1 year without a beard

Today is the 1 year anniversary of me shaving off my beard. It was a big scary leap for me to give up something that had been such an important part of my identity for 12 years and accept that I would have to deal with more dysphoria for awhile as I dealt with the facial hair. But I’m so glad I did.

I’ve now had 5 sessions of laser hair removal on my face and spent over $2,000 in the process but all the pain, time, and money paid off because now I’ve gone a week without shaving and my face is still smooth! I have no more stubble or that dark shadow on my face and the amount of hair I have left to pluck isn’t any more than many cisgender women have to deal with.

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In other news, I’ve conquered two of my biggest fears around bathrooms so far. I’ve used a women’s room at a mall (with my spouse), and I’ve had a conversation with a coworker in the women’s room at work. Both things that I never would have felt safe doing with a beard.

This transition has been expensive and I’ve managed to make it this far with the help of my spouse but I still need to raise another $5,000 for my bottom surgery next year. If you are able to contribute I would really appreciate it. https://www.gofundme.com/f/haven-gender-confirmation-treatments¬†

Dysphoric Bandaid Beard

There are times when I wish I still had my beard. In a lot of ways it was like a security blanket for me, allowing me to exist without having to constantly focus on my dysphoria around shaving and my chin shape. When I first grew it of course I had no idea what dysphoria was or why I hated my face so much, but I used it as a crutch for 12 years.

When I made the decision last fall to get rid of the beard, I knew that my dysphoria would get worse before it got better. And it most definitely has. It is starting to get better now that my growth rate and amount of active hair follicles have been reduced from laser therapy and electrolysis, but the first few months were hell.

Ultimately, the reason I chose to shave was because I chose to believe that it could be better eventually. That somewhere down the road I could be happier and less dysphoric than the low level that I was at with my beard. Sometimes it is hard to see through the high level of dysphoria I have now to that hope that I held for a better future. But I have to keep reminding myself that transition is just a stage in my life and the point of it is to pass through it to emerge from my cocoon as the beautiful butterfly I am.

I am lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people who constantly tell me how beautiful I am at every step along the way. But the thing is, attractiveness feels good but it doesn’t alleviate dysphoria. Dysphoria and dysmorphia aren’t the same thing. The only way to treat dysphoria is by addressing the medical and social needs around gender affirmation. Words alone can’t cut it. But luckily we live in an age where we have plastic surgeons who know what they are doing and are constantly refining the process to create and re-form the body parts that we need.

Thanks to a new trans friend for the title of this blog post and some of the thinking behind it. Maybe someday I’ll make the queer band to match.

Beard update – day 3

It’s been 3 days since I shaved and I’m still not sure how I feel about being beardless. I am getting used to seeing my face and my chin is causing less dysphoria than I expected. But seeing the 5 o’clock shadow from my thick, dense hair follicles that never seems to go away is causing a lot of dysphoria that I never felt with an intentional beard. And it’s aggravated by the fact that no matter what I do, my face is still getting red bumps and reacting poorly to shaving.

Unless I can figure out some technique that simultaneously gets me a smoother face with less irritation soon, I think I’ll just go back to the beard at least until I can afford laser therapy for my face.

I shaved!

So I got the hair-brained idea in my head yesterday to shave. It’s been 12 years since I grew my beard and I’ve only shaved completely twice, the last time being 5 years ago. I was going to get it professionally shaved by a fancy barber on Saturday but he was out sick so I bought a nice shaving supply kit and did it myself.

And it seems that 7 months of estrogen has worked it’s magic and softened my face sufficiently for me to feel beautiful. The cleft in my chin is almost completely gone. It also helps to have other gender affirming markers like my hair, glasses, earrings, and clothing. Now to work on evening out my skin tone to match.

It definitely takes some getting used to. My chin alternately feels cold when there’s a draft and warm when there’s not because it’s not insulated anymore. And I haven’t gotten used to my face in the mirror yet so it doesn’t feel like me. Can’t tell if that’s dysphoria or just an adjustment.

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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.