If you read my previous blog entry, you know that I was feeling depressed in December because of my gender dysphoria. I’ve struggled to accept the male body and features I’ve been given, since my gender identity is female and I would much rather have a physical form that aligns with it. One of the aspects that upsets me most is my hair. I’ve always looked to my hair as an expression of my femininity. Through most of my twenties, I had long hair that I treasured because I felt it was a symbol of my femininity. It allowed me to express my feminine nature in a way that was subtle and socially acceptable, and it allowed me to feel more comfortable about my appearance when I would dress in feminine attire. It was hard to let it go, but when my partner and I were sent to Africa for service in the Peace Corps, it was too much to deal with. The extreme heat made it difficult to keep my long locks, as did the fact that we had to pump and carry water from the village well to bathe ourselves with, and keeping my hair meant I needed to use most of two buckets, rather than just one. Two weeks into our service, I shaved it off.
From that time up until a few months before starting gender transition in 2012, I kept it shorn. As seven years had passed, and my hair had continued to thin while male pattern baldness claimed more territory, I was terribly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to grow enough back to have a feminine hairstyle. After dealing with some serious anxiety around this, I realized that rather than spinning out in my head worrying about what might be possible, I needed to start the process of growing it out so I could find out what actually was attainable. Thankfully, it turned out I had just enough left to fashion into a feminine style. It’s a style I can live with, but the need to hide the bald spots limits my hairdo options. It also means that I spend more time and attention on my hair than I would like, and I have to use hairspray to hold it in place. I don’t really like hairspray, and would love to be free of it. My current hair situation keeps me from participating in some activities that I normally would, if I wasn’t worried about how my hair would fare, and I’m not happy about it. There are aspects of beauty maintenance that I enjoy as a woman, but all of the energy I put into my hair, physically and emotionally, has been too much.
I’d done some research on hair transplant surgery over the past couple years, giving it more focused attention over the past few months, and in early December I consulted with a nearby doctor I felt comfortable with. He was one of a handful I found who specifically cater to trans women. After ruminating for a couple more weeks after my meeting with him, I decided to go for it. When I called for an appointment just after the Solstice, I was surprised to find out that I was able to schedule a date within ten days of my call. It was somewhat impulsive to take an appointment so quickly without more planning and preparation, but I felt ready for it and figured sooner is better. Right? Besides, what better way to start the new year!
On New Year’s Eve, I gathered with some of my closest friends to bid farewell to 2013, welcome 2014, and set intentions for the next leg of this earthly journey. After my confession, I received a ton of support from many of my amazingly kind and wonderful friends. Their love helped me begin to look at myself in new ways, and develop new resolve for cultivating more self-compassion and greater self-acceptance and appreciation of what I have. Along with the displeasure I’d been feeling about putting on weight and becoming less fit, my desire to shift my thought-patterns led me to choose “health” as my one word for the year. I intend to focus on improving both my mental and physical health to help me grow towards a happier and more balanced life.
At the NYE party, I told all of my friends that I was going to have hair transplant surgery. It’s exciting to move forward with a fix for something that’s been so deeply troubling and I couldn’t wait to share the news. It’s also a marker of sorts along my transition path: the first surgery I’ve undertaken to transform my male body into a more feminine form. While conversing with one of my friends that night, she asked me if I was considering other surgeries, and then wanted to know where my physical transition would end. It was a thought-provoking question. My immediate answer was, “I don’t know.” I’m taking this day-by-day, one step at a time, and I have no idea how far I’ll need to go to feel content with my transformation and relieved of the desire to pursue additional body modifications. I do know that I want the amount of procedures I undergo to be minimal. I expect to have more, but I certainly don’t want to get carried away with it. At this point, I don’t see how I’d ever be able to afford very many anyway.
As I continued to talk to her about where the “finish line” is, I considered how this fits with my pursuit of self-acceptance, and I hit upon an interesting way of thinking about it that resonates with me. I know that there is an end point, even if I don’t know now where that line is drawn. It’s somewhere out in the distance, and right now it feels further away than I’d like it to be. I also know that I want to continue taking more steps towards it from where I’m at. However, I don’t want the finish line to be permanently fixed in place at its current position. Rather than it remaining static, as I gain self-acceptance, I want to move the finish line closer to where I’m at now. I want to close that gap from both directions. This feels like a healthier, more thoughtful, and more deliberate way to approach it. I believe using a combination of push and pull will help me reach the equilibrium I’m seeking.
I had surgery a couple days after coming to this realization. As far as I can tell, it all went well. My head is healing, and I’m waiting to see what happens as it grows in. I’m grateful for a couple of good omens on the day of surgery that have provided me with pretty solid peace of mind, and helped affirm my belief that I’ll soon have a lovely new feminine hairline that will significantly improve my quality of life. Only time will tell…