Gender Euphoria: Contemporary Art Beyond the Binary

Opening July 9, 2020

Gender Euphoria: Contemporary Art Beyond the Binary

On Transgender Day of Visibility — March 31 — Five Oaks Museum announced their upcoming exhibition, Gender Euphoria: Contemporary Art Beyond the Binary, which opens July 9, 2020 at the museum and on their digital platforms.


Five Oaks Museum lets communities tell their own stories, and this summer Guest Curator Becca Owen will use that platform to create a joyful celebration of trans and non-binary perspectives in contemporary art. Gender Euphoria will feature artists from around the Pacific Northwest whose works share delight in experiences outside of the gender binary.


The exhibition’s title uses the phrase “gender euphoria,” which circulates in queer and trans communities in reference to feeling affirmed and ecstatic in one’s gender expressions. The term is a retort to “gender dysphoria,” a medicalized term that comes from outside these communities, and is used to name distressing feelings that some people experience in relation to their bodies, often related to socially conditioned binary expectations of gender and sex. 

“Gender euphoria describes the moments, experiences, and expressions that make us feel seen, comfortable, and exultant in our gender expressions,” says Owen, who identifies as genderqueer and non-binary. They add, “For many genderqueer folks, that euphoria is not found in binary, normative expressions of gender, but rather by using multiple gender signifiers in a playful and fluid manner.”


Inviting artists to submit through an open call, Owen wants Gender Euphoria to depict diverse truths about gender identity by reflecting the beautiful variety of gender expressions. Artists who are living outside of binary gender and within intersectional identities are positioned to have nuanced, intimate, and visionary perspectives that benefit the entire community. “These works and artists are often ignored, erased, oversimplified, or objectified by arts institutions. Or, when they are told, mainstream narratives of transness are often tragic and negative,” Owen notes. “This exhibition resists dominant heteronormative culture by bringing together images of gender euphoria, envisioning a world that respects the diverse lived experiences of trans contemporary artists and their communities.”

Becca Owen (they/them) is the Five Oaks Museum Summer 2020 Guest Curator. Becca is a genderqueer, non-binary art historian, curator, and arts administrator. They hold a BA in art history and queer studies from Sarah Lawrence College. Their past experience includes working as the Head Curator of the Open Show at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, a Visitor Services Lead at the Portland Art Museum, and an Engagement Fellow at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.