from gender-affirming experiences, such as hormone replacement therapy, being called the correct pronouns, or being called your chosen name in bed. Gender euphoria is the direct opposite of gender dysphoria, the depression or discontentment felt when your body does not match your gender identity. 

Gender euphoria can feel intoxicating, similar to that breezy feeling of confidence and social courage after a few cocktails, mental clarity and connection to the universe after smoking a joint, butterflies in your tummy after your first kiss with a total hottie. Ironically, learning about gender dysphoria can feel euphoric for some gender-diverse people because it finally puts a name to the strange restlessness they’ve felt their whole lives.

You deserve to feel gender euphoria. Every. Single. Day. 

For some transgender people, a surge in gender euphoria comes after receiving gender-affirming surgeries. A 2019 study with 281 American transfeminine adults showed that hair removal treatment such as electrolysis or laser hair removal significantly decreased distress and depression while increasing overall wellbeing. Gender-affirming surgeries are not always financially available, but the queer and trans community draws upon everyday sources of gender euphoria for survival.

The musky scent of men’s cologne might elicit goosebumps for a transmasc dude. A non-binary femme who feels disconnected to their breasts might hear their entire body sigh with relief after putting on a chest binder. A transfemme beauty may feel tingly, toe-curling pleasure from posing for raunchy photos on the beach. Gender-diverse people can also experience gender euphoria through sex positions and preferences that affirm their gender identity.

What is gender-affirming sex?

Gender-affirming sex can be experienced on both an intimate and casual level, as long as consent, preferences, and boundaries are very clearly communicated before having sex. For example, trans men might find it affirming when their partner refers to their genitals as “your dick,” “your throbbing cock,” or (to appeal to one’s Dom side) “Daddy’s almighty cock.”

For trans women, it can be the opposite. They may enjoy being called “princess,” “good girl,” or “baby” in bed. For non-binary people, sensual name-calling can vary. King, baby girl, slut, wonderland, or queen — any of these terms can help you or your partner feel more seen during sex. If you don’t know what names you like to be called in bed, it could be helpful to experiment with a partner you trust. Communication is the most important part of having a gender-affirming sexual experience.

The queer and trans community draws upon everyday sources of gender euphoria for survival.

Certain sex positions can feel gender-affirming, too. Three gender-diverse people were generous enough to share with us which positions feel the most gender-affirming. Braxton M., a trans man, shares, “Cowgirl and reverse are my two most gender-euphoric. I feel powerful and masculine, yet I am able to be submissive to my partner. Embracing both sides of who I am makes me the most euphoric.” 

Another trans man, Jesse N., describes himself as bisexual, but is mostly attracted to men. “I am a bottom to my boyfriend’s top,” he says. “Anal sex is the most euphoric to me as that’s how the world expects when two men are having sex.” Jesse feels as if bottoms are “unfairly feminized,” and that the association that bottoms are always feminine is harmful for transmasc people. 

Trans influencer, activist, and fashion designer Mars W. says that he loves “a femme top moment,” with many heart-eye emojis for emphasis. Being topped by a femme while “still being seen as masculine by my partner” makes Mars feel the most euphoric. Even though we have preconceived notions about what masculine or feminine partners do in bed, it’s impossible to guess what makes you or your partner feel affirmed without communicating those boundaries beforehand.

Masturbating to find gender euphoria

Still not sure how to find gender euphoria during sex? You’re not alone. Studies have shown that living in a body that doesn’t align with your gender identity can lead to unsatisfactory sexual experiences — even after receiving gender-affirming surgeries. Confusion and dissociation during sex is, unfortunately, an extremely common experience for gender-diverse people. Thankfully, you can take baby steps to help you find the positions, sensations, and name-calling that feel best for your gender through masturbation. 

Here’s an easy way to find gender-affirming names you like to be called in bed: Record 30-second to 1-minute voice memos on your phone for each name that you want to test out. Start slow with, “Daddy, you’re making me so hot,” or “Arch that back for me, Princess.” As time goes by, intensify your voice and dialogue. “Oh yes, Daddy, pound me harder!” or “You like it when I pull your hair and fuck you from the back, Princess? You like that?” Play the recording as you masturbate and see which names bring you the most sexual pleasure.

Use different sex toys to find which sensations make you feel the most euphoric. Aer’s suction pulses can feel similar to a partner sucking on your genitals, while using Pom to graze from the bottom of your clit to the top can feel similar to licking. You can also experiment with gender-neutral sex toys that might be more affirming than toys marketed to cis, hetero people. 

When experimenting with anal or vaginal penetration, slow your breathing down to a meditative pace to connect with your body on a deeper level. You might find that slow, rhythmic thrusts in your anus feel euphoric, or that vaginal penetration takes your brain to a completely different place and time. By slowing your breathing down to focus on the sensation, rather than getting to the orgasm, you might find which positions allow you to stay blissfully present in that erotic moment.

Sometimes, the difference between euphoria and dissociation is as simple as using the right lube, or being in the right position. Try masturbating while laying on your back, on all fours with doggy-style penetration, or humping a pillow from the top with Eva. Keep a journal nearby to record your sexperimental findings. With this new knowledge, you’re ready to communicate your gender-affirming preferences and boundaries with your partner.

Gender euphoria is healing

You deserve to feel euphoric inside your magical body every single day. Gender euphoria is a deep source of healing and resilience that allowed gender-diverse ancestors to survive oppression and marginalization. Whether you’re reaching for sex toys, a bottle of perfume or hormone injections for gender euphoria, there’s no shame in doing whatever you need to do to feel at home inside your body. 

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