Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pre-Electrolysis Blues

A couple weeks ago I made an electrolysis appointment. It was to be my first. While I have had about eight sessions of laser, I still have some pesky hairs on my face. There are actually two slightly thick patches on either side of my chin that have survived despite repeated laserings. So instead of going to get more laser I thought it would be better to just go with the nuclear option. Or rather the electrical option.

So I consulted some local trans women and got some recommendations. Then I picked a place that seemed like it would be good. I hoped. It was someone operating out of their apartment. That did seem kinda sketchy but everyone seemed to love them. You don't want to take a chance on your face but everyone who had tried this person recommended them so there you go. I booked my appointment for a Monday after work. What's a weekend? It's not like I have plans every weekend. Half the time I'm doing chores or playing video games in my grubbies.

These are not my grubbies. 
Now, that left me with one slight problem. For electrolysis you have to let your hair grow out for three days before the procedure. I figured a weekend wouldn't be that bad. Sure I don't love the idea of having hair on my face but my beard is not that thick at all. Laser has done some pretty good damage. Before laser I used to shave in the morning and then get a noon o' clock shadow. Yeah, I was one of those guys. If I shaved before I got dolled up by the end of the night you could kinda start to see it even with makeup. Thankfully laser had done me well. Now I can go a day without shaving or makeup and still get female pronouns when I go out, even in my grubbies. That's been nice.

The Saturday before my electrolysis appointment I actually had plans to meet up with friends. That was okay. A liberal application of makeup was all I needed. Sure, I cold feel the hair if I brushed my hand against my face. But you couldn't really see it. It didn't make me feel great but at least I was still managing to look pretty enough.

Sunday we had more plans! Gosh I'm a social butterfly sometimes (psht- and I call myself an introvert). More makeup. I asked my partner Kath if she could see anything. She told me that she could see some texture but she couldn't actually see anything dark. There was no shadow at least. And I could feel the texture too. I wasn't happy but it seemed to be okay.

By Monday the hair was long enough that makeup wouldn't quite hide it. What's worse is that I wore my glasses that day. Here's some background. I have glasses. But I don't need glasses. At least I don't think I need them. I can see pretty well without them and generally I used them when driving or when watching movies. Or sometimes I wear them just to look smart and nerdy.

Pictured: Smart and nerdy. 
But glasses also mean I can seen fine details. So on Monday, with my makeup not really hiding three days of beard growth I could really see it. I could look in the mirror and see the jungle on my chin, slathered thick with dream matte mousse foundation but persistently visible nonetheless. Plus unlike my weekend days with friends this time I was at work. And I felt like an absolute freak.

My coworkers didn't know I was growing my beard out so I could get it burned right off. All they could see was a transgirl who apparently couldn't figure out her shaving. Since I had come out at work I had striven to make sure that I took my transition as seriously as possible. And that meant always looking my best. It's not quite right, but people tend to take trans people more seriously when they look the part and are definitely putting in a lot of effort to look the part. It's not right but I always want to look my best. I shouldn't have to but that's life.

And here I was looking like a freak. I felt like an utter and total beast. At my desk I desperately tried to add more thick layers of foundation in the hopes that it would hide my beardly shame but it was to no avail. I started to break down and had to retreat to the bathroom to cry. Normally a good cry makes me feel better but this didn't because as soon as I came out of the stall I could see myself in the mirror. Now not only was my beard showing, but my eye makeup was all smeary.

I knew there was only another five or six hours to go. I knew that it would be the last time that at least one postage stamp sized section of this hair would ever bother me again. But I couldn't take it. I couldn't bear seeing myself in the mirror one more time. It was too much. My dysphoria had gripped onto me tightly and wasn't letting me go. I felt as awful and ugly and freakish as I had back in junior high. And that is not good. Nothing that reminds one of junior high can ever be good.

So I went home at lunch and shaved. And cancelled my electrolysis appoint. I would love to tell you that I have a new appointment scheduled but I haven't done that yet. Maybe I will soon. Or maybe I'll do another couple laser sessions to thin things out a little more. Well, when I do finally get electrolysis  I'm going to do it on a Monday morning of a no plans weekend. And maybe I'll only let a small patch grow out.

