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How to Find Gender Euphoria Without Hormones or Surgery (FTM)




Most people have heard of gender dysphoria - for many, this sensation of not feeling "right" in your body is what makes people realize they are transgender. However, the opposite also exists.


Gender euphoria can be described as satisfaction or joy caused when one’s gendered experience aligns with their gender identity. You don't have to be transgender to experience gender euphoria, but many of us do during or after our transition. While testosterone, top surgery, bottom surgery, or a hysterectomy are often routes taken by FTM folks, there are many ways to find trans joy without medical intervention.


Why is This Important?


There are many reasons why an individual might want or need to seek gender affirmation without the use of medical intervention. for example, someone:

  • May not want it: Whether because they are closeted or because they don't feel that it would be gender-affirming, some people do not pursue hormones or surgeries.

  • May not have access to it: Many people do not have access to gender-affirming healthcare, especially trans youth or trans adults who live in areas where it is hard to get access to.

  • May not be sure yet: It takes time to understand your identity, and how you want to interact with yourself as a trans or nonbinary person. Journaling, talking to a therapist, or talking to other gender-nonconforming people can help you decide what most makes you feel like yourself. Some ideas to think about might include:

    • What about your body or life gives you gender dysmorphia? If there were no barriers, how would you resolve it?

    • How do you feel about your name? Would you prefer to use are more masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral nickname? Would you prefer another name entirely?

    • What interactions with people give you positive feelings about your gender?


How to Find Gender Euphoria Without Hormones or Surgery


Binding


Chest binding is the practice of compressing breast tissue to give the appearance of a flat chest.


People bind in different ways and for different reasons. For me, my gender dysphoria came less from the sight of my breasts and more from the feeling of them moving around. So I always wore tight, well-fitting bras with different ones dedicated to different activities. This way, they were always tightly harnessed and bothered me as little as possible.


Depending on the size of their chest, reason for binding, and budget to work with, some people wrap their chests with elastic bandages, wear athletic compression wear, or layer several sports bras or shirts. Others wear commercially available binders specially designed for this purpose.


No matter how you bind, it is important that you take care of your health while doing so. Binding can have negative side effects, including bacterial and fungal infections, tissue and muscle damage, loss of skin elasticity, and even restricting your ability to breathe. So if you are going to be binding frequently, make sure to take breaks throughout the day and take days off to give your body a break, and to avoid using materials that can actually damage your skin, such as duct tape.


Packing


Packing is the process of using various materials to create a bulge that looks like a penis. This is an easy one to try out, as you can diy a free packer by simply rolling up a ball of socks (or anything else that won't give you a rash) and placing it in your underwear to see if you enjoy how it looks and feels. You can also craft a more penis-shaped packer with a tutorial like this one from Trans Guy Supply's blog. Like binders, there are many different reasons to pack, which often affect the design of the packer. The main reasons are:


  • To look like a bulge

  • To imitate the look and feel of a penis

  • To assist in the ability to stand to pee

  • To use for sex

I personally do not feel dysmorphia about my genitals but still like to experiment with a packer here and there. I enjoy having more people identify me as masculine while wearing it, and I wear it to music festivals as an accessory. But many people feel their packer is an extension of their body and wear it every time they go in public. However you decide to use a packer is valid, and can be a helpful way to feel better about your body.


Physical Appearance


There are many ways to change your physical appearance that can help you feel trans joy. It may take some thought to determine what will reduce your gender dysphoria - you may simply want to get creative and see how you like your results. Some ways to experiment with your appearance include:


  • Change up your hairstyle, including cutting, dyeing, styling, braiding, or dreading it. I started my first set of dreads around the same time I came out as nonbinary.

  • Experiment with some different scents: scented lotion, cologne, soaps, deodorant, etc. During my transition, I moved away from my normal fruity lotions and soaps and started to wear the woodsy smells marketed toward men. As an AFAB person, it felt like I almost wasn't allowed to explore that (very small) section of the store before, and I felt powerful trying them out.

  • Experiment with voice training videos online, which explain exercises that can help you learn talk in a lower pitch.


Clothes and Accessories

When exploring their identity, it is common for trans and nonbinary folks to experiment with their wardrobe. You don't have to replace your entire closet with traditionally masculine clothing, just allow yourself to add one or two things to your wardrobe that you were previously "not allowed" to wear, or experiment with something that you've been wanting to wear. Borrowing from a friend or sibling or going to the thrift store can make this less expensive. You can also get crafty and modify clothes you already have, like cutting the sleeves off of an old t-shirt or adding pockets to a jacket that doesn't have any.


