A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Posts tagged ‘haircut’

Day Twelve: Intrapersonal progress.

(I’m probably going to keep this short because the exhaustion of the funeral and so forth in the last few days has drawn me out.  Nonetheless, I intend to keep on track with the challenge as much as possible.)

Some time last week, a friend and his family took me out to go bowling.  Naturally, when he put my original name on the electronic scorekeeper readout, I had him change it to Tommy because the discomfort of seeing my old name announced across the entire casino made me want to rip my own guts out.  Now, to understand the complexity of the situation, let me explain that my friend is gay, and his parents are very conservative Christians.  To say that he’s used to keeping secrets is an understatement- his mom does know but she’s somewhat uncomfortable, and even she had advised him not to let his dad in on it.  So when I went to change my name on the readout, my friend almost stopped me.  But I told him, “I don’t need a reason not to like my old nickname.  Let’s just leave it at that for now.”

Now, I figured the delicacy of the situation would involve him explaining to his mom at a later date when his dad wasn’t around, because even as open as I’ve become about it, his dad does make me a little uncomfortable.  But what he told me later bothered me somewhat.  He said that his mom had guessed dead on the nose, saying, “Is she becoming a boy?” and he’d “explained” that I just liked the nickname and the barber had screwed up my haircut and made it way shorter and butchier than I wanted.  (For some reason, that was a satisfactory answer- I don’t know about you, but I’d still be suspicious.)  Maybe a year ago, I would have been grateful for him covering my ass, but now I felt as though he were ashamed of me.  I am now at the point where I’m coming out to respected adults and parents of friends in my life and expecting to be taken seriously, and it’s no longer a game to be hidden from the grown-ups.

To be fair, he said that she’d decidedly stated that she didn’t like transsexuals, so I was at the risk of not being welcome in their home if I’d been outed, therefore, he’d taken measures.  But damn it, I’ve come to the that place in my transition where, if somebody doesn’t like it, then it’s up to them to decide whether the loss of me as a friend is worth it, because I’m not going to change myself to fill people’s expectations just to keep them around.  I spent the first two decades of my life wasting time on that.  Frankly, if you don’t know I’m trans by now, then I either don’t respect you or don’t trust you.

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Once again, no pics, but Things are Afoot.

I went fishing with my dad Friday morning.  He was to meet one of his old friends from church, Lon, so he asked me the prerequisite question- “How are you going to explain your haircut?”

(I find that a lot of stupid questions, like “What did you do to your HAIR?!”, are best followed with a stupid answer, i.e., “I got a haircut.”  Somehow, this ridiculously redundant answer- explaining nothing at all of my trans status, of the tiny black shadow on my upper lip, of my distinctly male profile (thank you, backbreaking binders) or of my starkly male dress code- seems to be enough for anyone asking the question. They shrug and go back to business as usual.  Why?  Did they really find the information they were looking for in that simple, obvious answer?  Couldn’t they have gleaned that from their own question?  Do they ever WANT to know more, or were they just asking for the sake of acknowledgment?  If they wanted to acknowledge, couldn’t they have asked in a manner that wasn’t so directly reminiscent of “OH MY GOD BOTH YOUR LEGS ARE IN CASTS, what did you DO to yourself?!”  I wasn’t in a car wreck, people.  I walked into a barbershop and paid someone to do this.  Nobody stole my hair in the night.  (Although I have considered, without following through, answering something to the effect of “I have cancer.”  It would be an appropriately dramatic answer to their dramatic inquiry.)  But why not something like, “Nice haircut,” or even “I see you got your hair cut, how’s that treating you?” instead of acting like I’m a chemical burn victim?

Or maybe they did want to know more, i.e., “WHY did you get your hair cut?”, in which case I would be stumped for a simple answer.  But that question, “What did you do to your HAIR?!” seems to be the most common question and my standard answer is the one that leads to the least possible drama in any given situation.  Maybe the short curtness of it turns people away from asking any more, as if I were saying this- “I cut my hair off for personal reasons that I obviously don’t want to go into because if I did, I wouldn’t have said something short and stupid like ‘I got a haircut.'”  Who knows what goes through the heads of the Inquisitors.  They’ll know all too much soon enough.)