There was only one positive from the whole experience. While I was on the way home from work I took a selfie and texted it to Kath. She thought it was me post shaving. Maybe it was all in my head. Stupid brain.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

American Transgirl - Now Better Than Ever

The reviews are in and my latest novel American Transgirl has gotten some great praise. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed it. 

"I like the author, but this story was full of typos and misspellings." 

"There are some typos."

"I just wish it was edited better because I kept finding spelling and grammar errors." 

Oh crap. Well, you'll be pleased to know that, thanks to the help of a good friend, I was able to purge the novel of its typos and misspellings! It's been updated for both the print and Kindle editions. And here are some actually good reviews: 

"I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's very down to earth, slice of life. If your idea of a good time is crawling into a good story and experiencing the world through the eyes and soul of a sympathetic protagonist, I think you'll find this book just what you're looking for." 

"This is just a wonderful story of love and personal growth, set in the context of gender transition...I highly recommend this fine memoir."

"This was a joy to read. It's nice to see a book about a transgender person that's written by someone who has experienced all of these things. It was sweet and heartfelt, but also heartbreaking at parts. She does an amazing joy of showing you the real life struggles people with gender dysphoria are going through every day. Whether you're trans, cis, or something in between; whether you know a trans person, or just want to know more about them, I could not recommend this book more." 

American Transgirl is a funny, heartfelt story that explores the confusion, dysphoria, longing, and curiosity felt by transgender people as they struggle to figure out who they are, where they fit in the world, and who will accept them as they are.  Transition is, ultimately, only one part of a larger life filled with the search for acceptance, fulfillment, love, and a place to call home. 

Paperpack Edition for $9.99

Kindle Edition for $1.99

American Transgirl tells the story of Matt who has spent his whole life wishing he could be a girl. As a high school student in suburban Georgia during the Nineties, he is able to take his first steps towards figuring out who he really is when he starts  at a new school and meets Michelle. With his new friend by his side, Matt begins exploring local gay bars and discovering more about his own transgender feelings.

Life gets even more confusing when he moves to New York and falls for Erin, a struggling artist and lesbian. Matt must decide if an ordinary life as a normal guy could work, or if his whole life has been leading toward transition.

Also, be sure and check out my other novel Falling in LikeIt's something of a romantic comedy, but I wanted to do my own subversive take on the genre. Romance movies seem to always end with that first passionate kiss, then cue music and roll credits, right? Really that first kiss is just the start and most of the time it's not happily ever after. I tried to tell an honest, funny story about how real relationships work. They're fun, frustrating, funny, awkward and sometimes infuriating, but mostly worth it in the end.

Paperback Edition for $8.99

Kindle Edition $0.99

If you've enjoyed my blog, videos, or podcast, please check them both out. I think you'll enjoy my fiction as well. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Blonde No More

Today I threw away my blonde wig. It was getting pretty ratty anyway. But I'm probably done with blonde. Maybe I'm done forever. Firstly because my hair as grown out enough to the point where I don't really need a wig. And I'll likely never dye my hair blonde as it is pretty damaging. Still, I thought I should share a few recent pics that I took, perhaps the last blonde pics of me until such time as I decide to go as Supergirl for Halloween. 

Right now I have two wigs left; one is getting a little ratty (though a good brushing will sort it out) and the other is still sitting in its package. Right now I'm super happy to not need them. Though I still haven't bothered to throw them away. I did joke to Kath about possibly having a contest to give away the one that's still in its package. That might still happen. We'll see. 

It's hard for me to even describe how happy I am to not have to wear wigs daily. Those days of trying to brush the knots out of wig that was going to hell seem so long ago. I can walk around and feel the wind without fearing that it'll give me away or wreck my wig beyond repair. I love just being me. It's so wonderful. I understand that not everyone has the resources to get hair transplant surgery, but I am super thankful that I was able to. 

And now I'm just me. That's the most amazing feeling in the world. Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gender Rebels

If you haven't, be sure to check out my podcast The Gender Rebels. We're the world's #1 transgender podcast [citation needed].

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Reducing My Evolutionary Fitness

The other day I was going about my business in some public place when I saw a stunningly and naturally beautiful woman. She was completely casual, not dressed up or anything, but super pretty. Maybe she was just my type. But seeing her left me with a slight sinking feeling. I was presenting female (as I do every day). For a moment I thought about how transition had completely cut me off from something. I had cut myself off from feminine attention. 

