Beard update pt 2

So the bad news is that my facial hair grows back a lot more slowly now and the stubble gives me so much dysphoria that I’m not sure it’s worth it. The good news is my hair grows so slowly now that I think I can get away with shaving every other day.

Shaving prep

So I’ve decided that I’m going to at least try shaving soon and see if I can get used to my chin. I was going to wait until just before my jaw surgery this winter but I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with how people read me due to my beard. While I want to be confident and not care, I think it leads to even a lot of allies not realizing that I’m trans. And it gives me a lot of impostor feelings.

One of the many reasons, other than latent chin dysphoria I didn’t have a word for at the time, that I grew the beard in the first place is because my facial hair is very dense, thick, and curly and grows quickly. Because of that, I got a lot of ingrowns and my face didn’t tolerate shaving well. So I definitely need to step up my game. I talked to a friend who is an expert and I’m going to go into The Art of Shaving to get good supplies and tips. Other than a quality razor and exfoliating at night, what else can I do to keep my face smooth and soft?

It’s been 12 years since I’ve shaved regularly. This is going to take some getting used to.

Increasing Dysphoria

Isn’t being on hormones supposed to help dysphoria? I mean it’s helping my confidence in my chest and overall shape but it’s definitely bringing up more feelings about my face in particular among other things. The biggest effect that estrogen has had so far other than breast growth is that it is making it harder to ignore things I’ve been burying and ignoring.

I often have days where I look in the mirror and literally see a blank where my face should be. My brain can’t handle the cognitive dissonance between my real appearance and my identity. And even more often I find myself avoiding mirrors or hyperfocusing on my hair to avoid looking at my facial features. And I can’t decide whether growing out my hair would help that or make it worse.

I’ve kept my beard thus far because it hides parts of my face that I can’t handle, especially my chin. But more and more I wonder if it is doing more harm than good. I get stares everywhere I go because people don’t know what to do with a bearded person in a dress. And it makes it so that I can be spotted blocks away as trans. I mean it’s not like I can hide easily with my height and tendency to wear bright colors, but maybe I don’t need to make myself that easy to spot. It also gives me a lot of “not queer enough” feels and makes me avoid spaces that are supposedly for femmes because I don’t think I would be accepted with my features.

But the thought of removing my beard and having to come to terms with the face underneath terrifies me even more. I am dreading what is going to happen when I’m forced to shave next winter for a long planned jaw surgery to correct my bite. But I also find myself wondering if there’s a way to capitalize on that to change my face. From what I remember of the consult, they are already going to need to make adjustments to my chin to make my face symmetrical and I wonder if I can talk the oral surgeon into taking some of it off permanently. Or if I could work with him to do a combo jaw surgery and facial feminization technique. The thought of cutting open my face twice doesn’t sound pleasant.

Then there’s the matter of my genitals. I’m feeling more disconnected from them recently which goes along with my feelings of asexuality. Most days I’d rather forget they are there and sometimes my brain does that for me. The other day I was on a date and I was trying to get myself in the mindset but everytime I thought about what was between my legs all I could picture was a black hole. I ended up not being able to do anything with my own body because I couldn’t reintegrate. Luckily queer sex doesn’t revolve around a penis or any specific kind of sex. But when I think about bottom surgery I’m still not sure whether having different genitals would help at all.

I’ve also realized that I only feel confident at all when my chest, stomach, and legs are shaved. Which even with the estrogen means trimming twice a week. I need to go back for more hair removal but I can’t decide between laser which requires $1,400 up front for 3 sessions (probably twice) or electrolysis which has more guarantee of permanency and I can break into smaller chunks but means more sessions.

Basically I’m feeling dysphoric most of the time now but I don’t know what to do about it and what interventions would help and how I would pay for those. So my brain gets overloaded with that background anxiety and I end up being less productive or mildly dissociating. I know I should try to do things that connect me with my body more instead of just escaping into video games. But I have a hard time figuring out how to do that in ways that a) don’t involve gendered locker rooms, b) don’t trigger my asthma (running is out of the question), and c) don’t make my back and neck pain worse.

There’s a little peek into what’s in the back of my brain most of the time these days. So when you ask how I’m doing and I say I’m fine, please know that there is a giant asterisk there.

Societal Expectations

So much of my brain energy, especially lately, is consumed with thinking about what I really want becauseĀ I want it and what is just because society expects something. For example last month I went back and forth quite a bit, as I often do, on whether I should grow my hair out to look more feminine or keep my curlyqueer cut with the close buzzed sides and long top. I ended up going short again because I know how to manage my curls that way, it takes less time, and I feel like myself that way. But I still question whether I would like myself with longer hair if I could get through the grow-out process or if I just think I need that so I am less likely to be read as male.

Do most people think about societal expectations this much? Or just feminists? Or just trans people? I don’t even know what is “normal” anymore.