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  I was dressed in my fishing finest, my uniform since before I can remember- blue jeans, plaid flannel shirt, baseball cap, army boots.  I’d never really cared about how it was assembled before, I just threw it on and went, untucked and looking more like I’d climbed out of bed with a hat on.  But I’ve found that male dress isn’t always about what you wear, but how you wear it.  The addition of the binder made for a flatter chest, of course, and now I knew to tuck my shirt into my pants and let the belt ride below my gut, not across my bellybutton and above the rise of my hips like I’d been more inclined to do as a gut-conscious female dresser.  The short hair brought the dapper, mountain-man look all together, as though I were a 15-year-old version of my father (in spite of being the age of 21).

My dad looked me up and down and remarked, “He probably isn’t going to recognize you.  How do you plan on handling this?”

Excitement filled my limbs.  “Oh, dad, can’t we tell him I’m your nephew or something?  That’d be so cool.  I could be your nephew Tommy…”

He narrowed his eyes.  “I’m not going to lie.”

My heart dropped, and I tried to salvage the situation.  “Well, you don’t have to keep it up.  It could be like a joke.  You could introduce me, and we’ll see if he remembers me, and if he doesn’t, then we’ll let him believe it for a little while, just for the fun of it, and then tell him later, and if he does know it’s me, then obviously it’s just funny-”

“I’m not going to lie,” he repeated.

And that seemed to be the end of that.

I didn’t care too much.  I knew it was unlikely that he would think I was my own long-lost nephew or something- after all, he’d seen me in pants and a binder before (kind of a no-no for a Pentecostal follower, but he hadn’t said anything).  The only difference was the haircut.  Besides, not everything had to be a gender experiment.  I really just wanted to go fishing with my dad.

When we got to the lake, it took a little while to find him, but he came waving and all smiles up out of a boat ramp, with one of HIS friends.  This was unexpected.  My dad looked him up and down, looked at Lon, looked at me, and shrugged.  “Hey Brother Lon, it’s great to see you.  Have you met my son, Tommy?”

I looked up from the ground with lightning eyes and looked back and forth at my dad and Lon, and grinned.  Lon said, “Hey, Tommy,” and we both laughed.  I’m pretty sure he recognized me, and I’m pretty sure it was just a joke to him, but something significant had happened.

I remembered my dad saying, twice, “I’m not going to lie.”  This meant that he acknowledged me, truthfully, as his son.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I didn’t care what anyone else thought, this was what really mattered.

My biggest surprise came later in the morning.  Lon’s friend looked over in between the long moments of silence and asked my dad, “So how old is he?  Your son?”

I think he asked something else too, but the excitement at hearing someone use the right pronouns, someone who had been in my presence for more than a few minutes, someone who had even heard me talk a little, and this someone wasn’t even thinking about sidestepping female pronouns for my sake- I was just a person, just this kid- well, anything else he might have said flew right out the window.

I tried to answer as sanely as I could.  “Yeah, I just turned 21.”  I had to to try not to let my voice jump up a few dozen octaves.  The joke had gone right over his head- I was just my dad’s son, nothing special about it.

This is saying amazing things to me.  This is like the world opening up to me and going, “Yes, things aren’t going to be as hard as you thought.  Yes, you’re actually making progress on your journey.  Yes, you’re on a downhill slant from here.  Maybe you’re even closer to the end of this particular journey than the beginning.”

It reminds me of a quote from “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish,” one book from Douglas Adam’s fabulous Hitchhiker’s Guide series.

“For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss Cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who awakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savannah stretching grey and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones till it now said something it had never said to him before, which was ‘Yes’.”

A nearly rhetorical question:

Why is it that, if you cut your hair, particularly if you don’t give them at least two weeks of preparation, people in your life tend to take it as a personal insult?

On the note of people being blockheads, there’s too much drama going on in this house right now to write a proper blog, so I’d just like to update with that, say that things are generally going good, real good in fact, and wish you all a happy New Year.

