[00:00:00] Shea: We're gonna roll our D 20 s and go on this journey.
[00:00:03] Shea: Got it.
[00:00:04] Jasper: We're rolling our D 20 s. That is gender euphoria.
[00:00:07] Shea: Yes. Yep.
[00:00:09] Jasper: I'm Jasper Lior, and this is Gender Euphoria: the podcast where we break down what gender euphoria is and talk about the beautiful, wonderful, incredible parts of trans identity. Today I'm with Shea Roberts Gyllen. Shea is a nourisher of humans, enjoyer of art making, and all around here for the fun times. Thank you so much for being here, Shea.
[00:00:32] Shea: Oh, thanks so much for having me. I'm so glad we're friends now.
[00:00:36] Jasper: Hell yeah. We are. Me too.
[00:00:39] Shea: Yes.
[00:00:39] Jasper: Shea, What does gender euphoria mean to you?
[00:00:42] Shea: Oh boy. Well, it's a shifting definition. So today in the here and now, it feels like, uh, it feels like all of the bits of me reaching into all of the bits of ever, and feeling big and huge about it, and joyful and explosive with that joy and that pleasure. And then also like containing a little piece of that and putting it in a little box in my heart in case I need it for the dark times.
[00:01:13] Jasper: I haven't heard that yet. Keeping it. That's
[00:01:17] Shea: I think you know, we're humans and as much as the, the good times feel good and they're all, you know, we want all, that all the time, like humanness and the world has light to it, and it has dark to it. And it's important to find the ways to hold onto the light when the dark times come around. And sometimes that's like you do it for yourself and sometimes you can't do it for yourself and that's what friends and community are for. And so like, yeah, keeping a little bit of that for me or maybe keeping it, for someone else.
[00:01:53] Jasper: I love that, thinking about it as like a tangible thing, like an energy that can be shared and you know, stored somewhere else for later.
[00:02:01] Shea: yeah. yeah. like you're a little candle maker of joy and euphoria.
[00:02:06] Jasper: Oh, are your little candles your little euphoria candles?
[00:02:10] Shea: Maybe they are now. I don't make candles, but I gotta start now
[00:02:15] Jasper: it to your to your bio.
[00:02:17] Shea: to my bio candle maker. And then I can be in a rhyme.
[00:02:22] Jasper: We can put you in a rhyme. If all you wants to be in a rhyme, we can, we can do that.
[00:02:26] Shea: that would be, Oh, if only those were all of the needs that I had in the world. Need met, done.
[00:02:32] Jasper: Is there a physical sensation that you have around gender euphoria?
[00:02:37] Shea: Mm. It's pretty warm feeling usually. So warmer months are great for me, but that doesn't necessarily mean hotness, though. Or like warmth, like, but like the cold months also come with their own special kinds of warmths, you know, like the, the warmth of a fire or like a hug when we finally get to hug people more or like feeding each, like making a meal with fri, like, it feels good in my core, in my torso.
[00:03:09] Jasper: and how do you differentiate, if you do between just like the general euphoria you get from existing sometimes and specifically the gender euphoria?
[00:03:19] Shea: Mm. Great. Good question. I think. Oh boy. You know, I've been thinking about this since we talked before and I haven't got an answer for you yet. How do I differentiate? I don't know, cuz I think the lines get blurred a whole lot because I, where I'm at in my own journey of discovering all of the cool and amazing parts of myself are really intersected the things that make the most sense for like the little signposts along the way that, Shea you do not exist in a binary. Like those are all intrinsically missed in the things that bring me great joy. So like, the ability to be like so many options exists on the improv stage and the like, like I like can't even breathe. It's in my chest. It's like I get a breathlessness. Birth for me was really probably like one of the most foundational moments in where I'm at right now in my identity and like was incredibly euphoric because I turned into the whole universe and the universe not on a binary, the universe is literally everywhere. And so there's like an expansion in my chest that feels like that euphoria. There's, there's a, there, there's also one in my mind that goes on at the same time that just exudes that that energy that I can lock away for later except for, I don't wanna lock it away cause I wanna share it, but like I can keep a little piece of that or I can tap into those memories of when I had that, just to feel a little bit of that expansion. Did I answer your question? I get lost on tangents.
