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My Week As The Bearded Lady

bearded lady

After much searching, I finally discovered something that is arguably more painful than facial hair removal, or any hair removal for that matter. I can’t remember feeling this level of distress since that craptacular 3 days of work between the time when everyone found out about me and I began coming to work dressed as myself. Yeah, that was pretty bad and all, but this is far, far worse. Curious? Prepare for a stunning lack of shock and awe, but stick around at least to find out why. I had an electrolysis appointment on a Monday where James attempted to work my neck. Not fun, but even less so was his recommendation that I come back on Friday. Unshaved. After letting the hair grow since Saturday. Not nice James, not nice.

If you haven’t had facial electrolysis yet, you are in for a real treat. It’s recommended that you put the razor aside for a couple days before coming in for an appointment. My deal has been to make appointments on Monday, and spending the weekend holed up in my house away from prying eyes. The growing, by the way, is to allow your intrepid zap-n-plucker a good view of the playing field with ample visible targets. As it turns out, the weekend was just not enough to make the hard to reach neck area easy enough to clear.

On the side I’ll admit that much of this probably has to do with my neck in particular. All the dark hairs were cleared by laser, and the forest of remaining grey ones are just a teensy bit harder to see. On top of that, my beard growth comes in all criss-cross and woogly. Seriously, had I been born a male in mind, my beard growth would have been downright Taliban worthy. “Yes, yes, good crazy beard. We make you general!” Don’t worry, I can antagonize them with impunity. My blog is flagged by their IT guys and members can be terminated with cause just for stopping by, so no need to sweep my driveway with for IEDs just yet.

The agony of this is that I have work in the interim. I try my best to look nice and ideally inconspicuous. Kind of hard to do when it looks like I’ve got a turtleneck made of polar bear fur on under my sweater. I’ve already mentioned that I’m still trying to overcome the perception here that I’m really just a guy in a dress, and that it’s already taking a little longer than I had hoped. Having a solid week of neck hair growth just sitting there between my chin and my breasts is in no way helping this cause whatsoever. The urge to keep stopping people in the hallway and buttonholing them with a needless explanation that I just look this way because it’s a loathsome step in the process is nearly overwhelming. Most people don’t want to know any of the details to begin with, and doing this sort of thing will kill my chances if they ever decide to implement popularity contests.

I decided to go with the tried and true means of hiding an unsightly neck. The good old scarf. Yes, a turtleneck, would probably work better, but none of mine fit well at the moment, and there is simply nothing so annoying as feeling several days of rough growth rubbing at the clingy fabric every time I turn my head a quarter of a degree. The scarf unfortunately is only a partial fix because wearing it as I would really need to, right up to my chin, would make me look like a total tool. My only hope is that it proves to be a colorful distraction away from the affected area instead of drawing more attention to it. Ugh. There is simply no winning this.

The big moral of the story is that starting female life is by no means the end of transition discomfort, unless of course you got all this done well ahead of time. It feels like it should be that grand moment of pure relief when the male identity is shed for good and you start living your life one hundred percent as the appropriate gender. Instead, it is only the beginning of a whole host of new challenges you never really gave much thought to, such as humiliating days spend as the bearded lady. All of a sudden electrolysis induced gorilla jaw and big red laser burns on your upper lip don’t seem like such a huge hairy deal any more. With my luck my SRS is going to leave me with swelling that makes it look like I’ve got a tortoise shell sized codpiece on under my pants. It’s all right, this too shall pass. Just have to make it to Friday.

Gorilla Jaw and Other Fun With Facial Electrolysis

I walked into work yesterday expecting to pick up a cute and kicky little nickname. Gorilla-Jaw. Trust me, it’s not as feminine as it sounds, but it was sure how I felt. I did actually know a girl known as Gorilla-Jaw back in college, and felt even worse about my unkind thoughts toward that poor petite little blond girl with the simian jaw line. And no, nobody kicked me in the head or anything. I just had my first electrolysis appointment on Monday.