When I presented male I was never a ladies' man. In fact my junior high experience was so horrible that it utterly wrecked my self-esteem. I thought I was the dorkiest, ugliest, most hideous beast ever spat out onto the goddess's green earth. I thought that no girl would ever want me or love me. 

In reality, by the time I was about fifteen I had emerged from my pubescent pupa (how gross a term is that?) and become a quite handsome young man. Now, at the time I didn't know this. I still thought I was horrid and a loser. But in fact, I was actually the cute guy at my school, like the hot one. I was my high school's the Jordan Catalano. But I din't know it!

I didn't find this out until reticently when I reconnected with a number of old friends from back in the day. They regaled Kath with gasps about how hot I was back in the day. My freshman year crush even told me, this year, that she thought I was really cute and funny. Another time when I lamented that I didn't know that I was cute and that I wish I had, a girl I dated in high school pointed out that my not knowing was actually a contributor to my overall hotness. Had I known I would have just been like any other awful egotistical jerk guy. As I was already a bit of an arrogant jerk, had I known of my cuteness I would have become utterly insufferable. 

So the upshot of this, is that while I was a bit of a Chad (to borrow an incel term), I never approached women. I never hit on girls. In fact I was the most awkward and shy person imaginable around them. Thus, the girls I dated in high school and college tended to be the bold ones who would make the first move. And since I assumed that pretty, popular girls who were showing interest in me were in fact making fun of me, they often had to make the second or third move as well just to get my attention.

Over the years, I think I just sort of got used to that kind of feminine attention. And I'm sure some women were frustrated by the fact that I still couldn't make a first move. Armed as I am now with this knowledge, I can look back on many, many interactions from the past couple decades and now smack my forehead and think "that girl was actually hitting on me." Ah well. I have an amazing partner now so even if I could change the past I wouldn't. 

So, this type of feminine attention is gone from my life now. In our Gender Rebels episode "Do You Miss Anything About Living as a Guy," I talked about how one thing I slightly missed that feminine attention and the affirmation that came from it.

Back in the 19th Century, one of the age's of beardliest beard havers Charles Darwin came up with the theory of speciation via natural selection. Essentially, Darwin described how, in a world with limited resources, not every organism is able to survive long enough to reproduce. Therefore, those who are more "fit," i.e. able to thrive better in their environment, live long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes to the next generation. Of course evolution isn't quite that simple. There are other types of selection including sexual selection.When sexually reproducing organisms choose a mate they are, consciously or unconsciously, deciding via fitness.

By transitioning from male to female I have utterly obliterated my fitness. This first occurred to me years ago when I was reading Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee and its chapters on sexual selection. Back then I was only presenting female sometimes. But when I did present female I was decreasing my evolutionary fitness. I was doing the opposite of a male peacock's beautiful plumage. At the time it kind of excited me, like I was a nature rebel.

But now after transition, it's hard to describe this feeling in concrete terms. It doesn't really bother me. It gives me a strange feeling of slight loss. But it doesn't really pain me. It doesn't hurt. It doesn't make me sad. It's just sort of a change that I noticed. And sometimes noticing change can make you feel weird.

And sometimes transition can surprise you. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Nearly Getting Caught

Though I have officially sworn off wigs as anything other than a fun fashion accessory, I still have a rather large backlog of unposted pictures from old brunette wig days. So here are a few I took on a recent day off. These are some of my sparky ones. 

I have always loved sequins. There's some fun and glamorous about them. Over the years I have owned a few sequin garments and loved how shiny and sparkly they were. Most of them have been cheap and have shed sequins all over the house, but they were still fun.

Stray sequins have also come rather close to accidentally outing me. Back when I lived by myself, I remember one time when I mom was visiting and found a stray sequin. On that same trip she also found a fake fingernail on the floor. And yet, she was surprised when I came out to her.

For most of my life I hid my female presentation. I felt like I had to. I was being raised by a Republican, military, Southern, evangelical father who was hard core conservative and homophobic as hell. He used to rant about how gross gays were and how they should be imprisoned. Who the heck knew what he would do if he came home to find his oldest son wearing a dress? He wasn't a violent man but I feared that, in that situation, he would learn to be violent. He was also constantly threatening me with military school. So, chances are that I would have been sent to a military school where my life would have been even worse than what it was at my Christian evangelical school.