[00:05:06] Jasper: I love that. I'm, I'm picking up what you're putting down. I'm so interested to hear more about your birthing experience, cuz I don't feel like euphoria is generally a word you hear surrounding that.
[00:05:19] Shea: No. I think you're right. We
[00:05:22] Jasper: and gender also like
[00:05:24] Shea: Yeah. So um, I don't know if you know, but people like to really prescribe childbirth to something that is sacredly feminine. And that is a great thing for people who want to feel that way about it. But it is not great for me. Um, I was starting to use they and she pronouns when I was pregnant with my first child in closer quarters, and it felt really, really great in those closer quarters when people would default to the they. But like we were, we, my, my partner and I, we were really sure that we wanted to do our best not to like inflict the binary on our children and so like, did as much as we could to like bubble any of the like baby's parts and identity from the world. While we were pregnant, we didn't find out anything about what kind of genitals our kid had cuz we're like, We don't, we don't know who this child is until this child tells us. And so that also translated um, pregnancy looking a lot like finding out I do not like to be called mom. Um, I always knew I wanted to become a parent and so doing that was really powerful. I had, with my first pregnancy, I didn't get super bad morning sickness beyond like kind of the first trimester and then felt really great for most of the rest of my pregnancy until, the last two weeks I had some ligament issues that were really painful, but then birth itself hit. I went hard into labor with no early labor. It my water broken, I was in labor, and it was like sometimes it feels traumatic that I didn't get any of that intro to labor. And other times it feels really nice cuz I didn't have to get into my own way with it, I was just like, I went straight there and because I didn't have any earlier, lighter contractions, my brain just went to coping how it did. This is the part of the podcast where, mom, if you're listening and you don't wanna know things about my sex life, you should just jump ahead a half a minute, uh, anybody else who might be related to me and doesn't wanna know, but like, so contraction started and all of the tools that I learned as a bottom in the kink community just like came into play of like, Oh, I'm just gonna manage this and I'm gonna get to the next bit. And so mom, it's safe again um, Uh, so like that, it just, it went from zero to on and then we got to the pushing part of labor and this all happened in three and a half hours. So about three hours into this wildly strong labor. And I was like fully dilated and so it was like, okay, you can get into the water as soon as this doctor gets here cuz rules and policies and that's a different podcast. And I got in the water and when the doctor arrived and like got to start pushing and it was like the most incredible feeling in the world cuz I was a hundred percent only myself. And that per who... hello Emotions. That person. I'm gonna say nice things about myself and I'm getting a little weepy about it, which is also another podcast. Uh, like I was powerful and sexy and beautiful and like this whole human grew inside of me and was coming out, and I don't know how you do that without becoming the universe. So I became the universe and once you expand in that way, and because of all of like the management tools, I got to just like revel in being myself. And I liked it. It felt so good. And I had a baby to hold. Whew.
[00:09:21] Jasper: Wow.
[00:09:22] Shea: I was not gonna cry today, but I guess I was and that's great. Yeah, it was really nice.
[00:09:29] Jasper: You're making me emotional, so that is so beautiful and epic, and we need to get you your own podcast. What do you say that that moment was ma, was like one of the first times you really were conscious of feeling a hundred percent yourself outside of this binary? Like I think something I've noticed talking to people is that there maybe is a moment on people's gender journeys or a few moments at the beginning where you are first discovering yourself and you're first having these feelings of being completely yourself. And I'm wondering if that moment for you was one of those moments.
