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Trans Joy Gets Lost In Media Coverage And Anti-trans Legislation

Since the beginning of 2023, 49 U.S. state legislatures have introduced over 500 anti-trans bills. While mainstream media increasingly cover violence and legislative attacks against trans people, many scholars and activists worry that focusing just on violence and discrimination fails to capture the full experience of being trans and experiencing trans joy.

Drawing on the success of movements like the Black Joy Project, which uses art to promote Black healing and community-building, trans activists are challenging one-dimensional depictions of their community by highlighting the unique joys of being transgender.

My research on trans parents affirms the reality of trans joy. From 2019 to 2021, I interviewed 54 transgender women—both current and prospective parents—from diverse racial and class backgrounds across the country. I found that while many have navigated discrimination in their parenting journeys, they also have fulfilling parent-child relationships, often with the support of partners, families of origin and their communities.

Gender Euphoria

Scholars and community members use the term gender euphoria to describe a “joyful feeling of rightness in one’s gender/sex.” It diverges from the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or a sense of conflict between assigned sex and gender identity typically associated with feelings of distress and discomfort.

While gender dysphoria reflects some trans people’s experiences, physicians have historically used this concept to restrict access to gender-affirming care. For example, doctors may prescribe hormones only to people who obtain a letter from a therapist attesting that they fit a narrow understanding of transness that includes expressing hatred for their body.

Gender euphoria celebrates feeling comfortable with who you are and how you are perceived by the world. Some people transition with a specific set of goals, while others discover new sources of joy and new facets of their identity over time.

Some trans women find euphoria in their role as mothers. Maskot/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Many of the trans women I interviewed expressed their gender euphoria in relation to their role as mothers. A Black trans woman in her 20s, whom I will call Gloria, experiences joy in being recognized as a mother. “I love being called Mom. That’s

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