There were, over the years, a few times when I came perilously close to being caught. The earliest I can remember was when I was about seven years old. My sister had an old ballerina costume that was in the "give away" pile. So I took it and hid it. One day, in my room, when I wasn't playing with my Star Wars toys or GI Joe's, I decided that it was time to try it on. So I did. That was the moment that my mom came in to ask if I wanted cut up bananas on my ice cream. She sat me down and told me that dressing up as a girl was no longer okay (despite it being tolerated when I was three or four). She discussed getting me a boy costume to play in and that was that. I never got the boy costume though. Ah well.

Another time I remember being eleven or twelve. I was old enough to be left alone in the house. My mom and sister had gone off for some chore and so I headed downstairs to my sister's room. Her room was in the basement/lower floor (it was a weird 1970s split level design on a hill so who knows what story was what).

Thinking I had tons of time on my hands, I went straight to my sister's closet. This was a regular hobby of mine. If I only had a few minutes I would put them on, admire myself in the mirror, and maybe do a twirl or two so I could experience how amazing it felt to wear a dress. If I had an hour or more I would pick out a bunch of outfit to try on, then select one. I would wear it and then hang out watching TV with my legs crossed. Or I would walk around practicing a feminine walk. If I had more than an hour I might even incorporate makeup. 

On this day I thought I had an hour or more. So I carefully picked out a few outfits to try on and laid them out on my sister's bed. Then I selected my first one and carefully put it on. It was at this point that I saw a foot go by my sister's window. It was my mom and sister walking back up to the front door!

Quickly as I could I ran to the front door, locked the deadbolt, and locked the chain. I heard my mom's key in the door, but the chain would hold her for a bit. As I listened to my mom yelling at me to open the door, I tore off the dress and scrambled to get everything back into the closet as quickly as I could. It was then that I realized I had nothing on but my underwear. I had left my own clothes upstairs. And to get there I had to walk by the front door, past the pounding and yelling. So I ran up the stairs, slid the chain open, and then kept running up to my room.

I got in trouble for locking my mom out. But that was nothing. That I could deal with. Getting in trouble for trying on my sister's clothes? I had avoided that.

Another close call came one year at my grandmother's house. For a couple weeks each summer my parents would ship my sister and I off to my grandmother's house. My sister always got the nicer guest room and I ended up with my aunt's room. My aunt wasn't that much older than my sister and I. She was, I think, around nine years older than me and when I was about ten she was off in college. Most of her room was still had her stuff in it including a ton of clothes that she hadn't taken off to college with her.

So at night, after everyone else had gone to sleep, I would go through my aunt's massive closet and try stuff on. Unlike my tomboyish sister, she had beautiful dresses, prom gowns, and other amazing clothes. But the bedroom door didn't lock. To try stuff on, I would sneak it to the one room where I had privacy; the bathroom. Locking the door behind me, I would try on my aunt's wonderful clothes. And then, to avoid getting caught exiting the bathroom I figured the best thing to do would be to put the dresses in the laundry hamper.

Thinking I was being stealthy, I ended up filling the laundry hamper with tons of beautiful dresses, many of them probably dry clean only. For some reason I thought the hamper was completely anonymous. Like, my grandmother would just assume it was house laundry and do it without question. She actually did not do it without question. In fact, unbeknownst to me, she and my sister discussed and the blame was pinned on me.

But, there it died. Nothing came of it. I was as though my behavior was so bizarre that it was easier just to prentend nothing happened than to actually address why there was a young boy leaving dresses in the hamper. This story did, however, come up after I had come out to my mom and sister. And at that point, with nothing left to hide, I admitted it .

In fact, my coming out letter to my sister included an apology for trying on her clothes without her permission. So even though I wasn't always the best at hiding, I am happy to report that I made it out of childhood without getting sent to military school. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Hair Transplants: Six Months Progress

Back in January of 2017, when I was out but still stuck wearing wigs because of my hairline I wrote: "Wigs are awful monstrosities that were knitted by Satan's most horrid demon underlings." At the time I was super frustrated. I hated wigs. But now, even though I still have two wigs sitting on foam heads on my dresser, I am out of the woods. Wigs, for me, are no longer a necessity. They are something I can choose to wear when I want a nice fashion accessory. Yes, Faith DaBrooke is officially wig free! 

