Freedom in a Haircut
“Oh, no, Honey, you don’t want to do that,” the hairstylist said.
I was 16. Long, golden blonde hair reached my mid-back. I rarely cut it, not even regular trims.
Mom liked it that way. I hated it.
I was transgender female-to-male and didn’t know it yet. All I did know was I liked the aesthetic of male.
My hair felt like a wig. I wanted to cut it or dye it. I demanded a change. I couldn’t keep living like this Barbie doll image I had of myself.
The stylist declined to do either.
She liked my hair how it was. Mom liked it how it was. What they wanted trumped anything I wanted.
So I settled.
Just a trim it would be.
It wasn’t until my 20s I had the balls to cut my hair above my shoulders.
And it wasn’t until this year after starting hormone therapy did I dare to get the “man” haircut I had so desired in my youth.
Mom clutched her knuckles as she watched, piece by piece, as the clippers shaved at the back and sides of my head.
I saw the panic in her eyes. It swelled my own panic. Her nerves sent her outside to smoke a cigarette as I finished up.
Am I making the right decision? I thought. What if I look awful? If I look foolish?
But when the hairdresser turned me toward the mirror and I put my glasses on, a truer image of myself appeared.
Every lock of hair that drifted down the apron felt like chains breaking off, one by one.
I finally looked like me.
For the first time in a long time, I smiled.
While the style of our hair does not define us as male or female, for many of us in the trans community, there is validation in the ability to wear our hair as we choose.
After all, many of us have spent years antagonized for our hair choices.
Disapproving family, friends, and coworkers aren’t uncommon.
Its been nearly a month since I’ve sported my new hair.
I am ashamed to admit how I continue to hide it from my workplace. At work, a slouching black beanie covers it. Knowing the atmosphere is not trans-friendly, I present as feminine as I can stand.
Although I no longer wear makeup, the beanie makes it easy to disguise the shaved back and sides of my head. I pull the longer hair out the front to mimic stylish, feminine bangs. No one’s noticed — yet.
But I know I can’t hide it forever. Blazing southern summers will make it harder to get away with a winter hat. My ball caps are not professional for work.
Eventually, life will force me to show off this hair. And maybe that’s for the best.
I let the comments from my parents that women “looked better” with long hair decide my life for so long.
Not now. Not anymore.
If I found the courage to stand against my mother and cut my hair, I pray a day will come soon I will have that same courage to wear it naturally at work.
But today is not yet that day.