Wednesday 23 June 2021

Gender Euphoria, edited by Laura Kate Dale

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This post is part of the blog tour for the book. Thanks to Random Things Tours and Unbound for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This groundbreaking anthology brings together the experiences of non-binary, agender, gender fluid, and intersex writers, focussing on gender euphoria rather than the dysphoria that usually gets the most column inches. The result is a moving, enlightening book that will give you a real insight into the lives of non-cisgender people and the experiences that give them the greatest sense of gender euphoria.

The writers are all fairly young but are from all walks of life with very individual stories to tell. The editor, Laura Kate Dale, contributes a number of essays on her experiences as a pansexual trans woman. The scenarios are different but there’s a connecting theme of joy when the writers learn to love themselves with or without the approval of people around them. Many find freedom in letting go of overtly trying to hide signs of their birth assigned gender - tales of obsessively plucking all facial hair daily, feeling the need to constantly wear feminised clothes regardless of whether they fit the mood or not, give an insight in the constant practical issues that can cause a lot of stress and feelings of restriction. A lot of this arises more from a desire for others to correctly gender them rather than necessarily needing it for their own sense of identity. The reader feels the relief and freedom of reaching a point where going out with a bit of facial hair showing is no longer seen as an insurmountable barrier, and the euphoria that comes with being correctly gendered by others. 

One essay talks of the challenges of being pregnant and breastfeeding, activities that are heavily gendered by society, as a non-binary person. Another speaks of their fear as a trans man getting married that they’d be referred to as a wife during the ceremony, and the joy that came with a celebrant that took the time to understand their concerns and helped make the day a euphoric one.

This is a book that doesn’t shy away from the challenges of those who battle not only their own insecurities but lack of understanding from society more broadly. They write with great honesty about their experiences and sense of isolation, but also of acceptance and finding safe spaces where they’re finally able to feel themselves without fear. It’s a book that will make you smile and make you cry, but most importantly, you’ll close the book with a much greater understanding of the lived experiences of the writers and the little things we can all do to make the world a happier, more accepting place.

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