[00:10:01] Shea: I don't think it was the first moment because my whole life it was like, Oh, you're such a tomboy. And then other times I'd be like, Oh, you're so, you're so, girly and feminine. You know, like it was like, both of these feel good to me uh, And all the places in between. Like I would, I, at one point in my life was like, what if we did a photo series in prom dresses, like cutting down this tree that needs to come out of our yard that's dying. You know, like it's always been fun to like, mix that up and fuck with it. Or like, I was at a, a cousin's wedding, the things that I wanted to do at the after party were the things that like all of my uncles wanted to do. And like, you know, cigars and scotch and like having opinions about them. My dad was like, you are not a chick. And I was like, oh, you know, so there have been these little like, sign posts along the way, but this was the moment that it was fully, I don't know, this is the moment that it became like physicalized in a really, really intense and gorgeous way.
[00:11:04] Jasper: Yeah. Would you say it's a moment that like, you can't ever return to where you were before you become the universe, really?
[00:11:12] Shea: Yeah. You become the universe and you can't ever not have been that at that point then. That e even if I can never expand to that point again, which I never, I didn't become the universe with my second when we got to pushing, which I was a little like, I was really excited to do, and then it didn't happen. But then, like that birth was very rooted and like had its own cool sensations. But like, I don't, I don't, the potential and all of all of that expansion is still there. I just might not reach out that far ever again cuz it was also really intense. It was a lot of work to get there. So who knows? I'll let you know if it happens again, it'd be really fun.
[00:11:53] Jasper: Yeah. Oh, there's so many intersections that you exist in, and I'm so curious to know, like as a birth worker, as a gender queer human coming into this practice of helping people give birth and then, know, having these baby humans that you've just delivered into the world, like there's so many intersections of gender and gender euphoria and gender dysphoria and all those things. And
[00:12:20] Shea: Yeah.
[00:12:21] Jasper: if you, I mean, that's pretty vague. Not really a question, but
[00:12:25] Shea: Yeah. It's, it's a really, it's a really fun and beautiful place to be, and it can be a really hard place to be. Um, supporting, queer clients is far more euphoric than supporting non-queer clients because queer clients come with a shared experience. They're, there's just, I don't know, there's just, when you're in community, it feels different. Or like I've supported close friends who are not queer and that came with its own shared sense of like, of community, but like when I'm supporting somebody in a hospital setting where there's like changeover of staff and hospitals are just not as far along on their journey of de-gendering birth and de-gendering who supports people in birth like it is never on my client's shoulders to make sure that I'm not misgendered cuz they're they're busy birthing a baby. So there's an interesting intersection there of like showing up for a space or in a space for someone else while also making sure I don't walk away with my own things and I, it's complicated. And I'm a white person doing this work, um, so for anybody of color, any black queer doula doing this work, there's like even more layers of navigating that but also it's, I think a lot like my own euphoric experience in birth is a lot of what brought me here. I know a lot of people who do the same work, do the work because they had a bad experience. And I think both of those things are really valid. But yeah, it's a lot of people centering. Um, I It was a vague question and you got a windy answer.
[00:14:12] Jasper: You just made me have a thought that like a lot of trans humans are born out of these big moments of either euphoria or dysphoria generally, like they're born out of their entire life experience, but the realization comes in these big moments and birth is this huge moment of creating a brand new human out of a moment of extreme emotion, and that is just like a very cool parallel that exists
[00:14:38] Shea: Yeah. Yeah. And I think any way that you come to pregnancy and birth comes with a lot of emotion. You know I think a lot of the narrative for birth, well, I think I know we see it is, is dominated by like pretty straightforward cis hetero penis and vis vagina sex and the baby comes out. Like there's this whole like how do we, how do we initiate labor? Get the baby out the same way you got in it in. But that's not, you know, penis and vagina sex is not how every baby got conceived. But the, I think that emotional thing piece that you just named is like the, the piece that's really important to that is like, it is, it is emotional, it is transformation. It is changing dynamics. It's changing like when you become a parent you change how you move in the world, which is similar or not cuz like, so many trans and non-binary folks that I know, like they're like this is actually who I've always been, I just found better words for myself or better ways to understand myself.
[00:15:51] Jasper: Uh, is there a moment of gender euphoria maybe besides the birth story you already told that stands out in your life?