The first thing I tried was when I started my transition was boxers. I love Tomboy X Boxer Briefs, because unlike boxers designed for cis men or even many promoted to women, they have a flat center that can absorb vaginal discharge and hold a pad or liner, allowing you to wear boxers without logistical issues.


Trying out more masculine accessories, like bags, wallets, hats, or belts, can also be gender-affirming. I slowly switched out my large purses, dangly belts, and tablet-sized wallets that were floral printed or embossed in gold (what can I say, that's what I liked), to the sleek black style of clothes and accessories I have now. Most of my bags either double as athletic gear or are made from recycled materials such as bike tires or billboards, resulting in a sturdy and neutral colored palate. I have become that person with a nondescript black wallet that is so well-loved you wonder how it stays together, but I love it and will not be replacing it any time soon.


When experimenting with clothes and accessories, take time to admire yourself. Think about how you feel when wearing it, and whether if gives you joy. If safe to do so, go out in public and notice how that feels or how others react. If you feel good about yourself, others with also appreciate the change.


Working out


Eating well and working out can give you a more "masculine" physique. Find a sport or exercise you enjoy and consider how you feel while working out, or when you are sore the next day.


While I have always loved strength training, before I was able to get top surgery I loved that weight lifting made my chest and shoulders more visible - my actual chest, not my breasts. Because of that I took a sort of "arm day every day" approach, which is not healthy. Try to be mindful about exercising your entire body evenly, and consult a doctor or physical trainer to avoid injuries. Even cheaper gyms like Planet Fitness often have trainers available to give you tips on how to get a balanced workout and use good form.


Preferred Name and Pronouns


Changing your name and pronouns is not required to "count" as a transmasculine or nonbinary person. However many find gender affirmation in changing these things, or feel it is necessary as part of their transition.


If you feel dysphoric about your name but are not sure what you want to change it to, possibly start by using a nickname, switching to your middle or last name, or changing your name on different online platforms. In person, you can try out your new name on strangers, such as at a coffee shop or deli, and see how it makes you feel. Names are fluid, and you don't need to feel locked into the one you choose. I currently go by Koi in queer friendly spaces and use another name in cis-dominated spaces, which is not common but is my choice.


Pronouns can be difficult, because people who already know you may struggle with learning your new pronouns. This is not actually a difficult thing to do - I've had friends and coworkers who had known me for years switch pronouns without issue - so if someone is resisting it is up to you how much you want to interact with this person or how much time you want to give them to see you for who you are. Like many trans people, coming out to my family was difficult for me as a close family member was angry enough to cut off our relationship, and many others, while supportive, have simply gone back to using she/her. Some find that giving people, especially family members, a time limit can be helpful, while others correct people whenever they use the wrong pronouns until people get it right.


Some tips to make asserting your new name and pronouns a more joyful process:

  • Start with people who are supportive, such as a partner or friends.

  • Get help from supportive folks to hold others accountable when talking to or about you.

  • Don't take it personally if it takes a long time for certain people to adjust. You deserve to love the version of yourself that you are outwardly expressing to the world. If this bothers someone, it is their burden to bear, not yours.


Community


Spend time around people who respect you as the person you identify as without treating you like an "other". This may sound difficult at the beginning of your transition, but they exist. Consider local LGBTQ+ groups, spiritual groups, sports or other activities, and online groups. For friends and family who want to be supportive, consider sending them resources so that they understand how you are feeling and allowing them to take part in your transition, like going shopping with you.


Summary


It can be confusing at the beginning of your transition to know whether or not you need to go on hormones or pursue surgery. Some things, like the actions and assumptions of strangers, may be out of your control. If you want trans healthcare and but don't have access to it, it might feel like you're waiting to become yourself- it is important to know that people want to support you, and things will get better.


No matter where you are in your transition, there are ways to find small moments of gender euphoria that are accessible to you. Search inside yourself and think about what exactly you want, what experiences make you feel good, and where you see yourself in a few years. What steps can you take now? Then take the next step if your personal journey to self love and trans joy.






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Hi, I'm Koi!

I'm an environmental project manager who decided to make a change from office life to to outdoor projects and small business ownership.

My goal is to help promote forward movement in outdoor spaces and live events towards full accessibility and diversity by giving everyone the inspiration and tools to create their own adventure.

I love self expression, hiking, music festivals, and Burning Man, and want to show that celebrating diversity in the outdoors makes it better for everyone.

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A mobile loctician goes to folks' homes or meets them in a neutral location in order to do their hair. I travel far and wide to spread hair love to other dread heads! I do the crochet method, and can work with any hair texture, including straight and curly hair. Check out Dread King to learn more. 

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