You will be astonished to hear that in spite of my soul crushing temporary deformity, this is not one of my usual airing of grievances I like to throw out there. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’m also very sore, very swollen, and very dismayed that I have like 93 more hours of this before I’m done. Fuck. Once again I have to say that anyone who thinks this is some kind of lifestyle choice is fricking insane.

If you are a long time reader, you may remember that I began facial hair removal by subjecting myself to getting shot in the face with lasers, and griped about it plenty in an old post. It did help, quite a bit, but after 6 treatments I got the impression that any dark hairs it was going to kill for good were probably gone, and it didn’t touch the grey ones. Going full time has necessitated meticulously shaving every single day, and my poor skin is starting to show the effects. Even buying top of the line razors does not quite achieve what the commercials promise. Yeah, it’s close, but in a ‘horseshoes close’ kind of way. Not quite cutting it.

I booked an appointment with the local guru of trans facial hair removal. I’ve seen his finished work and had the chance to ask them, for real, how good he really is. Apparently pretty good, or else they are all of the mean spirit type who are now secretly laughing that I got roped in as well. I choose to think otherwise of my sisters and I’m comfortable with that. I showed up to Executive Clearance and was pleased to find that his pricing model was structured as such to keep overhead as low as possible. I also noted that he must be a huge wrestling fan because his collection of paraphernalia was impressive enough that I suspected the storefront had a revolving sign that sometimes read “James’ Shop of Highly Specific Sports Collectables”. I was hoping this wasn’t his little way of telling customers that he knew the moves to hold you down if need be, because he probably could have. He also had both ‘Mannequin’ and ‘Mannequin 2’ in his DVD collection, which was unquestionably worrisome.

James was itching to get going and prepared by washing up and brushing his teeth, something I deeply appreciated. I lay back on what was essentially an old-timey hospital gurney and fired up the equipment. It’s always nice when something about to be used on your face needs to be audibly fired up until crackling with energy. Laying back, there was a monitor about a foot above my face, on which James liked to play movies from his computer. Today’s viewing pleasure included a full trans lineup – ‘Transamerica’, ‘Kinky Boots’, and ‘Breakfast on Pluto’. Nice, as I had not seen any of them yet. As the credits rolled, he got to work.

Electrolysis is considerably different than laser hair removal, and much more personal. Peering through intensely lit magnification, James would grab my face to center the target follicle, insert his super duper thin probe down the hair shaft, zap it, then pull the hair out with a tweezers. The combined pain effect is similar to a bee sting, between the pinching, the electric shock, and the plucking. James’ philosophy is to only zap the root and follicle to avoid blowing out a larger hole in your skin. This is great for appearance, but pulling the root through the hair shaft is like yanking a tennis ball through a garden hose. Pinch, zap, yank, pinch, zap, yank. 3500 times over a 9 hour period. In all fairness, we did break for lunch.

I’m a glass half full gal, so I’ll start with the upside. He uses top quality equipment and with many thousands of hours of experience, he’s about the least painful game in town. Most will only book clients for 2 hours at a time because that is the limit of their pain tolerance. James will keep you below the critical threshold for up to 12 hours; craftsmanship not seen since the really gifted medieval torturers. Also, he got 3500 hairs that will never grow again. The immediate downside is that the effect of zapping and plucking 3500 hairs is a face that takes on the look of someone who needs an immediate epi shot.

The real piss of this is that I will have to go back. Lots. Typical beard removal takes 100 to 150 hours. The laser treatment puts me on the very low end of that, but still, holy shit. In the 8 hours of treatment, he got my chin, upper lip (holy potatoes ouch!), and upper cheeks. Yes, that’s it. I don’t know what plans you have every 6 weeks for the next year and a half, but if they don’t get you labeled ‘Gorilla-Jaw’, they have to be better than mine.

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