[00:15:59] Shea: Oh gosh, anytime I get to fully be myself and not be a little bit guarded about who I am in, in what space is amazing. But the the moments that it's like extra amazing is in those times when I'm moving in a space where I feel like I have to have armor on and somebody does or says something that lets me take a piece of that armor off. So like at a family gathering where not everybody gets it, or in the same wavelength and like someone else steps up to wear a piece of the armor for me or finding community where the armor isn't like finding yourself accidentally in community where you don't need the armor and everyone just throws it all in the ocean, but like in a non littering way, Let's not litter yeah
[00:16:46] Jasper: we can litter our
[00:16:47] Shea: those are the times.
[00:16:48] Jasper: cis head armor into the ocean, but
[00:16:51] Shea: Yes,
[00:16:51] Jasper: no real garbage.
[00:16:52] Shea: No real garbage.
[00:16:55] Jasper: Those moments you're when you, you're right, when you are so guarded and then someone does something, that just takes a piece away, it's so relieving and just like your whole chest opens up. I feel my gender euphoria a lot in my chest, which is kind of funny cuz I wanna cut my boobs off, but I'm sure it's all connected
[00:17:15] Shea: I, yeah, I have that's a thing. I so this chest of mine nourishes my little humans. My little my little goblins, and I'm both grateful for it, and I want it to be gone, but I want it to be gone because I'm so sick of it being touched. Not because I feel like I want top surgery for, for like how I want my body to look, for me in the way that I see myself. If I were to draw myself on paper,
[00:17:45] Jasper: That's a good exercise.
[00:17:46] Shea: this, the, the person I see in my head when I look at myself looks pretty much the same, but I also am sick of my goblins, touching my chest
[00:17:57] Jasper: Yeah.
[00:17:58] Shea: it was gone, they couldn't touch it. They would just touch me somewhere else that I would want to chop off. Anyway, that's different
[00:18:04] Jasper: Yeah. Yeah. I probably, I was breastfed till I was like four and a half, so long time
[00:18:12] Shea: Do you have memories of it?
[00:18:13] Jasper: Oh yeah. And my mom, like the pinnacle of her existence was breastfeeding me and my sister. And so when I went on, when I began this journey of like, chest, boobs, yes, no, what do I want? Definitely a lot of breastfeeding things came up for me just in the fact that like my whole life I was told it was the most magical experience a person could go through. And here I am, like I don't know that I, you know, I'm pretty confident I don't want to have my own biological children, but like you, I'm not sure. I don't wanna like, you know, I don't know.
[00:18:50] Shea: I'm very excited that that was your mom's magical experience, but it's absolutely like, not you, I release you from the expectation that that you have to have that. Uh, you don't need me to release you from that, but sometimes it's nice to have another person say that
[00:19:07] Jasper: I appreciate that. I've, I've been working on it and I'm pretty good and I have this really beautiful visualization of whatever hypothetical, ch child I have or don't have, just like resting on my flat chest and like that being a beautiful experience that we have.
[00:19:23] Shea: there are so many amazing options for feeding children both for people who can create milk and people who, who aren't able to, there are so many variations of what that looks like within like surgeries and, and everything as well. So like the, the options are out there, they're endless. Um, yeah.
[00:19:46] Jasper: Why is gender euphoria important?
[00:19:51] Shea: I think we spend so much time as trans and non-binary folks being in the dark that we need those light and expansive moments. We deserve them. We need to keep talking about them. I think that's Why this podcast is really important and delightful is like we, like it has to like, we have to keep sharing that we can exist a hundred percent how we are and who we are and it feels good. And so when it's shitty times, I don't know, maybe listen to an episode and be like, Okay, somebody has had that the possibility in this universe exists for me to have that. I'm going to stay the course. I'm going to, I'm going to find that that's going to be mine. We're gonna roll our D 20 s and go on this journey. Got it.
[00:20:41] Jasper: We're rolling our D 20 s. That is gender euphoria.
[00:20:44] Shea: Yes. Yep.
