Joy is an emotion we feel that comes from great pride and fulfillment. It lifts and gives us comfort. It is like a good hug from a friend that warms us from the cold. Yet, it is a part of trans-lives that is sadly ignored and put to the side by media sources and popular culture. Films such as The Danish Girl and Boys Don’t Cry tell trans stories that end in death and mourning. The trans characters in these respective movies are played by cis people which further legitimizes our experiences as trans people to general society Repeatedly spotlighted are the murders, tumultuous and challenging coming outs, and the dejection we face as trans people. This perpetuates a stereotype that trans lives are full of sorrow and grief.
To be clear, trans life is not easy and far too often is harder for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) trans people. They have dealt with abuse, violence, and oppression which is awful. We must protect all members of our queer family. Yet, through all of the challenges, trans life is one full of joy and elation. It is a coming out into one’s true self, a metamorphosis that also comes with euphoria, elation, humor, and GEB: “Gender Euphoric Bliss” ( as said by Non-Binary Trans comedian, Gara Lonning, and their podcast: “En(ba)by”). I want to shine a light on that happiness, and share the joy I have felt as a trans individual. It is important to share joyful experiences as those are the moments as trans people we can treasure and cherish. Now, I will say upfront, my experience does not represent all trans people, but I do hope it validates others and gives my fellow queer and trans people in the community hope.
Being addressed as your authentic self:
The first joy I felt on my journey was the happiness and elation I experienced from being called my chosen name. I remember first hearing my chosen name Joan initially being used on a YouTube video by a non-binary person. When I heard it, I just felt this spark, this feeling of knowing that instantly felt comforting. I decided to try the name on with a few friends. I grew a liking to it, yet I was terrified of sharing that name with the world. It took me a long time to gain that courage. It can be frightening to show your true self to the world. My personal advice though is to start with smaller baby steps. For me, that was ordering my coffee at college under my chosen name. I still remember trembling as I got to the coffee stand wondering, “Are they gonna invalidate me,” “Is sharing my name going to bring confusion, hurt, or chaos.” These fears plagued me for quite a while. Yet, once I took that first step, it felt amazing, empowering, elating, and even relaxing. I remember seeing my name on the cup, and just smiling and thinking, “Wow, I had no idea a name could bring me such happiness and joy.” To all my trans, non-binary, and queer siblings, sharing a chosen name or any of your authentic self is daunting, but the power and exuberance you will get from it are like no other.
Finding your style:
The next moment of trans joy I want to spotlight is the gratification from finding clothes, and an expression that is solely, and fabulously “you.” Now, this step, much like being authentically yourself may take time to find. Please know, that this is perfectly valid. It is something to be completely frank, I am still very much figuring out. This is a very exciting time for me as now that I am on hormones, my body is finally starting to look how I want it to. Sometimes I may want my breasts to be a bit bigger, but embracing my changing body is part of the fun, and empowerment.
I realize not everyone can be on hormones and the privilege I have. That being said, it feels amazing to shop and wear dresses that give me pride. I love just shopping and imagining what looks I want to try and experiment with. Whether that is ultra femme, more butch, or even sexier when I feel like it. I encourage trans people to just try styles and see where it takes them. Just to enjoy the journey.
Building a chosen family :
This next topic of conversation is one of my personal favorites. When I first came out into my queerness, and my transness, I was and still am very lucky to have found like-minded individuals who I am proud to call my chosen family. A queer and trans life can be a scary and lonely one, but having others to go through it with makes it a little bit easier. You can start finding your own queer chosen family by searching social media sites and online for queer support groups. Many of these groups are virtual, and it is a wonderful way to bond and meet other members of the queer community. I was so lucky in my times of struggling to come out to have people by my side to validate and stand by me. To know I was not alone. It is very unique to the queer community, and any marginalized community to have folks who can validate and go through the struggle and fight with you. Everyone’s experience of finding that chosen family is unique, yet it is the individual experience that also makes it special and beautiful.
Meeting your gender goals: I am lucky to get to the point where I am reaching some long-time gender milestones such as being six months on Estrogen. When I first wrote this article, I was anticipating hormones, but still anxiously waiting for it. That life-saving medication would make my body closer to who I feel I am inside. Now that I am there, it feels amazing. I know it is a common line, but, “Man I feel like a woman,” I do. With my emerging womanhood, sometimes I feel like I have missed out on girlhood. The giggly sleepovers, playing with dolls, doing each other’s makeup, playing princesses. I can’t help but think about what would happen if I transitioned earlier. That is all the reason for me to be joyful now, and to reward that girl that has always been inside me. Wearing sparkly dresses, and having my girlfriend paint my nails, moments like that make me happy content, and just full of “Gender Euphoric Bliss.” Trans Joy is truly powerful. Society tends to hide it, and I think partly because of ignorance, but also because it knows it is contagious and is of great power and strength. As a queer community, it is our individual experiences that make us strong. As queer and trans people, it is our joys that light a flame and ultimately, make us stronger as a community. So let's start that fire, and be the positivity we want to be in the world today.