Gender Dysphoria and Gender Euphoria

by Axel Caddel

Special Series: Young Voices

From the perspective of a teen who falls under the trans umbrella.

Hello, my name is Axel. Today I’ll be telling you about what gender dysphoria and euphoria are like from my perspective. Gender dysphoria is the feeling of distress caused by the desire to have the physical characteristics of the gender you identify as, but were not born with. Gender euphoria on the other hand is a feeling of joy that a trans person can have when they think about their true gender identity. This feeling usually happens when someone wears clothes/accessories that make them feel masculine/feminine. An example of this is when transmascs bind (wear a binder); the idea of having a flat chest could give a transmasc person gender euphoria.

At this moment, I don’t know what my gender identity is, but I know I fall under the trans umbrella. Like many trans people (not all), I do experience both gender euphoria and dysphoria. If you couldn’t tell by the description of it, gender dysphoria is a terrible feeling. Personally, I’m not really interested in getting gender-affirming surgery. I don’t really have a reason, I just don’t feel like I need it to feel confident about my identity.

Even though I don’t feel like I need surgery, I still get a lot of gender dysphoria about my body. I was born a female, so up until today, there wasn’t a way I could hide my breasts without wearing hoodies and huge clothes, which isn’t super fun when you live in Florida and it’s summer. Those clothes aren’t super comfortable when outside. Only today did I get my binder and It gave me a lot of euphoria about who I am. I’m aware that my identity is who I am on the inside, but when it doesn’t reflect on the outside, it makes me uncomfortable in my own body. It makes me feel like others don’t see me as myself, but as a girl.

There’s been times where friends of mine, ones who have seen my entire process of finding out my identity and even knew me when I thought I was cisgendered, were the same people who triggered major dysphoric episodes.

I remember, it recently happened when I was talking with two of my friends in school. One of the friends I had talked to about my pronouns was misgendering me throughout the conversation and not noticing. It hurt a lot. These things make me not like hanging out with my cisgender friends as much as I do my trans friends. Some people consider me selfish for that, but when someone understands my struggles, it’s much easier to talk with them. I understand that it is only recently that the concept of pronouns has been getting accepted by society, but I don’t feel like I need to pretend to be okay with people using she/her pronouns for me to make someone else comfortable.

Something that has given me a ton of gender euphoria is actually school. It might sound shocking since middle school is kind of like a nightmare for a lot of people. But for me, school became the first place where I could actually be myself with surprisingly very little judgement.

I told my teachers about my preferred pronouns and name about a week before I went to school in person (around the 3rd quarter of the school year) and my teachers were very supportive. Very soon after that, everyone in school was calling me Axel and not my birth name. I was pleasantly surprised that support came from a place where I least expected it. Honestly, it almost felt like a dream. It’s made me have this weird love-hate relationship with school. I don’t really like the environment there, nor do I love the teaching styles that some of my teachers have, but I finally have a place other than the internet where I’m openly trans.

Now that summer has started, I’ve been pretty sad. I went from a place where I was unapologetically myself and people were cool with that, to being back at home where I don’t always feel supported. My family isn’t transphobic, but I’m not out to one of my parents and the other doesn’t call me by my preferred name. If they were to, my whole family would probably find out and I don’t want to deal with that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that being a trans kid is hard. But finding out my identity has made my life better and it has made me who I am. So if you are a trans teen still figuring out who you are, or even if you already know, just know that support is always available. It might not be from who you want it to be, but you are not alone. There will be people who are going to love you for who you are.

26Health offers support services to tweens and teens grappling with their gender and sexual identities.