Also, before I forget, coming out to my extended friends at the New Year’s party went very smoothly.  They took well enough to my hair (unlike my stepmom, who kept telling me I “look like a boy”, which I’m sure is meant to be an insult but was instead full of win.)  At the Resolutions announcements (after everyone made their satirical resolutions like “ruin the environment and give Micheal Moore an aneurysm” and so forth), I resolved to “become a Man before the world ends in 2012!”  After everyone had their giggles, I said, “But on a more serious note, I do resolve to be on testosterone before the end of the year.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that came afterwards.

It was pretty intense, but after a while, I started getting the questions, and everyone was really getting into it.  They seemed actually really gung-ho about it, which I was glad for.

Anyway, my ability to put together a sentence in this chaotic din is obviously diminishing, so I’ll add a note here that I’d like to put my picture up of my new haircut next post and also a review of Joe’s Barbershop (I was satisfied).  I promise a more in-depth attempt, probably tomorrow morning.

Cheers!

Finally getting it chopped off.

My hair.  What did you think?

Anyway, I’ve been running a discussion over on the TransQueer Nation forums (which, if you don’t have an account, you need to register for because it is an absolute wealth of information, support, and fellow Tguys).  It was based on good haircuts for heavy guys, and after a lot of… well, what I considered to be slightly… off suggestions, I finally owned up to having something completely different in mind:

Well, I’ve taken all your suggestions under advisement, but I’m going to roll with my gut and get this classic cut:

I wanted something conservative, but not too short, and I think Ewan McGregor has enough of a round, innocent face to sort of mimic and give me an idea of what I might look like with this cut, especially after I get on T, but before I start growing facial hair. I know how fast my hair grows and it should be past my shoulders in about a year, which, if anything about my what my genetics tells me is true, should be about when my facial hair starts to darken and come in. I want to have long hair again once I have enough male gender cues to indicate that I’m a guy with long hair and not just a chick with long hair and some facial hair problems. 😉
Anyway, I did a little research and found a barber’s joint in San Fran that I really want to visit- I’ve read TONS of reviews and 98% of them gave 5 stars, and on top of that, I read a few by trans guys who said they felt welcomed there!
LET ME REPEAT THAT:
I’ve found a barber shop that’s friendly to trans guys.
Joe’s Barbershop

Apparently the rate is $25, which is pretty damn good for a safe experience with nice (and talented!) barbers. Spread the word; I know I’ll be crossposting this to my blog. I’m probably going to be down there getting the cut the morning of the 28th; I’ll be sure to post some before and after pics and my own review of the place.

Wish me luck!

So yes, I feel that making this find may be my biggest contribution to the trans community so far- at least, the trans community that lives in the Bay Area and wants their hair professionally cut by someone they don’t already have rapport with.  Wow, that’s actually kinda pitiful.  Oh well, we do what we can.

In other news, I’ve just told my dad tonight that I’d prefer to be called by Tommy.  After he realized the significance (a hint: “The dog was called Indiana!”), he actually said that he’d be proud to call me Tommy.  I told him I’d give him a lot of leeway and not get dramatic if he forgot to use the right name, because my friends who have known me less than 4 years now have trouble, and he’s been calling me by my birth name for 21 years in a row.  He seemed to really appreciate that.

In fact, he made a hell of an effort just this evening- he was talking to someone and said he was “proud to have K_____ as my daughter.  No, proud to have Tommy as my daughter.  As my CHILD.”  I couldn’t help but beam with pride at his obvious efforts.  He’s taking this more seriously than I ever could have hoped, and catching on real fast.

Finally, about that San Fran trip-

We’re going on the 27th and it’s going to be a rabble rousing, gut busting two-night affair of escaping the humdrum, pretend-to-fit-in existence of living in East Jesus Nowhere.  I plan on going in drag EVERYWHERE, the first night Sunday the 27th, we’re going to a techno club or something-whatever and that’s when I’m having my Severance Ball.  Then on Monday morning, I’m getting my hair cut, and I plan on going as masculine that day as possible, possibly even to the point of costume.  Not sure what we’re doing that night, but we’re leaving for home some time Tuesday afternoon and I’m sure we’ll find something to do.

So, if any of my fellow transguys live out the Bay Area and know a good joint to hang, hit me up and maybe we can meet up and have a drink or something.  Frankly, it would just be nice to know I’m not the only one that exists.

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