Here’s a post where I think about my neckbeard for a while and then get wound up about Donald Trump. Classic!!
So… when I first told everyone at work I was really female and had been all along, it was after months of shaving my facial hair, ostensibly in order to make myself more believable. I kept shaving for months after that, specifically in order to make myself appear credibly female to others.
I still got read as male a lot of the time, and I still often got treated weird when seen as female, because I still looked like a fat butch lesbian with a completely flat chest. When I stopped shaving, it turned out the beard really didn’t make much of a difference. Seems like I’m already past some kind of freakishness threshold and out here, it’s kind of a free-for-all. There’s no real winning for women anyway. A lot of the time you might as well do what you want.
And I don’t like shaving! Removing my facial hair (besides a tiny little mustache that I’m not overly fond of aesthetically and do spend like 20 seconds shaving every few days) is not something I wanted to do, or something I was doing for myself. Other women have different experiences here, but this is mine. When I’m feeling at or better than my baseline state, which is most the time lately, I like the way I look. I look like a woman I’d be happy to see and happier to get to know.
I don’t always stick to my guns on this. I’ve shaved for my last few job interviews, now that my ID says female. I should probably stop doing that. A job that’s hostile to women who look how I usually look isn’t going to be a good fit anyway, something several different women with more life experience than me have expressed. I don’t really feel great about shaving for my driver’s license photo, either. It makes me feel like I’m still prioritizing other people’s ideas of who I should be and how I should look over what I actually feel comfortable with. I’m tired of feeling that way. I feel like I’m still trying to peel away all these bad habits, and trying to please others at the expense of being myself is one of them.
I’m not saying these feelings are intrinsic to hair removal. I know plenty of women whose descriptions of their relationships to their facial hair are really different from mine. But I’m not living their lives, and they’re not living mine. If someone else does feel good about removing all that stuff, that’s her business. It doesn’t feel good to me.
The more I give myself permission to stop caring what others think, the more relaxed and authentic I can be, and you know what? A lot of people like authentic, even if they also think you’re kind of a freak. Not being so nervous about others see you makes it a lot easier to connect sincerely. Yeah, connecting with a lot of people might also be easier if “being authentic” to me didn’t include usually not shaving my neckbeard very often, or if I wasn’t a butch lesbian, but that wouldn’t be my life. Getting hung up on lives that are so different from my own that they’re really entirely another (imaginary!) woman’s life is not helpful to me. I have stuff to do, and this is what I have to work with, and it’s enough. That’s something I keep coming back to: what’s left of my body might be less than ideal in some senses, and the process of that loss was difficult, but there’s clearly enough of me to continue living.
Anyway… feels kinda silly to keep on working through my feelings about my appearance right now. Really seems like things are about to get an awful lot worse here. I guess I’m still dipping in and out of denial about that. Really sucks to be too poor to have an escape plan or even start stockpiling more than a little survival stuff. We’re working on plans for some actual organizing where we are, and in the meantime we’re calling numbers and writing emails.
Redressalert’s post related to this stuff is good reading. So is Crash’s. One or both of them link to this really important article by Masha Gessen, a Jewish woman who has survived other autocracies. Gessen has written another article since that’s equally relevant.
There is no good reason I can see to be optimistic about the outcome of this election, and being realistic means challenging ourselves to remain present enough that we can react appropriately to the level of threat that is approaching very, very soon.