Churning Experience Into the Content Machine

I got a haircut recently. A big change, and I love it. That by itself might not sound particularly out of the ordinary, but there’s a few details that make the announcement remarkable. As a trans woman my relationship to hair is very capital-C Complicated–patterned baldness did a number on my crown before I transitioned, and haircuts were a very visible and visceral way in which my gender was enforced as a child. Even if I hadn’t experienced thinning at the top, the act of getting a haircut would already be one laden with old scars flaring up painfully. When I still had a full head my hairs were, ironically, curly and rebellious, a constant source of remarks about their feminine quality, remarks which unintentionally stung as the most memorable mockery of my upbringing since I knew I was denied permission to actually be feminine. It’s the bitterest regret I have of not transitioning sooner: Now that I don’t need anyone’s permission and want a hair full of locks, I can’t have it, because testosterone took it away. For the longest time, my hair was one of several visible scars I carried as a result of cissexism’s attempts to build a coffin around me and call it a closet.

So when I tell you I managed to find a miracle-worker who made me feel like I finally took charge of my hair’s destiny as an adult, that hopefully helps to make it clearer what a big deal it is.

She didn’t summon more hair from the void, mind. The top is still thinner than the rest, but now I got it styled into something of a French bob. I can tussle it up and make it a messy bob that for the first time in my life looks like intentional chaos as opposed to a cartoon character struck by lightning. I can also slick it back and look like Trinity from the Matrix. I have options, and they’re all distinctly feminine and short and queer. I spent several days agog that it was still my hair at all. I’ve never had that reaction to my hair, or even much of a reaction at all before now. Haircuts were just another episode in which I honed my craft of dissociating, protecting my heart by cutting it loose from my body and hoping it never found its way back home because of how painful it would be when it did. This is genuinely the first time in my life I’ve viewed my hair as an opportunity for fun, for expression, with a cut that I can style to make differing moods visible. An extension of me, a tattoo laid over a scar–still very much there, but part of my tapestry rather than an unwilling wound.

When I woke up with it the day after and had these revelations, I very much wanted to leap to social media and share it with a selfie. I know for a fact that I’m not the only trans woman in this situation, and I wanted to share the excitement that we have options! And we might even like them! But… the trouble is, that’s not really what social media is for. 

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