It's been a long journey. Right after I got my hair transplants back in February I was told that I could not wear wigs as they would interfere with my hair's healing. So I went with a headband. It was something I had already been doing when I worked out as wigs just don't work for the gym. Headbands, of course, weren't ideal. For one thing I didn't ever feel pretty in them. It felt like some quick and dirty way to cover up my male pattern baldness wracked hairline and nothing more. It was fine. I even rationalized that why should I bother looking my best for my coworkers or for running errands?

So for the last few months I've rocked the headband daily. It works well enough. Except that one time I bought new bands that would creep up over time and come off without my realizing it. That was potentially embarrassing. On more than one occasion I have had to run to the drug store or grocery and try to find another headband to cover my baldy head. Also when I recently rode Kingda Ka at 6 Flags Great Adventure, the 128mph acceleration knocked my headband right off. Luckily I had brought a spare.

But, I've not been happy with headbands. As I'm sure you can imagine. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's way more comfortable than wigs. And unless the wind gets up to world's second fastest roller coaster levels, headbands are way better in a breeze than a wig. And on hot, humid days they are infinitely nicer than wearing a tight, constricting wig. Gosh, I remember coming home from a long day of work. And the first thing I would do when I got home is rip off that wig. So, you trade beauty for comfort. It's worked, though it's not been too ideal. It's a good stopgap measure.

The other option of course is hats. In the past few months I've done quite a bit of the ol' ponytail through the back of the baseball hat with sunglasses looks. Honestly I like this look. I think it makes me look like an undercover celebrity. And we get a lot of undercover celebs in my area. 

There's also sunhats which I have been known to wear to shield my delicate pale skin from the sun's harmful radiation. Sunhats are good but my hat isn't big enough to wear with a ponytail, so I don't wear it too often. Luckily I do have a parasol to help block the sun when I don't wear a hat. And yes, sunscreen every day. Radiation can still get through clouds. 

My transplanted hair is growing out. It's nowhere near the length of the rest of my hair and it's not quite long enough for bangs yet. But it's growing. In fact, it's gotten to the point where, if I style it just right, I can start going without either headbands or hats. 

It's been most helpful when swimming, although I still made sure to not get my hair too wet. Still, it's a lot easier than wearing a wig at the beach.

In fact, I've even started being able to go to work with just my own hair. Above is a picture I took on my first wigless, headbandless day at the office. It's been a little tough being relaxed though with just my hair. After ages of never going out without the wig, hat, or headband, it's kind of nerve wracking to have my plain old, regular head on display for the world. But, as my hair grows out (at the rate of half an inch a month) it starts getting easier and easier. 

Yesterday I dyed my hair red. Because, let's face it, I've always been a redhead (at least on the inside). The last time I dyed my hair it didn't work that well so this time I asked Kath to help me. And it came out a lot better. Instead of doing a ponytail I decided, on a whim, to do a top bun. 

I've always wanted to do a top bun (at least since it became a fashion trend). It's a style you can't do in wig. Throughout my day I would see pretty girls with their top buns and get super jealous. My gender dysphoria would boil up inside me. I longed for the day that I could have my own top bun. And to my surprise I was able to pull my hair up into a top bun! 

Oh my gosh, I have never in my life felt cuter. I couldn't to throw on my glasses so I could have the perfect pretty hipster girl look. Sure, it was a little bit of a messy bun. But dang I felt so cute. It was my own hair! And it was a top bun! And I was a redhead. Oh my gosh, I seriously felt so cute. When Kath and I went out for a drink every time I caught myself into a mirror I was completely blown away. I was a real cute girl with my own hair! It was amazing. I loved it. I was super, insanely happy. So naturally, I had to get lots of pics. 

Then Kath told me about the fact that they make a product specifically to help bulk up buns. It's a little light plastic donut thing that you wrap your hair around to help bulk it up. I was super excited to show up for work rocking an nice big top bun.  

It's a little messy, but I still love it and I'm still super happy. It's amazing to be able to look in a mirror and see me and realize that it's my actual hair. Oh my gosh. I've really never felt cuter in my life.