Hair!

FTM vs FTN

Most FTM’s eagerly anticipate changing their appearance in one basic way: facial hair. But I’m not FTM, I’m FTN, meaning hair in places other than my head does not fly with me. The thought of purposefully growing facial hair is terrifying, and the thought of any sort of body hair is disgusting. Just one of the many perks of being agender.

However, being a human adult, I do happen to have sprouted hair in unwanted locations. To remedy this, I was lucky enough to have encountered two Groupon discounts at 75% off for laser hair removal (I’m Jewish, so I have to stress the discount part, since this stuff is expensive). Finalizing treatment, most of my body hair will have been permanently removed. Permanently. As in irreversibly. Sound familiar?

The two features of testosterone that transitioning FTMs look forward to are hair and voice, as those are the two most salient changes one undergoes. Now, the usual procedure to obtain testosterone is to see a psychologist for a few weeks, at least, and to get some sort of letter certifying that the person in question has gender issues and such, and thus needs to undergo hormone therapy. All this might seem a bit much for a bit of chest hair (among other things), but the truth is that facial and body hair are prominent genderfying markers. Most importantly, this is permanent and irreversible, and the person in question must understand that these permanent changes will have a significant impact on their outward gendered appearance, irreversibly.

No Questions Asked

You’d think, given the similarity between these two situations – adding hair or removing hair in gender-distinct locations – that somebody would have asked me for some sort of letter. Or asked me if I was sure I wanted laser hair removal. Or checked in with me on whether I understand that this is a permanent and irreversible change, with visible effects on my outward gender. Or at least flinched in some way. Alas, none of this. The receptionists, attendants, nurses, and other random staff never even questioned that a person would want to remove their hair. Because nobody wants hair, right? (Especially not women, gasp!) So why, then, all the fuss about adding it?

I do see the value in consulting a therapist before drastically changing one’s body, especially with something so volatile and with such long-lasting effects as testosterone or other hormones. Consequently, I would see the same value in at the very least asking something of the client wishing to remove their hair permanently. On the other hand, I do wonder what would happen if I were to pass as male in this situation (say, by having a legal male name, or actually being taller) and walking into the place asking to have my body hair permanently removed. Would anyone say a word?

7 responses to “Hair!

  1. I don’t think they would say a word. Well, maybe a word or two, but no more. There are men who want their bodily hair removed. Even down yonder. Even facial hair! Especially there, it can be for reasons of having trouble with in-grown hairs.

  2. A small-chested woman also doesn’t have to ask a psychologist for a letter if she wants to get a breast enhancement. I don’t think you need a psychologist’s letter for a breast reduction, but I have read that you still have to wrangle with the doctors a lot, and that many women have been told “Oh, you don’t want to go that small” when stating their preferred size. I think as long as people are doing something that helps them conform more to societally prescribed standards of beauty for their assigned gender, other people assume it’s a good thing.

    It’s an interesting question about whether a person presenting male would have been questioned more. Men are expected to be hairy, but from TV I also get the impression that men are expected not to be too hairy. When guys are roaming around shirtless on beaches in TV, sometimes it looks like they don’t have hair on their bodies at all. I’m not sure what to make of those conflicting impressions.

  3. You’re both right – very hairy men are not seen as the “beauty standard” so they are getting body hair removed more and more these days. The attendants always mention hairy backs… However, I’m not too sure that even these modern men would want to laser-remove their armpit or leg hair, although in this light it would definitely raise less questions.

  4. Being male-bodied myself, I’ve been wondering what the response will be when I eventually get permanent hair removal. I know from speaking with MTF friends that facial electrolysis is no big thing, most of the people offering that are used to transsexuals, or serve them exclusively. But I haven’t spoken to any who’ve had all of their body hair removed yet, frankly, most of them (and me, as well) can’t afford it, and it’s not as important as the facial hair.

    Honestly, as much as I hate my body hair, it’s not impossible to deal with. The facial hair though, is a far greater problem for me.

    I’m often surprised, however, at how easy it is to get permanent surgeries and treatments, so long as they are seen as acceptable to society. Especially considering how many people hate themselves after they’ve had significant plastic surgery.

    Actually, I remember reading somewhere that when psychological evaluations were given to a group of people looking for significant plastic surgery, something like 60% of them were found to be suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and were treated with therapy or anti-depressants.

    • “I’m often surprised, however, at how easy it is to get permanent surgeries and treatments, so long as they are seen as acceptable to society”

      This also made me think of tatoos (and other forms of body modification art), and how those are somewhat taboo, somewhat acceptable. Yet you can still easily get one if you want to, and it does permanently modify your body.

      Hair is tricky in that it’s acceptable on certain people in certain ways and in certain places, but as others point out, I think society might be becoming more flexible in this sense.

  5. Pingback: Testosterone, part 2 « Neutrois Nonsense·

  6. Groupon is fantastic isn’t it. I agree with Ace, there’s an unwritten list of beauty standards and we aren’t questioned when we do something that brings us closer to them. Anything that deviates though…
    Thanks for bringing me here and thanks for the follow.

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