I have a special guest on the blog today.If you’re a regular here, you’ll probably know that I posted an update earlier this week on my Hair Removal Hiatus that began last year. Basically, I’ve spent a bit of time experimenting with body hair and seeing what I like as opposed to what society expects of me or the media dictates to me. In the same vein, my cousin (by marriage, but I’m claiming him) Joe Wilson, wrote this great piece on his experiences around body hair, which are much more diverse than most.
I’ve been struggling with the whole body hair issue since I was a teenager. As a person who has lived as a straight woman, a gay woman, a straight man and now as a gay man. I’ve come up against just about all the prejudices around body hair that you can think of.
When I was a teenager and presenting as a straight woman (alas, I didn’t know that other options existed), I was faced with all the usual nonsense about body hair and what is considered ‘feminine’ or ‘appropriate’. Thanks to the mainstream media, peer pressure and the sealed section of Cosmopolitan, I did what was expected and shaved my legs and armpits. Honestly, it hadn’t really occurred to me to object. I was already one of the weird kids, the last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself by being the HAIRY weird kid. There were a couple of girls at my school who had PCOS and the teasing and bullying they were subjected to due to their increased body hair was horrendous. There was no way I was going to endure that sort of torment if I could do something about it.
As I approached my early 20s and was starting to realise that hey, girls are kind of interesting to look at, I started to present as more masculine. By my mid 20s I was pretty recognisable as a butch woman. At this point I had given up on dating men for the time being. The idea of dating men as a butch woman with body hair quickly got put in the too hard basket. Perhaps naively, I had assumed that I wouldn’t need to worry about shaving anymore, because only men really care about women shaving, and I didn’t care what they thought anyway. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. I found that nothing had changed at all. Shaved head or not, I was still a woman, and women shave their legs and armpits. It was interesting that some women were attracted to the fact that I was so masculine, and yet balked at the idea that I didn’t want to shave my legs anymore, and couldn’t be arsed shaving my pits most of the time.
By the time I was 27 and figured out that I was actually a guy (that explains everything), I was pretty fed up with the whole body hair issue. It was a blessed relief to be able to let it all go. Well, that was the theory. I didn’t start taking male hormones until I was 29, and in those two years I was still constantly perceived as a hairy woman. It didn’t matter that I was a struggling transgender guy desperately trying to grow pit hair and a straggly moustache so that people would know what I was. People judge on what they see, and what they saw was a butch woman with no concern for other people’s discomfort around her body hair.
It took over a year on hormones before I started to have anything even vaguely recognisable as male body hair. The genetic lack of body hair that had been a blessing 10 years ago was now a curse. By the time I turned 30 I could just about pass as a 16 year old boy. This presented another struggle when trying to date queer women. My 10-hair moustache and 5 chin hairs just didn’t cut it. Despite my hairy legs and 6 chest hairs, women were surprisingly binary when it came to body hair on transgender guys. I realise this is not every trans guy’s experience, but I found that it tended to go one of two ways.
1. I was expected to shave everything so that my presentation matched my partner’s ideas about the relationship between acceptable body hair and downstairs anatomy.
2. I was expected to somehow magically sprout far more body hair than I was physically capable of, because a ton of body hair negates the presence of aforementioned downstairs anatomy/lack of dangly bits.
It was a totally bizarre situation to find myself in, and not one I could ever have anticipated.
Now, about to celebrate my 5th Manniversary, things have gotten easier. I’m hairy enough to be acceptable now. My legs are beastly. My facial hair is tragic but hey, genes- what are you gonna do?
You don’t get to choose what you get. If I could, I’d happily take a lumberjack beard and give up my hairy arse. Living as a gay man has been extremely liberating. Yes, we all have preferences about what we like on ourselves and what we’re attracted to. Often they’re different. My partner is also a gay trans man, and he shaves everything. His body, his preference. He likes that I’m hairy. Honestly? The real reason I don’t shave is because I’m really lazy. I love that that’s all it comes down to now. The only times I’ve been given a hard time over the last few years are when I’ve shaved my legs for better grip in my pole fitness training. I really think that was more about the pole fitness than the leg shaving. Otherwise, no one cares about my body hair. At all.
It’s good to be a guy.
#FYBF @ With Some Grace