[00:20:46] Jasper: I, Yeah. And Like I I'm feeling like why I think gender euphoria is important, bec is because I feel like transness is so important for this world, and joy is so important for marginalized people and communities. And I was just doing like crazy journaling, rambling the other day and writing about joy and how I think joy is the opposite of capitalism in some ways like, how I want to use that and yeah, so those are my little thoughts
[00:21:18] Shea: Yep. Like when I think of like, what is the dream, it is like living in community, like creating what brings joy to our heart, so for me, that's like a lot of art and like food, growing that food together. Someone is in pain and showing up with what they need and like, maybe this person's really great at this skill, or like someone's gonna have a baby and so like, I'm gonna go and support them. and then we all come together and feed that person and support that family after, where it's like that's the dream and that like there's it's community. It's existing outside of grind. It's
[00:22:01] Jasper: yeah. I think that a lot of people will join you in that dream and there's, I think the reason, one of the many reasons why so many queer people have that same dream is because straight cis heteronormativity is so isolating by design, and when you are queer, you gain this entire family and you get to be amazing and Like not isolated finally, but then you still have to live in your own houses and you have to be separate and you have to like still, you're still confined to these boxes even though your soul and your spirit and your brain can see outside of that. So then we're all like, well, why don't we just all form a commune? This is dumb
[00:22:42] Shea: Right. Like let's all leave the wilds of capitalism and go to, Yeah, these, these places. And I think it's really interesting to think about how we exist in like families born out of like intentional family building through, through like having children, but then also the, the family that we gain as we go through life and get older and sometimes the families we're born into are not the families where we thrive best. Um, And I think about like, what, what can that look like in a way that doesn't feel like I'm leaving, I'm like, I look, I think about my kids and hopefully they don't have trauma from our parenting. We're working really hard to prevent that and to be intentional. But when it's time for them to go and build their own families and find their own queer commune or whatever iteration of a commune they choose to inhabit, like, what is that gonna be like? And it just, it just, Th that kind of expansion feels like something I don't know how to imagine, but maybe it's just that I haven't spent a lot of time with it.
[00:23:55] Jasper: I feel so excited thinking about that, but I love to imagine and just, you know, I love that and I love thinking about these generations of children now who are being born into this world as it is and like how expanded they are just coming out like that and I am so excited to see the world that they create.
[00:24:14] Shea: Yeah. You think it's one of the ways that my anxiety is both triggered and soothed is like, I cannot know who you're gonna become, but I'm so excited to find out and go on that journey with you.
[00:24:26] Jasper: What is seeing your gender today, right now, these days?
[00:24:32] Shea: Hmm. It could just be because we're on the verge of everything sprouting up out of the ground, but I feel real connected to the cycle of the earth and that ability to like, grow, explode, revel in itself and then die, let die what doesn't need to come back. Yep.
[00:24:56] Jasper: That's gender affirming for sure.
[00:24:59] Shea: Yeah. Or like the way like watercolor spreads through and like bleeds onto your paper and it just does things you weren't even expecting, but shit, that's cool yeah,
[00:25:12] Jasper: I love both of those visuals.
[00:25:14] Shea: those work. I'm not gonna overthink it.
[00:25:17] Jasper: No, that's great. Is there anywhere you want people to find you on the internet?
[00:25:22] Shea: You're welcome to try and muddle through my existence on Instagram @knittingayarn. And then if you need birth support, I do do virtual birth support with my amazing partner in that business. Or we do in-person births here in the Twin Cities. Or if you want an in-person birth and you're not in the Twin Cities, you are super welcome to email me or contact me and I will connect you with some awesome queer birth workers cuz there are so many. And that business is called Nisay Body & Birth
[00:25:55] Jasper: very cool. Thank you so much, Shea. This was amazing.
[00:26:00] Shea: this was really fun. Thank you.
[00:26:03] Jasper: So excited to go roll D 20 s and be the universe and have so much joy.
[00:26:10] Shea: 10 out of 10, recommend being the universe.
[00:26:14] Jasper: We did it.
[00:26:15] Shea: Yay.